M Thomas Apple Author Page

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

Where are your nuclear wessels?

August 11, 2020
MThomas

nuclearrockets

Astronauts on a trip to Mars would be exposed to very high levels of radiation which can cause serious long-term health problems such as cancer and sterility. Radiation shielding can help, but it is extremely heavy, and the longer the mission, the more shielding is needed. A better way to reduce radiation exposure is to simply get where you are going quicker.

Hmm. So putting them in a ship with a giant nuclear fission reactor is safer?

I think somebody may want to come up with a backup plan…

BZsV.gif

https://www.space.com/nuclear-powered-rockets-to-explore-solar-system.html

SpooQy-1 action at a distance!

June 30, 2020
MThomas

“In the future, our system could be part of a global quantum network transmitting quantum signals to receivers on Earth or on other spacecraft,” says Aitor Villar, lead author of the study. “These signals could be used to implement any type of quantum communications application, from quantum key distribution for extremely secure data transmission to quantum teleportation, where information is transferred by replicating the state of a quantum system from a distance.”

OK, OK, so it’s not the first time quantum entanglement has been demonstrated. But it sure is the smallest. Only 20 cm by 10 cm!

Now we only need a few thousand of these things and a way of somehow making tangled photons actually carry encrypted messages…

(Sorry, thinking of the SF novel I should have published by now…still figuring out the last two chapters!)

See more at New Atlas (note: I seriously doubt the CubeSat actually looks like that picture when it’s doing its thing).

The Once and Future Rings of Mars

June 17, 2020
MThomas

deimos-mars-moon-super-169

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

It’s a Nice Model you’ve got there, Mars. Be a shame if something happened to it…

January 12, 2020
MThomas

“Without this instability, Mars likely would have had a mass closer to Earth’s and would be a very different, perhaps more Earth-like, planet compared to what it is today.”

Damn you, Jupiter and Saturn! Why couldn’t you have just stayed in your orbits and left Mars alone? (Shakes fist futilely at night sky.)

— Read on www.universal-sci.com/headlines/2018/5/10/the-giant-planets-in-the-solar-system-stunted-the-growth-of-mars

Interstellar Travel Tech — oh, Really?

April 27, 2019
MThomas

Interstellar

“It is time to venture beyond the known planets, on toward the stars.”

Yes, I agree, but I don’t see how any of the ideas in this article will help us achieve that goal. I think the problem is the reliance on conventional means of propulsion. Clearly some sort of bending of space/time is needed to leave the solar system faster than, say, a decade, let alone reach other star systems.

Dawn already used an ion engine (way too slow). The solar gravitational lens is neat but it won’t take us there physically. The “space-based laser” idea is funky but impractical.

Getting off Earth should help (Moon Base, Mars, somewhere else like Triton). Escaping our own planet’s gravity well takes way too much effort. But after that, it’s time to forget about rockets and start thinking of truly “wacked out” ideas.

For starters, Discover, how about dumping your absolutely awful page design? Yeesh, this page is hard to read.

http://discovermagazine.com/2019/apr/new-technologies-could-let-us-explore-beyond-the-solar-system

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