Space Thread

Jinentonix

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Sep 6, 2015
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Olympus Mons
I know, right? We should never have launched the first rocket until we had the Starship Entercourse all ready to take 100,000 colonists to an Earth-compatible world that was all mapped out and had a Tim Hortons waiting for them.

It's not like anybody learns anything by experimentation. Or that there can be anything of value in the universe except life.
Yeah, it's not like we've only explored 5% of our oceans or anything. Nothing to learn down there, I'm sure. More people have been to the moon than have been to the bottom of the ocean.

Here's the thing sports fan, I was being a little cynical about her altruism. People like her think space exploration will be like Star Trek, everyone learning to get along for the "greater good", yada yada yada. The reality is it's going to be more like Blade Runner where private corporations furiously exploit whatever resources (and people) they can for profit. Kind'a like now.
 

Tecumsehsbones

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Mar 18, 2013
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Yeah, it's not like we've only explored 5% of our oceans or anything. Nothing to learn down there, I'm sure. More people have been to the moon than have been to the bottom of the ocean.

Here's the thing sports fan, I was being a little cynical about her altruism. People like her think space exploration will be like Star Trek, everyone learning to get along for the "greater good", yada yada yada. The reality is it's going to be more like Blade Runner where private corporations furiously exploit whatever resources (and people) they can for profit. Kind'a like now.
Horse shit. I've been to the bottom of the ocean a bunch of times.
 

spaminator

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Oct 26, 2009
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Astronauts confident Boeing space capsule can safely return them to Earth, despite failures
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Marcia Dunn
Published Jul 10, 2024 • 1 minute read

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket with Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft launches from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on June 5, 2024.
The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket with Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft launches from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on June 5, 2024. Photo by MIGUEL J. RODRIGUEZ CARRILLO /AFP via Getty Images
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Two astronauts who should have been back on Earth weeks ago said Wednesday that they’re confident that Boeing’s space capsule can return them safely, despite breakdowns.


NASA test pilots Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams launched aboard Boeing’s new Starliner capsule early last month, the first people to ride it. Leaks and thruster failures almost derailed their arrival at the International Space Station, and has kept them there much longer than planned.

In their first news conference from orbit, they said they expect to return once thruster testing is complete here on Earth. They said they’re not complaining about getting extra time in orbit, and are enjoying helping the station crew.

“I have a real good feeling in my heart that the spacecraft will bring us home, no problem,” Williams told reporters.


The two rocketed into orbit on June 5 on the test flight, which was originally supposed to last eight days.

NASA ordered up the Starliner and SpaceX Dragon capsules a decade ago for astronaut flights to and from the space station, paying each company billions of dollars. SpaceX’s first taxi flight with astronauts was in 2020. Boeing’s first crew flight was repeatedly delayed because of software and other issues.
boeing-starliner[1].jpg
 

spaminator

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Webb space telescope keeps delivering cosmic surprises
Author of the article:Washington Post
Washington Post
Joel Achenbach, The Washington Post
Published Jul 12, 2024 • 4 minute read

The distorted spiral galaxy at center, the Penguin, and the compact elliptical at left, the Egg, are locked in an active embrace. This image combines data from NASA's James Webb Space Telescope and marks the telescope's second year of science. MUST CREDIT: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI
The distorted spiral galaxy at center, the Penguin, and the compact elliptical at left, the Egg, are locked in an active embrace. This image combines data from NASA's James Webb Space Telescope and marks the telescope's second year of science. MUST CREDIT: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI jpg
The latest made-ya-look image from the James Webb Space Telescope has arrived, and it looks like … a penguin. A giant penguin in space.


NASA officials on Friday marked two full years of scientific results from the telescope with the release of the image, which actually shows a pair of intertwined galaxies, known as Arp 142, and nicknamed the Penguin and the Egg. The first is a spiral galaxy; the second is an elliptical galaxy.

“The galaxies’ ‘dance’ gravitationally pulled on the Penguin’s thinner areas of gas and dust, causing them to crash in waves and form stars,” NASA said in a news release. “Look for those areas in two places: what looks like a fish in its ‘beak’ and the ‘feathers’ in its ‘tail.'”

The Webb telescope has done everything that astronomers had hoped it would do, notably looking deeper into space and further back in time than any previous telescope. And it has produced pretty pictures. The universe as captured by the Webb’s mirror and suite of instruments is beautiful, dazzling, flamboyant. These grabby images demonstrate the remarkable resolution of the Webb telescope, NASA’s $10 billion successor to the still-operating Hubble Space Telescope.


But the primary reason the Webb exists is to do something Hubble can’t do: look far into the infrared portion of the spectrum, enabling scientists to analyze the highly red-shifted light emitted by galaxies when the universe was very young.

That has produced a major surprise. Astronomers had assumed that the early galaxies would be small and faint. That’s not what the Webb saw.

Instead there is a remarkable array of big, bright galaxies, many containing supermassive black holes, that emitted their light just 300 million years or so after the big bang. (The best estimate for the age of the universe is 13.8 billion years.) The processes of star formation and the assemblage of galaxies were faster, more efficient or just different from what theorists had assumed.


This is how science is supposed to work: A new instrument with a novel way of looking at nature puts hard data where previously there had been only theories, computer models and notions.

“The biggest impact we’ve had so far is in understanding the first billion years. That was the elevator pitch to sell the telescope, and it’s been gratifying to me how well we’ve delivered,” said Jane Rigby, the senior scientist for the Webb. “The universe cooperated.”

The unexpected number of big, bright galaxies early in the universe doesn’t mean the Big Bang Theory is wrong, Webb scientists hasten to add.

“We have this deluge of data, we have all these interesting things that we’re finding, and we don’t quite understand why,” NASA astrophysicist Amber Straughn said. But this does not represent the discovery of “new physics” or anything so revolutionary, she said.


“The Big Bang is still the best theory of the universe that we have,” Straughn said.

The Webb has looked at the nearby universe as well, including observations of the intriguing Trappist-1 planetary system, where a swarm of rocky planets orbits a red dwarf star. This planetary system is about 41 light-years away, within our own galaxy and virtually next door in the cosmic scheme of things.

An ongoing astrobiological question that the Webb might answer is whether red dwarf stars are too stormy to allow nearby planets to hold on to an atmosphere and seem plausible as a place where life could prosper.

“So far, we haven’t found a rocky planet like ours with a life-sustaining atmosphere,” planetary astronomer Heidi Hammel said in an email. “That may require an even bigger telescope.”


Could this telescope find the first incontrovertible evidence of alien life? That seems unlikely, Rigby said.

“Personally I don’t think Webb is going to find life. It’s not built to do it,” Rigby said. “I think we can find potentially habitable planets.”

Garth Illingworth, an astronomer at the University of California at Santa Cruz who was among the people who dreamed up the Webb in the late 1980s, said the telescope has assembled a vast amount of data on exoplanets – the worlds that orbit distant stars. That data still needs to be assembled into a coherent picture, he added.

“It is a little like an alien walking through an earthly zoo, looking at the vast range of animals and then trying to assemble the relationships and common aspects,” he said.


The Webb rocketed into space on Christmas morning 2021 and spent six months getting shipshape as it orbited the sun roughly a million miles from Earth. The big headline from that period was that the telescope overcame 344 potential single-point failures, including the deployment of a tennis-court-sized sun shield necessary for the cold-temperature observations in the infrared portion of the spectrum.

One of the telescope’s 18 hexagonal mirrors took a nasty strike from a micrometeoroid, but that had limited impact. NASA has since tried to lower the risk of such impacts by flying the telescope with the mirrors facing away from the direction of travel.

“We’re sort of flying it so that it’s not facing, quote unquote, into the rain,” Straughn said.

The telescope has also pointed itself at the worlds we know best, in our own solar system. Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, long known to have a deep subsurface ocean, is leaking carbon dioxide fitfully, the Webb discovered. And the telescope saw a 6,000-mile plume of water erupting from Saturn’s moon Enceladus, which like Europa has a hidden ocean under the crust of ice, Hammel said.

“The next 20 years are only going to be even more exciting as we really push the capabilities of this fantastic tool into the unknown and unexpected,” Hammel said.
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