Scientists Created A Machine For Printing Houses On The Moon

The main problems that we face when were trying to colonise another planet, or the moon, is that our Mooninites are not going to have a place to live. Then we have the whole problem with gravitational forces, if you remember the videos of the astronauts jumping around and falling all over the place then you can see that building a home is going to be more of a hassle than anything else. Then you run into yet another problem, this one is a bit more economical than anything else, it is very expensive to lift things off the ground and throw them into space. The more material you need to send up there, the more prohibitively expensive your problem is. But lets say that Gingrich get’s elected as president and we must build a moon colony – How do we do it?

For starters, we can solve the whole “carrying supplies” problem by making the concrete out of the moon itself.  Then you send out robots that resemble large 3d printing machines and quite literally print out an entire military base. When the base is complete, THEN, you send out Gingrich to colonise it.

USC Professors Behrokh Khoshnevis (Engineering), Anders Carlson (Architecture), Neil Leach (Architecture), and Madhu Thangavelu (Astronautics) completed their first robot to do exactly that. A robot arm extrudes concrete while automated trowels smooth the material into place. On earth, the promise it gives is low-cost, individually customized house construction–the same promises that 3-D printers give to object creation, but on an architectural scale.

On the moon, the basic idea is enhanced fully mobile crafting bots and by on-site quarrying and processing–as it turns out, moon rock has almost all the basic ingredients for concrete. “We will melt the lunar sand and rocks and extrude, the same way some rocks are made naturally on earth from volcanic lava,” says Dr. Khoshnevis.

Check out the video above to see how all of this works out, now we just need to find a way to get this project in motion, OR we could use this same robot to help the people in Africa make houses, either way, this technology takes our dream of colonising other planets and moons a step closer to reality. [Fast Code Design]

Surface of Mars is an Unlikely Place for Life After 600-Million-Year Drought

We know that the surface of Mars has Ice, and scientist believe that at one point – about 3 billion years ago – the surface of Mars may have contained water, and was a lot wetter and warmer then it is today. But the researchers in charge of analysing the data on Martian soil that was collected during the 2008 NASA Phoenix mission, claim that the surface of Mars has been going through a super drought for over 600 million years. They said that despite the presence of ice, the planet is just to dry to sustain any type of life.

The researchers that tested the soil believe that Mars was exposed to water for about 5,000 years before drying out and freezing what ever little water the planet had left. Thanks to Satellite images and previous studies of the Martian soil, the scientist determined that water was present on the surface for far too short of a time for life to really get a foothold on the surface.

Dr Pike, from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Imperial, who is lead author on the study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, explains:

“We found that even though there is an abundance of ice, Mars has been experiencing a super-drought that may well have lasted hundreds of millions of years. We think the Mars we know today contrasts sharply with its earlier history, which had warmer and wetter periods and which may have been more suited to life. Future NASA and ESA missions that are planned for Mars will have to dig deeper to search for evidence of life, which may still be taking refuge underground.”

In the study, the researchers were looking for microscopic clay particles formed when rock is broken down by water, however the team was unable to find such a marker. They found a particle similar to that, but they calculated that even if the few particles they saw in this size range were in fact clay, they made up less than 0.1 percent of the total proportion of the soil in the samples. On Earth, clays can make up to 50 percent or more of the soil content, so such a small proportion in the Martian samples suggests that the soil has had a very arid history.

The team found further evidence to support the idea that Martian soil has been largely dry throughout its history by comparing soil data from Mars, Earth and the Moon. The researchers deduced that the soil was being formed in a similar way on Mars and the Moon because they were able to match the distribution of soil particle sizes. On Mars, the team inferred that physical weathering by the wind as well as meteorites breaks down the soil into smaller particles. On the Moon, meteorite impacts break down rocks into soil, as there is no liquid water or atmosphere to wear down the particles.

So until we send out astronauts to Mars to start digging and looking for life living underground, the chances of life to ever had existed in Mars are slim to none. The possibility of underground lakes are still a very good, Lake Vostok is a liquid lake that’s resting underneath Antarctica, that lake is so deep that the core of the Earth is keeping it in liquid form, rather than iced over by the 2 miles of ice that rest above it. It is still possible for the ice chunk in Mars to have a lake underneath that’s being warmed by the core of the planet.  [Science Daily]

SpaceX Test Drove Their Latest Rocket Engine

SpaceX is supposed to be the rocket company that’s going to take us to the next space frontier, at least that’s the plan. Just recently they tested their new rocket engine, the SuperDraco, which is supposed to allow space capsules land back on earth without the use of parachutes.

The new engine is going to be used in SpaceX’s emergency Launch Abort System, which is going to launch off and away from the main rocket and help it land safely on the ground. The capsule is going to use eight SuperDraco engines to stabilise the capsule as it lands back on earth. Normally speaking, a parachute would work better. Since the capsule uses eight engines, if one of the engines fails this could cause the capsule lose control.

The reason the Draco engine is so special, is because of a new type of technology that allows it to turn on and off in less than 1/10th of a second. This ability gives it the best control when it comes to making adjustments on the fly. The Engine on the video above puts out over 15,000 pounds of thrust, enough to keep the privately funded company growing with investors after they see how well it performed. Via Wired Autopia

Surprise Asteroid Passing Really Close to Earth – Right Now!

In case you didn’t know, on Wednesday, astronomers detected an asteroid that was heading towards the Earth. After doing whatever astronomer math they do, they determined that we’re going to be okay because the asteroid is only 5 times closer to the Earth than the Moon. That’s right, this asteroid is going on the list of  “one of the closest approaches ever recorded.”

At least that’s what Gareth Williams—associate director of the Minor Planet Center, which operates at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory—said while talking to BBC News. The asteroid caught astronomers by surprise. In a recent tweet, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Near Earth Object Office (NEOO) said that “asteroids this small are hard to spot, and luckily they pose the least concern.” Their goal is “to find the bigger ones.”

NEOO made the announcement in another tweet yesterday:

Busy week. Asteroid 2012 BX34 will safely pass Earth on Jan. 27. Distance: 36,750 miles (59,044 km) or about .17 lunar distance.

Later, they followed with:

Asteroid 2012 BX34 is small, ~11 meters/37 ft diameter. It wouldn’t get through our atmosphere intact even if it dared to try.

The asteroid is traveling at about 5.53 miles per second (8.9 kilometers per second) and will pass Earth Right About now…! [NEOO Twitter, BBC News, Gizmodo]

Scientists Say We Need to Search the Moon for Alien Traces

Remember when the Moon was kind of a big deal? Since the whole “we need to be the first country on the moon” phase died out, we’ve been locked up our planet.

The video above from Carl Sagan talks about what the space missions were all about. According to him, we really lost “the passion” to go back and search for new things. We didn’t find anything that was of real monetary value, and while we did learn about space, we didn’t find much on the moon – and thus, we never went back.

Professor Paul Davis from Arizona State University and Robert Wagner from Research Technician at the School of Earth & Exploration think the moon has more secrets than we think it does. They published a scientific paper calling for the Search of Alien Artifacts on the Moon.

In their paper they state that while the search for ET has a very low probably of being successful, the mere fact of finding evidence or proof that they exist may re-spark our current search for intelligent life. They argue that while we are doing great advancements on radio technology, we need to be doing more than just looking for radio messages and signals.

Here is what they think happened in the past:

• Alien civilizations may have sent probes to our region of the galaxy.
• Any mission to the solar system would probably have occurred a very long time ago. The lunar environment could preserve artifacts for millions of years.
• Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter provides a photographic database to search for artifacts.
• Searching the LRO database would make an excellent educational project.

They want to start by using photographs from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to search for alien structures – machinery, buildings, and artifacts. The paper states that the cost is very low since the LRO has over 300,000 pictures, and even if they don’t find any signs of alien life, they would learn about the moon in the process.

The researchers believe that if there is something on the moon, it would be in perfect condition since the lunar surface has very little activity now days. They believe that if aliens were on the moon, at one time or another, they probably left signs of – we were here. Davis and Wagner believe that we need to look into the lava caves because it is a possibility that the alien explorers may have installed their bases in these caves millions or thousands of years ago.

In my opinion this would be great, and they are right, we just barely realized that there are small moons circling the Earth, I highly doubt we could detect a probe in our solar system.  While we are making great advancements in our radio signal technology, our scientist should focus on other ways to detect or at least find signs of  life in other planets, or in this case our Moon. Via: The Guardian

How Many Moons Does the Earth Have? Astronomers Say it Has Two

All this time we were lead to believe that the Earth has one moon, but in a research paper called “The population of natural Earth satellites”, astronomers say that our planet earth has a second moon. The moons are so small that we don’t really notice them, but at any given time, the Earth has two of them orbiting it’s ring.

According to Cornell University Mikael Granvik, Jeremie Vaubaillon and Robert Jedicke they stated that the “irregular natural satellites are temporarily captured” by the Earths strong gravitational pull. These small moons come into the orbit, spin a couple of times and then are released back into space without anyone even knowing they were here.

The moons are so quiet that the first time that a moon was detected was in 2006 when the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona discovered that the Earth had an extra object spinning around with it.

Then in June of 2006 the earth captured another object, this one was a few meters wide, this one was captured for about a year. In June of 2007 the small asteroid left the Earth’s orbit and was free to roam the universe again. Researchers claim that even though we don’t see them, we often have several moons come and go throughout the year.

This means that we can technically go out and reel one of these in and mine it for minerals, or study them to learn more about the universe. The first thing researchers are trying to do is find a way to detect them when they are here. Since most come and go in as little as three spins around the Earth, these moons are a little hard to study. Regardless, this is a great find, and soon we’ll be able to learn a little bit more about where we came from.

Milky Way’s Black Hole is About to Consume a Gas Cloud

There is an old theory that in the center of every galaxy there is a super massive black hole causing it to spin, effectively keeping it alive, as it eats the galaxy. The difference between our galaxy and Andromeda, is that the black hole is a different size. Black holes get bigger as they consume everything around them, the bigger they are, the more they consume, and the cycle continues.

Our black hole, the one in the center of the milky-way , is finally going to start eating in about 2 years, and the awesome part is that were close enough to watch it feed.

Sagittarius A* is a super massive black hole, it is estimated that it has about as much mass as four billion suns stuffed into an orbit the size of Uranus. This means, that anything that gets close to the hole will effectively get eaten alive, in this case, a gas cloud. Astronomers say that were in the perfect position to watch the black hole consume the gas cloud, in 2013, the mayhem will tear it apart. The light emitted by Sagittarius A should increase by anywhere between 100 to a 1000 times fold as half of the cloud gets consumed while the other half is thrown back into space.

The destruction is going to start in 2013 and should end around 2021, during this time astronomers will be able to study what happens around the black hole to gain a better understanding of what this universe is all about.

UC Berkeley and ESO

Voyager 1 Becomes the Furthest Man Made Object In Space at .001 light years away

Voyager 1 is the furthest object in space, at over 11 Billion miles away from the sun. The video I posted above talks about some of the achievements that voyager has acomplished, and where it’s headed to. This is extremely important for a couple of reasons:

One: 11 billion miles is very very far away. It’s almost 4 times further than Pluto is from the sun. From that distance, the sun looks like any other start.

Two: Even though this 11 billion miles from the sun is the furthest we’ve ever traveled, this distance is only 0.0018 light years away. It has traveled a little more than one day.

The reason Number 2 is so important, is because you need to understand a couple of things out this achievement. NASA is currently finding planets that are 600 light years away, in galactic terms that’s right across the street, but in our time, that’s thousands of years. In 34 years, Voyager 1 has traveled about 2 “light” days. So you see why these planets next door are not as close as they really seam?

Voyager is the first object in the solar system to cross our solar system barrier. If you’re wondering how the researchers figured this out is by using a sensor that measures the charged particles that our sun emits, these same particles are the same ones that create our auroras in the poles. As the satellite continues to travel further away, these particles start to slow down and eventually die off to an unidentifiable signal – Voyager is no longer able to determine where our Sun is by using these particles.

Additionally, Voyager’s instruments began to detect other solar particles that are blowing from the opposite direction, scientist still don’t know where these particles are coming from, what voyager is going to encounter in outer galaxy, and for the first time in our history – everything that Voyager 1 will encounter is going to be completely New and never before seen before.

Voyager still has enough fuel to continue for another 1.5 billion miles, or about 9 more years. At that time, Voyager will continue to send us data but will no longer be pushed out to the galaxy, it will then only be floating away until it gets dragged on to another object’s gravitational force, or it bumps into something. Eventually, Voyager will no longer be able to communicate with our researchers back on Earth. When that happens, voyager will be more of a monument of where we come from, carrying the golden disk to let everyone know – we are here.