Today’s episode of Minutes at the Edge is all about the weird and wonderful stuff between the starts and the stars themselves.
Especially if the stars in question are weird and wonderful, so please enjoy:
Well, NASA has announced the Curiosity Rover has made a discovery on Mars but this is all for now. Apparently, someone has also said that, if the discovery is confirmed, it will be one for the history books.
Of course, everybody is now lurking for the announcement of LIFE ON MARS! but let us keep our cool and wait for the results, OK? I should not make such a statement, I can hardly keep calm myself…
Well, well, what can I say. This truely is a triumph for science and technology. Space science has helped archeology spot new potential sites of ancient habitation. More details in this article by the BBC.
And it is not only about science: Every dig is also an adventure, every new discovery is an adventure. The glory days of archeology are now.
Granted, Tutenchamun’s tomb has been found, but who knows what other treasures wait out there, hidden from sight for millenia.
Maybe there is still time for me to pursue the career I dreamed of as a boy… Be an archeologist.
As an astronomy geek, I simply had to share this one, the launch of the Mars Science Laboratory:
Apart from the obvious science and sheer power of technology involved in here, it is also interesting to see how much actual space travel differs from early visions.
Although rockets have been around for centuries, even millenia, they were not seriously considered as methods for space exploration until the early 20th century.
Visionaries like Jules Vernes and H.G. Wells came up with very different solutions to get people to other planets. Jule Verne suggested a moon cannon, Wells and anti-gravity material called cavorite.
Cannons remained the favourite tool for space exploration for a comparatively long time, but thus far, no large object has been brought even into orbit via cannon. Project HARPwas the closest anyone has ever gotten to turning a space cannon into reality. The project has long been abandoned.
Antigravity of course is completely out of the question, since the concept violates our understanding of how gravity works.
In the end, that’s OK, because we have tried, tested and functional rocket technology, and I can hardly wait for the Curiosity Rover to reach Mars.
Phil Plait (I featured a video of one of his talks before) strikes again.
Please enjoy this talk and presentation he gave at TED in Boulder, Arizona, about how to defend the earth from asteroids.
A very important point. Why? Do you know why the dinosaurs died out? They did not have a space program and did not see it coming…
Well, humanity has a space program (several), we can still hope.
We all know about the Apollo Program which brought a number of US astronauts to the moon. At the same time, the USSR also had a manned space program going (for my younger readers: The USSR was a state that existed from 1922 to 1991 and comprised areas of what is now Russia, Ukrania, Belarus, the Baltic States, and others). The program was aborted after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon and today it is little more than a footnote in the history of politics and science.
The Soviets definitely wanted to go, though, the equipment was ready and some of it had also been tested. It would have been feasable for Soviet cosmonauts to walk on the moon. I think they would have doubled their efforts if the first American mission had ended in disaster.
As far as the hardware of the Soviet Manned Lunar Program is concerned I am especially impressed by their LK Lunar Lander (LK for Lunniy Korabl – Lunar Craft):
The similarities between it and the American lunar landing module are striking. It is rounder and looks a bit more organic compared to the US model but the overall configuration is the same. Function begats form. Since the design teams behind both landers were well aware of the tasks their lander had to perform and the limitations of the available technology, it is obvious they came up with similar solutions. Thus, the landing modules look alike
A bit like the BF 109 and the Hawker Hurricane only with far higher (no pun intended) goals and far more andvanced technology, obviously. Well at least the LK lander gets a cameo appearance in the movie Apollo 18.
It really is too bad the Soviets gave up after the Americans succeeded, it would make the history of manned space flight so much more interesting, had they made it to the moon, too.
And who knows, maybe it would have had a galvanizing effect on efforts for building a permanent moon base by one or both sides.
Alas, now the US does not even have a manned space program anymore… How times chage…