1. 09:18 17th Feb 2014

    notes: 136

    reblogged from: m1k3y

    tags: space explorationsolar sail

    “For about two years, I had the coolest job title in NASA: manager of the interstellar propulsion research project.”

    Johnson’s team determined that the most practical path to the stars was via solar sails, which required fewer scientific breakthroughs than fusion-powered nuclear engines or exotic propulsion methods like warp drive. Ultra-thin sails would use the faint but constant pressure of sunlight or high-powered lasers to propel them to a few percent of the speed of light. (NASA plans to launch a 124-foot solar sail, called Sunjammer after a sail in an Arthur C. Clarke novel, in 2015, although it will stay well within the bounds of the solar system.) “Sailships are the only way we know to get to velocities that are anywhere close to the speed of light,” Gregory Benford, another physicist/sci-fi author, tells the Starship Congress attendees.

    Yet even with this relatively reasonable-sounding technology, the problems are so vast that we won’t be sailing to the stars anytime soon. Johnson says that to propel a craft to Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system, a solar sail would have to be as big as the state of Alabama, and would need a millennium to travel the 4.3-light-year distance. Change the power source from solar radiation to terawatt-scale lasers and you could cut the travel time to a century. The big drawback? Such a system would require power “equivalent to the total output of humanity today,” Johnson says.


    Lubin acted as conference contrarian, frequently asking presenters pointed questions about their proposed technologies. But he also offered up his own sci-fi-sounding project: a planetary defense system that could double as a solar sail’s power source, using beamed energy to propel an unmanned probe to the stars.

    The system would collect sunlight with miles-wide solar arrays in Earth orbit and convert it to a beam of energy, similar to a giant laser. Lubin says that over a year, such a beam could completely vaporize a threatening asteroid a third of a mile (1,760 feet) wide at a range of one astronomical unit—the distance from Earth to the sun (93 million miles)—and deflect much larger ones. “It wouldn’t require any miracles, just a lot of hard work,” he says. Such a system could start on a much smaller scale—big enough to zap space debris, perhaps—then be expanded as engineering and funding allow.

    If used to propel starships, the energy beam could boost probes to substantial speeds, Lubin says. A 100-kilogram (220-pound) probe with a 100-foot reflector to catch the beam could reach Mars in three days; with a much larger reflector, such a probe could hit three percent of lightspeed—up to 20 million mph—by the time it reached the edge of the solar system in less than a month.

     
  2. 09:17 11th Feb 2014

    notes: 605

    reblogged from: einbear

    tags: space exploration

    image: download

    we-are-star-stuff:

What if You Were Born in Space?
Did you know that there has been an ‘uninterrupted’ human presence in space ever since November of 2001? That is rather awesome when you think about it, but all of the people who have spent time in space were born and grew up on Earth.
Okay, technically we were all born in space. But what would things be like for a person who was conceived and born in outer space?
NASA funds research programs devoted to studying a variety of aspects of living in space including the possibility of growing plants to the physical effects on the human body in a zero-gravity environment. These experiments are still in their very early stages since space travel itself is relatively new.
A woman has yet to give birth on a shuttle or in the Space Station nor has a pregnant woman even traveled in space. However, a few studies have sent pregnant rats into space so the development of the (Earth-born) babies could be investigated.
More recently in 2001 biologists Jeffrey Alberts of Indiana University and April Ronca of the NASA Ames Research Center sent 20 pregnant rats into space to determine some of the effects the zero-gravity environment had on the fetuses. The rats were sent in the middle of their pregnancies when the vestibular systems were beginning to develop in the fetuses. (The vestibular system in humans is a network of channels and sacs of fluid in the inner ear that regulates balance.) The mothers gave birth to normal-sized babies and were able to lactate and care for them normally. Even after the muscle mass lost due to the lack of gravity the labor contractions did not pose a problem for the mothers. There were noticeable effects on the vestibular systems of the space-based rat infants, however. The Earth-based babies were able to immediately right themselves upon being turned on their backs in water. The space-based babies had more trouble; some had to make a few attempts before achieving success and others were unable to do it at all. After five days of the same test though all the babies were able to roll over. The researchers also determined that the vestibular organs detecting angular changes were actually more advanced in the space-based babies, probably because their mothers were forced to roll around a lot on the shuttle due to the lack of gravity.
Sex is very difficult in zero gravity, apparently, because you have no traction and you keep bumping against the walls. Think about it: you have no friction, you have no resistance. But the lack of gravity is not the only issue making space births difficult. The effects on a developing fetus would likely be severe, perhaps disrupting normal embryonic development and even neurological functioning. A baby’s body and bones may develop differently in weightlessness.
If a pregnant woman flies in space and gives birth almost right away, the baby will be born pretty normal because it will develop in the womb very normally at Earth’s gravity. What happens then is very interesting.
The bone cells are programmed to grow; they don’t stop until you are a teenager or so. But it is gravity as a stress that makes the cells in the bones have the right alignment, or stack up properly and pull the bone so that it forms straight. Without gravity, the baby’s bones won’t get long and thin like adult bone. They will be very easy to break, and they won’t grow as fast. This is true for arms and legs.
The bones at the top of the baby’s head will actually grow thicker and stronger than on Earth. This is because your heart does not have to work so hard to move blood and other fluid from your feet to your upper body because there is no gravity. What happens is that the heart still pulls on the fluid in the legs, which now comes out much more easily. This causes the upper body to have more fluid and more pressure, which causes stress. Stress is always what makes bone grow and change. So, more pressure, more growth in the skull.
The bones in the hands will probably be normal because the baby/child/adult will use his hands just like on Earth. The feet will probably not grow much because they don’t get the stress from having the weight of your whole body on them. Ribs are interesting. Ribs protect your lungs and give support to your body so they don’t collapse. They would probably be okay, but develop thinner than on Earth, so they wouldn’t be nearly as strong. The spine is really going to be affected. The gravity won’t push/pull down on you, so the vertebrae won’t feel the stress, and they won’t grow. But they will get stress from the spinal cord as it grows and pushes out. You would probably end up with thinner, very easily crushed vertebrae.
Muscles work the same way. They need stress to grow and develop. Gravity is a stress force that pulls in one direction causing the muscle to develop in the right shape. So, if it is a muscle that won’t be used much (say, the muscles that move your feet), they won’t grow nearly as strong. Some muscles will be almost the same, such as your hand muscles. Other muscles, like your heart, will be different. Your heart won’t have to work as hard because there is no gravity to make blood circulation difficult. This takes a while to happen though. With a baby just born, probably the heart will never develop nearly as strong as a baby on Earth will.
Muscles and bones work together. The muscles are attached to bone, and they are very tightly connected. If you exercise a muscle, it pulls on the bone and causes a pulling stress. This helps the bone grow stronger in that area. This is why kids are told to play around outside when they are young - their bones grow very fast and if the child does a lot of exercise, the muscles get strong, making the bone very strong.
So, a baby born in space is going to have pretty strange and weak bones in most parts of their body. This shouldn’t affect them too much if they spend their whole life in space, but they will be in a lot of trouble if they come back to Earth. Their leg and feet bones will be too weak to hold them, the spine will probably crush under its own weight. The heart muscle will not be strong enough to pump blood around the whole body because of gravity pulling the blood down, and leg muscles will be too weak for you to stand. Basically, your bones and muscles will be much too heavy to support, and you will fall down in a big heap and die.
But if you are a baby born in space and someone drops you on your head when you return to Earth, your skull will be nice and thick.
[sources: x x x] For more info check this video.

    we-are-star-stuff:

    What if You Were Born in Space?

    Did you know that there has been an ‘uninterrupted’ human presence in space ever since November of 2001? That is rather awesome when you think about it, but all of the people who have spent time in space were born and grew up on Earth.

    Okay, technically we were all born in space. But what would things be like for a person who was conceived and born in outer space?

    NASA funds research programs devoted to studying a variety of aspects of living in space including the possibility of growing plants to the physical effects on the human body in a zero-gravity environment. These experiments are still in their very early stages since space travel itself is relatively new.

    A woman has yet to give birth on a shuttle or in the Space Station nor has a pregnant woman even traveled in space. However, a few studies have sent pregnant rats into space so the development of the (Earth-born) babies could be investigated.

    More recently in 2001 biologists Jeffrey Alberts of Indiana University and April Ronca of the NASA Ames Research Center sent 20 pregnant rats into space to determine some of the effects the zero-gravity environment had on the fetuses. The rats were sent in the middle of their pregnancies when the vestibular systems were beginning to develop in the fetuses. (The vestibular system in humans is a network of channels and sacs of fluid in the inner ear that regulates balance.) The mothers gave birth to normal-sized babies and were able to lactate and care for them normally. Even after the muscle mass lost due to the lack of gravity the labor contractions did not pose a problem for the mothers. There were noticeable effects on the vestibular systems of the space-based rat infants, however. The Earth-based babies were able to immediately right themselves upon being turned on their backs in water. The space-based babies had more trouble; some had to make a few attempts before achieving success and others were unable to do it at all. After five days of the same test though all the babies were able to roll over. The researchers also determined that the vestibular organs detecting angular changes were actually more advanced in the space-based babies, probably because their mothers were forced to roll around a lot on the shuttle due to the lack of gravity.

    Sex is very difficult in zero gravity, apparently, because you have no traction and you keep bumping against the walls. Think about it: you have no friction, you have no resistance. But the lack of gravity is not the only issue making space births difficult. The effects on a developing fetus would likely be severe, perhaps disrupting normal embryonic development and even neurological functioning. A baby’s body and bones may develop differently in weightlessness.

    If a pregnant woman flies in space and gives birth almost right away, the baby will be born pretty normal because it will develop in the womb very normally at Earth’s gravity. What happens then is very interesting.

    The bone cells are programmed to grow; they don’t stop until you are a teenager or so. But it is gravity as a stress that makes the cells in the bones have the right alignment, or stack up properly and pull the bone so that it forms straight. Without gravity, the baby’s bones won’t get long and thin like adult bone. They will be very easy to break, and they won’t grow as fast. This is true for arms and legs.

    The bones at the top of the baby’s head will actually grow thicker and stronger than on Earth. This is because your heart does not have to work so hard to move blood and other fluid from your feet to your upper body because there is no gravity. What happens is that the heart still pulls on the fluid in the legs, which now comes out much more easily. This causes the upper body to have more fluid and more pressure, which causes stress. Stress is always what makes bone grow and change. So, more pressure, more growth in the skull.

    The bones in the hands will probably be normal because the baby/child/adult will use his hands just like on Earth. The feet will probably not grow much because they don’t get the stress from having the weight of your whole body on them. Ribs are interesting. Ribs protect your lungs and give support to your body so they don’t collapse. They would probably be okay, but develop thinner than on Earth, so they wouldn’t be nearly as strong. The spine is really going to be affected. The gravity won’t push/pull down on you, so the vertebrae won’t feel the stress, and they won’t grow. But they will get stress from the spinal cord as it grows and pushes out. You would probably end up with thinner, very easily crushed vertebrae.

    Muscles work the same way. They need stress to grow and develop. Gravity is a stress force that pulls in one direction causing the muscle to develop in the right shape. So, if it is a muscle that won’t be used much (say, the muscles that move your feet), they won’t grow nearly as strong. Some muscles will be almost the same, such as your hand muscles. Other muscles, like your heart, will be different. Your heart won’t have to work as hard because there is no gravity to make blood circulation difficult. This takes a while to happen though. With a baby just born, probably the heart will never develop nearly as strong as a baby on Earth will.

    Muscles and bones work together. The muscles are attached to bone, and they are very tightly connected. If you exercise a muscle, it pulls on the bone and causes a pulling stress. This helps the bone grow stronger in that area. This is why kids are told to play around outside when they are young - their bones grow very fast and if the child does a lot of exercise, the muscles get strong, making the bone very strong.

    So, a baby born in space is going to have pretty strange and weak bones in most parts of their body. This shouldn’t affect them too much if they spend their whole life in space, but they will be in a lot of trouble if they come back to Earth. Their leg and feet bones will be too weak to hold them, the spine will probably crush under its own weight. The heart muscle will not be strong enough to pump blood around the whole body because of gravity pulling the blood down, and leg muscles will be too weak for you to stand. Basically, your bones and muscles will be much too heavy to support, and you will fall down in a big heap and die.

    But if you are a baby born in space and someone drops you on your head when you return to Earth, your skull will be nice and thick.

    [sources: x x x] For more info check this video.

     
  3. image: download

    whats-the-antimatter:


National Aeronautics and Space Administration - NASA
This before-and-after pair of images of the same patch of ground in front of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity 13 days apart documents the arrival of a bright rock onto the scene. The rover had completed a short drive just before taking the second image, and one of its wheels likely knocked the rock — dubbed “Pinnacle Island” — to this position. The rock is about the size of a doughnut.
The images are from Opportunity’s panoramic camera (Pancam). The one on the left is from 3,528th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars (Dec. 26, 2013). The one on the right, with the newly arrived rock, is from Sol 3540 (Jan. 8, 2014). Much of the rock is bright-toned, nearly white. A portion is deep red in color. Pinnacle Island may have been flipped upside down when a wheel dislodged it, providing an unusual circumstance for examining the underside of a Martian rock.
The site is on “Murray Ridge,” a section of the rim of Endeavour Crater where Opportunity is working on north-facing slopes during the rover’s sixth Martian winter.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

    whats-the-antimatter:


    National Aeronautics and Space Administration - NASA

    This before-and-after pair of images of the same patch of ground in front of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity 13 days apart documents the arrival of a bright rock onto the scene. The rover had completed a short drive just before taking the second image, and one of its wheels likely knocked the rock — dubbed “Pinnacle Island” — to this position. The rock is about the size of a doughnut.

    The images are from Opportunity’s panoramic camera (Pancam). The one on the left is from 3,528th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars (Dec. 26, 2013). The one on the right, with the newly arrived rock, is from Sol 3540 (Jan. 8, 2014). Much of the rock is bright-toned, nearly white. A portion is deep red in color. Pinnacle Island may have been flipped upside down when a wheel dislodged it, providing an unusual circumstance for examining the underside of a Martian rock.

    The site is on “Murray Ridge,” a section of the rim of Endeavour Crater where Opportunity is working on north-facing slopes during the rover’s sixth Martian winter.

    Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

     
  4. pamelatrang:

    How the Rosetta Spacecraft will land on a comet

    They used the slingshot method to get it there…

     
  5. 13:29

    notes: 69

    reblogged from: bicyclist

    tags: Rosettaspace exploration

    image: download

    bicyclist:

Yes, signal received, #rosetta is awake. Congratulations @esa

The European Space Agency received the signal from Rosetta! It’s awake!
Dormant systems on the unmanned spacecraft Rosetta were scheduled to switch back on at 5 a.m. EST today (January 20) in preparation for the final stage of its decade-long mission to rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. They had been powered down in 2011 to conserve energy, leaving scientists in the dark about the probe’s fate until now. (source). Livestream of the European Space Agency here. 

    bicyclist:

    Yes, signal received, #rosetta is awake. Congratulations @esa

    The European Space Agency received the signal from Rosetta! It’s awake!

    Dormant systems on the unmanned spacecraft Rosetta were scheduled to switch back on at 5 a.m. EST today (January 20) in preparation for the final stage of its decade-long mission to rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. They had been powered down in 2011 to conserve energy, leaving scientists in the dark about the probe’s fate until now. (source). Livestream of the European Space Agency here

     
  6.  
  7. 09:08 8th Jan 2014

    notes: 1058

    reblogged from: m1k3y

    tags: space explorationCassiniSaturn

    Fuel is running low on Cassini, but there’s enough for another four years of maneuvering. Technicians at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., have mastered the art of using Titan’s gravity to steer Cassini into new, interesting orbits. NASA hopes to send the spacecraft diving inside the majestic rings of Saturn to study their composition. The extended mission would cost about $60 million a year. But that money has not materialized in the NASA budget. If there is no funding, NASA will have to end the Cassini mission next year. For robotic spacecraft, the greatest hazard in the solar system turns out to be the NASA budget.

     
  8. 13:19 2nd Jan 2014

    notes: 1696

    reblogged from: mashable

    tags: astronautspace explorationearth

    image: download

    mashable:

Astronaut Mike Hopkins’ space selfie is out of this world!

    mashable:

    Astronaut Mike Hopkins’ space selfie is out of this world!

     
  9. GO TEAM SCIENCE: TOP 10 SCIENCE IMAGES OF 2013

    goteamscience:

    Tomorrow is officially the first day of a new year, and the start of the yearly trend of mistakenly putting the previous year on forms and checks where we have to write down the date, then curse loudly when we realize that we were writing in ink.

    To celebrate this year, the first year of Go Team Science, I’m picking out my favorite 10 images that I’ve reblogged on here from 2013. 

    #10- 3D Printed Prosthetic Limbs.

    image

    This year, 3D-printing is all the rave in the market and for good reason. This technology has the potential to forever revolutionize medical sciences as well as other industries.

    #9- Bill Nye the Science Guy

    image

    I don’t think Bill has been a bigger picture in the mainstream media since his children’s show was still on the air. It could be due to his appearance in “Dancing With the Stars”, which was none the less comical and fun to watch, but he’s also been very outspoken this year with his political views and appearances on other forms of media. He also appeared on CNN earlier this year right after the Chelyabinsk Meteor hit in February. I for one hope to see alot more of Bill in the next year.

    #8- Animation of DNA replicatingimage

    This gif is an animation of on what DNA replication might actually look like. On the bottom you can see the leading strand and on the top you can see the slower lagging strand as genetic code is primed on. I had taken my first Genetics class earlier this year and this representation of the process of DNA replication just fascinates me.

    #7- Everything Chris Hadfield Has Done Aboard ISS.

    image

    Rather it be wringing out a wet washcloth or crying, Chris Hadfield has given us insightful videos about the surreal phenomena one can expect to see from far above Earth’s orbit. Now retired, he rests in his home back on Earth, having enlightened us all and turning our minds to the possibility of a future living off planet and among the stars. 

    #6- The First Cyborgimage

    I still think this is quite an amazing mark on human history. Neil Harbisson is the first person on the planet to have a passport photo that shows his cyborg nature. This passport allows him the right to not have his gear forcibly removed when entering buildings, the parts are now identified as part of his body. 

    #5- Lasersimage

    image

    Okay forgive me for a minute, I’m going to gush here…. I freakin’ love this DIY laser. 

    #4- Clearest Picture of a Sunspot

    image

    This is just a remarkably beautiful picture to me and makes me really admire the miasma of incandescent plasma that has given us so much on Earth. 

    #3- Image of Hydrogen Bonds

    image

    Using a technique known as noncontact AFM and working at temperatures near absolute zero, researchers in China found these images of 8-hydroxyquinoline, the first time anyone has actually been able to visualize what hydrogen bonds actually look like. Speaking of Hydrogen…

    #2- Hydrogen Atom’s Orbital Structure

    image

    Okay gonna gush again.. This is so amazingly, mindbogglingly awesome. I mean this is a Hydrogen atom’s orbital structure. They actually managed to use a really really reaaaalllyyy powerful quantum microscope to take a photo of a Hydrogen atom and its electron cloud. If you showed this picture to Einstein or Schrodinger I’m pretty sure they would have puked. 

    #1- Voyager 1 Going Beyond the Solar System

    image

    The gif above isn’t a real image of the actual Voyager 1 obviously, but the number 1 image this year is the image in my head when I imagine all the places that Voyager 1 has been and all the places it will go in the distant future. There is so much for it to go out and find and, like us, its hopefully got a long adventure ahead as it travels aimlessly into the future. 

     
  10. image: download

    m1k3y:

In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, a 1960 concept image of the United States Air Force’s proposed Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) that was intended to test the military usefulness of having humans in orbit. The station’s baseline configuration was that of a two-person Gemini B spacecraft that could be attached to a laboratory vehicle.
The structure was planned to launch onboard a Titan IIIC rocket. The station would be used for a month and then the astronauts could return to the Gemini capsule for transport back to Earth. The first launch of the MOL was scheduled for December 15, 1969, but was then pushed back to the fall of 1971. 
The program was cancelled by Defense Secretary Melvin R. Laird in 1969 after the estimated cost of the program had risen in excess of $3 billion, and had already  $1.3 billion. Some of the military astronauts selected for the program then transferred to NASA and became some of the first people to fly the Space Shuttle, including Richard Truly, who later became the NASA Administrator. (via Space History Photo: Proposed USAF Manned Orbiting Laboratory | Space.com)

    m1k3y:

    In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, a 1960 concept image of the United States Air Force’s proposed Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) that was intended to test the military usefulness of having humans in orbit. The station’s baseline configuration was that of a two-person Gemini B spacecraft that could be attached to a laboratory vehicle.

    The structure was planned to launch onboard a Titan IIIC rocket. The station would be used for a month and then the astronauts could return to the Gemini capsule for transport back to Earth. The first launch of the MOL was scheduled for December 15, 1969, but was then pushed back to the fall of 1971. 

    The program was cancelled by Defense Secretary Melvin R. Laird in 1969 after the estimated cost of the program had risen in excess of $3 billion, and had already  $1.3 billion. Some of the military astronauts selected for the program then transferred to NASA and became some of the first people to fly the Space Shuttle, including Richard Truly, who later became the NASA Administrator. (via Space History Photo: Proposed USAF Manned Orbiting Laboratory | Space.com)