A Firefly Future? | Jupiter@Nite | 9.8.10

A Firefly Future? | Jupiter@Nite | 9.8.10

A keen observer of the news will have noticed a constant and steady march towards exploring and learning more about our own solar system. Many believe it’s unlikely man could travel beyond our solar system, and the very task of man visiting a neighboring planet such as Mars may be the absolute limits of our technology for the next 100 years.

We’ve talked in the past about deep space travel, faster than light travel, and even worm holes and black holes. Tonight we take a practical look at space travel, and what our local space neighborhood might look like in roughly 100 years!

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Tonight’s Show Notes & Download Below:

In the News:

Our favorite crazy-smart physicist Steven Hawking urges humans to colonize off-planet

  • His proposed alternative:  Extinction.  Thanks for the sunny outlook!
  • Reasoning — we have already faced possible global extinction at our own hands (Cuban Missle Crisis could have sparked global nuclear war).  If such an event were ever to occur, our entire species could be annihilated.  At least if we colonize off-world, we have the potential for survival in these situations.

NASA Launching a Probe into the Sun

  • Plans Call for Launch in 2018
  • 8 Weeks Travel to the Sun
  • Will remain four million miles away from the Sun
  • Eight times closer to the sun then any other spacecraft
  • They want to learn what “accelerates the plasma”.
  • Maybe the key to future travel?

Colorful mix of near earth asteroids discovered, may aid future space travel

  • They are cataloging 700 near-Earth objects
  • There are roughly 7,000 known near-Earth objects
  • Some might come from the main belt between Mars and Jupiter, and others could come from farther out in the solar system.
  • Since asteroid surfaces become darker with time due to exposure to solar radiation, the presence of lighter, shinier surfaces for some asteroids may indicate that they are relatively young. This is evidence for the continuing evolution of the near-Earth object population.
  • Obama recently urged Congress to pass a bill for NASA that would have a goal of asteroid visits/landings by 2025. (So far, Congress has been uncooperative.)
    • Also mentioned in this report, is the imminent retirement of our shuttle program.  After which, the US will rely upon foreign launches to send astronauts into space. Work is under way at NASA to build the Orion Spacecraft. The project is in the early stages.

Yesterday: NASA Tweets about the “near earth objects”:

“Asteriods passing Earth near moon tomorrow morning..no worries. Visit http://neat.jpl.nasa.gov/

Long-term Travel Concepts?
Between Ion Drives and Solar Sails, we already have viable means of long-term propulsion for sub-light speeds.

  • Problem:  Sublight speeds mean extremely long periods of time spent in space.
    • Travel to Mars can vary between 6 months and 2.5 years, depending on orbit.
  • Solutions:
    • Colony Ships?
      • NASA has published mock-ups and concept art of a massive ringed ship that would be capable of producing its own food, and using the rotation of rings to generate artificial gravity within portions of the ship.  Neat!
    • Cryonics? (aka Cryogenics)
      • As of 2010, only around 200 people have undergone the procedure since it was first proposed in 1962. In the United States, cryonics can only be legally performed on humans after they have been pronounced legally dead.
      • Scientists currently have no viable method for resuscitating humans frozen in this manner, and all such concepts are completely theoretical.  Based on the concept that the brain’s physical structure is what creates memories (at a cellular/chemical level).

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