From Space Elevators To Solar Bridges?

Posted by on Sep 15, 2006 in Blog, Future, Pluto, Solar Essay, Space Elevator, Technology | 0 comments

Imagine if you will that a small company out of Washington State (USA) achieves the impossible. Imagine if a company called LiftPort is able to successfully build a structure spanning from the oceanic surface to 100,000 km into space.

Such a feat would revolutionize the space industry entirely, and perhaps change the way we view space as we know it. But what if humanity went beyond constructing a planetary elevator into space, and decided to create a solar bridge connecting two worlds?

Solar bridges, like space elevators, would revolutionize the way citizens on two worlds engage in trade and transportation. Instead of having to launch shuttles into space (which can become fairly tedious and expensive), residents could simply transport their goods through an inter-planetary auto-bahn without worrying about the size and the amount.

A solar bridge would also serve as a “rest stop” for future star ships needing to deploy goods between worlds. Instead of docking on a space station and requiring its resources/crew to descend upon the world via miniature rocket shuttles, a solar bridge would enable star ships to quickly deliver necessary goods by tapping into the “economic blood stream” of the planetary system.

Last but not least, a solar bridge would enable scientists, governments and businesses to conduct research within a microgravity environment without having to board a shuttle. This would not only reduce the cost of these studies, but enable them to transport the fruits of their labor back home or towards the other side.

But just like their space elevator ancestors, solar bridges would only be feasible under certain conditions, and most planetary systems would probably not be suitable to host one.

They would have to be constructed in a region free from hazardous space debris (such as asteroids, comets and space junk). They would also have to be located within a binary system whose worlds are gravitationally locked, otherwise the rotation or orbit of one of these worlds would simply tear the structure in half.

Although the only planetary system meeting these conditions is Pluto and Charon, humanity may want to consider drawing plans for such a feat, especially if they encounter binary systems in other solar systems.

Humanity is a community orientated species, and one can notice this by observing the massive bridges built between cities, and even countries. If the conditions are favorable enough, why not attempt to build something similar between two worlds?

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Pluto Rocks?

Posted by on Sep 12, 2006 in Blog, Pluto, Random | 0 comments

(Hat Tip: NASA Watch)

With the recent demotion of Pluto, a Canadian group calling itself SubPlot A has released a song protesting its dwarf status and is even considering donating part of the profits towards promoting Pluto planethood.

(Pluto Rocks)Pluto got a bum deal.

On August 24, 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) decided to demote Pluto to “dwarf planet” status. This news has been met with immediate outrage from scientists, parents, children and former children, and all those who share a non-gravitational affinity for our distant and benevolent neighbor.

Well, if they wanted to screw a planet they should have picked Uranus.

You can listen to the song over here, but for those who lack the time to enjoy the rhythms, here is a partial listing of lyrics to Pluto Rocks!

So smart and so smug, so proudly pedantic
Can’t you be a scientist and still a romantic

Don’t you still love him, don’t you still need him
Don’t you want your great great grandkids to meet him

I don’t care what people say, you’ll always be mine
I don’t care what the experts say, you’ll always be my number nine

Pluto rocks, in a vacuous void
Grandfather Pluto, he’s no asteroid

Pluto rocks, stop the attack
Grandfather Pluto, you gotta bring him back

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No Solar Love For Pluto

Posted by on Sep 12, 2006 in Blog, Pluto | 0 comments

With the IAU resolving the issue of Pluto’s planetary status, (however disappointing their decision was) it seems that the distant world has been reassigned a cold hard number: 134340.

(Space.com) On Sept. 7, the former 9th planet was assigned the asteroid number 134340 by the Minor Planet Center (MPC), the official organization responsible for collecting data about asteroids and comets in our solar system. […]

Pluto’s companion satellites, Charon, Nix and Hydra are considered part of the same system and will not be assigned separate asteroid numbers, said MPC director emeritus Brian Marsden. Instead, they will be called 134340 I, II and III, respectively.

A sad day for the future citizens of this frozen world…or rather minor planet that is. There is a petition out there to save Pluto’s planetary status, although the odds of this happening are as good as finding intelligent life on other worlds within our solar system.

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So, What Is A Planet?

Posted by on Aug 17, 2006 in Blog, Pluto | 0 comments

Their seems to have been much discussion around the blogosphere regarding the definition of a planet. Currently there are nine, but all of that may change with the International Astronomical Union considering to add three more worlds to the list.

(Universe Today) The world’s astronomers, under the auspices of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), have concluded two years of work defining the difference between “planets” and the smaller “solar system bodies” such as comets and asteroids.

If the definition is approved by the astronomers gathered 14-25 August 2006 at the IAU General Assembly in Prague, our Solar System will include 12 planets, with more to come: eight classical planets that dominate the system, three planets in a new and growing category of “plutons”–Pluto-like objects–and Ceres. Pluto remains a planet and is the prototype for the new category of “plutons.”

I think the new classification system will help bring about an end to the planet debate, as our current system would have to make room for about 40 plus kuiper objects recently discovered throughout our solar system.

I am not too thrilled to see Ceres added to the list (isn’t it too small?) although classifying Pluto and Charon as a double planetary system may make our solar system a little bit more interesting.

Update: Added source link.

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Xena Slightly Larger Than Pluto

Posted by on Apr 12, 2006 in Blog, Hubble, Pluto, Xena | 0 comments

Apparently Hubble has discovered that object 2003 UB313, nick named “Xena” by Mike Brown is slightly larger than Pluto.

(NASA) Though previous ground-based observations suggested that Xena’s diameter was about 30 percent greater than Pluto, Hubble observations taken Dec. 9 and 10, 2005, showed Xena’s diameter as 1,490 miles (with an uncertainty of 60 miles).

Pluto’s diameter, as measured by Hubble, is 1,422 miles.

Xena lies roughly ten billion miles away from Earth and is an unlikely spot for a colony world. Although most people probably will not care about how large Xena is, the findings by Hubble do challenge what our idea of what a planet is in general.

After all, if Pluto is a planet, then so is Xena, and there could be a hundred worlds like it orbiting our solar system.

(Live Science) [W]e now know there are a handful of other offbeat worlds almost as large as Pluto. Estimates suggest there are hundreds of Pluto-sized worlds out there waiting to be spotted.

If 2003 UB313 [Xena] gains planet status, we’ll instantly have so many planets that kids won’t be able to memorize them all. Worse, the list will be a lie, made up of eight bona-fide planets and dozens of compounded mistakes. That’s not science.

Although Pluto and Xena may be the “odd balls left out,” classifying both of them as a planetary object may be a necessary evil. Pluto is already ingrained in our minds as a world of its own and despite the disappointment that Xena was not “fatter” than expected, she may be the newest member to join the planetary club.

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To Pluto And Beyond (New Horizons)

Posted by on Jan 19, 2006 in Blog, Exploration, Pluto | 0 comments

After a series of setbacks due to weather and technical glitches, it looks as if the New Horizons space craft will launch via an Atlas V rocket.

(Spaceref.com) The countdown is proceeding toward today’s launch of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft aboard an Atlas V launch vehicle. Today’s forecast for Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida calls for an 80% chance of favorable weather, and no technical issues with the rocket or spacecraft are in work at this time.

Although traveling towards the edge of our solar system, Pluto is not the only Kuiper belt object floating beyond Neptune. Other objects have been discovered as well (such as Xena), although the New Horizon’s probe probably will not be visiting those worlds.

Unrelated: Here is a short story that this author has written that may interest Pluto lovers everywhere.

(Icy Worlds) Zureeka was so excited. It was as if all the stars were aligned in her favor tonight. Or rather this morning. It was so hard to tell, since it was already late and it was well past her bed time.

The other girls had fallen fast asleep, but Zureeka could not because of the anticipation that the day would bring. She checked her alarm for the third time, making sure it would awaken her in three hours, then went off dreaming dreams of sunshine and laughter, of dancing high above frozen plains in the dim sunlight.

Continue Reading if you dare.

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