Posts Tagged ‘space travel’
With the lack of specificity expected from a classified program, and without a translator, the Air Force described the X-37B program as “a flexible space test platform to conduct various experiments and allow satellite sensors, subsystems, components and associated technology to be efficiently transported to and from the space environment. This service directly supports the Defense Department’s technology risk-reduction efforts for new satellite systems. By providing an ‘on-orbit laboratory’ test environment, it will prove new technology and components before those technologies are committed to operational satellite programs.”
Today, Virgin Galactic unveils it’s new passenger space ship – Space Ship 2.
Space Ship 2 (the pod in the middle of the picture) is carried high into Earth’s atmosphere by White Knight 2 (aka Eve) and then launches itself into sub-Earth orbit. Passenger astronauts will experience weightlessness, spectacular Earth vistas and acceptable mood lighting.
Full commercial activation will begin sometime in late 2011 or early 2012. The space hotel should be finished by late 2012. Somehow this all feels about 30 years behind schedule. For an amazing take on the wonders of the space age and it’s interminable delay “Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?” is a must read graphic novel.
Over the last decade there has been increased speculation that life might exist on Jupiter’s moon, Europa. Europa is smaller than Earth’s moon and is essentially an ocean world covered by 12 to 16 miles of surface ice. The short story is that where there’s water, there’s life. We’ve even been prepping for interplanetary ocean expeditions of Europa by sending robots to the bottom of our coldest waters.
The extraterrestrial life speculation has been amplified by the new theory that Europa’s ocean is currently being fed more than a hundred times more oxygen than previous models had suggested. This additional oxygen may be caused by tidal shifting created by the gravitational pull of Jupiter on Europa’s crust. Just as the Moon and the Sun stretch the Earth via gravitational stress, Europa’s icy crust may stretch and crack to allow liquid water to rise to the surface – thereby oxygenating the previously ice-locked water. This week, a scientist at the University of Arizona has posited that “that amount of oxygen would be enough to support more than just microscopic life-forms, and at least three million tons of fishlike creatures could theoretically live and breathe on Europa.”
(Watch it while it’s free. It is excellent.)
Where did the Moon come from? The Moon’s conventional origin story tells of an Earth-impact with another planetary body. The resulting fallout and debris aggregated to form the moon. Seems plausible enough.
A new hypothesis posits that the Moon may have formed inside Mercury’s orbit and migrated out until it was roped into orbit around Earth. This theory uses 4 billion year old geological evidence from Australia that indicates the Earth was too cool to explode into space resulting in Moon formation.
Next step: explore the dark side.
Why EdgeScience? Because, contrary to public perception, scientific knowledge is still full of unknowns. What remains to be discovered—what we don’t know—very likely dwarfs what we do know. And what we think we know may not be entirely correct or fully understood. Anomalies, which researchers tend to sweep under the rug, should be actively pursued as clues to potential breakthroughs and new directions in science.
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