Monday, March 15, 2010

Poking and prodding....

And yet another dissatisfied stargazer

I apologize that I do not post here very often anymore, there's not a lot to talk about by the time I run out of things I must do at work, but I read an article (Laurel Kornfeld: Pluto still a planet) where Laurel proceeds to indicate that the term planet should apply to any body whose gravity reshapes it to a spheroid... mm... I think the main difference I have with what she said if you look at an older article of mine called Nomenclature is that I created a sub-category based on surface gravity (minor planet, planet, giant/major planet) and a second one based on surface composition (liquid, rocky, gas). But let's face it, a planet is a planet, regardless of the subclassification. Read her article, and judge for yourself.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Excercise in near-0g....

Hey all...

I just finished reading Space.Com's article (see link) about exercise. This will be a major issue as we "go where no man has gone before" so to speak. Sure, astronauts have the equivalence of osteoporosis by the time they return to earth now, and the study is geared toward reducing these effects on them, but what will this mean to the planet-dwellers like the present day you and me. My grandfather has lost height, not nearly as bad as grandma did, from age and bone degeneration. Perhaps their studies into exercise, diet, and medications should also be reviewed here on earth (not that we follow their recommendations down here at this time). Just think, the next great "Get In Shape Now" trend may be the NASA-routine. Have fun balancing your aerobic and resistance training!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

... delays in updates ...

First off, I apologize for the infrequency...

On to business, with my current work schedule, and trying to write three more unpublished novels, I've had little time to pay attention to space news. However, Props are due to NASA latest shuttle crew for a job well done... and if I recall aright... going above and beyond the original mission specs. Back later.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Three lofty NASA goals....

I was perusing the NASA budget and saw these three outstanding indicators of the space industry

NASA Goals:

  • Completing the Space Station

  • retiring the Space Shuttle in 2010
  • transition from the Space Shuttle to the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle and Ares launch vehicles

It's not until page 5 that you get to the actual numbers. Here you can see that Astrophysics and Heliophysics are both getting pay cuts on this year's budget according to the 2008 report (if the date is to be believed). Science overall takes a budget cut on that version of the document while exploration and operations goes up. With satellites colliding in orbit and falling like so many meteors to earth, this seems like a mistake... I am still looking for a 2009 dated file. The only thing that looks like it gets continuously an increase in funding, to me at any rate, is the agency's legal team and maintenance programs.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Nasa Cooking Expedition....

Can you cook without gravity

This is a slightly amusing thought.... if you cook in space, does boiling water return to the pot?

The answer is: No... it just expand because of the low gravity -- it's measured on a scale so small you can almost call it zero. Apparently cooking requires: duct tape, foil, and plastic bags. If you read the article, you'll get a lot of laughs about the technical challenges of cooking in almost no gravity. Please, don't take for granted the fact that your spinning earth provides enough gravity and force to hold your food down the next time you through the trash out or boil the water.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

We now join the show already in progress....

Before I write anything in this post, let me thank the few people who've read my works for doing so and apologize for the delay in returning to this blog.

Can humanity live in space?

Habitability & Enviromental Factors

This division in setup in 2 branches: Environment and Habitat. The link for them has very vague and sketchy information. Here is what I think they should be looking at:
  • Radiation: how to deal with solar and cosmic radiation, how to treat it, and what 40-50 year exposure will do.

  • Food supplies: Can it be grown in space, can it be considered safe, does it require the special conditions of terrestrial soil or can a hydroponics farm really work.

  • SAD syndrome. This occurs on the extreme latitudes and causes massive depression from a lack of sunlight. If I send someone to Mars and the Alaskan twilight that is likely to be the best they get, will I need to send a chemist, a lab, and 10 tons of antidepressants?

  • Liquids and biological agents. Pure water is useless after a while. We all drink in bacteria and viruses that are both helpful and harmful to life, but when we move out of the terra-sphere we know, the biosphere we've always lived in, will we find liquids and biological agents that enable us to maintain life, or will we be forever shipping out new supplies and shipping back depleted ones because of the aformentioned factors?

I hesitate to consider more as I will likely hit a nerve with them or try to put too much onto their plate. After all, NASA is comprised of many divisions and hordes outside contracts as much as congress will allow in an effort to enable us to continue exploring as nature (or, if you agree with me, God) designed.

For more possibilities, see NASA and the ESA (European Space Agency) for what they are working on and what their visions are. Perhaps I will remember to review the civillian sector space race again next Saturday. Signing out for this week, I want you to keep your head in the sky and your feet on the ground, unless you're an astronaut.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Small Steps....

Big Gains

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Every technology, every dream begins with a seed. Be that seed faith, prior science, or just plain determination. Today, that seed is the ISS. We keep trying to analyze data, we send people up for extended periods of time, and finally to test the integrity of our science in the harsh reality of space.

Right now we struggle with simple issues such as bone loss from microgravity, muscles atrophying, and low levels of radiation (the station is still in earth's magnetic shielding). We must resolve this issues before we can begin the major portion of the work I am proposing in my blog. We can solve both bone loss and atrophy by solving artificial gravity. I have already addressed a few ideas we as a people have put forward on artificial gravity. Magnetic fields (combined with metal threads or struts in the clothing) and spinning stations can fake gravity to an extent.

Radiation is a bigger issue. Magnetics, atmospheric composition, and the size of the atmosphere all play a role here on earth. In space, we have to modulate all of these. We can provide magnetics through an electromagnetic core but we will have to examine shielding of a different nature to replace composition and size of the atmosphere. An earth normal atmosphere in the station will be too small effectively destroy or divert cosmic (solar and celestial body based) radiation, much less a solar storm that could destroy electronics. We know that water-ice could be useful, and so could certain minerals and elements found in rock (particularly things like lead which can be poisonous).

Along with these two major issues is space dust. Once we get outside of the earth's protection, and even inside of it, the issue is how much damage could this dust and debris do to a station in space.

Have a great time exploring the skies... Whether by telescope or by rocket.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Time to have lunch on the moon....

An example lunar polar base

From the pole, run out sheathed electrical cabling every 30° to exposed terminals. Due to the temperature difference on the sides of the moon, this should generate an electric potential that can be tapped at a polar power station. From a nearby terminal to we then run a coiled cable around the moon every mile or so (engineers may say this has to be done more or less frequently) to generate a magnetic field. This field it is hoped, would divert solar radiation away from a base around 5 miles out from the pole.

The base itself will be a standard module, semi-spherical in shape connected to the power plant. The power feeds will create an additional magnetic field around the module through additional coils in the outer structure. Magnetic coils are also recommended in the flooring to divert accumulated radiation on the surface of the moon away from the astronauts. Over the coils around the top and sides of the structure, we should have a layer of non-magnetic sheathing material. We will place layers of ice and regolith over this sheath to further reduce incoming solar radiation and increase insolation. Hatches will be present on the ground side (2 recommended) for access and a thick lens hatch available on the top as part of an observatory would be optional, though it is recommended that a lunar observatory be constructed in a different manor and remotely operated for the majority of its day.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Homo Exterra

A space race....

So I cheated... Homo Sapiens is the Genus and Species of the modern man. Exterra is a combination of 2 latin words ex (out of, from) and terra (earth, land, ground). When we move to space as a permanent habitat, we may have generations of people growing up in microgravity. A recent article suggested that bone loss from microgravity can become so severe for long trips that the astronaut may be unable to return home.

NASA has been studying bone loss to extend the active duty time of its astronauts as well as increase their level of comfort between extended trips (such as 6 months on the ISS). Here's their main concern as stated in the article:

Exposure to the microgravity environment of space causes astronauts to lose calcium from bones. This loss occurs because the absence of Earth's gravity disrupts the process of bone maintenance in its major function of supporting body weight.

Because of this, our first permanent settlement, not just an outpost, may be manned by generations of people who's bodies will be shaped much differently from our own or may just be too brittle to visit "Mother Earth" or Gaea, to borrow from Greek Mythology. Now, there are many stories where people have very dense or very light bone structure and can't handle a "normal" environment properly anymore. Do not be surprised if in the next generation, Homo Exterra are transmitting back to earth home sick letters looking for someway to experience their roots....

Friday, July 27, 2007

Living on a moon....

A harsh mistress

You may not think about it, because it's not common on good ol' terra firma but radiation is blasting out across the solar system every microsecond... some will strike the surface or atmosphere of a planet. This radiation is shielded from us by the very makeup of earth. However, out in space, it may be a completely different story.

Because of this, lunar habitats are going to require a slightly different construction plan than earth neighborhoods or the space station. You've all seen the drawings of huge domed cities on the surface of a planet or moon. This is only going to help the incoming radiation and the atmosphere. This does not help, however, our big concern: Is the surface of a lunar body harmfully radioactive to long-term habitation?

Since we don't have radiological studies of every potential habitat out in space, we have to start designing as if the answer is yes. We will need to create a bed of radiation absorbing materials that does not re-transmit or at the least redirects it away from the settlement. What might this structure look like? A layer of highly dense material, an ice layer, and a second layer of dense material? I myself do not know. What I do know is that even here on earth we are concerned about health hazards from the ground such as radon and carbon monoxide. Building for these settlements may catapult forward construction here on earth and protection from these dangers.

Until next time...