Tag: space

  • The number of contactable alien civilizations: 36

    File this one under how is this news, or maybe arbitrary number that makes headlines because someone said so, but still:

    Under the strictest set of assumptions – where, as on Earth, life forms between 4.5bn and 5.5bn years after star formation – there are likely between four and 211 civilisations in the Milky Way today capable of communicating with others, with 36 the most likely figure. But Conselice noted that this figure is conservative, not least as it is based on how long our own civilisation has been sending out signals into space – a period of just 100 years so far.

    Want to chat with said alien civilizations? Then we’d look at 6,120 years for a reply… Yeah, technology’s not really there yet.

  • Magic glass

    I’m looking at images of Pluto and (the moon) Hydra on my phone, sent from a spacecraft that’s passing by. Science is awesome, and having a magical piece of glass and metal that gives me immediate access to that is sometimes mind boggling. Try to remember that the next time you refresh Twitter for the umpteenth time, wondering what it’s all good for.

  • The first object 3D printed in space

    The first 3D printed thing in space is, fittingly, a part for a 3D printer. The faceplate was printed on November 24 on the International Space Station.

    “We chose this part to print first because, after all, if we are going to have 3-D printers make spare and replacement parts for critical items in space, we have to be able to make spare parts for the printers,” Werkheiser said. “If a printer is critical for explorers, it must be capable of replicating its own parts, so that it can keep working during longer journeys to places like Mars or an asteroid. Ultimately, one day, a printer may even be able to print another printer.”

    3D printers are deemed crucial for space exploration, since the logistics of carrying all the possible spare parts alone are staggering. Aptly named company Made In Space is betting on this, and it was they who worked with NASA on this experiment. There were issues though, and it’s a learning mission for now, because it would seem that 3D printing in micro-gravity offers makes the plastic material behave differently.

  • Rosetta and Philae

    Science magazine writes about Rosetta, and the probe Philae, and the adventures it endures, as well as the future of them both. It’s an interesting piece.

    This tidbit stands out though, regarding how water could’ve come to Earth.

    And ROSINA, a Rosetta instrument that uses spectrometers to measure gas abundances, has obtained a highly sought after result: the so-called deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio of water in the comet’s thin atmosphere, or coma. The measured value for 67P is much higher than the ratio in Earth’s oceans and higher than in other comets, says ROSINA principal investigator Kathrin Altwegg, of the University of Bern. Three years ago, the comet Hartley–2 was found to have a D-to-H ratio near that of Earth’s oceans—sparking interest in the notion that comet impacts delivered much of Earth’s water. Altwegg says the result for 67P could make asteroids the primary suspect again.

  • Probing a comet

    Right now, a probe is trying to land on a comet.

    The harrowing landing has been a decade in the making. The Rosetta orbiter launched in 2004, and orbited earth three times to pick up the speed required to let it catch 67P. At its furthest point from the sun, Rosetta got only 3 percent of the sunlight we receive on earth — a problem for its solar panels, which is how it generates its electricity. So it was designed to go into a kind of hibernation, with only the most vital functions running. In January, Rosetta woke up and in August, it caught 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

    This is so cool, fingers crossed it succeeds. Follow the probe on Twitter for more, and keep an eye on Sploid’s liveblog.

  • The details of colonizing space

    From a Vice piece asking when we’ll live on Mars:

    It’s an impressive vision on its own, as cutting out Earth-to-orbit shipping is a major step towards cutting costs for space travel. But if you put their visions together, Moon Express and Made in Space shed light on the steps we need to take to actually build Moon factories and Mars bases. Moon Express hopes to be able to process resources on site (on whatever planet that might be), while Made in Space hopes to develop and ship entire automated manufacturing facilities to foreign worlds. Oh, and they’ll ideally self-replicate, too.

    The two companies remain independent in their goals, other startups might find more success, and yes, we’re still a couple decades out for the grand concept here. But the two are illustrative of just how the future may play out: Companies mining the Moon for resources will deliver those goods to off-world manufacturers to build the basic infrastructure for incoming space colonists. It’s indicative of just how compelling the space startup world is right now, and the even crazier thing is that, for as out there as the vision is, there’s no shortage of entrepreneurs and investors who believe that it can all actually happen.

    I can’t even begin to comprehend all the details that needs to be sorted out before Mars, or any other planetary body of rock, is within our reach for colonization. Such attention to detail is needed here that it’s staggering, and yet we’re getting closer every day. I just hope I’ll live to see it.