Category Archives: Space

Links o' the day 6/11/08

While the world continues to cheer the election of Barack Obama as president of the world’s most powerful democracy, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck has been anointed king of the world’s newest, Bhutan.

Apparently you can accidentally steal a car.

Gorillas need surgery too.

Companies are turning to blogging as a way of reporting layoffs, rather than letting them get picked up by the traditional media.

It’s a beard off!

Cleantech is growing in silicon valley.

The Mars lander is guestblogging on Gizmodo 😀

Links o' the day, 17/10/2008

Rogue ass jailed in Egypt. (RTÉ)

Palin lookalike strippers to strut in pageant. (AP)

RIAA appeals mistrial in file-sharing case. (CNet)

Its native tongue facing extinction, Native American tribe teaches the young. (International Herald Tribune)

Bee Gees song Stayin’ Alive helps doctors perform CPR. (The Daily Telegraph)

Your bottled water may be no purer than tap. (Lifehacker)

Space smells of steak, says Nasa. (The Sun)

Space talk

NASA is making all the right noises, with its chief, Michael Griffin, again asserting that space exploration is key to human survival. Good luck getting the cash for that one.

His vested interest is apparent and, given the environmental damage that has been wrought to Earth, he may have a point. But then again it’s NASA’s 50th anniversary, so we should expect him to promote the overall endeavour.

“As we move out in our solar system, expanding human presence, we can’t prove what we will find will be useful.

“It was understood in Columbus’s time that if voyagers discovered new lands they would find valuable things. We can’t prove today that we can exploit what we find to the benefit of humankind.”

However, in the long run, Griffin believes “human populations must diversify if it wishes to survive.”

To be fair, he has a point. The greater the number of human populations, the greatert the chance that the species will, in some form, survive. The Moon is the obvious candidate, followed by Mars; you don’t have to be a science-fiction fan to figure that out. Though conditions will be far from luxurious, at least to begin with, even a few thousand people on each body will aid our ultimate chances of survival.

Complete terraforming is well beyond our grasp, although for a snapshot of something we could do regarding the Moon, read Moonseed by Stephen Baxter. Kim Stanley Robinson’s substantial Mars series is a hard science look at the transformation of the Red Planet.

Closer to terra firma, Griffin is also adamant that he does not see China as a competitor in space exploration. He may come to regret his words, which come the same week that China prepared for its as China launches its riskiest orbital mission yet, including its first space walk.

It would not be in Griffin’s best interests to praise the Chinese project, even if it could eventually see the Asian nation launch and complete its own space station in the near future. The space walk is pivotal for developing the expertise to snap the thing together.

Water on Mars

It has been confirmed that water exists on the Red Planet. The elements required for life as we know it were found a few weeks ago, but this is the first definite evidence of water. Well, I’M excited.

Also, the presence of water automatically makes any manned mission easier, as the astronauts can make their own potable liquids on site rather than transporting them in bulk.

Planet X

A Japanese team believes there may be a planet 70% the size of Earth at the far reaches of the solar system. As I still recognise Pluto as a planet, that would make it the 10th.

The researchers at Kobe University in western Japan said calculations using computer simulations led them to conclude it was only a matter of time before the mysterious “Planet X” was found.

“Because of the very cold temperature, its surface would be covered with ice, icy ammonia and methane,” Kobe University professor Tadashi Mukai, the lead researcher, told AFP.

The study by Mukai and researcher Patryk Lykawka will be published in the April issue of the US-based Astronomical Journal.

“The possibility is high that a yet unknown, planet-class celestial body, measuring 30 percent to 70 percent of the Earth’s mass, exists in the outer edges of the solar system,” said a summary of the research released by Kobe University.

“If research is conducted on a wide scale, the planet is likely to be discovered in less than 10 years,” it said.

Earthset in high definition



Above is one of the first high definition photos taken from the lunar surface.  It was shot by the Japanese probe Kaguya.

This still image was cut out from a moving image taken by the HDTV onboard the Kaguya at 12:07 p.m. on November 7, 2007 (Japan Standard Time, JST,) then sent to the JAXA Usuda Deep Space Center.
In the image, the Moon’s surface is near the South Pole, and we can see the Australian Continent (centre left) and the Asian Continent (lower right) on the Earth. (In this image, the upper side of the Earth is the Southern Hemisphere, thus the Australian Continent looks upside-down.)

Follow the link above for more of the images.