The 7 (Future) Wonders Of The Solar System

Posted by on Nov 20, 2009 in Asteroids, Blog, Callisto, Future, Ganymede, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Moon, Pluto, Saturn, Solar Essay, Titan, Uranus | 5 comments

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Two hundred years after the first man and woman graced the plains of Mars, humanity is still isolated to just one star system.

Despite an intense campaign by the Alpha Centauri Society, humans overall have little desire to travel between stars due to cost and technology.

Although this rowdy species has yet to claim their interstellar inheritence, they have transformed their solar playground around them, producing seven wonders that will go down in galactic history.

The Silver Stripes of Mercury

Originally conceived as a penal colony, industrial corporations decended upon Mecury after discovering large deposits of minerals and metals upon its surface.

While its close proximety to the Sun has made Mercury famous for its Magsail races, it’s the billions of solar panels that encircle the planet on the surface (in “neat” rows varying between 1-10 km wide) that make this world an engineering wonder.

The planets 100,000 residents use the energy produced during the Mecurian day to power the ores and cities on the dark side of the planet when it’s safe to work above ground (due to the Sol Star’s radiation).

The Bio Gardens of Luna Maria

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(Image Credit: Daein Ballard)

Officially designated Luna Maria after the failed Lunar revolution (condemned by government and religious leaders on Earth), Luna Maria has transformed its appearence from a white barren wasteland into a “second Eden,” which now boasts 60 million residents.

After generating enormous wealth from exporting oxygen throughout the Sol System, Luna Maria has erected hundreds of thousands of enormous, interconnected biospheres upon 87% of its surface, giving Luna Maria the appearence of a miniture Earth from space.

Luna Maria’s artificial planetary magnetic field (the only one in existance due to cost) has allowed the moon to use bees instead of ants to pollinate its crops, producing gardens unrivaled throughout the star system (due to it’s 16.7% Earth norm gravity).

The Phobian Skyhook (Or Martian Space Elevator)

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(Image Credit: Steve Bowers)

After failed attempts to construct a space elevator on Earth (due to infrequent yet devestating global wars), humanity was finally able to construct a skyhook on the Martian moon of Phobos.

This engineering feat has enabled Mars to inexpensively export its vast supply of water throughout the asteroid belt and inner Sol System, bringing mixed prosperity to the 8 million residents of Mars.

While the red planet’s globacanes prevent a space elevator touching the ground from ever being built, the Phobian Skyhook is an impressive site to see when orbiting this crimson world.

The Jovian Jewel Callisto

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(Image Credit: Thomas Guilpain)

Originally established as a way station world during the Helium-3 rush (in which thousands sought to harvest the isotope for profit), Jupiter’s moon Callisto attracted millions of residents after being declared the safest radiation world after Earth.

Using its brother moon Ganymede as an agricultural world (due to it’s natural magnetic field), Callisto developed the means to feed its enormous population of 750 million, who built cities covering 96% of the entire surface.

Using robots to harvest radioactive materials from both Io and Europa to power its cities (as they are too dangerous to be visited by humans), Callisto brilliantly shimmers in the dark whenever it falls underneath Jupiter’s shadow.

The Beacon Towers Of Titan

Often declared as “an astronomer’s hell” due to it’s cloudy covering, Saturn’s moon Titan is considered a musicians heaven due to the richer sound that’s a result of it’s atmospheric presure and composition.

While Titan eventually became wealthy by exporting methane and ethane to the Sol System, the cloudy moon was extremly difficult to navigate as its crust rested upon a methane/ethane mix, causing it to “slightly drift” and rotate due to the worlds strong winds.

Since traditional forms of GPS were utterly useless, numerous 1.5 kilometer tall Beacon towers (beaming out intense radio waves) were constructed thoughout the moon, giving its 4 million residents a faux GPS system (making travel and commerce throughout the world a lot easier for all).

The Floating Cities Of Uranus

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(Image Credit: Star Wars, original artist unknown)

Originally built by various Terrian corporations to harvest methane and helium-3 within the clouds of this ice giant, these floating cities soon became tourist attractions for the more affluent seeking to escape the low gravity life of lunar worlds orbiting gas giants.

These giant orbital space stations boast near Earth gravity, and mimic the daylight cycle on Earth by floating around the enormous ice giant which its residents call home.

While estimates put the total population between 80,000 wealthy souls, these floating cities are known to have hundreds of thousands of visitors pass through their space ports each standard year, many of them heading towards the Neptunian Lagrange asteroid fields.

The Plutonian Ice Bridge (aka Solar Bridge of Pluto And Charon)

Boasting no more than 50,000 brave souls, this world was originally settled upon by government scientists from various Terrian, Martian and Callistian nations seeking to conduct experiments considered too hazardous (and/or controversial) on their respective home worlds.

While the world and its smaller moon hold little value (both visually and economically), one interesting feature of this binary system is the solar bridge connecting both Pluto and Charon together.

This engineering feat was originally built to reduce the cost of travel between both worlds via rockets although conspiracy theorists have their own conclusions for its existence (none of which will be cited here).

What about Earth?

Although the human race has made great strides in establishing colonies throughout the Sol System, most of its 20 billion individuals reside on the birth planet Earth.

While Earth is still home to some of the greatest scientific discoveries known to man (and women), there are no great engineering wonders to speak of, aside from the beautiful beaches, mountains and vast blue oceans that distinguish our home world from every other sphere that orbits our star.

Update (11/24): Corrected grammatical errors. Thanks!

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Asteroid Mining: The Most Dangerous Job In The Solar System

Posted by on Jul 11, 2007 in Asteroids, Blog, Future, Health, Solar Essay | 7 comments


When a person thinks of the future of space, one often imagines rockets buzzing across our star system at incredible speeds, space stations thriving in the vacuum of space or solar cities gracing the surfaces of foreign moons and planets.

But while all of these things may come to pass (perhaps even a space elevator or two) the future reality is that there are some solar occupations that may entail individuals to risk their lives in order to keep our interplanetary economy going.

One of these jobs just might be an asteroid miner.

Unlike some of the other potential occupations throughout our star system, asteroid miners will face dangers unlike any other explorer. Often located in sparse regions throughout our star system, metallic asteroids will probably not become major spots for tourism, making them lonely companions for asteroid mining outposts.

With most of these invaluable asteroids tens of millions of miles away from the nearest colony world, asteroid miners will find themselves heavily dependent upon supplies for food and water. Their isolation will also make them prime candidates for space pirates, not to mention feuding powers from Earth, Mars and the Jovian systems.

Unless these outposts are protected by a space fleet, they may soon find their boring schedule filled with being invaded by unwelcome guests.

Another danger of asteroid miners will be radiation. Since most (if not all) asteroids lack a magnetic field, asteroid outposts will be at the mercy of the Sun’s wrath, not to mention cosmic rays from abroad. Although outposts will probably have magnetic shields surrounding their bases, this does not guarantee that the rocks that they mine upon are free from being radioactive.

Despite the fact that future asteroid miners will probably have machines deal directly with the floating space rocks, their may be a possibility of these miners contracting cancer (later on in life), which could threaten future retirement plans (as treating cancer can be quite expensive).

If radiation and security were not enough to worry about, asteroid miners also face the dangers of micrometeorites piercing holes through their suits and stations, or (even worse) encountering a meteor shower from an incoming comet.

Future outposts will probably have to rely upon the eyes (and scientific “ears”) of astronomers to warn them of the dangers of nearby comets, although they may have to “take a gamble” when dealing with incoming space pebbles as armor may prove useless against these solar bullets.

But despite the fact that these dangers surround future asteroid miners, there presence in our star system will be desperately needed. Asteroids have the potential of supplying invaluable resources, and the purity of metals could be worth up to $500,000 a ton.

Although this future job may be classified as one of the most dangerous occupations humanity has ever known (within our star system), space colonists may be willing to take on the risk in order to bring back the fruit of their labor towards major population centers living upon terrestrial worlds.


Note:
Due to lack of time, images will be added later on to this post.

Update: Images added.

Update (7/12): Corrected grammatical errors (replaced minors with miners).

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Making Artificial Life More Life Like

Posted by on Jun 27, 2007 in Blog, Future, Random, Technology | 0 comments

(Image: Japanese robot venture Squse President Mikio Shimizu, Credit: Space Daily)

Japan, probably the worlds undisputed king of robotic technology (or at least the nation with greatest recognition in the field) had released a robotic hand prototype that looks “almost human.”


(Space Daily) A Japanese robot maker on Tuesday unveiled what it called the world’s first prototype of an artificial hand with “air muscles” that can do even delicate work like picking up a raw egg. Squse, a Kyoto-based robot and factory automation manufacturer, said it has developed a 400-gramme (14 ounce) hand with five human-sized fingers with artificial fibres that can be controlled by air pressure.

“So far, robots have an image of helping people do heavy lifting, but we aim at delicate work as a human hand can do,” company president Mikio Shimizu said.

Despite this hand being “eerily similar” to our own flesh and blood, this technology may prove to be useful in constructing androids who can operate machinery in places too hazardous due to radiation.

On a more distant scale, these artificial limbs could also serve as replacements for future colonists, in the event of one injuring a hand (or foot) beyond repair.

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Who Will Make Solar History?

Posted by on Jun 20, 2007 in Blog, Future, Rockets, Solar Essay, Space Stations, Space Tourism, Space Travel, Technology | 1 comment

A thousand years from now when our species has begun to conquer other star systems (after colonizing our own of course), who will be some of the individuals who will go down in solar history?

While most of history has yet to be written, our future descendants may find themselves whining about memorizing the names from the “Early Space Renaissance” of the 21st century.

Although this is not a complete list, here are some of the figures who may find themselves recorded in the solar history books (not to mention having a million space kids being named after them).

George W. Bush: Whether you love him or hate him, President Bush will probably go down in history for announcing the Vision for Space Exploration (or VSE for short).

NASA’s previous vision of infinitely circling our globe and forever observing the stars (from afar) will probably be an embarrassment for our current generation, although hopefully the President’s VSE will give NASA the courage to conquer the final frontier.

Eric Anderson & Peter Diamandis: Just as the Wright Brothers helped to “kick start” aviation, Eric Anderson and Peter Diamandis have helped to kick start space tourism by forming Space Adventures.

Space Adventures helped launch the very first space tourist into orbit, kicking off a whole new industry that is destined to thrive in the next three to four years. Both Peter and Eric took the discussion from “talk to action,” proving that space was more than a privilege of governmental elites.

With future plans to launch Earthen citizens around their lunar neighbor, Space Adventures may give governmental programs a run for their money.

Robert T. Bigelow: If Space Adventures can be credited towards getting private citizens into space, Robert T. Bigelow can be credited towards actually keeping us there.

In 2006, Bigelow Aerospace launched the world’s first (of hopefully many) inflatable space station, displaying that the private sector could not only design a better, cheaper home amongst the heavens, but also generate a profit on the side.

Although constructing inflatable space stations is in itself incredible, Bigelow’s entry into space may be over shadowed by the companies attempt to help humanity colonize the moon.

Sir Richard Branson: Some people consider Sir Richard Branson to be ingenious. Other consider him to be closer to a mad scientist. Whatever your take, Branson may have the last laugh as his company Virgin Galactic is destined to bring space safely to the (moderately wealthy) masses.

Branson’s goal of making space apart of Earth culture may be paying off, as several other space firms have announced plans to launch customers into sub-orbital flights. But what sets Virgin Galactic apart from the competition is the companies emphasis on safety, which should easily put it in the lead if (God forbid) a crash occurs in the industry.

Branson also seems focused on not merely sending people into orbit, but having them check into space hotels by renting one of Bigelow Aerospace’s inflatable space station.

Elon Musk: After making a billion plus fortune by selling off PayPal to Ebay, Elon Musk decided to spend his riches on helping humanity become a space faring civilization. Thus SpaceX was born.

Although SpaceX has yet to put up a satellite successfully into orbit (along with a host of other companies), what makes SpaceX unique is their desire to drop the price of launching objects into space from around $10,000 /lbs to $1,000/ lbs.

After successfully launching an object into space on a test rocket, SpaceX seems destined (if not determined) to see humanity on not only the Moon, but Mars itself.

Dr. Bradley C. Edwards: If a building a modern day space elevator is ever feasible, this man will be credited towards coming up with the design plans.

After spending years in the realm of science fiction (or perhaps even fantasy itself), Dr. Edwards helped d
emonstrate the feasibility of this project, which (if successful) will revolutionize the way our species interacts with the solar system.

Edwards has recently started a company called Black Line Ascension whose end goal is to construct a space elevator, although only time will tell whether his research (and vision) will result in this object being built towards the heavens.

Michael Laine: If Dr. Brad Edwards can be credited towards making the space elevator doable on paper, Michael Laine may be credited to actually building it in on our homeworld.

Have previously worked with Edwards, Michael Laine founded LiftPort, this company seeks to construct a space elevator within the next 25-30 years. What makes LiftPort unique in its field is the fact that this company is seeking to chart its course within the private sector, refusing to rely completely on NASA for funding or guidance.

Only time will tell whether or not Michael’s vision of a planet where space is “open for everyone” will materialize. Either way, this man’s passion and determination to persevere despite the circumstances have inspired many to look towards the heavens as their future homes.

You: Our quest to conquer off world soils has just begun, and there may still be many spots open for ordinary citizens to say their lines and partake on the solar stage of history.

Note: Due to lack of time, images will be added later on to this post.

Update (6/21): Added images and corrected some wording.

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Carnival Of The Space Geeks (Seventh Heaven)

Posted by on Jun 14, 2007 in Blog, Future, Health, Humor, Mars, Space Geeks | 1 comment

(Image Credit: Physorg.com)


The seventh Carnival of Space is up over at Star Stryder with various posts by other space geeks. Some really interesting highlights included:

  • Alan Boyle discusses the potential of space diving, which is like sky diving, except much, much higher.
  • Dan Rankin rebukes space scientists for ignoring the potential resources of Mars today by focusing on the past. (Amen to that!)
  • The mysterious Flying Singer delves into the real reasons for human space exploration.

But the best post of the carnival thus far has to go to James who has an interesting post about recycling human waste for fertilizer (ghetto!!).

(Surfin’ English) Not only do hydroponic farms serve as air and food sources, they also serve as natural garbage bins. The minerals, bacteria, and other stuff in human waste can be used by our plants as fertilizer, which then filters our air, and grows us more food to make poop from. Plants also add a nice splash of colour to our spaceship.

Poop may be the biggest offender, but it’s not the only one. Urine, dirty air filters, filthy and ripped clothing, bandages, sanitary napkins/toilet paper, plastics from food wrappings, the list could go on forever. But there are simple, though not easy, solutions for all of them.

Our urine can be filtered using the same process as the Space Shuttle and ISS, and dumped right back into the drinking water. Or the water can be used by the plants, and partially filtered by the soil network, and we can use the ammonia and other chemicals in urine to keep our space ship’s windows clean.

Although advertising this would probably be a good way to filter out those who really want to settle Mars from those who simply want to visit there, James may have a point. However disgusting (and unappealing) this may be, recycling our own waste could enable humans to “seed the planet” with fertile soil.

Martian dirt may not only be lacking in plant vitamins, but it could potentially be fatal towards most living organisms. Hauling nutritious soil (or fertilizer) is probably not an option for our future explorers, and NASA may have to convince astronauts to “create” the fertilizer themselves.

Obviously each astronaut would have to “handle their own” by products, although NASA may have to build a robot to do most of the farming, otherwise they may find themselves with a mutiny tens of millions of miles away.

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In Space, Everyone Speaks Chinese

Posted by on Jun 7, 2007 in Blog, China, Future, Moon, NASA, Solar Essay, Space Industry, Space Race | 3 comments

The eagle and the dragon
Were racing towards the sky
To be the first to build
A lunar nest so very high

The eagle arrived first
But the moon the dragon claimed
Because the eagle could not land
For one of his legs was lame

~Darnell Clayton, 2007

Although this current space race is still too early to call, China and the United States are clearly the front runners in this marathon. China has made impressive strides in its campaign to conquer the cosmos, with future plans of not only landing a lunar rover, but sending a man to the moon as well.

Over in the American corner however, the space pace seems to be slowing down. With NASA lacking the necessary funds for human exploration, they are forced to cannibalize their scientific programs in an effort to keep the vision alive.

With the current dreams of American space exploration evaporating, many have begun attacking their former space champion in an attempt to provide reason for the lack of progress in the space arena. This often results in NASA spending more energy defending itself than promoting space culture, which usually benefits the United States rivals (i.e. China) than it does the American public.

What many entrepreneurs in the emerging space industry as well as bureaucrats in NASA fail to see is that in order for our nation to reach the stars, they will have to begin to publicly cooperate with each other. Just as a lichen can not survive if one organism neglects the other, so to will the “new space” (aka emerging space industry) and NASA will fail at settling the moon if there is an unwillingness to partner with the other.

Despite the fact that NASA has the “committed” funding and a track record of returning to the moon, they lack the innovation needed to not only develop the technology to keep us on lunar soil, but to make it affordable for humanity as well. Although one could argue that New Space has the innovation as well as the passion to develop the technology, unless backed by several thrillionaires they may have trouble getting into orbit, let alone upon another world.

NASA and New Space need to realize that together that they are a team, and if they expect the US to actually visit the moon we so often look at in the sky, they need to figure out how to compliment each other instead of complaining about the other.

While NASA’s current focus of reinventing Apollo may not be the best way to visit the stars, New Space should focus on filling the gaps instead of mocking at them. NASA in turn should encourage the promotion of New Space within the governmental sphere, acting as their chief lobbyist and looking out for their best interest.

This unity is crucial for both NASA as well as New Space, as any perception of division in the public may cause some to see space as a wasted affair. This could cause both politicians and investors voting away towards seeding the heavens with our DNA and instead focus on eternal problems such as disease, hunger and poverty.

Unlike the US, China’s governmental and corporate space programs seem to flow in harmony with each other, which may lead to them conquering the moon before we do. A head start for China could translate into a head start for harvesting lunar resources which could translate into our future children having to learn Chinese because the red dragon is the dominant space empire, at least commercially.

Just as every major empire has had an influence on the “business language” of the planet (i.e. Rome with Greek, England with English) so will the future space power have influence on the solar business language. After all, it is often the victors who write the history books, and unity between NASA and New Space could spell the difference between our descendants reading space history in English, or reading it in Chinese.

Update: Apparently it seems as if I missed the carnival of space (which you can view over at Music of the Spheres). I’ll try to submit a late entry, although if it is not included in this round, I’ll submit it to the next.

Update (6/13): Corrected grammatical error. Also resubmitting post to this week’s Carnival of Space as I was unable to make it in last time.

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