Radiation Proof Space Camera's?

Posted by on Aug 28, 2007 in Blog, Europa, Ganymede, Jupiter, Technology | 0 comments

(Image: Radiation hardened camera’s could help locate oceans on Europa. Credit: NASA via MSNBC)

Carbon based life forms are not the only ones to fear deadly radiation. Apparently, our cybernetic friends loathe the energetic particles just as much, although they lack the will of HAL to do anything about it.

Previously whenever scientists sent camera’s into the radiation depths of the Jovian giant Jupiter, by degrading the circuits over time. A new invention however may enable these cameras to withstand the fury of Jupiter’s radiation tantrums.

(MSNBC) The technology driving the new detector is a capturing system that immediately converts electromagnetic signals into digital information, pixel by pixel. The method bypasses the standard pathway traveled by analog signals from sensors to the point where the signal is converted to digital data.

High-energy radioactive particles in space degrade these circuits, or pathways, over time and add to noise in the data by making pixels appear artificially bright. […]

“Our detector converts the analog signal to a digital number within the pixel,” Figer told LiveScience. “Radiation does not have time to affect the signal. And once the data is digitized it’s essentially impossible to pick up noise.”

This technology should help aid future colonists, especially if they consider establishing outposts on Europa or colonizing Ganymede.

This also might aid scientists in observing the turbulent weather that dominates the Sol star’s largest planet within its system.

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Is Jupiter's Ganymede A Second Earth?

Posted by on May 4, 2007 in Blog, Ganymede, Jupiter, Solar Essay | 6 comments

Here lies father Jupiter
An angry, Jovian world
Orbited by his only son,
And three lunar girls.
~Darnell Clayton, 2007

(Image Credit: Windows to the Universe)

With the human race slowly (but surely) reawakening to the possibility of inhabiting other worlds, much of our species focus has been colonizing the surface of both the Moon and Mars.

Although these bodies will provide invaluable lessons to the human race, they may be tens of thousands of years away from becoming suitable homes for our young race, let alone for the rest of animal (and plant) kingdom due to space radiation.

Even though scientists are working on ways to provide shielding against this cosmic terror, unless humanity is able to develop a global magnetic field, any world we attempt to colonize will be at the mercy of the Sun (and other celestial objects).

Despite the fact that terraforming is at least centuries away from perfecting any world, Ganymede may hold the key towards providing a second home for hundreds of millions, if not billions of individuals in the not so distant future.

Unlike any of the 83 terrestrial bodies that orbit Sol (or a parent world), Ganymede is protected by two magnetic fields, one from its Jovian parent and the other hosted upon this icy moon. This dual layer of protection shields the icy moon from not only foreign radiation (via the Sun or beyond) but also domestic (via father Jupiter).

Water, whether in ice or liquid form, is a key ingredient to any future home off world. Fortunately Jupiter’s Ganymede is known to harbor water ice in abundance, with hints of an ocean a hundred miles beneath the surface.

With enough water to spare, future colonists will not only be able to use this invaluable resource for the day-to-day affairs of life (such as drinking, watering plants, etc.) but also as a potential energy source, not to mention oxygen as well.

Although Ganymede is not known to posses any major resources such as minerals or metals (at least in abundance), Jupiter’s asteroid Trojans and moons may provide the necessary building materials for a future colony.

(Image: Magnetic sail star ship, Credit: NASA)

Despite the distance of these space rocks from Ganymede (not to mention Jupiter itself) any star ship harnessing the power of magnetic sails will find travel to and from the Jovian system relatively easy. By using Jupiter’s enormous magnetic field as a boost, magnetic star ships could potentially haul precious minerals towards Ganymede’s surface, allowing future inhabitants to construct homes upon this frozen world.

Although well outside of the habitable zone, Ganymede could serve as humanities second home with colonists raising children, crops and animals within shielded biospheres. Colonists would be able to roam the surface of the world without much fear of the Sun’s or Jupiter’s wrath, with plenty of water resources around for nourishment and energy.

With metallic resources well within reach via magnetic sails, Ganymede may quickly find itself the envy of the solar system for centuries to come, second only to Earth in not only economic importance, but also habitation itself.

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Artificial Magnetic Fields For Artifical Worlds

Posted by on Apr 9, 2007 in Blog, Callisto, Ganymede, Jupiter, Saturn, Solar Essay, Technology, Titan | 8 comments

(Image Credit: NASA)

Aside from war and disease, the biggest threat to our (future) space faring species is radiation. Whether it comes from the Sun, a Jovian parent, or from a distant black hole, radiation can easily determine which worlds will be ruled by humans and which ones will be roamed by our robotic friends.

Although many may point to underground colonies as a means to survive on these sterile worlds, such an idea may not attract the masses (as living underground does not provide a glamorous view of the universe). Worse, underground colonies may have a counter affect on us colonizing our solar system, with the vast majority of people opting to live on the home world than off world.

But what if we could construct gigantic magnetic devices enabling a planet or moon to be shielded by a magnetic field? Such a device would enable our species to not only colonize Jupiter’s Europa and Saturn’s E-ring moons (which are too radioactive for surface habitation, respectively) but also enable various plants and animals to thrive on the red planet.

Without such a device our species would be limited to colonizing Jupiter’s moons Ganymede and Callisto, not to mention Saturn’s Titan. Although radiation on Mars may be tolerable, it would probably not be the ideal place to terraform as any ecosystems exported there may suffer from the wrath of a solar flare.

Despite the fact that this technology would be centuries away, it may be reasonable to explore current ways of developing artificial magnetic fields, as it would enable us to not only conquer our own solar system, but those that orbit other stars.

(Image Credit: Windows to the Universe)

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83 Colony Worlds Orbit Our Star?

Posted by on Apr 1, 2007 in Blog, Callisto, Exploration, Ganymede, Mars, Random, Titan | 2 comments

(Hat Tip: Cosmic Variance)

Many space geeks (I included) seem to be excited about an image by KOKOGIAK displaying the 88 largest bodies in our solar system (of which 83 are “terrestrial” or have a surface we can actually land upon).

After searching online on these various worlds, many with an abundance of ice water upon them (a good sign), it became apparent that many of these worlds would not become favorable homes (for raising kids) due to either radiation, distance or lack of appeal.

Currently there seem to be four worlds that show some promise of becoming future homes which are:

  • Mars (which has tolerable levels of radiation)
  • Ganymede (which has a magnetic field)
  • Callisto (which is not within Jupiter’s radiation belts)
  • Titan (atmosphere plus Saturn’s magnetic field may protect it)

Unless artificial magnetic fields can be created upon other worlds, they may only attract corporate industries and scientists, but not the huge populations necessary in order to establish our species as a “space faring civilization.”

Hopefully I’ll get some more time to post about these four worlds, as they hold much promise for our race four or five generations from now.

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Is Outer Space Really Our Salvation?

Posted by on Feb 22, 2007 in Blog, Ganymede, Jupiter, Mars, Moon, Solar Essay | 2 comments

If an observer were to dip their head inside the space industry, one would notice the rush to settle humanity either on the Moon, Mars or upon future space stations orbiting Earth. There seems to be a mass movement dedicated towards ensuring that our species establishes a “beta home” elsewhere, just in case we are wiped out from either an asteroid or a biological and/or nuclear war.

But if we were even able to settle on other terrestrial bodies tomorrow, would our species be able to survive without Earth?

Unlike the other worlds that orbit our star, Earth lies in what many scientists regard as the habitable zone. Within this region of space, a planet hosting a friendly atmosphere can have liquid waters gracing its surface, an important feature enabling complex ecosystems to survive (let alone thrive).

Other worlds such as Mars lie outside of this zone, and despite showing signs of harboring liquid water within its soils, it lacks the sufficient temperature to maintain water in this state upon its surface. Although some argue that aggressive terraforming could alter Mars into a second Earth, it would take at least a thousand years (if not longer) to transform this barren world, not to mention trillions of dollars.

Unlike most other rocky bodies in the solar system, Earth also boasts a magnetosphere, a key ingredient required for living organisms as cosmic radiation is not known to be healthy. Although both the Moon and Mars each maintain an active magnetosphere, neither are strong enough to cover their entire worlds, respectively.

Even though Mercury and Jupiter’s moon Ganymede boast a global magnetosphere, both are either too close or too far away from the sun to host vibrant environments for plants and animals, at least in the near future.

Unlike Earth, most (if not all) of the worlds and moons that orbit the Sun do not harbor soils that are generally friendly towards plant life. Although Mars is often regarded by many as humanities second home, its soil may be too toxic for growing plants upon it directly.

Despite the fact that our lunar neighbor shows some promise (however small), it lacks large bodies of water necessary to support life on that airless body.

Even if humanity were able to transport millions of people upon the Moon and Mars, and yet lose Earth, our species would probably face the cold reality of extinction. Establishing colonies upon other worlds is no guarantee towards our survival abroad, as colonies would still be dependent upon Earth for tons of fertile soil for growing grain (as well as animals for meat) in the near and distant future.

Whether by cosmic chance or divine will, Earth is the oasis of the solar system, the only world capable of supporting life without the need of biospheres (something we still have not perfected). Earth is the “only Eden” that humanity has, whether we like it or not. Outer space is an opportunity for our species, one that can drastically improve life upon our home world whether it be through energy, communication, agriculture or medicine.

But space (with all of its resources) could never replace our world, and if our species can not take care of our Earthen cradle, then there is no guarantee that will be fit enough to survive on a second world.

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