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Thread: What's NASA Up To And Other Space Stuff

  1. #241
    That's no moon. EyeKhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandBlade View Post
    Planet 9 is Pluto
    If that were accepted, and I'm not saying I disagree, then our system actually has 13 planets, including Ceres, Eris, Makemake and Haumea. Add to that Planet X you get 14 planets total, which is not that big a deal. However, it is conservatively estimated that another 100 Pluto-sized dwarf planets exist out in the deep dark, meaning Sol system would have ~114 planets. That's unmanageable, I think. How are the school children going to memorize them all?

    And on the surface, that definition of the "planet" category is offering an equivalency between Ceres, Earth and Jupiter, which is hard to argue makes sense. Sure, there are subcategories... I don't know, Whales, humans, octopuses, gnats and worms are all categorized as animals, so, the merits of subcategorization can't be poo poo'd.... We could call them all Planets, Pluto being in the Dwarf Sub-category, Jupiter in the Gas Giant sub-category, Earth being in the Smallish-Rocky-Wet sub-category.
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  2. #242
    Local talking head LittleFuzzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandBlade View Post
    Planet 9 is Pluto
    Pluto is not a planet and should never have been considered one.

    But Brown needs to seek help. The IAU is going to have him committed just to get him out of their hair if he doesn't cut this shit out.
    Last night as I lay in bed, looking up at the stars, I thought, “Where the hell is my ceiling?"

  3. #243
    Resiste et Mords! Steely Glint's Avatar
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    Still shooting for the re-designation of all rocky bodies more than 2x pluto's mass as 'super-plutos'.

    In other news, we spied on the atmosphere around this exo-super-pluto (GJ 1132b), and it has an atmosphere of either steam or methane.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-39521344
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  4. #244
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Glint View Post
    Still shooting for the re-designation of all rocky bodies more than 2x pluto's mass as 'super-plutos'.

    In other news, we spied on the atmosphere around this exo-super-pluto (GJ 1132b), and it has an atmosphere of either steam or methane.
    Haha, nice.
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  5. #245
    SEÑOR Member Aimless's Avatar
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    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
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  6. #246
    SEÑOR Member Aimless's Avatar
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    Cool illustration of a useful method:

    https://arstechnica.com/science/2017...-sized-planet/
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
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  7. #247
    That's no moon. EyeKhan's Avatar
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    And so begins the future, the dominion of self-replicating machines.... ()


    Self-Replicating 3D Printers Could Build Moon Bases, Fight Global Warming


    A 3D printer that could re-create itself from lunar material is in development at a university in Canada.

    The technology could one day enable humans to 3D-print lunar bases, as well as conduct in-space manufacturing of satellites and solar shields on the moon that could help fight global warming, according to Alex Ellery, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Carleton University in Ottawa, who is leading the project.

    "I believe that self-replicating machines will be transformative for space exploration because it effectively bypasses launch costs," Ellery told Space.com. [How Moon Bases and Lunar Colonies Work (Infographic)]

    The engineer envisions a single 3D printer could be delivered to the moon, where it would make thousands of its copies from surrounding lunar material. Once there would be enough 3D printers, the self-replicating factory would focus on building all other equipment and infrastructure needed for human exploration.

    <snip>
    Sure it will.... until it's supervisory AI gives it something else to build.

    http://www.space.com/37101-self-repl...adline+Feed%29
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  8. #248
    3D printing is a powerful tool, yes, and indeed self-replication would be pretty cool. But it's still a fundamentally limited manufacturing technique, at least for now.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  9. #249
    That's no moon. EyeKhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    3D printing is a powerful tool, yes, and indeed self-replication would be pretty cool. But it's still a fundamentally limited manufacturing technique, at least for now.
    Yes. For now....

    Did you read the article? Some of the discussion about techniques they're working on to use Lunar materials is pretty interesting.
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  10. #250
    I read the article (although space dot com has some of the most annoying ads). I was less than impressed. They're all 'well, we can print a motor if we can magically get metal and printable plastic/ceramics out of regolith' and 'we'll figure out electronics later... uh, vacuum tubes?'. My point about the limitations of 3D printing as a technology were not just that getting appropriate raw materials is a challenge (they also don't even mention energy sources, which would likely be very challenging to print e.g. new solar arrays), or even that printing a decent motor is hard. It's that the basic process they're using (FDM or FFF) is not amenable to high precision or small feature sizes, which are pretty important for complex technology. I have no doubt that with enough work you can make a printer that can make more of itself. I don't even doubt that with a lot of coaxing you'll be able to do it with lunar materials (though said materials might be substandard for the application). I just doubt that a bunch of shoddy FDM printers are going to be able to construct most of the things you'd need on a moon base.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  11. #251
    That's no moon. EyeKhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    ... I just doubt that a bunch of shoddy FDM printers are going to be able to construct most of the things you'd need on a moon base.
    I would think, after figuring out how to print a friggin' working motor and working electronics, among other things in a fully assembled 3D printer, using Lunar resources no less, that printing the structural components of a moon base would be easy....
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  12. #252
    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    I would think, after figuring out how to print a friggin' working motor and working electronics, among other things in a fully assembled 3D printer, using Lunar resources no less, that printing the structural components of a moon base would be easy....
    Not really. I mean I'm sure there are some plastic (or plastic-y) parts that you can make, but you're going to need a bunch of metal parts and a bunch of advanced machine tools. There's a long gap between 'being able to print a basic motor' and 'being able to print a CNC machine and tooling' or whatever. Not to mention electronics, which is essentially impossible without at least some sort of mini-fab. And structural components. And energy sources. And specialty materials needed in substantial quantities like gaskets etc. for seals.

    My basic point is that FDM printing is a good way to make low unit runs of parts that don't have high tolerance requirements or small feature sizes, and where you are okay working with a very limited set of materials. That's useful for plenty of stuff - you can probably make, say, internal fixtures and the like. But for most of the critical components of a moon base (of which there are many, and which likely provide the highest weight problems for transport) you're going to be able to make only a very limited subset of components.

    I think 3D printing is an awesome tool; I have used it before for highly specialized applications (though nothing so pedestrian as FDM), and I have a friend whose entire job is to develop highly advanced 3D manufacturing techniques, generally for defense applications. I think it is revolutionizing elements of manufacturing, and it's hard to predict just how profound an impact it will have moving forward. But we should be clear-eyed about the limitations of the technology and not go crazy over von Neumann machines that are, fundamentally, less Swiss Army Knife and more Rube Goldberg.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  13. #253
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    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    Not really. I mean I'm sure there are some plastic (or plastic-y) parts that you can make, but you're going to need a bunch of metal parts and a bunch of advanced machine tools. There's a long gap between 'being able to print a basic motor' and 'being able to print a CNC machine and tooling' or whatever. Not to mention electronics, which is essentially impossible without at least some sort of mini-fab. And structural components. And energy sources. And specialty materials needed in substantial quantities like gaskets etc. for seals.

    My basic point is that FDM printing is a good way to make low unit runs of parts that don't have high tolerance requirements or small feature sizes, and where you are okay working with a very limited set of materials. That's useful for plenty of stuff - you can probably make, say, internal fixtures and the like. But for most of the critical components of a moon base (of which there are many, and which likely provide the highest weight problems for transport) you're going to be able to make only a very limited subset of components.
    I was thinking the bulky, heavy structural components would be printed on site and the more specialized stuff - especially parts requiring unavailable materials - would be shipped in to complete the facility. I can't imagine anyone's thinking they could 3d print and assemble a complete, fully functioning moon base ready to move in.

    ... and not go crazy over von Neumann machines that are, fundamentally, less Swiss Army Knife and more Rube Goldberg.
    The time to go crazy is now, man. NOW. Once the Berzerkers are unleashed, it's already over.

    About AI, in the medium to long future, unless someone specifically designs a xenophobic, genocidal monstrosity with the capability to take control and weaponize all the future's connected assets, I don't see an AI Apocalypse on the horizon. In other words, I don't see it happening by accidental self-awareness and/or sudden extreme desire to annihilate humanity, as in so much of contemporary sci-fi. Someone might build an Apocalypse Mind on purpose, I guess. But it will probably be way easier to engineer an Apocalypse Virus, if the End is what you want.
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  14. #254
    Senior Member Flixy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    I would think, after figuring out how to print a friggin' working motor and working electronics, among other things in a fully assembled 3D printer, using Lunar resources no less, that printing the structural components of a moon base would be easy....
    There are few things more frustrating for an engineer than the words "would be easy"
    Keep on keepin' the beat alive!

  15. #255
    SEÑOR Member Aimless's Avatar
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    There, there... It's close enough.
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  16. #256
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flixy View Post
    There are few things more frustrating for an engineer than the words "would be easy"
    Fair enough. One thing most of my life's observation has pointed to is that nothing is simple, or, by extension, easy. If you think it's simple, it likely means you don't understand it. That said, what I really meant in that statement was that a 3D Printer capable of self-replication using Lunar resources is no simple thing, and the knowledge/ capability of doing that ought to enable a lot of other 3D printing tasks.... like structural components for a habitat.... but then again, my understanding of all of this is rudimentary, so... bring on the Robots.
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  17. #257
    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    I was thinking the bulky, heavy structural components would be printed on site and the more specialized stuff - especially parts requiring unavailable materials - would be shipped in to complete the facility. I can't imagine anyone's thinking they could 3d print and assemble a complete, fully functioning moon base ready to move in.
    The issue is that structural components, especially in an environment as harsh as the moon, tend to be made of materials a little fancier than some sort of plastic or (at best) ceramic; you're going to need lots of metal, which can't be printed by these methods (I think making a self replicating SLS-style printer would be a lot harder, and even then SLS is limited in scope). Sure, you can probably have the internal furnishings and fixtures and walls and the like make of some sort of locally sourced material, but I'm not really convinced that 3D printing would add much if you're already sending a bunch of other tools and equipment that the printer can't make. Until a printer can build the basic tools needed for construction (rather than just some materials used in construction), you're going to have rather limited utility. And we're ages away from being able to print sophisticated machine tools and construction equipment with one of these types of 3D printer.


    The time to go crazy is now, man. NOW. Once the Berzerkers are unleashed, it's already over.

    About AI, in the medium to long future, unless someone specifically designs a xenophobic, genocidal monstrosity with the capability to take control and weaponize all the future's connected assets, I don't see an AI Apocalypse on the horizon. In other words, I don't see it happening by accidental self-awareness and/or sudden extreme desire to annihilate humanity, as in so much of contemporary sci-fi. Someone might build an Apocalypse Mind on purpose, I guess. But it will probably be way easier to engineer an Apocalypse Virus, if the End is what you want.
    I actually think this is an interesting side discussion (all joking aside) because there certainly are valid questions about what would happen in a genuine signularity. I'm not inclined to think it would be explicitly hostile, but I doubt it would necessarily be friendly either. I suspect that it would rapidly become indifferent, and such indifference might indeed be dangerous. But I am also skeptical that a singularity will ever happen, so there's that.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  18. #258
    Local talking head LittleFuzzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flixy View Post
    There are few things more frustrating for an engineer than the words "would be easy"
    When Choobs wrote that, this comic sprang to mind

    https://xkcd.com/1425/
    Last night as I lay in bed, looking up at the stars, I thought, “Where the hell is my ceiling?"

  19. #259
    SEÑOR Member Aimless's Avatar
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    This is what NASA's up to and other spacey stuff:

    https://arstechnica.com/science/2017...tions-on-mars/

    The future is bright.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
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  20. #260
    That's no moon. EyeKhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aimless View Post
    This is what NASA's up to and other spacey stuff:

    https://arstechnica.com/science/2017...tions-on-mars/

    The future is bright.
    <sigh> ... and the guy is a Congressman...
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  21. #261
    SEÑOR Member Aimless's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    <sigh> ... and the guy is a Congressman...
    He won't be colluding with ancient Martians for a while yet..

    https://arstechnica.com/science/2017...-dragon-plans/
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  22. #262
    That's no moon. EyeKhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aimless View Post
    He won't be colluding with ancient Martians for a while yet..

    https://arstechnica.com/science/2017...-dragon-plans/
    It's not that they are giving up on Mars, they're just going to use a different method to land...
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  23. #263
    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    It's not that they are giving up on Mars, they're just going to use a different method to land...
    It seems likely that it will take them a bit longer to get the first mission to Mars, though, given that they probably need to develop a new landing concept. Their schedule for the first unmanned Red Dragon capsule was pretty aggressive; my guess is that their timelines will slip. Not that people really thought they had that good of a chance of meeting their optimistic timelines in the first place.

    I am curious to see what option they end up choosing for crewed descent to Mars. Obviously water landings are out of the question, I don't know if chutes will work well in the thin atmosphere (and the requirements of delicate flesh bags), and powered descent options have all sorts of safety issues for crewed flights. Should be interesting!
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  24. #264
    That's no moon. EyeKhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    I am curious to see what option they end up choosing for crewed descent to Mars. Obviously water landings are out of the question, I don't know if chutes will work well in the thin atmosphere (and the requirements of delicate flesh bags), and powered descent options have all sorts of safety issues for crewed flights. Should be interesting!
    I was wondering the same thing. I believe the parachute option is only good up to a relatively small weight limit, because of the thin atmosphere, making it not practical for landing crewed vehicles, heavy cargo, etc. That's why Musk was experimenting with powered descent. NASA used the sky-crane to land the most recent, relatively large, rover. I guess that would be a powered/ parachute descent hybrid, and I have to wonder it it can scale up to heavier payloads. I recall the very first rover that NASA put on Mars came down on parachutes and was encased in big inflated balls. At the last moment it cut the chutes, bounced around a few times, and when it came to a rest, the balls deflated. It had some clever mechanism to right itself, in case it rolled to a stop upside down. I believe with the parachutes, the biggest fear is they come down over the lander, so they disconnect at some safe height, making sure the chutes land elsewhere.
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  25. #265
    Resiste et Mords! Steely Glint's Avatar
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    Just saw an interesting and pretty plausible explanation for the Tabby's Star mystery: it (the star) is being occluded by an exo-planet (poss brown dwarf?) with an enormous ring system like the one around j1407 b - gaps in the rings produced by exo-moons (as with Saturn's system) would explain the apparently random dips in sunlight from the star.

    Think that's solved it?
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  26. #266
    Senior Member RandBlade's Avatar
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    This is quite amusing from Elon Musk. I like the Monty Python music that accompanies it.



    Curious if people here would more associate that music with what it was originally intended (the Liberty Bell, an American patriotic military tune) or as comedy with Monty Python? This video is American but seems more comedic to me in fitting with the Pythons.
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    Being upset is understandable, but be upset at yourself for poor planning, not at the world by acting like a spoiled bitch during an interview.

  27. #267
    That's no moon. EyeKhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandBlade View Post
    This is quite amusing from Elon Musk. I like the Monty Python music that accompanies it.



    Curious if people here would more associate that music with what it was originally intended (the Liberty Bell, an American patriotic military tune) or as comedy with Monty Python? This video is American but seems more comedic to me in fitting with the Pythons.
    Holy shit the booster came in fast for that first successful drone ship landing.

    Side note on that music, I live near a high school and the marching band has been practicing this tune for the last month. They've gotten a lot better... sigh.
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  28. #268
    That's no moon. EyeKhan's Avatar
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    Also, Cassini's crashing into Saturn tomorrow. What an amazingly successful mission - 13 years of study! Crazy.
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  29. #269
    That's no moon. EyeKhan's Avatar
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    The NYTs was nice enough to summarize what NASA's up to for the next 8 or 10 years for robotic planetary science anyway... I'm particularly interested in what the Webb telescope sees.

    See link.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/15/s...-missions.html
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  30. #270
    That's no moon. EyeKhan's Avatar
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    This is interesting...


    The Real Reason Behind SpaceX's Push for Reusable Rockets

    How much does SpaceX save by reusing a Falcon rocket? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.


    Answer by Jim Cantrell, CEO and Founder of Vector Space Systems, on Quora:


    If you go through the R&D costs of developing a reusable launch vehicle, the opportunity costs (in terms of fuel used for return and the lost revenue opportunity for more payload to orbit) of returning the launcher to the first stage, and the costs of refurbishment between flights, generally accepted practice shows that you have to re-use the booster or launch the vehicle 5-10 times before you make your money back if you account for all the costs.

    Many papers have been written on this topic and this is a well established 'rule of thumb'. This doesn't even account for the price reduction that many customers flying on a 'used' first stage will likely demand.

    Thus I am thinking that very few, if any, of the SpaceX Falcon 9 first stages are going to be re-used for more than 3 or so flights and that SpaceX will therefore not break even on the reusability portion of the equation.

    Why then would SpaceX want to have a landing reusable rocket? Two reasons.

    First, this is an obvious Mars landing technology and if this is one of SpaceX's goals (as I believe it is since this was the main reason that the company was started), the landing system development costs can be counted against a number of other accounts not related to reusability.

    Secondly, and I think that this is the dominant answer, reusability allows a marked increase in flight rates. Reverse engineered financial models of SpaceX show that to reach a good strong positive cash flow, they need more than the traditional 10-12 launches per year that sized rocket has demonstrated. Reusability should easily double the amount of flights possible from a mere production and logistics standpoint.

    With reusability, 20-25 flights a year puts SpaceX into a much more positive cash flow position and thus I believe that this is a very important driver. I believe that the first stage has been identified as one of the bottle necks to flying more often mainly due to its production, transport and attendant infrastructure. Reusability is a great brand image generator, but, more importantly, it enables SpaceX to double their flight rate and make more money, all the while preparing for Mars landings with the reusability technology.

    This question originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
    https://www.inc.com/quora/real-reaso...s.html?ref=yfp
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