groovychk: (sci-fi)

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Thruster May Shorten Mars Trip

TUSTIN, Calif., Sept. 7, 2007 — An amplified photon thruster that could potentially shorten the trip to Mars from six months to a week has reportedly attracted the attention of aerospace agencies and contractors.

Young Bae, founder of the Bae Institute in Tustin, Calif., first demonstrated his photonic laser thruster (PLT), which he built with off-the-shelf components, in December.

The demonstration produced a photon thrust of 35 µN and is scalable to achieve much greater thrust for future space missions, the institute said. Applications include highly precise satellite formation flying configurations for building large synthetic apertures in space for earth or space observation, precision contaminant-free spacecraft docking operations, and propelling spacecraft to unprecedented speeds — faster than 100 km/sec.

“This is the tip of the iceberg,” Bae said in a statement from the institute. “PLT has immense potential for the aerospace industry. For example, PLT-powered spacecraft could transit the 100 million km to Mars in less than a week.”

groovychk: (science)

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Nuclear rockets could cut cost of Moon base - space - 28 June 2007 - New Scientist Space
Howe envisions using a nuclear engine similar to one designed and tested in the 1960s called Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application (NERVA). In the NASA-funded NERVA design, hydrogen gas is heated by nuclear reactions in a uranium reactor and expelled to produce thrust.

I am ALL for this. We are long past due on using nuclear rocket engines.

The higher efficiency of such an engine means almost 29 tonnes of cargo could be delivered to the Moon in a single Ares V launch, compared to 21 tonnes with the non-nuclear version. This would allow a 250-tonne lunar base to be constructed with only nine rather than 12 Ares V launches, Howe says.

groovychk: (science)

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Mars rover finds “puddles” on the planet’s surface - space - 08 June 2007 - New Scientist Space
A new analysis of pictures taken by the exploration rover Opportunity reveals what appear to be small ponds of liquid water on the surface of Mars.
The report identifies specific spots that appear to have contained liquid water two years ago, when Opportunity was exploring a crater called Endurance. It is a highly controversial claim, as many scientists believe that liquid water cannot exist on the surface of Mars today because of the planet’s thin atmosphere.
If confirmed, the existence of such ponds would significantly boost the odds that living organisms could survive on or near the surface of Mars, says physicist Ron Levin, the report’s lead author, who works in advanced image processing at the aerospace company Lockheed Martin in Arizona.
Along with fellow Lockheed engineer Daniel Lyddy, Levin used images from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s website. The resulting stereoscopic reconstructions, made from paired images from the Opportunity rover’s twin cameras, show bluish features that look perfectly flat. The surfaces are so smooth that the computer could not find any surface details within those areas to match up between the two images.
The imaging shows that the areas occupy the lowest parts of the terrain. They also appear transparent: some features, which Levin says may be submerged rocks or pebbles, can be seen below the plane of the smooth surface.

This would be pretty damn cool.

Update: Much higher res pics here

groovychk: (science)

Originally published at You can comment here or there. | 149601

25.03.2007 / 18:17 New space shield may help make Mars mission reality
Scientists working toward a manned Mars mission say they’re closing in on a new, high-tech material that can shield astronauts from deadly deep-space radiation.

Known as graphite nanofiber, the new material would be much lighter than the dense materials used on Earth as radiation shielding in nuclear power plants.

groovychk: (science)

May 8, 2006 | 8:30 p.m. ET
Risking it all on Mars:Would you chip in a million dollars to have someone go on a one-waytrip to Mars? How about $100,000, or $10,000? It may sound like theultimate revenge, but X Prize founder Peter Diamandis is floating the idea as a privately funded way to start settling the Red Planet.

The plan, which Diamandis outlined this weekend during the International Space Development Conference,assumes that 100,100 contributors would drink the Red Planet Kool-Aid.It also assumes that all the medical, technical and logistical challenges involved in setting up a permanent Mars base can be solvedfor about $8 billion — far less than NASA's projected price tag.

One-Way Trip to Colonize Mars )
groovychk: (science)
And now that Google Earth has taken off...
Google presents us with....
Google Mars

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