Thursday, January 23rd, 2014 | Author: OWC Mason
As always, OWC is keeping an eye on space exploration news, and let’s just say it’s been an exciting week. Not “hey, the aliens are here and they’ve ended all war and cured all disease!” exciting, but in the past week there has been a bunch of news that is sure to stimulate our imaginations.
It’s not exaggerating to say that some of it might even change the way you see the stars the next time you find yourself staring up at the night sky and contemplating your existence. You do that from time to time, right?
In the past week, scientists found a jelly donut on Mars, proposed a visit to a proto-planet that looks like the Death Star as well as revealing other findings that are sure to make a huge impact on space exploration. In a universe so large the human mind can’t really comprehend the scope of it all, every small discovery is a big deal. And recently, scientists have shared some pretty big ones.
For your convenience, we’ve collected some of the coolest space news stories making the rounds this week. If nothing else, it should serve as a reminder that every once in a while, you should kick back and stargaze. Article Continues…
Sunday, December 15th, 2013 | Author: OWC Mason
With a name like Other World Computing, you can bet we’re incredibly interested in space exploration. That’s why we were so excited to read that China’s Chang’e-3 spacecraft delivered a six-wheeled rover named Jade Rabbit to the moon on Saturday.
The moment Jade Rabbit touched down, China joined the U.S. and the former Soviet Union as the only nations to have landed an intact spacecraft on the moon. It was also the first robot to land on the moon in nearly 40 years. The Jade Rabbit will have many abilities, such as being able to dig up soil samples to a depth of 30 meters.
National Geographic broke down what will make Jade Rabbit’s mission unique and important: Article Continues…
As you proabably already know, OWC has quite the affinity for advancements in both science and space. On May 29th, Planetary Resources launched their Kickstarter project “ARKYD: A Space Telescope for Everyone”. A great project that involves a low Earth orbit telescope that will be made accessible by the public for educational and general space community purposes.
Who is Planetary Resources?
Planetary Resources is a private company that was founded by Eric Anderson and Peter H. Diamandis, M.D. to mine asteroids for precious metals and other resources. They plan to create a fleet of low cost robotic spacecraft to help accomplish this goal. In mining asteroids for their resources it will greatly expand upon the available resources we have available to us even as the resources of our planet are being depleted.
What is the ARKYD project?
This is the start of technology that was only in Sci-Fiction starting to become reality now. Space telescopes and technology to take pictures with them have of course existed for some time. However, the intended use of the telescopes that Planetary Resources plan to begin deploying will lead to scanning of asteroids for the resources and of course the mining of them.
The ARKYD itself is an advanced space-based telescope that they are making available to the backers for use. The ARKYD’s overall function depends on the series of the ARKYD unit. The ARKYD 100, which is what is being developed for this Kickstarter project, is designed as a low Earth orbit commercial telescope within the reach of the private citizen. “The ARKYD contains the critical structures, avionics, attitude determination and control, and instrumentation that enable low-cost asteroid exploration.” Article Continues…
Image credit: Astronomy Education Services/Gingin Observatory
We’ve got a space alert for the star watchers among our readers.
It isn’t often that a comet is visible to the naked eye, however, Comet PanSTARRS (not to be confused with Pawn Stars) is going to be visible in the Northern Hemisphere for a few more nights still. And up here in Woodstock, IL, it looks like the best night to get a glimpse is going to be tonight.
You see, a few of the star watchers on our team were stymied last night by the cloud coverage. But tonight’s forecast is calling for clear skies.
Your best bet for viewing the comet is going to be about a half hour after sunset when the comet should be visible to the naked eye just to the left of the moon (although a pair of binoculars would definitely make it easier to see).
“Look too early and the sky will be too bright,” according to Rachel Stevenson, a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow at JPL. “Look too late, the comet will be too low and obstructed by the horizon. This comet has a relatively small window.”
If any of you astrophotographers out there take some pictures, we’d love to see and share your photos of this celestial event. You can either link to them in the comments below, or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add them to the comments for you.
The trouble with interstellar travel is that (as one of the most notable authorities on the subject put it)
“Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”
With the nearest extrasolar star (Proxima Centauri) so far away that it would take over four years traveling at the speed of light to reach it, interstellar travel would require multiple generations to achieve with the current technology levels.
Science Fiction has resolved the problem with the concept faster-than-light travel. Depending on the series, it has been called hyperspace, warp drive, jump drive, the Holtzman drive, or any of a number of similar terms. In most cases, though, it generally boils down to encasing the ship within a bubble of “normal” space-time and pushing it through distorted or alternate space. It works great in movies, television and books, but it has all been mostly the realm of fiction. A concept for real-life warp drive was developed in 1994, but calculations showed that it would require impractical amounts of energy.
As SPACE.com is reporting, that may not be the case any more.
According to the article, adjustments can be made to the design that would significantly decrease the power requirements. Experiments are now being performed at Johnson Space Center, where scientists will attempt to create tiny instances of the space-time distortion necessary for “warp” space travel.
While we may not necessarily see it in our lifetime, it is entirely possible that future generations will be traveling to other worlds at faster-than-light speeds as a result of these experiments.