Space

Chat about anything else on your mind
About this forum
n.b. This forum is "read only" for members until they're well established.

Space

Postby Gavin » 27 Oct 2012, 19:46

This amazing video shows the descent of Curiosity to Mars. Details of how it was made at the link (click YouTube logo):

Gavin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3430
Joined: 27 Jul 2011, 18:13
Location: Once Great Britain

Re: Space

Postby Gavin » 16 Mar 2013, 18:59

For anyone who is interested in the topic of space and space travel, this is an enthralling site. It won several awards when it was launched.

This is a very interesting book about the Apollo programme, too.
Gavin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3430
Joined: 27 Jul 2011, 18:13
Location: Once Great Britain

Re: Space

Postby Gavin » 16 Mar 2013, 19:27

It's fascinating to consider the Apollo Guidance Computer, too, which apparently had the following spec:

  • 2048 words of RAM. A "word" was 15 bits of data—therefore just under 2 bytes (16 bits) of data—and so the total RAM was just 3840 bytes.
  • 36,864 words of read-only memory, equivalent to 69,120 bytes.
  • Maximum of about 85,000 CPU instructions executed per second.

This means that, by my calculations, the Mac on which I am writing this has 4,166,666 times the RAM that the Apollo Guidance Computer had.
Gavin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3430
Joined: 27 Jul 2011, 18:13
Location: Once Great Britain

Re: Space

Postby Elliott » 16 Mar 2013, 20:48

By amazing coincidence, I was just doing a similar calculation last night, comparing how much faster my current computer is than the old Sega Game Gear from 1990! I think it was 125,000 times as fast.
Elliott
 
Posts: 1800
Joined: 31 Jul 2011, 22:32
Location: Edinburgh

Re: Space

Postby Nathan » 17 Mar 2013, 00:06

I'll have a good look at that site tomorrow when I have time, Gavin, as I was very interested in astronomy as a child. One of the things my family have never let me forget is me telling my parents at about age 5 that I wanted to be the first man on the Moon, "Sorry Nathan, you're already about 20 years too late!";)

I remember reading back in 1997 that a typical mobile phone even then, primitive to us now, had more computing power than the computers in the Apollo missions.
Nathan
 
Posts: 880
Joined: 08 Dec 2012, 17:58

Re: Space

Postby Gavin » 17 Mar 2013, 12:22

Yes, it says something about that time, doesn't it, what they achieved (while the younger ones were smoking pot and having "the revolution" etc). Some clever men, in good family structures, were working very hard. Incredibly brave astronauts too, and indeed the wives who saw them go.

Here's another thing I've been reading about, Olympus Mons, on Mars:



As you might know, it's a "shield volcano'. Check out its scale:

Gavin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3430
Joined: 27 Jul 2011, 18:13
Location: Once Great Britain

Re: Space

Postby Michael » 08 May 2013, 16:58

After finishing up my work this morning I have spent a pleasant hour reading abstract's from the [url]Journal of the British Interplanetary Society[/url]. The articles themselves are sadly locked behind a paywall, but the abstracts are thorough and interesting. Among one's that caught my eye:

Destination Mars: Colonization Via One-Way Missions

Sun Focus Comes First, Interstellar Comes Second

Project Icarus: Interstellar Spaceprobes and Encounters with Extraterrestrial Intelligence

The last one looks particularly interesting: a proposal for preparing near-stellar exploration missions to encounter extraterrestrial intelligences (ETIs). The odds are very low, but it is still something worth contemplating.
Michael
 
Posts: 304
Joined: 01 Aug 2011, 21:28
Location: Canada

Re: Space

Postby Michael » 09 May 2013, 19:01

One of the things I find exciting about space travel and colonization is how immensely inegalitarian it is. No one (except for a few billionaires) goes into space without being quite exceptional physically and mentally. Colonies in the future will be primarily made up of the fit and cultured, and be able to leave the riff raff behind.

That, however, may have some very adverse consequences for those who remain, witness this great quote from Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange:

Tramp: It's a stinking world because there's no law and order anymore! It's a stinking world because it lets the young get on to the old, like you done. Oh, it's no world for an old man any longer. What sort of a world is it at all? Men on the moon, and men spinning around the earth, and there's not no attention paid to earthly law and order no more.


Though, I must say, wouldn't it be a bit more heartening to live in a world where, though things were going to hell on Earth, we were at least still actively seeking to move the better parts of humanity into space?

I have no illusion that I'd be chosen for such exploration or be offered a spot on a lunar or Martian colony. I just think its a party of being civilized to care about the good of a group larger than oneself and one's acquaintances.
Michael
 
Posts: 304
Joined: 01 Aug 2011, 21:28
Location: Canada

Re: Space

Postby Nathan » 03 Jul 2013, 00:52

I wondered if anybody had any opinions on the viability and the likelihood of a manned mission to Mars in our lifetimes. It seems to be one of those things that is always being planned for 20 years in the future, but never ends up happening. I'm sure many people in 1969 would be disappointed to discover that we have still not yet even attempted it.

Understanding the actual physics of such a project and thinking of a scientific reason for going other than "because it's there" is beyond what I could claim to have any meaningful insight into, but the psychological challenges for the astronauts could make for a decent discussion.

Ultimately, whether it will happen or not it will come down to cost and political will: there is even a private company wanting to offer a one-way trip with a budget of $6 billion (with not much information on where this sum would come from!), but I suspect that a nationally or internationally-backed mission would cost several times more.

The United States has explored Mars with probes more than any other nation, and expressed its intention to send a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s, but we have heard this before. China hasn't explicitly mentioned it as an ambition, but what better way to say "we have arrived" as a major superpower than being the first to get some of their people on another planet?

A recent study has found that given that with current technology a return trip to Mars would take around 18 months, longer than any human has ever spent in space before, astronauts would be exposed to levels of radiation sufficient as to make them infertile, meaning that suitable astronauts for such a mission would be above childbearing age. Other health problems associated with prolonged spaceflights include muscle atrophy and eyesight deteroriation as a result of weightlessness.

The major problems would be psychological: 18 months trapped in a small group of people with little to do in a living area no larger than a people carrier. There has been an isolation study conducted in preparation for a Mars mission, which found problems with sleep cycles, depression and astronauts becoming isolated from the group. At least the Apollo astronauts could see the Earth relatively clearly from the Moon - the Mars astronauts will see us a distant speck on the horizon, when it will sink in that they are a very long way away from home, over five hundred times further than the Moon.

The crew will be more isolated from Earth than anybody ever before - on Mars itself, it will take up to 22 minutes for a message to reach Earth, and another 22 minutes for the reply to reach the astronauts back. There will, of course, be no chance of sending out extra supplies if assistance is needed, and any mistake in landing the spacecraft on Mars or taking off from it will be fatal.

I suppose the most similar parallel would be Columbus's mission to the Americas in 1492. I have been on board a lifesize replica of the Pinta in Baiona, northwestern Spain, and judged it about an adequate size for eight people to live comfortably - there were 27 who set sail on it. Presumably, they had no idea where they were going or what they would encounter when they got there, how long it would take, whether their food stocks were adequate or if they would ever get back home.

What they did have though, was each other - with a bigger group, a personality clash between two people need not jepoardise the atmosphere for the whole mission. They also had fresh air on deck, the familiar routine of day and night, and at least some space to stretch their legs. They would also have had at least some work to do on board ship. They also didn't feel the individual weight of expectation of knowing that hundreds of millions of people were taking an active interest in their mission and years of planning and tens of billions of dollars had been invested in them. They also knew that wherever it was that they ended up, it was somewhere where they could, in theory, stay and survive, and they would likely meet other people. The crew would likely each have had years of experience at sea, whereas for the Mars astronauts going into space would quite possibly be a new experience for them.

The Mars astronauts will no doubt have come through the most rigorous selection process imaginable and be trained to the absolute highest levels, and will have the best scientists and psychologists in the world on call at any time, but they will certainly need all the help they can get.
Nathan
 
Posts: 880
Joined: 08 Dec 2012, 17:58

Re: Space

Postby Caleb » 04 Jul 2013, 01:58

I seriously doubt the American government will send a manned mission to Mars. There's no public will for it. The government is already in massive debt. Sure, they have plenty of money for single mothers with five kids (though that will run out as the idiocracy expands), but not for a mission to Mars.

The other thing too is that from the little I understand on the matter, real scientific and technological progress is slowing in the West. Our best and brightest minds, even when they are engaged in science and technology, so often fritter their talents away on nonsense. Seriously, where's my flying car that folds into a briefcase? (I had forgotten about the briefcase bit.) Yet we have this. There's progress for you!
Caleb
 
Posts: 865
Joined: 20 Oct 2011, 04:44


Return to Other

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron

User Menu

Login Form

This site costs £100 per year to run and makes no money.

If you would like to make a small contribution to help pay for the web hosting, you can do so here.

Who is online

In total there is 1 user online :: 0 registered, 0 hidden and 1 guest (based on users active over the past 5 minutes)
Most users ever online was 175 on 12 Jan 2015, 18:23

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest
Copyright © Western Defence. All Rights Reserved.