Posts Tagged ‘Mars’

Organics on Mars? More Importantly, Water Long Ago, Now Ice Cliffs!

June 15, 2018

On this site, all sorts of essays are found. Some are on the cutting edge of research (and a subset of those may even be right! After all just one somewhat right, on a subject of significance, would justify all my efforts…). We live in times when, for the first time ever, the social Machiavellianism of a biological species, yours truly, has the fate of the biosphere, and maybe even of intelligent life in this galaxies, in its paws. That has got to have happened many times in the billions of galaxies, long ago and far away. But this is here now, and philosophy and its practical side, politics, are in the driver seat of the honor of intelligence in the Milky Way…

So here is the time to celebrate the little world next door, Mars. Mars, although half the linear dimensions of Earth, has exactly as much land as Earth (2/3 of Earth is sea). Recent discoveries have put Mars in a more habitable light.

Big picture for Mars remains that the rover is in what used to be a giant lake one hundred kilometers across. So Mars WAS HABITABLE. For about a billion years. Whether life evolved there is not clear: Earth is a giant churning engine of creation, with perhaps kilometer high tides at some point, every couple of hours or so… That forcefully mixed continent, sea, volcanoes, lightning, etc. If life had evolved on Mars, though, it would have transferred on Earth… thanks to impacts…

Ice Cliffs on Mars, 100 meters tall, took me by surprise… A happy surprise: without water on Mars, colonization a no-go

All this is much more agitated and eventful than the old picture…
Those towering, 100 meters high cliffs of ice on Mars. Last year. That makes Mars colonization feasible (once we have a huge energy source, like portable thermonuclear fusion…

NASA announced the discovery of organics on Mars. Ian Miller’s blog put that into perspective.
This sort of discoveries, ice cliffs now, and water four billion years ago, are more impactful than whether life evolved there. Hunting for fossils is how to solve that one… And will not be easy: 4 billion year old fossils on Earth are very controversial…

I am a bit impact and significance obsessed… in all matters. The hierarchy of all values comes from the hierarchy of significance. That Mars is colonizable, because it has water, is a huge piece of information, full of hope. A hope to spread humanity beyond our endangered cradle. But we don’t have all the technology we need yet: even if the cost of launches is brought as low as Elon Musk hopes (6 million dollars per launch of his giant BFR rocket, he claimed…), we don’t have an energy source for Mars: a worldwide dust storm has just plunged the planet in obscurity, and a solar powered rover had to shut itself down. (the Curiosity rover is nuclear powered, so it’s not affected… It was the last nuclear power pack, or so… Nuclear ain’t PC, you know…)

Pretty much we will need to develop controlled nuclear fusion to go melt those huge cliffs of ice… Some will scream at ecological devastation. Not so: right now, the European Union, this high temple of hypocrisy and things not being what they seem to be, import enough palm oil from South East Asia to kill all the Orangutans there… Among other life forms. And what does it do with all this food? Fuel! Fuel which the EU, in its colossal madness and criminal alacrity to invert all values, view as more important than life itself! Yes, most of the palm oil imported to Europe is turn into car exhausts…

Palm oil is one of the main engines of environmental destruction. Found in food and cosmetics, its growing use is destroying rainforests and endangering all species of much of the world. And indeed, more than half of all the palm oil imported by Europe is turned into biodiesel and blended into fuel (the US does the same with corn, but that’s more honest, less colonialist, as it is the US Middle West itself that is devastated by growing too much corn…)

Conquering the Solar System, colonizing it, will force us to use much more efficient techniques. Then we can recycle those new technologies on Earth, to reduce our impact on the home planet…So it is highly moral, not just games in space to feel better about ourselves, and distract us from gravitas. For example Photovoltaics (“PV”) used in space have nearly 50% efficiency, more than twice the one realized on the ground (they are also more expensive…) On the ISS, sweat and urine are 100% recycled…

Art, morality are children of our technology, itself the expression of science.

Patrice Ayme

 

We Are All Martians

November 6, 2015

The Life Giving Nuclear Reactor within Earth protects us with the magnetic field it energizes. The idea is that, otherwise, the atmosphere would be torn away, as it was in Mars. Or, if not the atmosphere, at least the hydrogen (and thus the water), as happened for Venus.

At least, such was my philosophy of the rocky planets’ atmosphere (exposed in prior essays). “Philosophy” can be educated guesses based on lots of physics and mathematics, intuitively understood. Philosophy can stand just at the edge of science. But then it’s good to have a scientific confirmation. Here it is. NASA’s MAVEN (= Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) in orbit for years, has measured that Mars loses around 100 grams of atmosphere per second, due to impact from the Solar Wind (protons going at 400 kilometers per second).

That’s not good. Still, back of the envelope computations show Mars should still have a thick atmosphere. Instead, its density is only 1% of Earth, and few of Earth’s most primitive lifeforms are hardy enough to survive in Mars CO2 atmosphere (even neglecting UV and low temperatures).

Once the atmosphere was going, the water followed, and so did the considerable greenhouse water vapor brought. Water vapor (H2O) is more greenhousy than CO2, meaning the relationship CO2-H2O is nonlinear: higher CO2 on Earth means higher H2O, hence even higher greenhouse than the simple rise of CO2 would naively bring).

Earth Has A Powerful Nuclear Powered Magnetic Shield. Mars' Shield Was Too Weak. The Solar Wind Tore the Martian Atmosphere Away MCE By MCE.

Earth Has A Powerful Nuclear Powered Magnetic Shield. Mars’ Shield Was Too Weak. The Solar Wind Tore the Martian Atmosphere Away MCE By MCE.

So, if 100 grams per second was not enough to strip the atmosphere why did it escape Mars as much as it did?

The Sun is an hectic thermonuclear engine shaken by internal explosions. Occasionally a Mass Coronal Ejection (MCE) occurs. Then an alarming eruption of inordinate magnitude, violently flings material off the sun, in a particular eruption. The last one to hit the Earth was in the Nineteenth Century, and it caused severe disruption to the then nascent electrodynamic industry. More severe ones went here and there in the meantime (sparing Earth for now).

However, one hit Mars, and MAVEN was there to measure what happened. What happened? The MCE driven Solar Wind smacked into Mars with great force, and robbed the planet of five kilograms of atmosphere per second.

So what philosophy to extract from this?

  1. Thank our nuclear reactor at the core, which maintains an iron ocean, hundreds of kilometers deep, below our feet.
  2. Life is fragile: it can get started easily, but  can get killed easily.
  3. With at least two planets where life started, in the Solar System, life, basic life, probably started all over the galaxy.
  4. Earth’s life has a very high probability to be of Martian origin.

Why the last point? Because Mars cooled down at least four time faster than Earth. The very latest news show that life started on Earth within 500 million years of our planet’s formation. At that point, Earth became cool enough to sustain life (in spite of the formation of the Moon, which, whether from an impact or from my own nuclear eruption theory, was characterized by great heat, and worldwide fusion of the crust). By then Mars had been cool enough for four hundred million years, at least, to allow life (I get that working backwards from the geological date of life start on Earth, and the factor 4, from the surface ratios).

How did life bearing material go from Mars to Earth? Martian meteorites are found on Earth: an object crashes on Mars and debris flung into space (Mars has lower gravity than Earth). Some documented trips took no more than 15 million years, and temperatures within would have preserved life. More than four billion years ago, the bombardment was extremely intense, and Martian meteorites may have penetrated the terrestrial atmosphere continually. And it would just take one meteorite.

A baby was dying in London, from leukemia. All usual treatments were tried, and failed. The doctors proposed to try an approach so far only experimented only on mice. Collaborating quickly with the French company, CELLECTIS Paris, designer cells made to attack specifically Layla’s cancer were engineered. The treatment was an astounding success, so far. To make war against all diseases is not just fair, it is the war which has to be waged, paying our respects to Mars. In particular, I am certain that, when the choice is between death and trying a treatment which seems to have worked on mice, one should chose the latter. If nothing else, it brings hope, and the certainty one is contributing to:

  1. Fighting back (the most human thing to do, facing evil).
  2. Science
  3. Treatment to all of humanity (other babies, etc.), another most human behavior to engage in: giving one’s life for others.

So kudos to the doctors in London (and the British government for allowing experimentation, plus the two parents for having encouraged it).

Our species celebrates Mars as a god, because war is one of our oldest instincts. Anglo-Saxon media generally scrupulously avoided to mention that this was FRENCH technology (from a French start-up, of all things!). Not mentioning France is part of the war of Anglo-Saxon plutocracy against France. We are all Martians, in more ways than one. And yes, we need to cultivate the better angels of that Martian side of us.

Patrice Ayme’

Solar Roads

October 15, 2015

Solar Roads Versus Objection Mars:

Long ago, when the sun had not set yet on the will of the West to progress, a poet was visiting my home. He read some of his poetry. Humanity had just reached the Moon. The poet loftily declared that we did not need the Moon, we needed to fight hunger.

Later, the malaria parasite mutated, becoming resistant to standard treatment. Now it kills more than 1.2 million people a year. A typical objection to colonizing the Solar System is this:

“as I see it – Scott’s movie (even if I’m a sci-fi fan and I love some movies of him as well: Blade Runner is definitely a masterpiece) is a mere conservative propaganda aiming for people to agree that these extremely expensive missions to Mars are more important than saving African children from ebola, helping Syrian refugees, letting Europe be democratic yet or supporting laws against free guns in the US … Save the “american” astronaut, guys!” The answer is crushing, it holds in one picture:

French Truck On Solar Photo-Voltaic Road: the Future Has Arrived

French Truck On Solar Photo-Voltaic Road: the Future Has Arrived

There is nothing “conservative” about missions to Mars. Quite the opposite: such missions are fully progressive. They force humanity to progress.

Disease in Africa has to do with lack of governance. Lack of hospital has to do with lack of governance. In the Ebola epidemic, the countries that were struck were struck from lack of organized health care.

Senegal got one, just one, imported Ebola case. The patient got cured, and that was it. Even Mali, with better governance, in spite of a Jihadist invasion, was able to contain a few imported cases. Meanwhile, several countries next door, which are intrinsically much richer (Sierra Leone, Guinea. Liberia) saw thousands of deaths, and containment came from the efforts of NGOs, France and the USA (mostly).

When France pulled out of Africa, some particularly smart critic told a senior French government minister that the argument of “freeing” Africa from alleged colonialism made no humanitarian sense: there was no “colonialism” to speak of, and who was going to pay for one hospital every 100 kilometers in the world’s second largest continent? The minister smiled, and said: “this is precisely the point, we will not incur that expense anymore.”

Two capabilities save children in general: a) good governance. b) science.

When considering a Mars mission in this connection, one has to answer if the Mars mission will improve governance and science. Governance itself is a science. A mission to Mars is “expensive”. How much? 100 million dollars? 200 millions? How much would a Mars colonization program cost to launch? Two trillion dollars?

According to the International Monetary Fund, subsidies for fossil fuels are more than 5.5 trillion dollars a year. Enough to set-up a village on Mars, with existing technology.

Now going to Mars would force drastic progress in, say, fuel cells. The technology of fuel cells was invented for the Moon mission. After Obama became president, the research funding on this field was yanked out (probably to send money to businessmen such as Elon Musk).

Mars colonization would force enormously innovative research in energy technology, for example fuel cells, and nuclear energy (both fission and fusion).

Nothing else will.

Syrian refugees? Mars will not save Syrians? Nothing is more removed from the truth. Mars, the god of war, is what is needed in Syria, fighting for Goodness, instead of having Mars fight in the name of the devil Assad, as was mostly done so far.

The 300,000 dead in Syria, the eleven million refugees, have been caused by the rule of a single, cornered man, Assad, son of Assad, and the clique surrounding him. To solve the Syrian refugees crisis, Assad’s rule ought to be terminated, so that he could be replaced by generals open to enough democracy to keep Syrians in Syria.

Unfortunately the Franco-American decapitation strike against Assad was called off by Obama, for reasons so far unexplained. So the massacre keeps on going, with forces under the orders of Assad killing at least ten times as much what the Islamist State kills.

Fossil fuels consumption, should it go on for a few more decades, will bring the global temperature up five degrees Celsius, and massacre the biosphere. It has to stop, but can be stopped only with plentiful, cheap, new energy sources.

That, or massive war (killing billions).

How? Science to the rescue. Without evoking the spectrum of nuclear energy (fission and fusion), Solar Photo-Voltaic (SPV) is here. Normal solar panels were developed for space missions. Without space colonization, they would not have been developed. Yet, solar panels are fragile. Or, more exactly, were fragile until now.

A giant French construction company (Bouygues) deposed patents to cover-up solar cells with various materials to make them tough. Glass can be made as hard as steel. Then Bouygues engineers drove more than a million vehicles above the toughened-up panels in a few test cities (Chambery, Grenoble). Now the first solar road is under construction. Four meters of said road can satisfy a house’s needs. 100 square meters (twenty meters of the linear road depicted) are enough to drive 100,000 kilometers with an electric vehicle. If 25% of French roads were covered, 100% of French electric needs would be covered.

The future, the good future, is here: it’s enough to let science roll. But science needs challenges. Such as Mars colonization. If (very serious) scientists and mathematicians need bananas, such as the Fields Medal and the Nobel Prize, certainly humanity needs bigger motivation, and bigger prizes than that!

You want morality? More morality? Then you need a bigger science. And the way to get a better science is by setting higher objectives, greater passions, more exacting thoughts. Progress, the Will to Progress, is a mood. It cannot be confined to moral progress, because the universe juggles with evil. Moral progress means technological progress.  Mars colonization is no moral objection. Objective Mars is a moral imperative.

Patrice Ayme’

Science, Mars, Or Moral Bust

October 14, 2015

In the first democratic debate, Hillary Clinton said she was “a progressive who likes to get things done.” Let’s hope they will be less plutocratic than the “things” done by her husband. Meanwhile the question came up from others that going to Mars, or similar colossal techno-scientific progress had no humanitarian value. Before a more organized rebuttal, here goes my poetical opinion:

***

Science, Mars, Or Moral Bust

Many are the passions

Many are the tragedies

Against tragedies goodness,

All too often contend in vain.

Lest emotions move men and fate

Out of complacency, indifference,

Careers, self-admiring seriousness,

And obey the call of love for mind, sentience..

Yet, even when passions move us,

Towards the noblest goals, with the best intentions

All too often we find there is nothing

We can do at all, against pain and suffering:

When our magic, our science, come short..

To feel right and think right,

Does not mean we can do right.

For enabling goodness we need the powers,

The very powers which feed from,

By, and with, the Dark Side.

Power itself is dark.

Yet noble, and fundamentally us.

So yes, by any means,

Go to Mars.

It will nurture new emotions,

Wealth of transcendent emotions,

Not just lofty and intricate thoughts,

Humanity define.

We have always gone to Mars,

Ever since we left leafy trees.

We will stop,

Only when our fundamental lust,

What defines us,

Progress,

Dies with us.

 

We Better Be Stoic, Especially On Mars

October 13, 2015

I have to die, and, probably, suffer. If now, well, nothing to do. If not now, then I may as well have lunch, pointed the founder of Stoicism. After lunch, consumed only if it were excellent, or really necessary (thus excellent), I would have fun, make fun, give fun and offer love (a philosopher in New York, Massimo, pointed out this Epicureanism, not Stoicism. Well I claim they are related, see Note to appear soon…)

My integral of love, fun and games better be greater than my unavoidable integral of pain and suffering.

“In the Martian”, the stranded astronaut is turning as much as he can, into a joke, or turning to good humor. This is not just because he is a happy fellow. It’s because he is also an engineer, absolutely obsessed by “science the shit out of this“. Cheerfulness moves him into action, it’s the engine which gets its engineering spirits in gear. Cheerfulness as the engine of humanity is an everyday lesson. Action, by opposition to depression, requires to celebrate the animal spirits. Should we never celebrate animal spirits, what’s good being an animal? Moreover, never letting the animal spirits roar is contrary to the owner’s manual (as many writers and philosophers have pointed out, including Sophocles, Socrates, Plato, Xenophon, Aristotle, Abelard, Sade, Nietzsche, Foucault…).

Stranded On A Spaceship. Some May Not Feel Like It, However, Such Is Humanity's Condition

Stranded On A Spaceship. Some May Not Feel Like It, However, Such Is Humanity’s Condition

I remember once sneaking onto a mountain antelope. It was too busy having fun, it did not see me. Antelopes are not supposed to have fun. Their lives are supposed to be all about sex, supremacy, fighting for females, flight, survival, grazing, climbing impossible cliffs. To my amazement that chamois had found a suitable snowfield, and would slip on it on its back, as if it were skiing. Then it would rush back up, and repeat. It looked delighted, It’s all the more amazing, because the area is prowled by wolves and lynxes (and I have even seen a wolf hunting a chamois; it missed because I intruded).

Thus fun is not restricted to primates and other advanced animals. All birds and mammals are more or less social, and many probably need to have fun, be it only to operate their brains properly.

I read critics who were mystified by the stranded astronaut’s cheerfulness. How could it be? He is stuck on Mars! His food is going to run out! What about his oxygen?

Well critics ought not have been mystified by the good humor of the astronaut: good humor was the key to his survival. (Or actually to anyone’s survival: a mass injection of good humor in the Middle East would do wonders!)

For the stranded astronaut, it was either a cheerful disposition, or depression, thus death. But not just that: the astronaut is not really alone. He is in a dialogue with posterity, even before he re-establishes contact with NASA. Indeed, he records everything.

That makes the fictional, yet stranded, astronaut just as the best thinkers ever were in the history of humanity. He is happy, because he is not working for himself, but for the ultimate patron, humanity itself. No wonder he is cheerful: by working for the greatest moral “person”, the greatest moral entity, out there. So doing, one gets on our side the only god the existence of whom we can demonstrate. Humanity, or, at least, the Holy, Loving and Cheerful spirit it certainly has to exhibit for nurturing others, and, necessarily, children.

Patrice Ayme’

Could We Colonize Mars?

October 7, 2015

Yes. There are no show stoppers. The main problem is how to get there fast, cheap and safe. That, in turn is an energy source problem. We need to go beyond chemical rockets (which were invented in China nearly a millennium ago).

Mars is a tempting prize. Mars colonization will double the extent of land humanity live on. Indeed the Red Planet is endowed with nearly as much surface area as all of Earth’s land surface combined (145 million square kilometers for Mars, 149 x 10^6 sqkm for Earth’s continents).

Mars’ rotation axis, over the eons, wobbles impressively. Right now, it’s half way (same inclination as Earth’s). But when the axis is fully inclined, my bet is that the poles melt. Then Mars has got to become much warmer, and wetter: the atmosphere would be full of H2O, water, a powerful greenhouse gas. Maybe life blossoms. Hence Mars is even more interesting than it presently looks (one could imagine life adapted to these super-summers).

Smaller, But Inhabitable Even Before Terraforming

Smaller, But Inhabitable Even Before Terraforming

 

Could we conquer the seas instead? Sure, we have to. However, it’s more difficult. How could it be more difficult to conquer the ocean? The average terrestrial ocean is 3,688 meters deep. This means that we have to handle, to live there, a pressure difference of 370 atmospheres. On Mars, as it is, the pressure is 1% of one atmosphere; that is just one atmosphere difference. A light spacesuit can handle Mars. But just going down 20 meters in Earth’s sea doubles the pressure problem we have on Mars.

Radiation on Mars, and getting there, is a problem: a year stay, with the trip, would augment the probability of getting cancer by 5%. NASA, and radiation workers’ limit is 3%. The average smoker doubles his cancer habit from his gaseous drug habit. Thus, by only sending smokers to Mars, and thus preventing them to smoke (the fuel debris smokers smoke clog air filters), one would vastly diminish their probability of them getting cancer.

The problem with Mars is how to get there. Getting in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) is already (very) difficult, expensive, chancy, and will stay so, barring huge advances in material science. We need better engines, better airframes, and, or, a space elevator. Work is going on, in a number of ways, from perfecting launching rockets from planes, to airbreathing reaction engines, to the simple Ariane 6 solution of switching to solid rockets (French and American ballistic missiles are 100% dependable, as they sit in submarines stuffed with thermonuclear bombs).

Some hope that space tourism (one day in LEO for $50,000, say) will provide incentives for cheaper ways to leave Earth. Maybe, but university departments working on materials built atom by atom, better get lots of money (such materials, for example nanomaterials such as graphene, can be hundreds of times stronger than steel; we need to make them work on a large scale).

Given energy, rocket fuel can be made on Mars in a number of ways. Thus, plenty of energy, plenty of fuel. There is plenty of water on Mars (the Curiosity rover found between 2% and 3% in the soil). At least, at the poles (and perhaps all over). Some universities are already bioengineering mosses and other plants to survive on Mars.

With existing technology, and materials, we (or, rather, robots) could build a Space Elevator on Mars. So Mars could turn into a very convenient outpost, while terraforming proceeds.

To get to Mars fast, and to have the plenty of energy we need there to fuel robots, which, in turn, will be able to dig in the ground and make vast caverns and the like (etc.), we need a concentrated energy source.

The only one imaginable energy source would be from small thermonuclear reactors. A number of companies and universities are working on these.

There should be a crash program  on these (while pursuing steadily ITER).

Mars had life and an ocean, for probably at least a billion years. Not having a core nuclear reactor, hence a protecting magnetic field and plate tectonic, Mars lost liquid water, warmth and most of its atmosphere (Venus has the same problem, although Earth sized). Mars is waiting the human touch to smile with exuberant life again. Colonization can expand diversity as it most often does (will cynics add perfidiously). Besides, a Mars polis would be an insurance policy.

The only way to not being able to colonize Mars? If civilization collapses first, it won’t happen. Unlikely? This is exactly where abusing fossil fuels is leading us.

Patrice Ayme’

Stuck On Earth, Earth Stuck With Us

June 24, 2014

Two Pluto sized planets have been found beyond Pluto, Eris and Sedna (Note 1). They have highly eccentric orbits. That means they don’t go around in circles. Now, in the fullness of time, one expects all orbits to become round (See Note 2).

Thus if said orbits are not round, it’s that something disturbs them. And it’s not Neptune, because Pluto, which is disturbed by Neptune, and closer to it, is disturbed less.

Conclusion: there is apparently at least one large planet out there, beyond the known Solar System. Morality? Little do we know.

Even More Was Found In That Zoo Out There Since 2012

Even More Was Found In That Zoo Out There Since 2012

All human beings going to Earth orbit are awed in the same way. As a twice Space Shuttle commander Rominger puts it: “The most incredible thing I’ve ever seen is the color looking out into space—and that color is black—a black so dark, so stark, so vast, I’d never seen anything like it before,” he recalls.

“And then it dawned on me, well, it is not the color, it is not the black that is so captivating. What I was really appreciating was the vastness of space. Without the atmosphere, I could tell I was looking trillions and trillions of miles into the depths of space, and it really struck me.”

That’s one important fact: there is absolutely nothing out there. Another, more prosaic fact: The last human space launch—Expedition 40 to the ISS—used the same Baikonur launch complex that sent Yuri Gagarin on the first human spaceflight on April 12, 1961. And it was basically the same rocket, certainly the same technology, of which the Russians have launched around 2,000, using the same old technology, as if they couldn’t develop another trick than the one of Nazi German engineers.

Morality? We did not progress much in propulsion technology in 70 years, ever since the Nazis invented reliable fuel powered rockets. We are not using a Space Elevator, the civilized way to go to space. In fact we are going to space just as the first human who tried to use rockets to fly. This bold Chinese inventor, nine centuries ago, fixed lots of chemical rockets to a large kite, and became the first flier to go with a bang.

Speaking of bang, for a bigger bang, we have to go nuclear:

Nerva Nuclear Engine: The Future Was In The 1950s

Nerva Nuclear Engine: The Future Was In The 1950s

Larger Nuclear Engines were made, and are, by far the most powerful engines ever made, except now for French made (Thales) lasers. A laser can have enormous power, for a fleeting instant. The largest nuclear engine was deliberately exploded, to see if that was a problem! Answer: no!

ISS expedition 40, launched an American, a Russian and a German from that same Gagarin pad in Kazakhstan for the International Space Station. So, clearly, space exploration is a factor of peace: Kazakhstan, USA, Germany and Russia united. Maxim Suraev, Alexander Gerst and Reid Wiseman reached the ISS 6 hours later. At about an altitude of 400 kilometers, the ISS is zooming around the planet. Periodically a Russian or European Space Agency spaceship pushes the ISS back up, because it orbits so low, that the atmosphere dissipates, through friction, its potential energy, and it loses altitude, while gaining speed. Basically the ISS streaks through the very high atmosphere.

400 kms up is as deep into space as humans have ventured (except for visiting thrice the Hubble Space Telescope,) ever since Apollo 17 returned from the Moon on Dec. 14, 1972.

There is no nice oasis to go to out there in space. It’s not the Sahara. It’s a hard vacuum, whatever pointed head physicists believe Quantum Field Theory is telling them, in their colossal naivety. The ISS is refining our collective skill at operating in vacuum, in zero gravity. Zero gravity presents problems: bones and muscles lose substance, the heart thickens, and shrinks. The world’s space agencies do not agree on what we should do next. The Europeans, long determined explorers, have given up. The Americans have preferred to spend 6 trillion dollars enriching their plutocrats under the pretext of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. While spending only 8 billion a year on human space exploration (so basically the USA spent 100 times a year on bombing Iraq than gaining space expertise).

So we still use Nazi technology.

Mars, is as far as humankind can practicably expect to go. That’s too bad: there are bodies, such as Enceladus, and various satellites of Jupiter, with considerable quantities of water.

“Based on limitations to human physiology, based on reasonable technical limitations to the ability to shield humans during long voyages in interplanetary space, the horizon goal for human space exploration is Mars,” says Jonathan Lunine, a top planetary scientist at Cornell University, who co-chaired the recent U.S. National Research Council (NRC) human-spaceflight study. “Now, horizon in this case essentially means the farthest goal. It is not the only goal.”

A problem is radiation. Space is full of radiation. Some, the solar wind, consists of protons zooming by at 400kms/second. So fast they are, that they rob planets of their atmosphere’s water. This happened to Venus and Mars.

Earth is protected by her magnetic shield (the energy of which, I claim is nuclear fission generated).

Another type of radiation is of the cosmic type, galactic or not. Some of these rays have much higher energy, by many orders of magnitude, than the Large Hadron Collider in France-Switzerland. That’s why smart cookies such as yours truly, knew that the LHC was not going to create Black Holes that would swallow the Earth (as some lunatics thought, in their chaotic misunderstanding).

When astronauts are in orbit, they see stars. With their eyes closed, deep inside their spaceships. Why? Because there, even protected by the Earth Magnetic Shield, cosmic rays scream through astronauts’ brains like tiny meteors.

Earth, we have a problem. Our brains are streaked with fireworks.

Going to Mars, with foreseeable technology, will not be cheap. Ultimately, the NRC panel said, a human reconnaissance to Mars will take “decades” of work, and cost “hundreds of billions” of dollars.

No one has a motivation to spend that kind of money, considering there is no dramatic reason to go to Mars. Or so many in the Commons believe, erroneously.

“I would not want to indulge in specious precision to say whether it was $300 billion or $500 billion, but it is a lot of money,” says John C. Sommerer, a retired Applied Physics Laboratory engineer who headed the subcommittee that drafted the technical portion of the NRC report. “Given that we currently spend on the order of $8 billion [annually in the U.S.] on human spaceflight, you immediately understand why it is a long-term program.”

NASA administrator Charles Bolden says it will take only “a modest increase” in funding to land humans on Mars in 20 years or so, since the Obama administration ordered a different course five years ago.

Ironically, that has since been amended to funding “consistent with economic growth.” But Bolden—who commanded the shuttle mission that put the Hubble Space Telescope in orbit says Congress will not give the space program 4% of the federal budget, as it did for the race to the Moon.

What did that bring, aside from Moon rocks? Well, magnificent pictures of humanity’s loneliness, and Earth as the most object in the universe. A warning from heavens.

That warning, by itself, was worth it. The race to the Moon also brought a tremendous technological push. Not just Teflon. Not just personal computer power. Even Velcro (Vel(ours) Cro(chet)) was helped, as it got free advertising from NASA.

Earlier on the race to develop rockets was military. The Mongols got it started, and the weapon became ubiquitous, as its efficiency was spectacular. The next step up was during World War Two as the Panzerfaust, and all sorts of Nazi rocket tech (some ballistic, some cruise, some anti-aircraft) played a spectacular role. (It was not a decisive role, as it happened a tad too late!)

But now we have a tremendous civilian fall-out: weather satellites, GPS, etc. Even greater was the indirect fall-out of the technologies that had to be developed to make rocketry work.

To make space into an affordable new habitat, we need completely new technologies. For LEO, right away, only air breathing rockets will do, to make launches economical enough.

Further on, only space elevators will allow to go to space cheaply. The great fall-out of a space elevator, before it allows us to conquer the Solar System, though, will be the technology itself. It will allow to produce materials ten times lighter than steel, and stronger.

To ferry people and large loads between spatial real estate, only nuclear energy will do. Either fission, or fusion.  Developing those, in turn, will have tremendous fall-out (no pun intended). Why? Nuclear energy has a million times, per mass, more energy than any other energy that we can tap (although I proposed a vacuum energy machine, on this site, that’s still in the sci-fi future.)

The requirement of developing completely new technology is actually, at this point, not an impediment, but the best argument for going to space.

Indeed, only drastically new tech will save the biosphere as we know it.

Patrice Aymé

Note1: I call planet anything that’s big enough to become round under its own gravity.  That has the merit of clarity. Pluto is round, has five satellites and an atmosphere, so it’s a (“dwarf“) planet.

Note 2: Now, in the fullness of time, one expects all orbits to become round. Why? Because when a planet goes far from a sun, it’s climbing, converting kinetic energy into potential energy. Under a gravitational perturbation, it’s easier to lose the latter, because at that point speeds are lower, so the influence has more time to be felt (who said we need equations all the time?)

 

Life Giving NUCLEAR EARTH Reactor

January 14, 2014

It’s fashionable among pseudo-progressives to be rabidly anti-nuclear. Much better to burn coal, and frack rocks, they say, and they smoke pot, to accelerate the waning of their brain power. Who are those ingrates? Assuredly ignorant of the fact that all this coal they love so much was generated thanks to… nuclear power! Let me explain. It’s called science.

It is very likely that there will be much more habitable worlds in the galaxy than worlds with even the simplest animals having evolved there. Life is fragile, our life on Earth had many close calls. Moreover Earth is characterized by many very special traits: a large, stabilizing moon, a vast liquid ocean, a strong magnetic field shielding Earth surface with its magnetic armor, plate tectonics, volcanoes, etc… I argued this at length in:

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/40-billion-earths-yes-no/

All these phenomena come from just one cause: the CENTRAL EARTH FISSION NUCLEAR REACTOR. It certainly played a crucial role in the rise of life, as did fission reactors all over and around.

Where Do You Think All This Magma Comes From? Nuclear Fission!

Where Do You Think All This Magma Comes From? Nuclear Fission!

The Core Nuclear Reactor turns much of the mass of the planet into a giant iron ocean below our feet.

The electromagnet comes from a dynamo effect caused by a ferociously dynamic iron ocean rotating furiously about… Said ocean is melted by the central nuclear fission reactor at the core of Earth, which is as hot as the sun’s surface.

I long had this theory, and made terrible enemies in geophysics, promulgating it more than a decade ago (I’m not a geophysicist, so I did belong to that church; to make matters worse, my arguments, if true, implied that my math and physics were better… and they were!). Now, though, the theory I long defended with relish, is basically proven.

How? Nuclear fission generates neutrinos, and we have neutrino detectors. The proven flux of neutrino from the core corresponds to fission generating more than half the Earth’s heat flux.

Most of it comes from Uranium 238 and Thorium 232 fission. Ten percent of the heat flux also comes from radioactive Potassium 40 decay.

None of this is surprising: natural nuclear fission reactors existed in Africa up to about a billion years ago, on the surface. They self-moderated with heat, steam, water flow. When French geologists discovered this, the world was astounded.

The iron ocean heated by giant nuke below our feet is the difference of Earth with Venus. Venus is within the habitable zone, just barely, but it lost its water, while its atmosphere got stuffed with CO2, generating a ferocious greenhouse, hot enough to melt lead.

Probes sent there held at most one hour. Why all this CO2? Why not the same on Earth? Because on Earth the C of CO2 is sent by plate tectonics deep inside. Venus does not seem to have plate tectonics. So the C stays in the atmosphere.

Having no nuke inside, Venus got no furious iron ocean, hence no planet-wide electromagnet, hence no magnetic field, hence lost the H2O in its atmosphere: it was robbed by the solar wind. Something similar happened to Mars: no nuke, no iron ocean, no dynamo, no magnetosphere, loss of atmosphere from solar wind, desiccation, loss of greenhouse, etc.

The iron ocean heated by a giant nuke is the difference between Earth and Venus.

Having no nuke inside, Venus got no furious iron ocean, hence no electromagnet, hence no magnetic field, hence lost the H2O in its atmosphere, robbed by the solar wind (hyper velocity protons travelling at 400 kilometers per second from the sun literally knock-off hydrogen atoms into outer space).

Something similar happened to Mars: no nuke, no iron ocean, no dynamo, no magnetosphere, loss of atmosphere from solar wind, desiccation, loss of greenhouse, etc.

Outside of Hollywood scenarios, and publicity hungry scientists, there is no evidence that an impact “almost completely eradicated life on this planet” (see the first comment). But sure it could happen in other systems. The little impact at the end of the Jurassic is much ado about nothing. The Dekkan Traps were the real problem: they caused a dramatic cooling, over millions of years.

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2009/11/21/trapped-by-super-traps/

Near complete eradication of life happened because of the rise of life itself, when oxygenation meant the loss of the methane greenhouse, and thus the numerous terrible episode of snow ball Earths… Once again recovered from by CO2 building above the ice from overactive volcanoes (see nuclear reactor above).

Near eradication of life also happened probably from hyper giant core volcanism, which tends to happen every 200 million years or so.

This  also shows that, whereas the central nuke monster reactor, the largest known fission reactor in the universe (so far…), gives energy and protection to life, it’s never very far from eradicating it

This idea has been gaining momentum. One may even suspect that it’s a nuke explosion that gave burp to the moon, so to speak… Atomic propelled geysers and hot baths were found extensively in the first billion years of the planet (because radioactivity decays, so there were much more then).

Few planets will be lucky enough to thread a way through these perils. Let alone the fact that we are protected from comets by Jupiter… Although many systems seem to have Jupiters, or super Jupiters, migrating in, towards the central star, destroying all rocky planets in their wake…

All this makes Earth incredibly improbable. Although there are probably many planets we could seed with Earth’s life, few would have anything approaching animals and plants. They will just crawl with methane-friendly bacteria.

It took nearly three billion years of a goldilocks environment for busy bacteria to start creating something approaching the atmosphere we have now… And the sun’s output cooperated, augmenting just so, to keep the planet at perfect incubating temperature

It was a miracle. Enjoy it while it lasts. Glaciers are melting in Antarctica at an ever accelerating pace, baffling specialists… But not conspiratorial catastrophists with enough mettle, such as yours truly.

Conclusion: to sustain long term evolution of life on a planet, one needs the right massive amounts of long lived radionuclides and iron (perhaps with enough power to create a moon). Water is not enough to create an habitable world.

Patrice Aymé