Moon Telescopes Via Lunar Concrete?

Posted by on Jun 9, 2008 in Blog, Moon, NASA, Telescope | 0 comments

With NASA revisiting Earth’s little sister in the not so distant future, a few scientists are dreaming of establishing massive telescopes upon the lunar surface.

In order to make this dream of reality, scientists are proposing on converting lunar dust into concrete, and turning a few craters into giant lunar telescopes.

( “We could make huge telescopes on the moon relatively easily, and avoid the large expense of transporting a large mirror from Earth,” said Peter Chen of NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. “Since most of the materials are already there in the form of dust, you don’t have to bring very much stuff with you, and that saves a ton of money.” […]

To arrive at the concrete recipe, Chen and his Goddard colleagues including Douglas Rabin, mixed small amounts of carbon nanotubes and epoxies (glue-like materials) with simulated lunar dust, or crushed rock that has the same composition and grain size as dust on the moon.

After several iterations, one of which yielded what Chen described as “gooey and smelly,” the team created a strong material with the consistency of concrete. Next, they coated the material with epoxy and spun the wet lunar concrete to form a 12-inch-wide (30-centimeter-wide) bowl-like structure shaped like a telescope mirror.

Scientists hope to be able to coat these “bowl-like structures” with aluminum, an element that is “fairly common” within the lunar crust.

While a lunar based telescope would probably have its fair share of problems (ranging from “moon static” to meteorites), it could enable humanity to observe the universe a little clearer without the radio noise from Earth.

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Carnival Of The Space Geeks (Version 14.0)

Posted by on Aug 8, 2007 in Blog, Moon, NASA, Rockets, Space Geeks, Telescope | 0 comments

Fraser from Universe Today was able to host last weeks Carnival of space, which boasted an impressive list of ideas and concepts that would make even Mike Griffin of NASA proud (or at least mildly entertained).

Interesting roundups included:

  • Stuart from Cumbrian Sky discusses the passion behind humanities quest towards the stars.
  • Phil on Phil for Humanity breaks down the robots vs humans debate, with a surprise ending.
  • Louise on A Babe in the Universe highlights an inexpensive way for placing telescopes on the moon (hopefully NASA will check that one out).
  • Jon Goff of Selenian Boondocks enlightens everyone that the moon may be more interesting than we previously thought.
  • Brian Wang of Advanced Nanotechnology informs everyone how the Liberty Ship could lift more cargo into space.

But the best post by far of this carnival belongs to the mysterious author of Space files, who highlights how NASA is seeking ways to pull oxygen from lunar dust.

(Space files) Eric Cardiff – who is leading a group at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center that is searching for ways of providing oxygen for human Mars and Moon missions – says that we simply have to evaporate the soil. Cardiff is working on a technology that can heat the soil to a high enough temperature for it to release the oxygen bound in it. Every oxide has such a temperature, at which it simply disintegrates into its constituents. This technique is called vacuum pyrolysis (where pyro stand for “fire” that is used to decompose (“lysis”) the stuff. A lot of reasons suggest that pyrolysis is the best method: it doesn’t need materials that have to be brought there from Earth, or any sort of strange or expensive stuff. Lunar dust collected in place have to be heated and that’s it, there’s your valuable oxygen.

Although getting into space is half the battle, remain their alive (and healthy) sums up the “entire war.” If NASA and other private groups can find innovative ways of extracting oxygen from lunar soil, humanity will not only have all the oxygen that they will need for space, but an interesting propellant for fuel as well.

Future colonists could then easily market their lunar oxygen to other outposts throughout the solar system, exchanging it for Martian water or precious metals from the asteroid belt.

If humanity is unable to convert lunar soil into oxygen, then Earth’s nearest neighbor may house only a few thousand brave souls at its max. But if NASA is able to convert this white regolith into breathable air, then tens of millions of individuals may learn to call our moon, home.

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Belated: Carnival Of The Space Geeks (11th Session)

Posted by on Jul 18, 2007 in Blog, Mars, Space Geeks, Technology, Telescope | 0 comments

Editor’s note: Last week’s carnival of space was hosted by Brian Dunbar on Space For Commerce.

Some interesting posts include:

  • Brian Wang of Advanced Nanotechnology gives his opinion about the sobering cost (and progress) of getting into space.
  • Amanda Bauer of Astropixie discusses about placing a liquid lunar telescope on the moon.
  • Ed Minchau of Robot Guy provides a humbling video on just how big our universe really is.

But the most interesting post at the Carnival of the Space Geeks goes to the mysterious author of Space Files who writes about Mars Society of Germany thinking about sending a “hot air gas balloon” to observe the red planet from above.

(Space Files) A camera, provided by DLR (the German space agency), which will be based on the ROLIS camera on the lander of the Rosetta space probe. It will be able to achieve a resolution of up to 20 cm per pixel at a 7 km distance from the surface. While this resolution in is not really stunning – HiRISE on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter almost reaches this at its highest resolution -, it will be able to take images from an oblique, 45 degree perspective.

A magnetometer, provided by the Technical University of Braunschweig. Measurements of Mars residual crustal magnetic field were last made by the Mars Global Surveyor space craft during the aerobreaking phase of the mission, in an altitude range between 100 km and 200 km. Archimedes would be able to make more local measurements. The combination of a high resolution camera and a magnetometer makes it possible to correlate magnetism and geological features. It would also be the first magnetic measurement below the ionosphere. It could also be compared to magnetic field measurements at the same time on board the orbiter.

Despite the fact that Mars lacks a global magnetic field, it does posses pockets of protection throughout its surface.

Accurately mapping this field could help future colonists establish “safety zones” in which they can build colonies upon, as well as retreat towards in order to escape the Sun’s wrath.

Note: Tomorrow’s Carnival of the Space Geeks will be hosted by Music of the Spheres. Users interested in submitting articles towards the carnival can see this post for details.

Update (7/25): Adjusted phrase from “hot air” to “gas” as it was more precise (thanks Space Files!).

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Was Jesus Born In August, July Or December?

Posted by on Dec 23, 2006 in Astronomy, Blog, Holidays, Random, Telescope | 2 comments

With the holidays around the corner (or just ending if you are Jewish) there seems to be a reflection of when Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem.

Despite tradition placing his birth in late December, some astronomers think Christ may have been born in the summer time–based on the star hailing his entrance into the world.

(MSNBC) The show started on the morning of June 12 in 3 B.C., when Venus could be sighted very close to Saturn in the eastern sky. Then there was a spectacular pairing of Venus and Jupiter on Aug. 12 in the constellation Leo, which ancient astrologers associated with the destiny of the Jews.

The crowning touch came on June 17, when Jupiter seemed to approach so close to Venus that, without binoculars, they would have looked like a single star.

Their is a brief mention of a star in the scriptures, which many see as a prophetic hint towards the coming Messiah.

Although his birth and life are often the cause of debate on our planet (as one can notice by glimpsing over at Cosmic Log’s comment section) no one can deny that this man has probably influenced the world more than any other person (as our economy can at least tell you that).

Whether you are a theist, atheist, IDist or agnostic, I wish you all a Merry Christmas (or Happy Hanukkah, Festivus, etc.).

Note: It’s not a space elevator, but it may be the worlds tallest Christmas tree (see this image for a reference).

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Should We Build Lunar Telescopes?

Posted by on Nov 29, 2006 in Blog, Future, Moon, NASA, Telescope | 0 comments

With NASA committing to return back to the moon, some scientists and engineers are considering building telescopes on the lunar surface for a clearer view of the universe.

(MSNBC) This week at a workshop entitled “Astrophysics Enabled by the Return to the Moon” at the Space Telescope Science Institute here, astrophysicists are discussing such moon plans, including the idea of setting up telescopes on the lunar surface.

“The main purpose is to really for the first time in many years have a very diverse group of astrophysicists come together and talk about whether it makes sense to do astrophysics from the moon now that we’ve got NASA committed to sending people there and putting up infrastructure there,” said Laurie Leshin, Director of Sciences and Exploration at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

A lunar telescope would have several advantages over its Earthen brethren, mainly being able to view the cosmos without the filter of an atmosphere. Larger telescopes could also be built due the moon’s gravity being one-sixth’s of Earth.

Unfortunately the lack of an atmosphere can be dangerous, as virtually anything falling from space can easily destroy these telescopes without proper shielding. Dust will also be a major problem if humans are operating the telescope, although NASA (or a private space company) is probably working on resolving both of these issues.

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Earth Killing Asteroids Being Tracked By China

Posted by on Nov 24, 2006 in Asteroids, Blog, China, Technology, Telescope | 0 comments

China is using a new telescope to track down possible NEO (Near Earth Objects) that may threaten planet earth.

(Space Daily) China has built a new Schmidt telescope, the largest of its kind in China, to keep track of near-earth objects (NEO) that could threaten Planet Earth. The telescope, measuring one meter in diameter, has been tested in a branch observatory belonging to Mount Zijin Observatory under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in east China’s Jiangsu Province. […]

“It is quite likely that some asteroids and comets hit the earth in the past, and it might happen again in the future,” said [Yang Jiexing, a researcher with the observatory].

“We built this detector to know in advance of any approaching danger, and be able to figure out how to deal with it,” he said.

Cataloging these dangerous space rocks is of great concern not only for our planet, but for any others we are fortunate enough to colonize. Although the Earth is blessed with an atmosphere hostile towards incoming objects, it may not be enough to stop planet killers, which may be as small as a half of mile wide.

Protecting Earth will become a priority, even after we begin to colonize and terraform other worlds. Earth is a unique world in our solar system, and it is good to see another space power lending her efforts in defending our fragile paradise.

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