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Official Space Exploration Coolness Thread
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billybobsky
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2010-12-06, 21:49

Quote:
Originally Posted by billybobsky View Post
Just to throw in an additional two cents:

It is actually sounding increasingly likely that the DNA itself does not contain much (if any) arsenic. Other small molecules may. The problem comes from the fact that while arsenates can replace phosphates, their stability is much reduced, so for most DNA substitutions, you would expect an increased strand breakage rate, which can be deadly...
Apparently GFAJ stands for Give Felisa A Job. Ugh. Vomit.
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curiousuburb
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2010-12-07, 08:31

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moogs View Post
Not for exploration per se but an important aerospace technology demonstrator to be sure.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11911335
Quote:
Originally Posted by billybobsky View Post
I do think the most significant thing there is the fact that the craft was able to do reentry/land without human assistance.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moogs View Post
..after being in orbit for 7 months. That part kind of shocked me for whatever reason even though I know it's not hard to keep something in orbit. I guess its the psychological aspect that it's a plane, steered by humans, etc coming back like the shuttle. Pretty bad ass.


The SCAPE-suited humans probably don't help with the conspiracy nuts, but they do provide scale.

...

Meanwhile... the Japanese AKATSUKI probe arrived at Venus last night.

Climate observations to follow.

...

And if you can help program computers to learn, and help explain dark energy, NASA might give you an iPad.

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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Maciej
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2010-12-07, 12:07

Excuse what may be a simple question for some of you space nuts; what are those guys all suited up for?
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ronmexico
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2010-12-07, 12:23

The Staypuff Marshmellow Man is behind the vehicle
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billybobsky
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2010-12-07, 12:29

It looks like they might be carrying around a chemical sniffer for ceramic dust, which is quite toxic. Or a Geiger counter for radiation?
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curiousuburb
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2010-12-07, 12:35

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maciej View Post
Excuse what may be a simple question for some of you space nuts; what are those guys all suited up for?
Thrusters on the Shuttle use Hydrazine and other nasty chemicals, so post-flight inspections are often done in hazmat gear in case of leaks or other contamination.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WIRED linked pictures:

... SCAPE suits (self-contained atmospheric protective ensemble). They gave the robo-orbiter an initial once-over — and made sure the area was safe for humans, too.
For more creepy possibilities, watch the excellent 1971 version of Andromeda Strain

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curiousuburb
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2010-12-08, 08:19

Light provides lift to a 'Lightfoil'

Quote:
Originally Posted by BBC

Time-lapse images show the progression of the "lightfoil"
Just as air causes lift on the wings of an aeroplane, light can do the same trick, researchers have said.

The effect, first shown in simulations, was proven by showing it in action on tiny glass rods.

Like the aerofoil concept of wings, the approach, published in Nature Photonics, works by making use of the radiation pressure of light.

The results are of interest for steering "solar sails", a spacecraft propulsion based on the same force.

Each photon - or packet of light - carries its own momentum, and this "lightfoil" works by gathering the momentum of light as it passes through a material.

This radiation pressure has been considered as a fuel-free source of propulsion for long-distance space missions; a "solar sail" gathering up the momentum of the Sun's rays can get a spacecraft up to a significant fraction of the speed of light.

But until now, no one thought to use the pressure in an analogue of an aerofoil, said Grover Swarzlander of the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).


*Light coming in from the left passes through the glass "lightfoil"
*Some passes straight through the back surface, while some is reflected and exits through the bottom (white arrows)
*This change in the light particles' momentum is balanced by another force: lift (blue arrow)
"The surprising thing from our model shows it has different positions of rotational equilibrium, so it will roll to a given position, stay there, and continue to undergo lift," Dr Swarzlander said.

The team went on to design tiny glass rods, less than a hair's breadth across, to prove the principle.

The rods were floated in water, through which a laser was shone. They behaved just as the simulations had predicted.

Given the widely known radiation pressure effect, the discovery of optical lift may be most surprising in that no one had come to this conclusion before.

... continues ...
Optical Travel (with sunglasses required).
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billybobsky
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2010-12-08, 11:40

What? Does no one know how optical tweezers work? The summary suggests that this is completely new. It is not.
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Xaqtly
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2010-12-08, 12:17

Also, lasers.

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billybobsky
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2010-12-08, 12:56

Eat it Felisa.
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Brad
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2010-12-08, 17:38

Quote:
Originally Posted by billybobsky View Post
/sad trombone
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curiousuburb
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2010-12-08, 20:56

SpaceX Dragon spacecraft completes successful two-orbit flight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spaceflightnow

Dragon capsule back on Earth after whirlwind test flight

SpaceX launched the Dragon spacecraft from Florida on a two-orbit test flight Monday, and the company brought the automated capsule back to Earth less than three-and-a-half hours later. Liftoff occurred at 10:43 a.m. EST (1543 GMT) and splashdown was just after 2 p.m. EST (1900 GMT).


Private Enterprise goes to spaaaaaaace!

BBC story (with blastoff video for UK users) and diagrams for everybody else

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Frank777
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2010-12-09, 09:34

I just read that the SpaceX is capable of ferrying 7 astronauts to the Space Station for 10% of the cost of a NASA shuttle mission.
Is this true?
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billybobsky
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2010-12-09, 10:41

Certainly less expensive than a shuttle mission -- but it isn't designed to be a shuttle replacement, so there's that...
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curiousuburb
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2010-12-15, 08:24

Voyager nears Solar System edge

<-- Not to scale.
Voyager is approaching the edge of the bubble of charged particles the Sun has thrown out into space

Quote:
Originally Posted by BBC

Voyager 1, the most distant spacecraft from Earth, has reached a new milestone in its quest to leave the Solar System.

Now 17.4bn km (10.8bn miles) from home, the veteran probe has detected a distinct change in the flow of particles that surround it.

These particles, which emanate from the Sun, are no longer travelling outwards but are moving sideways.

It means Voyager must be very close to making the jump to interstellar space - the space between the stars.

,,, continues ...
33 years after launch, and 16 light hours away, we're still getting valuable data.

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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Moogs
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2011-02-17, 13:32

Riddle me this... when there is a CME (which I understand to be a huge electro-magnetic outburst essentially), why does it take 1-2 days for the thing to reach us instead of the 8 minutes that the sun's light takes? Doesn't the "emp" from that CME also travel at the speed of light?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12493980

...into the light of a dark black night.
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Brad
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2011-02-17, 14:56

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moogs View Post
Riddle me this... when there is a CME (which I understand to be a huge electro-magnetic outburst essentially), why does it take 1-2 days for the thing to reach us instead of the 8 minutes that the sun's light takes? Doesn't the "emp" from that CME also travel at the speed of light?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12493980
CMEs throw out charged plasma, which has mass and travels much more slowly than the speed of light.
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Moogs
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2011-02-17, 18:31

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad View Post
CMEs throw out charged plasma, which has mass and travels much more slowly than the speed of light.
Ah, so less of an EMP than a mass of charged particles. Well in that case I guess the silver lining is, we get 24 hours warning to panic and head for the bunker.

...into the light of a dark black night.
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Brad
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2011-02-17, 20:05

Basically.

(Also, handy reminder: the M in "CME" stands for Mass! )
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Banana
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2011-02-17, 21:52

A question for this space ignoramus:

Just exactly what makes the boundary between heliosphere and interstellar medium a "shock", and why does it appear to occupy such large distance?

I guess the intuition (sure reliable, eh? ) would have been that solar winds would gradually fizz out and given the vastness of space involved, it seems odd to imagine there's a "shock".

Have I made the mistake of assuming that interstellar medium = void?

Or is it just a poor choice of wording like "annihilating particle" which actually doesn't violate the conservation of mass/energy?
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Kraetos
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2011-02-18, 00:12

As the solar wind expands outwards, it covers more space, which means it loses density. Although the interstellar medium is usually called a void, it is not completely devoid of matter. IIRC it's something like one atom per square meter.

And since it has mass, it has pressure. As the solar wind expands, it's density decreases. At about 80 AU, it's pressure drops below that of the void's, and thus, it gets "pushed" back towards the sun. We call this point the termination shock.

Sadly, being a technology pundit is truly never having to say you’re sorry. You can be wrong for years and never lose your job.—The Macalope
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curiousuburb
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2011-02-18, 09:37

And the 'shock front' isn't a fixed distance out because of variability of solar activity.

Meanwhile... the search ramps up for planet Tyche out in the Oort cloud, which might be four times larger than Jupiter and the alleged culprit responsible for flinging long-period comets our way.

Pluto out and Tyche in as far as planet count goes is less interesting than the fact it might be an interloper.

Cool stuff. Literally.

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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Moogs
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2011-02-18, 10:37

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad View Post
Basically.

(Also, handy reminder: the M in "CME" stands for Mass! )

As dumb as my question seemed, I realize this, but I thought that the EMP part would basically surge out ahead of the massive particles and travel the usual 8 minutes to hammer us. BTW has anyone started digging their bunker yet? Or maybe the big solar blast this year will be like the movie Knowing and the whole earth will be charred to a crisp... except for the mute alien-angels coming to save our children. Childrens are our future after all!


...into the light of a dark black night.
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Banana
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2011-02-18, 10:58

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kraetos View Post
As the solar wind expands outwards, it covers more space, which means it loses density. Although the interstellar medium is usually called a void, it is not completely devoid of matter. IIRC it's something like one atom per square meter.

And since it has mass, it has pressure. As the solar wind expands, it's density decreases. At about 80 AU, it's pressure drops below that of the void's, and thus, it gets "pushed" back towards the sun. We call this point the termination shock.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curiousuburb View Post
And the 'shock front' isn't a fixed distance out because of variability of solar activity.
Thanks for the explanations. Thinking about it more, I think I tripped over the word "shock" because it seems to imply there's a barrier that would destroy an object that tried to pass through the barrier (a la sound barrier - if plane can't withstand the stress, well... no more plane.) but Voyager apparently seemed to survive the trip past termination shock just fine and is supposed to be approaching bow shock, (hope I got it right)

I also have this idea that because gases are supposed to diffuse, it's weird to imagine there's a sphere of mass being trapped by what is relatively a void. Thank goodness my lack of imagination does not invalidate the reality!
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Dave
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2011-02-18, 13:36

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moogs View Post
What's this from?
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709
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2011-02-18, 13:47

My guess would be a still from the movie "Knowing."

Haven't seen it. Just a guess.
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Moogs
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2011-02-18, 19:52

Dave must not like reading my posts.
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billybobsky
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2011-02-18, 21:50

um... emp isn't going to be all that strong after traveling an AU.
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Moogs
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2011-02-19, 09:54

I guess that makes sense but it takes AU-like distances for them to degrade doesn't it?
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Moogs
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2011-03-04, 09:29

I'm not much for conspiracies but curious that the only two nose-cone failures I've heard of for this rocket, were payloads designed to study various effects of climate change. Hmm.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12551861

...into the light of a dark black night.
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