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In Other Worlds of Science

 
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WheelsOfConfusion



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2011 9:16 pm    Post subject: In Other Worlds of Science Reply with quote

NASA's Mars Science Lab took off yesterday. It's carrying the largest Martian rover yet. We shall conquer the War Planet with our gigantic combat/research droids! In fact the robot is so massive it can't use the airbag/tumbling system of the Sojourner or Spirit & Opportunity rovers without smashing into a billion pieces. Instead they're using a rocket-powered hovering sky crane to lower the rover to the surface. Sounds tricky. Hope it doesn't smash into a billion pieces!

Unfortunately it looks like the Russian Fobos-Grunt mission is going to fall back to Earth eventually. Failure to orient itself in orbit last week means it lost the launch window to make it to the red planet. It was carrying not only a Russian probe that would have landed on a moon of Mars and return with some of its soil, but also a Chinese satellite to orbit the planet, and a microscopic zoo to test the survivability of deep space travel for years at a time.
It would have been awesome if this mission had been a success, but it seems the Great Galactic Ghoul claimed yet another Mars shot.


I will kill anyone who suggests we cut NASA's funding. KILL!
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Darqcyde



Joined: 11 Jul 2006
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Location: A false vacuum abiding in ignorance.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2011 3:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

unless that artist rendition in that video is wrong, Imma thinking that sail looks a wee bit small for the thin martian atmosphere.
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2011 3:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

All it has to do is straighten out the trajectory and let the heat shield fall away. The atmosphere is too thin for parachutes to do anything else (hence the bouncy airbag landings for the previous rovers and retro-rockets for the previous probes).
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tinkeringIdiot



Joined: 13 Oct 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 1:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's crazy and awesome...but I can't help feeling that future generations of humans (or current generations of aliens) will look at that the same way we look at the original Wright flyer. Future, go!
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 2:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

tinkeringIdiot wrote:
That's crazy and awesome...but I can't help feeling that future generations of humans (or current generations of aliens) will look at that the same way we look at the original Wright flyer.

It's funny you should mention that, I was just going through some of my great grandfather's old letters. In it he mentioned the race for a heavier-than-air plane and his incredulity at the Wright brothers ("those bicyclists?"), but at the same time wanted heavier military funding of all aviation technology. Let me quote his exact words here:

Smitherford P. Confusion wrote:
I shall kill any man who puts forth the suggestion, in the papers or on the street corner, that it would be prudent to reduce the amount of funds being expended upon research into all available avenues of improvement in the means of air travel. KILL!
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mouse



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2011 12:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i just have to say that i find it incredibly cool that a) you have your great-grandfather's letters; and b) that he had the same notions of the value of research as you do.
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2011 12:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Smitherford P. Confusion didn't raise no fools.
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mouse



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2011 12:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ah......so you were brought up by foster parents?


sorry - couldn't resist the setup.
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2011 12:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mouse wrote:
ah......so you were brought up by foster parents?

I was placed with alternative caregivers after the noodle incident.
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2011 5:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fobos-Grunt may be down and out, but the scientists at the Russian Federal Space Agency are not giving up on Mars.
Options they consider viable ways forward:
- Rebuilt Fobos-Grunt and try again by 2016.
- Work Russian-built Mars landers into existing ESA/NASA missions like ExoMars, since they have hardware sitting in storage that's designed to work long-term on the surface while the joint mission hardware currently being considered isn't.

I'm all for putting more robots in, on, and around Mars.
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Darqcyde



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PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2011 5:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BTW, it's only tangentially related, but Imma post this here. Being SJ it'll be domestic at some point--well already is http://shonenjump.com/e/rensai/stars/

Also:
BoingBoing wrote:
It's about a boy who wants to be an astronaut (like most shonen manga, it's about a boy who wants to be something). And it's just as buoyantly goofy and dramatic as you'd hope. It's about Mars and aliens, and it features dialog like "Shut up, you space idiot!!"
And the first chapter is now available for free in English at the Japanese magazine's international web portal.

Manga-reader download required (Windows-only -- I'm always amazed by how Windows-centric Japan is). Been two years since I left Shonen Jump's American magazine as its editor-in-chief, and I'm psyched to see something like this happening.


Also they use some pretty good science in it.
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Mindslicer



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PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2011 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tangential to that tangent, Planetes was an excellent space-based anime that was very true to science as far as orbital physics goes.
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Darqcyde



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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2011 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So much for the rare earth hypothesis.
NASA Telescope Confirms Alien Planet in Habitable Zone
http://news.yahoo.com/nasa-telescope-confirms-alien-planet-habitable-zone-162005358.html
Quote:
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. NASA's planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft has confirmed the discovery of its first alien world in its host star's habitable zone that just-right range of distances that could allow liquid water to exist and found more than 1,000 new explanet candidates, researchers announced today (Dec. 5).

The new finds bring the Kepler space telescope's total haul to 2,326 potential planets in its first 16 months of operation.These discoveries, if confirmed, would quadruple the current tally of worlds known to exist beyond our solar system, which recently topped 700. The potentially habitable alien world, a first for Kepler, orbits a star very much like our own sun. The discovery brings scientists one step closer to finding a planet like our own one which could conceivably harbor life, scientists said.

"We're getting closer and closer to discovering the so-called 'Goldilocks planet,'" Pete Worden, director of NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., said during a press conference today. [Gallery: The Strangest Alien Planets] The newfound planet in the habitable zone is called Kepler-22b. It is located about 600 light-years away, orbiting a sun-like star. Kepler-22b's radius is 2.4 times that of Earth, and the two planets have roughly similar temperatures. If the greenhouse effect operates there similarly to how it does on Earth, the average surface temperature on Kepler-22b would be 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius).
Hunting down alien planets

The $600 million Kepler observatory launched in March 2009 to hunt for Earth-size alien planets in the habitable zone of their parent stars, where liquid water, and perhaps even life, might be able to exist.Kepler detects alien planets using what's called the "transit method." It searches for tiny, telltale dips in a star's brightness caused when a planet transits or crosses in front of the star from Earth's perspective, blocking a fraction of the star's light. The finds graduate from "candidates" to full-fledged planets after follow-up observations confirm that they're not false alarms.

This process, which is usually done with large, ground-based telescopes, can take about a year. The Kepler team released data from its first 13 months of operation back in February, announcing that the instrument had detected 1,235 planet candidates, including 54 in the habitable zone and 68 that are roughly Earth-size. Of the total 2,326 candidate planets that Kepler has found to date, 207 are approximately Earth-size. More of them, 680, are a bit larger than our planet, falling into the "super-Earth" category. The total number of candidate planets in the habitable zones of their stars is now 48. To date, just over two dozen of these potential exoplanets have been confirmed, but Kepler scientists have estimated that at least 80 percent of the instrument's discoveries should end up being the real deal.

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Lemontree



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:03 pm    Post subject: Re: In Other Worlds of Science Reply with quote

WheelsOfConfusion wrote:
Instead they're using a rocket-powered hovering sky crane to lower the rover to the surface. Sounds tricky. Hope it doesn't smash into a billion pieces!
...

I will kill anyone who suggests we cut NASA's funding. KILL!


Ok, just watching the imagined animation of how the landing will happen made me scared out of my mind. So many possible ways for it to go wrong and for it to smash to pieces!! Shocked If I worked for NASA and was in the control room next August.. I would be no use in trying to land it because I would've already died from a heart attack.

In other news, I'm following Curiousity on Facebook.
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Darqcyde



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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2011 4:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Too lazy to link, but Voyager I is about to (relatively) leaving the Solar system.
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