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“If a man has an apartment stacked to the ceiling with newspapers we call him crazy. If a woman has a trailer house full of cats we call her nuts. But when people pathologically hoard so much cash that they impoverish the entire nation, we put them on the cover of Fortune magazine and pretend that they are role models.”
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 Space: ESA's Planetary Defence Test Set For 2020

InternationalFrom: European Space Agency

[31 March 2015] If an asteroid were spotted headed towards Earth, what could humanity do about it? ESA’s latest mission is part of a larger international effort to find out.

This month marked the start of preliminary design work on ESA’s Asteroid Impact Mission, or AIM. Intended to demonstrate technologies for future deep-space missions, AIM will also be the Agency’s very first investigation of planetary defence techniques.

Launched in October 2020, AIM will travel to a binary asteroid system – the paired Didymos asteroids, which will come a comparatively close 11 million km to Earth in 2022. The 800 m-diameter main body is orbited by a 170 m moon, informally called ‘Didymoon’.

This smaller body is AIM’s focus: the spacecraft will perform high-resolution visual, thermal and radar mapping of the moon to build detailed maps of its surface and interior structure.

AIM will also put down a lander – ESA’s first touchdown on a small body since Rosetta’s Philae landed on a comet last November. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, April 02 @ 00:07:54 EDT (5084 reads)
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 Space: Getting ready for asteroids

InternationalFrom: European Space Agency

[31 January 2014] With a mandate from the UN, ESA and other space agencies from around the world are about to establish a high-level group to help coordinate global response should a threatening asteroid ever be found heading towards Earth.

For the first time, national space agencies from North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa will establish an expert group aimed at getting the world’s space-faring nations on the ‘same page’ when it comes to reacting to asteroid threats.

Its task is to coordinate expertise and capabilities for missions aimed at countering asteroids that might one day strike Earth.

Of the more than 600 000 known asteroids in our Solar System, more than 10 000 are classified as near-Earth objects, or NEOs, because their orbits bring them relatively close to our path.

Dramatic proof that any of these can strike Earth came on 15 February 2013, when an unknown object thought to be 17–20 m in diameter arrived at 66 000 km/h and exploded high above Chelyabinsk, Russia, with 20–30 times the energy of the Hiroshima atomic bomb. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Friday, January 31 @ 19:09:00 EST (1875 reads)
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 Space: Earth's Gravity Scarred by Earthquake

EnvironmentFrom: European Space Agency (ESA)

ESA’s GOCE satellite has revealed that the devastating Japanese earthquake of 2011 left its mark in Earth’s gravity – yet another example of this extraordinary mission surpassing its original scope.

GOCE mapped Earth’s gravity with unrivalled precision for over four years, but nobody really expected the data to show changes over time.

Now, careful analysis shows the effects of the 9.0 earthquake that struck east of Japan’s Honshu Island on 11 March 2011 are clearly visible in GOCE’s gravity data.

Large earthquakes not only deform Earth’s crust, but can also cause tiny changes in local gravity.

The strength of gravity varies from place to place on our planet’s surface and it was GOCE’s task to map these variations very precisely. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Tuesday, December 10 @ 20:29:26 EST (3007 reads)
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 Space: 3D printing for space: the additive revolution

ScienceFrom: European Space Agency (ESA)

3D printing is getting ready to revolutionise space travel. ESA is paving the way for 3D-printed metals to build high-quality, intricate shapes with massive cost savings.

ESA and the European Commission have embarked on a project to perfect the printing of space-quality metal components. The AMAZE project – Additive Manufacturing Aiming Towards Zero Waste & Efficient Production of High-Tech Metal Products – involves 28 industrial partners across Europe.

“We want to build the best quality metal products ever made,” said David Jarvis, ESA’s Head of New Materials and Energy Research, during a press conference at the London Science Museum yesterday.

Considered the third industrial revolution among manufacturers, 3D printing builds a solid object from a series of layers, each one printed on top of the last – also known as additive manufacturing.

Almost anything that can be designed by computer can be printed as a physical item, typically by melting powder or wire materials.

The space dimension

AMAZE aims to put the first 3D metal printer on the International Space Station allowing astronauts to produce tools and new structures on demand. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Friday, October 18 @ 21:47:15 EDT (2018 reads)
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 Space: After Chelyabinsk: European Experts Assess Asteroid Options

ScienceFrom: European Space Agency

In February, a speeding asteroid slammed into our atmosphere and exploded high over Russia’s Ural region, injuring hundreds and causing millions of euros of damage. What should we do if we have a similar – or even bigger – strike in the future?

Of the more than 600 000 known asteroids in our Solar System, almost 10 000 are classified as near-Earth objects, or NEOs, because their orbits bring them relatively close to Earth’s path.

Dramatic proof that any of these can strike Earth came on 15 February, when an unknown object thought to be 17–20 m in diameter arrived at 66 000 km/h and exploded high above Chelyabinsk, Russia, with 20–30 times the energy of the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

The resulting shock wave caused widespread damage and injuries, making it the largest known natural object to have entered the atmosphere since the 1908 Tunguska event, which destroyed a remote forest area of Siberia.

ESA watching out for Earth

“It’s important that we become aware of the current and future position of NEOs, develop estimates on the likelihood of impacts and assess the possible consequences,” says Detlef Koschny, Head of NEO activities in the Agency’s Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Programme Office. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, May 08 @ 21:29:37 EDT (674 reads)
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 Space: Building A Lunar Base With 3D Printing

ScienceFrom: European Space Agency

Setting up a lunar base could be made much simpler by using a 3D printer to build it from local materials. Industrial partners including renowned architects Foster + Partners have joined with ESA to test the feasibility of 3D printing using lunar soil.

“Terrestrial 3D printing technology has produced entire structures,” said Laurent Pambaguian, heading the project for ESA.

“Our industrial team investigated if it could similarly be employed to build a lunar habitat.”

Foster + Partners devised a weight-bearing ‘catenary’ dome design with a cellular structured wall to shield against micrometeoroids and space radiation, incorporating a pressurised inflatable to shelter astronauts.

A hollow closed-cell structure – reminiscent of bird bones – provides a good combination of strength and weight.

The base’s design was guided in turn by the properties of 3D-printed lunar soil, with a 1.5 tonne building block produced as a demonstration.

“3D printing offers a potential means of facilitating lunar settlement with reduced logistics from Earth,” added Scott Hovland of ESA’s human spaceflight team. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, January 31 @ 20:33:52 EST (3792 reads)
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 Space: NASA Joins ESA’s ‘Dark Universe’ Mission

ScienceFrom: European Space Agency

NASA has officially joined ESA’s Euclid mission, a space telescope designed to investigate the mysterious natures of dark matter and dark energy.

To be launched in 2020, Euclid’s 1.2 m-diameter telescope and two scientific instruments will map the shape, brightness and 3D distribution of two billion galaxies covering more than a third of the whole sky and looking back over three-quarters of the history of the Universe.

Scientists hope to solve key problems in our understanding of the evolution and fate of our expanding cosmos: the roles played by ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’.

Dark matter is invisible, but has gravity and acts to slow the expansion. Dark energy, however, seems to be accelerating the expansion seen around us today.

Together, these two components are thought to comprise more than 95% of the mass and energy of the Universe, with ‘normal’ matter and energy making up the remaining small fraction. But what they are remains a profound mystery. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, January 24 @ 21:35:04 EST (640 reads)
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 Space: Security Obsession Drives 100 Scientists from NASA:

Politics
Top Security Clearance Needed to Help Steer the Curiosity Rover?

by: Dave Lindorff

Up on the planet Mars, there is a complex new rover named Curiosity that is driving around looking for evidence of possible life. Its every little finding is readily broadcast around the world, as was done today at a televised conference in California, to be analyzed by scientists in the US, in Europe, in China, and even in Iran.

The scientists and engineers who are managing that remarkable vehicle, as well as the fantastically successful Cassini probe orbiting Saturn, the Kepler satellite that is discovering all those planets orbiting distant stars, and all the other various satellites and space probes launched by NASA, however, are not as free as the space probes they are running.

Thanks to the zealous wackos at the Department of Homeland Security, back in 2007 during the latter part of the Bush administration an order went out that all workers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena--an organization that is run under contract to NASA by the California Institute of Technology, had to be vetted for high security clearance in order to continue doing their jobs. Never mind that not one of them was or is engaged in secret activities (NASA is a rigorously non-military, scientific agency which not only publishes all its findings, but which invites the active participation of scientists from around the world). In order to continue working at JPL, even scientists who had been with NASA for decades were told they would need a high-level security badge just to enter the premises. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, December 03 @ 21:26:47 EST (854 reads)
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 Space: Beyond Bayonets and Battleships:

War News
Space Warfare and the Future of U.S. Global Power

By Alfred W. McCoy
Global Research, Tom Dispatch

It’s 2025 and an American “triple canopy” of advanced surveillance and armed drones fills the heavens from the lower- to the exo-atmosphere. A wonder of the modern age, it can deliver its weaponry anywhere on the planet with staggering speed, knock out an enemy’s satellite communications system, or follow individuals biometrically for great distances. Along with the country’s advanced cyberwar capacity, it’s also the most sophisticated militarized information system ever created and an insurance policy for U.S. global dominion deep into the twenty-first century. It’s the future as the Pentagon imagines it; it’s under development; and Americans know nothing about it.

They are still operating in another age. “Our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917,” complained Republican candidate Mitt Romney during the last presidential debate.

With words of withering mockery, President Obama shot back: “Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed… the question is not a game of Battleship, where we’re counting ships. It’s what are our capabilities.”

Obama later offered just a hint of what those capabilities might be: “What I did was work with our joint chiefs of staff to think about, what are we going to need in the future to make sure that we are safe?… We need to be thinking about cyber security. We need to be talking about space.” ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, November 14 @ 18:56:03 EST (888 reads)
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 Space: Researchers Find Evidence of Ice Content at the Moon’s South Pole

ScienceWritten by: Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office

Scientists map Shackleton crater, whose unusually bright floor may hint at the presence of ice. If humans are ever to inhabit the moon, the lunar poles may well be the location of choice: Because of the small tilt of the lunar spin axis, the poles contain regions of near-permanent sunlight, needed for power, and regions of near-permanent darkness containing ice — both of which would be essential resources for any lunar colony.

The area around the moon’s Shackleton crater could be a prime site. Scientists have long thought that the crater — whose interior is a permanently sunless abyss — may contain reservoirs of frozen water. But inconsistent observations over the decades have cast doubt on whether ice might indeed exist in the shadowy depths of the crater, which sits at the moon’s south pole.

Now scientists from MIT, Brown University, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and other institutions have mapped Shackleton crater with unprecedented detail, finding possible evidence for small amounts of ice on the crater’s floor. Using a laser altimeter on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft, the team essentially illuminated the crater’s interior with laser light, measuring its albedo, or natural reflectance. The scientists found that the crater’s floor is in fact brighter than that of other nearby craters — an observation consistent with the presence of ice, which the team calculates may make up 22 percent of the material within a micron-thick layer on the crater’s floor. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Sunday, June 24 @ 14:31:59 EDT (1505 reads)
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 Space: Smooth Moves: How Space Animates Hollywood

ScienceFrom: European Space Agency

If you’ve been to see Wrath of the Titans, then you’ve watched it in action. A computer programmer is using software he developed to control spacecraft to help animators make more realistic computer games and movies.

Originally designed to help guide satellites, the software now helps computers to render human movements smoothly and realistically.

It turns out that movements controlled effortlessly by our brains – picking up a cup, touching our toes or doing a little dance – take a lot of computing power.

“If you want to move your arm, you have to compute the angle of all the joints and the movement of the muscles,” says Alexandre Pechev, CEO of IKinema.

The human brain makes this happen near-instantaneously. But animators creating computer games or movies must often break the body down into parts, calculate their moves and then put the components back together – often resulting in choppy, unrealistic animation.

Using the mathematical routine he developed, the program at the heart of IKinema’s software crunches the numbers much more efficiently. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Friday, June 08 @ 21:18:18 EDT (663 reads)
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 Space: Did Earth's Oceans Come From Comets?

ScienceFrom: European Space Agency (esa)

ESA's Herschel infrared space observatory has found water in a comet with almost exactly the same composition as Earth's oceans. The discovery revives the idea that our planet's seas could once have been giant icebergs floating through space.

The origin of Earth's water is hotly debated. Our planet formed at such high temperatures that any original water must have evaporated. Yet today, two-thirds of the surface is covered in water and this must have been delivered from space after Earth cooled down.

Comets seem a natural explanation: they are giant icebergs travelling through space with orbits that take them across the paths of the planets, making collisions possible. The impact of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 on Jupiter in 1994 was one such event. But in the early Solar System, when there were larger numbers of comets around, collisions would have been much more common.

However, until now, astronomers' observations have failed to back up the idea that comets provided Earth's water. The key measurement they make is the level of deuterium – a heavier form of hydrogen – found in water. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, October 06 @ 21:11:42 EDT (751 reads)
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 Space: Arctic Shipping Routes Open

TravelFrom: European Space Agency (esa)

Satellite measurements show we are heading for another year of below-average ice cover in the Arctic. As sea ice melts during the summer months, two major shipping routes have opened in the Arctic Ocean.

In 2008 satellites saw that the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route were open simultaneously for the first time since satellite measurements began in the 1970s – and now it has happened again.

While the Northern Sea Route above Russia (also known as the Northeast Passage) has been open to shipping traffic since mid-August, recent satellite data show that the most direct course in the Northwest Passage now appears to be navigable as well.

Located in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, the Northwest Passage can be a short cut for shipping between Europe and Asia – but with the opening of the sea route comes the potential for both sovereignty claims and marine species migration across the Arctic Ocean. ...


Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, August 25 @ 21:54:50 EDT (675 reads)
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 Space: Astronomers Searching For Oxygen Can Breathe More Easily

ScienceFrom: The European Space Agency (ESA)

ESA’s Herschel space observatory has found molecules of oxygen in a nearby star-forming cloud. This is the first undisputed detection of oxygen molecules in space. It concludes a long search but also leaves questions unanswered.

The oxygen molecules have been found in the nearby Orion star-forming complex. While atomic oxygen has been long known in warm regions of space, previous missions looking for the molecular variety – two atoms of oxygen bonded together – came up largely empty-handed.

Even the observed amount of atomic oxygen is far less than that expected and this created an oxygen ‘accounting problem’ that can be roughly voiced as “where is all the oxygen hiding in the cold clouds?”

NASA’s Submillimetre Wave Astronomy Satellite and Sweden’s Odin mission have both searched for molecular oxygen and established that its abundance is dramatically lower than expected. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Tuesday, August 02 @ 15:23:43 EDT (772 reads)
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 Space: Eye of Gaia: billion-pixel camera to map Milky Way

ScienceFrom: European Space Agency (ESA)

The largest digital camera ever built for a space mission has been painstakingly mosaicked together from 106 separate electronic detectors. The resulting “billion-pixel array” will serve as the super-sensitive ‘eye’ of ESA’s Galaxy-mapping Gaia mission.

While the naked human eye can see several thousand stars on a clear night, Gaia will map a billion stars within our own Milky Way Galaxy and its neighbours over the course of its five-year mission from 2013, charting their brightness and spectral characteristics along with their three-dimensional positions and motions.

In order to detect distant stars up to a million times fainter than the eye can see, Gaia will carry 106 charge coupled devices (CCDs), advanced versions of chips within standard digital cameras.

Developed for the mission by e2v Technologies of Chelmsford, UK, these rectangular detectors are a little smaller than a credit card, each one measuring 4.7x6 cm but thinner than a human hair. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, July 06 @ 22:38:53 EDT (1016 reads)
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