M Thomas Apple Author Page

Science fiction, actual science, history, and personal ranting about life, the universe, and everything

Drill, rocket launch, catch, ferry, repeat?

August 2, 2020
MThomas

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The Airbus spacecraft will have to manoeuvre itself into a position to capture these samples that will be packaged inside a football-sized container.

After ingesting this container, the satellite must then prepare it for return to Earth.

This means not only shipping it across hundred of millions of km of space, but also putting the football inside a re-entry capsule that can be dropped into Earth’s atmosphere to land in an American desert.

This would be, indeed, a feat of engineering as well as a first in interplanetary exploration.

But I wouldn’t go so far as to call it an “interplanetary cargo ship.” Unless the intention is to maintain it as a permanent link between research locations (i.e., some kind of permanent orbitor stationed above the Jezero Crater) and research facilities on Earth (or the Moon, or the International Space Station).

Political will is needed in addition to the enormous funding. Semi-privatization, anyone?

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-53575353

 

 

Mars GLOWS green — but brighter at day than at night

June 19, 2020
MThomas

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By studying Mars’ green glow, the researchers can understand the structure of this layer in the planet’s atmosphere, better understand its altitude range and even observe any changes in reaction to the sun.

First time to see a “green glow” around another planet. In the case of Earth, it’s mostly caused by oxygen, but Mars’ glow is primarily CO2.

So there really ARE “Green Martians.” Just don’t turn and run!

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/06/16/world/mars-green-glow-esa-scn-trnd/index.html

The Once and Future Rings of Mars

June 17, 2020
MThomas

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The researchers looked at Phobos, which loses height as it interacts with Martian gravity over time. Eventually, its orbit will be too low and Mars will essentially rip it into pieces that form a ring around the planet. It’s estimated that this will happen within 50 million years.

So say goodbye to fear, but dread may stick around a while longer…

https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/06/03/world/mars-rings-moons-scn/index.html

SpaceX to launch πŸš€ May 27

April 18, 2020
MThomas

Hmm, this doesn’t look much like a dragon… πŸ‰ πŸ€”

(First NASA manned launch in a decade. First NASA launch by a private company. We’ll likely see many, many more.)

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52333932

Honey, I Shrunk the Lunar Payloads!

April 13, 2020
MThomas

NASA tells Inverse that the payloads will need to measure no more than 100 millimeters by 100 millimeters by 50 millimeters, around the size of a bar of soap. They will also need to weigh no more than 0.4 kilograms (0.88 pounds) and be able to withstand external temperatures between minus 120 degrees Celsius (minus 184 degrees Fahrenheit) and 100 degrees (212 degrees Fahrenheit). These are the maximum limits, but smaller and lighter is preferred.

Yow, that’s wicked tiny. But small price to pay to set up a Lunar Space Base from which humanity can expand into the expanse.

Er, the solar system. I meant the solar system.

https://www.inverse.com/innovation/nasa-payload-contest

Nasa’s 2020 rover: Can we finally answer the big question about Mars?

March 8, 2020
MThomas

“So, let’s bring the samples back. So if those extraordinary claims are made, they can be verified.”

One likely extraterrestrial form of life might resemble a terrestrial form: the stromatolite.

They basically look like big rocks. I visited one site in Western Australia in 2003 with a group of Japanese students who were told by a local guide that the stromatolites were “3.5 billion years old.” (They’re not, but they do look like what life might have looked like at that point.”

So NASA is sending another rover to see if they can find evidence of a similar life form.

Sorry. No Slurm (yet?).

β€” Read on www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/science-environment-51544476

Jules Verne – most translated science fantasy writer ever?

February 15, 2020
MThomas

When I was a kid, I devoured books by Jules Verne, in the Classics Illustrated series vocabulary- and grammar-controlled for younger readers.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Voyage to the Center of the Earth

From the Earth to the Moon

Around the World in Eighty Days

Until I was in college, I didn’t even know that he wrote them in French.

Until a few days ago, I didn’t know they were part of a 54-volume set, complete with 4,000 hand-drawn illustrations that are now available online for free.

How’s that for enduring literary influence?

Check out the link below for more details…

http://www.openculture.com/2020/02/jules-vernes-voyages-extraordinaires.html

Forget Mars, Head to Europa?

February 7, 2020
MThomas

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“I think we’ve got a better chance of having slightly higher forms of life on Europa, perhaps similar to the intelligence of an octopus.”

Hmm. Maybe. It seems more like that any life would be of the microscopic or worm-like variety. But we still have to get out there first to find out…

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ericmack/2020/02/06/alien-life-on-jupiter-moon-europa-a-sure-bet-space-scientist-says/?fbclid=IwAR0E86oW8Gi37WJluYC4O-DwjinzuNyuMZp96YYQY-eGfuapTZhyZYksxGU#250f65893cb3

Super Bowl 2020: All the space-themed commercials

February 2, 2020
MThomas

“Being able to get humans on Mars and actually collecting one of these samples would be such an incredible moment, I would kind of hope it would almost bring us back to the moon days of everyone being glued to the TV.”

Um. Well. OK. TV is dead so we’ll all be watching it streamed on our smartphones, but the point is taken.

And how much did they pay for this? πŸ’° πŸ‘½ πŸ“Ί

β€” Read on http://www.livescience.com/amp/super-bowl-space-commercials.html

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