Author Topic: Space exploration thread  (Read 156712 times)

Offline The Gulleysucker

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Re: Space exploration thread
« Reply #2280 on: September 30, 2019, 12:01:44 AM »
Pity he brands innocent people as peados when they have the nerve to disagree with his opinions.

Yes, but I expect quite a few important historical figures across many disciplines would also share his ill disciplined and abhorrently arrogant views or similar when their authority or pronouncements were challenged, it's just they didn't have twitter to publicize them and by such to inform us what complete and utter arseholes they probably were in person.
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Offline WhereAngelsPlay

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Re: Space exploration thread
« Reply #2281 on: September 30, 2019, 12:09:16 AM »
Starship ....

Elon Musk is fucking nuts... but once again, this is incredible

Sounds like one of his goals is to take on the airlines or maybe I read that wrong.
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Offline farawayred

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Re: Space exploration thread
« Reply #2282 on: September 30, 2019, 12:14:39 AM »
The BBC says he plans to use Glass...https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-49870154

The Starship will feature heat-resistant "glass" tiles in those areas likely to experience the highest temperatures during a descent back through the atmosphere.

Makes sense. The Shuttle tiles were essentially made of porous borosilicate glass and heat treated tetrasilicide, so it's a proven technology. But recently aerogel materials are advancing in leaps and bounds, so those may be even better.
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Offline farawayred

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Re: Space exploration thread
« Reply #2283 on: September 30, 2019, 12:15:37 AM »
Yes, but I expect quite a few important historical figures across many disciplines would also share his ill disciplined and abhorrently arrogant views or similar when their authority or pronouncements were challenged, it's just they didn't have twitter to publicize them and by such to inform us what complete and utter arseholes they probably were in person.

Stephen Hawking for one.
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Offline Red Berry

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Re: Space exploration thread
« Reply #2284 on: September 30, 2019, 01:08:35 AM »
Indeed, Hawking seems to have been a bit of a dick.  For myself though I've had no time for Musk since that outburst. It's an abhorrent remark to make.
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Offline farawayred

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Re: Space exploration thread
« Reply #2285 on: September 30, 2019, 03:36:41 AM »
Indeed, Hawking seems to have been a bit of a dick.  For myself though I've had no time for Musk since that outburst. It's an abhorrent remark to make.
Sure, I agree 100%. Musk is a dick and his arrogance knows no limits. But without making any excuse for what he said, I have to admit (as much as I hate it) that arrogance is a necessary ingredient of success and general progress through innovation.

And just as a reminder to the magnitude of the task of going to Mars, Elon Musk's first plan to land on Mars was for 2015... Ahem... But in his defense, it's not easy! The successful Mars landings are less than 50% (will be exactly 50% if we manage to land one more time). So, I consider that any challenge to NASA (or ESA, or Rosskosmos) is a good one, it drives us on. 
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Offline The Gulleysucker

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Re: Space exploration thread
« Reply #2286 on: September 30, 2019, 10:14:45 AM »
Stephen Hawking for one.

Shockley was another.

Shockley donated sperm to the Repository for Germinal Choice, a sperm bank founded by Robert Klark Graham in hopes of spreading humanity's best genes. The bank, called by the media the "Nobel Prize sperm bank", claimed to have three Nobel Prize-winning donors, though Shockley was the only one to publicly acknowledge his donation to the sperm bank. However, Shockley's controversial views brought the Repository for Germinal Choice a degree of notoriety and may have discouraged other Nobel Prize winners from donating sperm...

...My research leads me inescapably to the opinion that the major cause of the American Negro's intellectual and social deficits is hereditary and racially genetic in origin and, thus, not remediable to a major degree by practical improvements in the environment.[33]...



Makes sense. The Shuttle tiles were essentially made of porous borosilicate glass and heat treated tetrasilicide, so it's a proven technology. But recently aerogel materials are advancing in leaps and bounds, so those may be even better.

Sandia have been doing interesting stuff with aerogel treatments (and here) for years, there's a hint in there about high performance thermal insulation

Which reminds me of a story I was told around 20 or so years ago that one of the first practical uses of aerogel was as a plasma between the primary and secondary stages in fission-fusion. Fogbank. It's an interesting read, not so much about the material but what happened when they subsequently had to reverse engineer it years later as the original production line had been closed down and the staff long dispersed or retired.


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Offline farawayred

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Re: Space exploration thread
« Reply #2287 on: October 1, 2019, 04:27:46 AM »

Sandia have been doing interesting stuff with aerogel treatments (and here) for years, there's a hint in there about high performance thermal insulation

Which reminds me of a story I was told around 20 or so years ago that one of the first practical uses of aerogel was as a plasma between the primary and secondary stages in fission-fusion. Fogbank. It's an interesting read, not so much about the material but what happened when they subsequently had to reverse engineer it years later as the original production line had been closed down and the staff long dispersed or retired.

(I wasn't aware of Shockley's image, thanks for posting that!)

Yeah, Sandia have been developing aerogels due to Jeff Brinker's good work for many years. Jeff is one of the leaders in the field in the U.S. and I'm familiar with his work. Livermore are doing a lot too nowadays. But unfortunately (for me), the U.S. is no longer leading the aerogel field worldwide. TUHH (Hamburg) has a strong group, DLR (Cologne) has the largest aerogel effort among aerospace entities, and France (Sofia Antipolis) is very strong. These two resurrected the aerogel science from the oblivion after 2003. And England is not far behind, especially Lidija Siller at Newcastle Uni is doing some really fine work. I'm closely connected to the aerogel field, and just recently went to the 1st International Conference on Aerogel-Inspired Materials in Newcastle. I also gave a public lecture there on Sep. 17 on the NASA use of aerogels and was thinking of posting on here if someone wanted to come, but got distracted at work and forgot... The progress in the last few years has been immense! Not only do they sell aerogel-filled clothes, hiking gear and what not (people climbed Everest in aerogel-insulated boots), but they make bullet-proof vests better than Kevlar, aerogel windows for houses, oil pipe insulation, and Aerogel Technologies are working on replacing the Airbus internal plastic panels and Ford engine covers. Mind-boggling...

Having said that, "high performance thermal insulation" is synonymous with aerogels, any aerogels. They are the best thermal insulators known to men, full stop. The issues for their implementation are mostly cost and other factors, such as hydrophobicity, structural integrity, drying process, etc., not physical limitations. There is a way to implement them in everything, but it's not always feasible. For example, the only place they can be used in housing is Switzerland, because saving a few inches from the inner walls of retrofitted houses translates into savings. For space, we use them since the Pathfinder mission; insulating the Sojourner rover was not only the only solution that fit into the mass budget, but allowed for adding a small weather station (most people don't know that little detail). We never looked back afterwards and used it on every rover on Mars, all electronics and RTG shielding uses aerogel. Cost is not a real issue for flight missions, to be honest. We also used it to capture comet particles (Stardust) and in a composite form as a vacuum pump (InSight). I'm trying to expand its application to radar technology.

So, Elon Musk is smart, porous glass/ceramics is the way to go, and the sol-gel production method applies well to them. Nowadays they make them flexible or high-temperature ( for >800 C) and they can make composites (flexible blankets). I'm trying to push for implementation in a Europa landing mission, but I've got a lot of resistance at JPL... But Elon doesn't care, he does what he wants. That's what I like about a private company which hasn't yet accumulated critical amount of deadwood... Sometimes I wish I was born one generation earlier...

Edit: That picture on Fogbank with the brick on top of the aerogel took a few tries... :) The material is very good on compression, but lousy in pull or shear (not unlike cement). if the brick tilts, the aerogel crumbles in 1000 pieces like car glass.
« Last Edit: October 1, 2019, 04:31:36 AM by farawayred »
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Offline farawayred

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Re: Space exploration thread
« Reply #2288 on: October 11, 2019, 01:52:00 AM »
Mars 2020 rover being packed for shipping soon.
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Offline soxfan

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Re: Space exploration thread
« Reply #2289 on: October 15, 2019, 07:58:31 PM »
Gilbert V. Levin is an engineer and inventor; he was the principal investigator of the Labeled Release life detection experiment on NASA Viking missions to Mars in the 1970s.

I’m Convinced We Found Evidence of Life on Mars in the 1970s
By Gilbert V. Levin


We humans can now peer back into the virtual origin of our universe. We have learned much about the laws of nature that control its seemingly infinite celestial bodies, their evolution, motions and possible fate. Yet, equally remarkable, we have no generally accepted information as to whether other life exists beyond us, or whether we are, as was Samuel Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, “alone, alone, all, all alone, alone on a wide wide sea!” We have made only one exploration to solve that primal mystery. I was fortunate to have participated in that historic adventure as experimenter of the Labeled Release (LR) life detection experiment on NASA’s spectacular Viking mission to Mars in 1976.

On July 30, 1976, the LR returned its initial results from Mars. Amazingly, they were positive. As the experiment progressed, a total of four positive results, supported by five varied controls, streamed down from the twin Viking spacecraft landed some 4,000 miles apart. The data curves signaled the detection of microbial respiration on the Red Planet. The curves from Mars were similar to those produced by LR tests of soils on Earth. It seemed we had answered that ultimate question.

When the Viking Molecular Analysis Experiment failed to detect organic matter, the essence of life, however, NASA concluded that the LR had found a substance mimicking life, but not life. Inexplicably, over the 43 years since Viking, none of NASA’s subsequent Mars landers has carried a life detection instrument to follow up on these exciting results. Instead the agency launched a series of missions to Mars to determine whether there was ever a habitat suitable for life and, if so, eventually to bring samples to Earth for biological examination.

NASA maintains the search for alien life among its highest priorities. On February 13, 2019, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said we might find microbial life on Mars. Our nation has now committed to sending astronauts to Mars. Any life there might threaten them, and us upon their return. Thus, the issue of life on Mars is now front and center.

Life on Mars seemed a long shot. On the other hand, it would take a near miracle for Mars to be sterile. NASA scientist Chris McKay once said that Mars and Earth have been “swapping spit” for billions of years, meaning that, when either planet is hit by comets or large meteorites, some ejecta shoot into space. A tiny fraction of this material eventually lands on the other planet, perhaps infecting it with microbiological hitch-hikers. That some Earth microbial species could survive the Martian environment has been demonstrated in many laboratories. There are even reports of the survival of microorganisms exposed to naked space outside the International Space Station (ISS).

NASA’s reservation against a direct search for microorganisms ignores the simplicity of the task accomplished by Louis Pasteur in 1864. He allowed microbes to contaminate a hay-infusion broth, after which bubbles of their expired gas appeared. Prior to containing living microorganisms, no bubbles appeared. (Pasteur had earlier determinted that heating, or pasteurizing, such a substance would kill the microbes.) This elegantly simple test, updated to substitute modern microbial nutrients with the hay-infusion products in Pasteur’s, is in daily use by health authorities around the world to examine potable water. Billions of people are thus protected against microbial pathogens.

This standard test, in essence, was the LR test on Mars, modified by the addition of several nutrients thought to broaden the prospects for success with alien organisms, and the tagging of the nutrients with radioactive carbon. These enhancements made the LR sensitive to the very low microbial populations postulated for Mars, should any be there, and reduced the time for detection of terrestrial microorganisms to about one hour. But on Mars, each LR experiment continued for seven days. A heat control, similar to Pasteur’s, was added to determine whether any response obtained was biological or chemical.

The Viking LR sought to detect and monitor ongoing metabolism, a very simple and fail-proof indicator of living microorganisms. Several thousand runs were made, both before and after Viking, with terrestrial soils and microbial cultures, both in the laboratory and in extreme natural environments. No false positive or false negative result was ever obtained. This strongly supports the reliability of the LR Mars data, even though their interpretation is debated.

In her recent book To Mars with Love, my LR co-experimenter Patricia Ann Straat provides much of the scientific detail of the Viking LR at lay level. Scientific papers published about the LR are available on my Web site.

In addition to the direct evidence for life on Mars obtained by the Viking LR, evidence supportive of, or consistent with, extant microbial life on Mars has been obtained by Viking, subsequent missions to Mars, and discoveries on Earth:

- Surface water sufficient to sustain microorganisms was found on Mars by Viking, Pathfinder, Phoenix and Curiosity;
- Ultraviolet (UV) activation of the Martian surface material did not, as initially proposed, cause the LR reaction: a sample taken from under a UV-shielding rock was as LR-active as surface samples;
- Complex organics, have been reported on Mars by Curiosity’s scientists, possibly including kerogen, which could be of biological origin;
- Phoenix and Curiosity found evidence that the ancient Martian environment may have been habitable.
- The excess of carbon-13 over carbon-12 in the Martian atmosphere is indicative of biological activity, which prefers ingesting the latter;
- The Martian atmosphere is in disequilibrium: its CO2 should long ago have been converted to CO by the sun’s UV light; thus the CO2 is being regenerated, possibly by microorganisms as on Earth;
- Terrestrial microorganisms have survived in outer space outside the ISS;
- Ejecta containing viable microbes have likely been arriving on Mars from Earth;
- Methane has been measured in the Martian atmosphere; microbial methanogens could be the source;
- The rapid disappearance of methane from the Martian atmosphere requires a sink, possibly supplied by methanotrophs that could co-exist with methanogens on the Martian surface;
- Ghost-like moving lights, resembling will-O’-the-wisps on Earth that are formed by spontaneous ignition of methane, have been video-recorded on the Martian surface;
- Formaldehyde and ammonia, each possibly indicative of biology, are claimed to be in the Martian atmosphere;
- An independent complexity analysis of the positive LR signal identified it as biological;
- Six-channel spectral analyses by Viking’s imaging system found terrestrial lichen and green patches on Mars rocks to have the identical color, saturation, hue and intensity;
- A wormlike feature was in an image taken by Curiosity;
- Large structures resembling terrestrial stromatolites (formed by microorganisms) were found by Curiosity; a statistical analysis of their complex features showed less than a 0.04 percent probability that
  the similarity was caused by chance alone;
- No factor inimical to life has been found on Mars.

In summary, we have: positive results from a widely-used microbiological test; supportive responses from strong and varied controls; duplication of the LR results at each of the two Viking sites; replication of the experiment at the two sites; and the failure over 43 years of any experiment or theory to provide a definitive nonbiological explanation of the Viking LR results.

What is the evidence against the possibility of life on Mars? The astonishing fact is that there is none. Furthermore, laboratory studies have shown that some terrestrial microorganisms could survive and grow on Mars.

NASA has already announced that its 2020 Mars lander will not contain a life-detection test. In keeping with well-established scientific protocol, I believe an effort should be made to put life detection experiments on the next Mars mission possible. I and my co-experimenter have formally and informally proposed that the LR experiment, amended with an ability to detect chiral metabolism, be sent to Mars to confirm the existence of life: non-biological chemical reactions do not distinguish between “left-handed” and “right-handed” organic molecules, but all living things do.

Moreover, the Chiral LR (CLR) could confirm and extend the Viking LR findings. It could determine whether any life detected were similar to ours, or whether there was a separate genesis. This would be a fundamental scientific discovery in its own right. A small, lightweight CLR has already been designed and its principle verified by tests. It could readily be turned into a flight instrument.

Meanwhile a panel of expert scientists should review all pertinent data of the Viking LR together with other and more recent evidence concerning life on Mars. Such an objective jury might conclude, as I did, that the Viking LR did find life. In any event, the study would likely produce important guidance for NASA’s pursuit of its holy grail.

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/im-convinced-we-found-evidence-of-life-on-mars-in-the-1970s/