M Thomas Apple Author Page

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

Destination: Red Planet

June 27, 2021
MThomas

Like other nations, China “regards Mars exploration as the preferred destination for deep space exploration,” Wang said.

https://abcnews.go.com/amp/Technology/china-unveils-ambitious-roadmap-human-mars-exploration/

China’s plan calls for setting up a permanently occupied base and a fleet of interplanetary craft. Probably it’s a good idea to first see whether it can meet its goal of landing people on Mars in 2033.

Of course, China is “willing to join hands with our counterparts and partners all over the world,” but it’s unlikely NASA, JAXA, ESA, and the UAE and other countries not named Russia will “cooperate.”

The next space race is here. Just wait until multinats actually decide asteroid mining is worth the risk and expense.

Sorry, Venus is just a lot of gas

February 4, 2021
MThomas

There’s a reason I didn’t post a while ago about the supposed “there’s life in the clouds of Venus” finding.

It was just a big load of gas.

Sorry, folks. Venus is a big rotten egg. 🥚

https://www.nbcnews.com/science/space/signs-life-venus-might-just-be-ordinary-sulfur-gas-n1256739

Whatever happened to the “spaceplane”?

January 27, 2021
MThomas

NASA ended the US’s interest in spaceplanes when it scrapped the shuttle fleet a decade ago.

But other space agencies and private companies in other countries are very much in the game. ESA, India, even the UK.

And, of course…

Whichever future the spaceplane does have, it will involve China. “We know very little about the launch [of China’s experimental spaceplane],” says Deville. “But it shows that China is serious about developing its spaceplane concepts.”

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210121-spaceplanes-the-return-of-the-reuseable-spacecraft

Drill, rocket launch, catch, ferry, repeat?

August 2, 2020
MThomas

fullsizeoutput_76f4

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

mars-green-glow-exlarge-169

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

I Only Wanted to See You Under the Iron Rain…

March 14, 2020
MThomas

IronRain

Wasp-76b, as it’s known, orbits so close in to its host star, its dayside temperatures exceed 2,400C – hot enough to vaporise metals.

Hmm….this reminds me of…let me think for a minute…wait, I got it…

Anakin-TooHot

Yeah, that’s the one. I think.

(Seriously, check it out. Not even the Jedi could possibly handle an actual “inferno” planet.)

Khufu, I mean, Cheops is a go!

December 20, 2019
MThomas

Ever wonder this about “Super Earths”?

Do they have atmospheres and how thick are they? What kind of clouds? Do they possess oceans on their surface? Do they have rings and moons? Cheops ought to be able to address such questions just from looking for these tiny dips in light during a transit.

ESA finally does something! Wow. Go Europe!

I love how BBC says “The Americans” when referring to NASA, as if a) American is an ethnic group and b) all NASA scientists are American.

But anyway…

Prof Didier Queloz, who won this year’s Physics Nobel for discovering the first planet orbiting a Sun-like star in 1995, was on hand to watch the launch.

You can watch/listen to his interview here.

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-50804258

ESA and NASA? Airbus? Still not ready? 🤦‍♂️

December 6, 2019
MThomas

Right now, engineers have got a dummy rover practising the business of retrieving packaged rock samples. And, yes, the stand-ins really are whiteboard markers.

Yay! Whiteboard markers. Um. OK.

But different agencies and companies are finally working together?

Great!

Wait. What’s the catch?

It is, though, going to take more than a decade to achieve.

Sigh.

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-50663278

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