M Thomas Apple Author Page

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

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

It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it. Maybe.

November 14, 2019
MThomas

The pattern remains a mystery, but researchers are beginning to narrow the possibilities.

While the changes are most likely…geological in nature, planetary scientists can’t completely rule out an explanation involving microbial life.

Just as the Viking landers claimed? Uh-oh.

Or is it just chemicals (perchlorate, bleach-like substances) in the soil, releasing oxygen and methane depending on the amount of sunlight/heat?

How would this affect humans who set up camps in the low-elevations areas, where they could be closer to water?

Hm…

www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-50419917

The exciting world of regolith oxygen extraction

October 25, 2019
MThomas

Future moon settlers might benefit from oxygen extraction from lunar regolith as it can be used to create breathable air as well as a source for fuel. In addition, the newly found extraction method might also be useful for Mars colonization.

Regolith covers the Moon and Mars (and presumably many other potentially habitable rocky bodies).

Of course, the composition of regolith on the Moon differs from that of Mars.

But if the new method can extract sufficient quantities of both oxygen and hydrogen, there should be ample amounts for both human usage and rocket fuel.

(Yawn.) “Dry” science? Sure. But think of the (fictional) possibilities!

https://www.universal-sci.com/headlines/2019/10/17/scientists-discovered-how-to-extract-oxygen-from-the-moons-soil

Have Gravity Link Spaceship, Will Travel?

October 16, 2019
MThomas

Youtuber smallstars has proposed a concept that he calls the Gravity Link Starship (GLS), a variation of SpaceX’s Starshipthat will be able to provide its own artificial gravity.

Hm, I guess we’re at the point where YouTubers have better ideas than NASA…

But who pays for this? is the several billion dollar question. Not just the construction of the “hub and truss” system, but the expense of getting it into space in the first place.

Seems like science fiction at this point. But still worth a read/look:

www.universetoday.com/143368/real-artificial-gravity-for-spacexs-starship/

“We already found life on Mars!” Um. Sorry, no, you didn’t.

October 15, 2019
MThomas

“What is the evidence against the possibility of life on Mars?” Levin wrote. “The astonishing fact is that there is none.”

Uh, no, sorry. That’s an illogical fallacy called “begging the question.”

Often phrased like this: “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

Or, as a friend once joked, “Just because you haven’t found any aliens doesn’t mean there aren’t any!”

Well, yeah, but that doesn’t prove anything except that we just don’t know.

See, science doesn’t work like that. It demands skepticism, careful theorizing based on positive evidence.

And replication.

If findings can’t be independently confirmed and reproduced by an outside observer, then the evidence isn’t strong enough.

Sorry. No smoking gun. Yet.

(Believe me, if scientists knew that Mars had life, we’d hear about it ad infinitum. Carl Sagan put it best: Scientists are terrible at keeping secrets.)

https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2019/10/15/us/nasa-life-on-mars-intl-hnk-scli/index.html?__twitter_impression=true

No, the “golden asteroid” will NOT make you rich

June 27, 2019
MThomas

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I wrote about this a couple of days ago (based on an article from two weeks prior), but it’s interesting to see random websites suddenly jumping on the “we’ll all get rich!” asteroid mining band wagon. Hey, everybody, let’s copy-paste stuff and not use our brains!

A new article by rt.com even includes two click-bait links to “how gold was formed” that have nothing whatsoever to do with NASA’s probe to (16) Psyche. Of course, we shouldn’t expect any less from an obvious Russian “news” distributor. But in the interests of calling out the bad reporting in this and similar “news” articles spread online recently, let’s give this a hearty smack-down.

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