Round Trip to Mars for $500K

Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX has announced that it should be ready to take people on trips to Mars and back for as little as $500,000. Extreme Tech reported him saying that the price was so that even average people could take flight. He did also mention during the interview with BBC that the average person “after they’ve made some savings.” It is still an extremely cool development in the world of space flight.

SpaceX, which has already been awarded a contract to make supply runs to the International Space Station, has a goal in mind to make all of their space shuttles reusable. This is how they plan to cut down on the cost of making space shuttles and space flight.

Another way that Musk is proposing to make the shuttle cheaper to create is by refueling it on Mars. This will eliminate the need for carrying fuel, and be able to create a much lighter shuttle. Although, as of yet Musk has not released information on how he proposes to do such a thing.

There are many critics of SpaceX. Some believe private space flight should not be allowed. Others point out that the company has only made seven launches so far, which the first three were failures. They have also yet to actually go to the International Space Station; however, that would actually have more to do with NASA than SpaceX.

The Dragon spacecraft that SpaceX has created is actually quite small, and anyone that would be traveling to Mars would have to spend 214 days inside the shuttle. Also, hopefully there would be screening in place to weed out anyone who has medical problems or who suffers from claustrophobia, and this will not just be whoever has the money can go.

America Has Its Priorities Wrong

This video has already made its way to many prominent areas on the internet and gained thousands of viewers. I think any site that has any connection to science and/or technology should make it their duty to show it once again.  So, here you go.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is without a doubt a genius, and knows exactly what he is talking about. So, why do more people not listen to what this man has to say? Easy their priorities are not straight. More people are too focused on what is going on in Hollywood, and which celebrity is doing this and that to care about NASA being all but shut down.

Our government throws money every which way but in the right direction. Why do more people not grow up caring about science and technology that can bring magic into the world? I am not that involved with the science world, but I do love to read about it. I love hearing about space exploration with the hope that one day we will be traveling in space or maybe even found intelligent life.

I am not going to say that Hollywood is all bad because there are some things that I love to know about, and I am a sucker for awards season. The thing is why does our society not also incorporate men and women of science as people that they idolize also. These are the people that are making new discoveries to hopefully sustain the human species.

Tyson really does have a point. This nation has stopped dreaming. I still have hope that it does not once again take a war to make people come to the understanding that space exploration is important. Science is important.

Biocapsule Inserted into Humans to Protect against Diseases

This Biocapsule was originally created by NASA to be inserted into astronauts before going into space. The device is a tiny rod that is placed under the skin. According to The Atlantic, it is made out of “carbon nanotubes and is filled with cells that release a substance once a certain trigger activates them.”

These tiny little things are said to be real inexpensive to create. If they were put into production they could help to keep sickness and disease at bay without the intervention of people. The main idea was that they would help astronauts that are hit by radiation while in space, but they also have plenty of potential for everyone stuck on Earth.

Diabetes could be one disease that would be benefited tremendously by this type of technology. The Biocapsule could work as a functioning pancreas by being filled with “islet pancreatic cells.” Cancer patients could also be helped considering radiation is directed at the spot of tumors on their bodies to decrease them.

Dr. David Loftus is the man behind the NASA Biocapsule. He saw an urgent need for astronauts in space who cannot get to a doctor and may end up developing all sorts of problems considering the length of time they spend away from Earth.

According to Gizmodo these Biocapsules have the capability of treating people for up to several years. They have been designed to be resilient in the human body because the nanostructure is inert. Medications are capable of easily passing straight through them because of their “porous nature.”

It simply takes one outpatient procedure to have them implanted below the skin. At the moment it seems that once the cells are depleted the Biocapsule will stay inside the body until a doctor removes it; however, it could stay for a very long time before another surgery would be necessary.

Dr. Loftus said, “The energy needed to produce the therapeutic molecules come from the cells’ own metabolism. The cells have access to nutrients that enter the capsule by diffusion (across the pores of the capsule wall), and these nutrients (including dissolved oxygen) support the metabolism of the cells. The lifetime of the cells could be months to years.”

NASA Pulls the Plug on Their Last Mainframe Computer

And just like that, another era at NASA has come to an end. Linda Cureton, the Chief Information Officer for NASA announced in a blog post that the agency’s last mainframe computer was finally shut down. Main frame computers are the large computers that filled entire rooms, they’re not as big as ENIAC, but they are still larger than a refrigerator.

The computer was an IBM Z9, pictured on the left, it was a super computer that had the power to conduct complicated calculations, but NASA said tit was unnecessary and began to look for other alternatives. According to Cureton, they are best suited for applications that are more transaction oriented and require a lot of input/output – that is, writing or reading from data storage devices. The end-user interfaces are clunky and somewhat inflexible, but the need remains for extremely reliable, secure transaction oriented business applications.

These systems were replaced by smaller, faster and cheaper high-performance Linux and Unix systems that are more scalable and easier to manage. Cureton said it best when she wrote: Back then, real systems programmers did hexadecimal arithmetic – today, “there’s an app for it!” – Oh you need to fly out to the moon and then land a robot on the surface? not to worry, we have an app for that! only .99 cents! – with a free “land on Mars” expansion pack!

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]

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.