Archive for the ‘NASA’ tag

Jul 14, 2015

How to plan the ultimate long-term project, from the team who got us to Pluto — By Daniel Terdiman | Fast Company

Posted by in categories: space, space travel


One thing you don’t expect when planning a nine-year mission to the most distant planet in our solar system is the eventuality that Pluto might not be a planet once you got there.

Yet that’s exactly what went down in 2006. That January, NASA launched its unmanned New Horizons probe, a baby grand piano-sized, 1,054-pound spacecraft, on the first-ever route to Pluto. Then, in August 2006, the International Astronomical Union demoted Pluto to the diminutive status of “dwarf planet.”

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Jul 7, 2015

Universe might contain millions of black holes

Posted by in categories: astronomy, gravity, physics, space

[from Engadget]

Black holes are, by definition, impossible to see by conventional methods and are often further obscured by thick blankets of dust or gas. But that’s not an issue for NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR). It can peek through the obscuring layers and monitor the black holes via the high-energy X-rays that they emit. And, after a recent survey that spotted five previously unknown supermassive black holes in the centers of various galaxies, NASA researchers now think there could be millions of of them dotting the Universe like the holes of an intergalactic colander.

“Thanks to NuSTAR, for the first time, we have been able to clearly identify these hidden monsters that are predicted to be there, but have previously been elusive because of their surrounding cocoons of material,” said George Lansbury of Durham University in a statement. “Although we have only detected five of these hidden supermassive black holes, when we extrapolate our results across the whole universe, then the predicted numbers are huge and in agreement with what we would expect to see.” The team’s research has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.

Jun 23, 2015

Strings Are Dead

Posted by in categories: anti-gravity, cosmology, defense, general relativity, gravity, innovation, particle physics, philosophy, physics, policy, quantum physics, science, space travel

In 2014, I submitted my paper “A Universal Approach to Forces” to the journal Foundations of Physics. The 1999 Noble Laureate, Prof. Gerardus ‘t Hooft, editor of this journal, had suggested that I submit this paper to the journal Physics Essays.

My previous 2009 submission “Gravitational acceleration without mass and noninertia fields” to Physics Essays, had taken 1.5 years to review and be accepted. Therefore, I decided against Prof. Gerardus ‘t Hooft’s recommendation as I estimated that the entire 6 papers (now published as Super Physics for Super Technologies) would take up to 10 years and/or $20,000 to publish in peer reviewed journals.

Prof. Gerardus ‘t Hooft had brought up something interesting in his 2008 paper “A locally finite model for gravity” that “… absence of matter now no longer guarantees local flatness…” meaning that accelerations can be present in spacetime without the presence of mass. Wow! Isn’t this a precursor to propulsion physics, or the ability to modify spacetime without the use of mass?

As far as I could determine, he didn’t pursue this from the perspective of propulsion physics. A year earlier in 2007, I had just discovered the massless formula for gravitational acceleration g=τc^2, published in the Physics Essays paper referred above. In effect, g=τc^2 was the mathematical solution to Prof. Gerardus ‘t Hooft’s “… absence of matter now no longer guarantees local flatness…”

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Jun 23, 2015

Is Photon Based Propulsion, the Future?

Posted by in categories: anti-gravity, defense, general relativity, gravity, innovation, particle physics, physics, quantum physics, science, space travel

I first met Dr. Young Bae, NIAC Fellow, at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) sponsored 2011, 100 Year Starship Study (100YSS) at Orlando, Fla. Many of us who were there had responded to the NASA/DARPA Tactical Technology Office’s RFP to set up an organization “… to develop a viable and sustainable non-governmental organization for persistent, long-term, private-sector investment into the myriad of disciplines needed to make long-distance space travel viable …”

Yes, both DARPA and NASA are at some level interested in interstellar propulsion. Mine was one of approximately 35 (rumored number) teams from around the world vying for this DARPA grant, and Dr. Bae was with a competing team. I presented the paper “Non-Gaussian Photon Probability Distributions”, and Dr. Bae presented “A Sustainable Developmental Pathway of Photon Propulsion towards Interstellar Flight”. These were early days, the ground zero of interstellar propulsion, if you would.

Dr. Bae has been researching Photon Laser Thrust (PLT) for many years. A video of his latest experiment is available at the NASA website or on YouTube. This PLT uses light photons to move an object by colliding with (i.e. transferring momentum to) the object. The expectation is that this technology will eventually be used to propel space crafts. His most recent experiments demonstrate the horizontal movement of a 1-pound weight. This is impressive. I expect to see much more progress in the coming years.

At one level, Dr. Bae’s experiments are confirmation that Bill Nye’s Light Sail (which very unfortunately lost communications with Earth) will work.

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Jun 18, 2015

The Earth’s Evaporating Aquifers — By Robinson Meyer | The Atlantic

Posted by in category: water


“Many—if not most—of the Earth’s aquifers are in trouble. … That’s the finding of a group of NASA scientists, who published their study of global groundwater this week in the journal Water Resources Research. Water levels in 21 of the world’s 37 largest known aquifers, they report, are trending negative.”

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Apr 24, 2015

To be a Space Faring Civilization

Posted by in categories: astronomy, cosmology, human trajectories, innovation, science, space, space travel, transportation

Until 2006 our Solar System consisted essentially of a star, planets, moons, and very much smaller bodies known as asteroids and comets. In 2006 the International Astronomical Union’s (IAU) Division III Working Committee addressed scientific issues and the Planet Definition Committee address cultural and social issues with regard to planet classifications. They introduced the “pluton” for bodies similar to planets but much smaller.

The IAU set down three rules to differentiate between planets and dwarf planets. First, the object must be in orbit around a star, while not being itself a star. Second, the object must be large enough (or more technically correct, massive enough) for its own gravity to pull it into a nearly spherical shape. The shape of objects with mass above 5×1020 kg and diameter greater than 800 km would normally be determined by self-gravity, but all borderline cases would have to be established by observation.

Third, plutons or dwarf planets, are distinguished from classical planets in that they reside in orbits around the Sun that take longer than 200 years to complete (i.e. they orbit beyond Neptune). Plutons typically have orbits with a large orbital inclination and a large eccentricity (noncircular orbits). A planet should dominate its zone, either gravitationally, or in its size distribution. That is, the definition of “planet” should also include the requirement that it has cleared its orbital zone. Of course this third requirement automatically implies the second. Thus, one notes that planets and plutons are differentiated by the third requirement.

As we are soon to become a space faring civilization, we should rethink these cultural and social issues, differently, by subtraction or addition. By subtraction, if one breaks the other requirements? Comets and asteroids break the second requirement that the object must be large enough. Breaking the first requirement, which the IAU chose not address at the time, would have planet sized bodies not orbiting a star. From a socio-cultural perspective, one could suggest that these be named “darktons” (from dark + plutons). “Dark” because without orbiting a star, these objects would not be easily visible; “tons” because in deep space, without much matter, these bodies could not meet the third requirement of being able to dominate its zone.

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May 9, 2014

The Realistic Cost Of The Next Space Race

Posted by in categories: business, economics, engineering, finance, hardware, innovation, policy, space, space travel

Based on the Bloomberg TV program “The Next Space Race” and other reliable sources, I determine the realistic payload costs goals for the next generation of private space companies.

I review NASA’s Space Shuttle Program costs and compare these with SpaceX costs, and then extrapolate to Planetary Resources, Inc.‘s cost structure.

Three important conclusions are derived. And for those viewing this video at my blog postings, the link to the Excel Spreadsheet is here (.xlsx file).

May 8, 2014

The Next Space Race

Posted by in categories: engineering, finance, innovation, physics, science, space, space travel

Yesterday’s program, The Next Space Race, on Bloomberg TV was an excellent introduction to the commercial aerospace companies, SpaceX, the Sierra Nevada Company (SNC), and Boeing. The following are important points, at the stated times, in the program:

0.33 mins: The cost of space travel has clipped our wings.
5:18 mins: How many people knew Google before they started?
7:40 mins: SpaceX costs, full compliment, 4x per year at $20 million per astronaut.
11:59 mins: Noisy rocket launch, notice also the length of the hot exhaust is several times the length of the rocket.
12:31 mins: One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
12:37 mins: Noisy shuttle launch, notice also the length of the hot exhaust is several times the length of the rocket.
13:47 mins: OPF-3, at one time the largest building in the world at 129 million cubic feet.
16:04 mins: States are luring private companies to start up in their states.
16:32 mins: NASA should be spending its money on exploration and missions and not maintenance and operations.
17:12 mins: The fair market value of OPF-3 is about $13.5 million.
17:19 mins: Maintenance cost is $100,000 per month
17:47 mins: Why Florida?
18:55 mins: International Space Station (ISS) cost $60B and if including the Shuttle program, it cost $150B.
19:17 mins: The size of the commercial space launch business.
21:04 mins: Elon Musk has put $100 million of his own money into SpaceX.
21:23 mins: The goals of NASA and private space do not conflict.

1. Cost of ISS is $60B, total cost including the Shuttle program is $150B.

2. SpaceX cost is $20M per astronaut (for 7 astronauts) or a launch cost of $140 million per launch at $560 million per year for 4 launches per year.

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Feb 23, 2013

Keeping Humans Safe in Space: Meet Robot Torsos Justin, Robonaut, SAR-400, & AILA

Posted by in categories: fun, human trajectories, robotics/AI, space

A Point too Far to Astronaut

It’s cold out there beyond the blue. Full of radiation. Low on breathable air. Vacuous.
Machines and organic creatures, keeping them functioning and/or alive — it’s hard.
Space to-do lists are full of dangerous, fantastically boring, and super-precise stuff.

We technological mammals assess thusly:
Robots. Robots should be doing this.

Enter Team Space Torso
As covered by IEEE a few days ago, the DLR (das German Aerospace Center) released a new video detailing the ins & outs of their tele-operational haptic feedback-capable Justin space robot. It’s a smooth system, and eventually ground-based or orbiting operators will just strap on what look like two extra arms, maybe some VR goggles, and go to work. Justin’s target missions are the risky, tedious, and very precise tasks best undertaken by something human-shaped, but preferably remote-controlled. He’s not a new robot, but Justin’s skillset is growing (video is down at the bottom there).

Now, Meet the Rest of the Gang:SPACE.TORSO.LINEUPS
NASA’s Robonaut2 (full coverage), the first and only humanoid robot in space, has of late been focusing on the ferociously mundane tasks of button pushing and knob turning, but hey, WHO’S IN SPACE, HUH? Then you’ve got Russia’s elusive SAR-400, which probably exists, but seems to hide behind… an iron curtain? Rounding out the team is another German, AILA. The nobody-knows-why-it’s-feminized AILA is another DLR-funded project from a university robotics and A.I. lab with a 53-syllable name that takes too long to type but there’s a link down below.

Continue reading “Keeping Humans Safe in Space: Meet Robot Torsos Justin, Robonaut, SAR-400, & AILA” »

Jan 1, 2013

Gravity Modification – What Went Wrong?

Posted by in categories: business, chemistry, defense, education, engineering, physics, policy, scientific freedom, space, transparency

Recently, I met Josh Hopkins of Lockheed’s Advanced Programs, AIAA Rocky Mountain Region’s First Annual Technical Symposium (RMATS), October 26, 2012. Josh was the keynote speaker at this RMATS. Here is his presentation. After his presentation we talked outside the conference hall. I told him about my book, and was surprised when he said that two groups had failed to reproduce Podkletnov’s work. I knew one group had but a second? As we parted we said we’d keep in touch. But you know how life is, it has the habit of getting in the way of exciting research, and we lost touch.

About two weeks ago, I remembered, that Josh had said that he would provide some information on the second group that had failed to reproduce Podkletnov’s work. I sent him an email, and was very pleased to hear back from him and that the group’s finding had been published under the title “Gravity Modification by High-Temperature Semiconductors”. The authors were C. Woods, S. Cooke, J. Helme & C. Caldwell. Their paper was published in the 37th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit, 8–11 July 2001, Salt Lake City, Utah. I bought a copy for the AIAA archives, and read it, reread it, and reread it.

Then I found a third team they published their lack of findings “Gravity Modification Experiments Using a Rotating Superconducting Disk and Radio Frequency Fields”. The authors were G. Hathaway, B. Cleveland and Y. Bao. Published in Physica C, 2003.

Both papers focused on attempting to build a correct superconducting disc. At least Wood et al said “the tests have not fulfilled the specified conditions for a gravity effect”. The single most difficult thing to do was to build a bilayered superconducting disc. Woods et al tried very hard to do so. Reading through Hathaway et all paper suggest that they too had similar difficulties. Photo shows a sample disc from Woods’ team. Observe the crack in the middle.

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