Tuesday, February 17, 2009

3 House Plants You May See On Mars, Callisto And Saturn's Titan

Whether it takes a few decades or a few centuries, humans will probably populate the solar system along with a few animal friends such as dogs, pigs and ants.

While one may also expect bamboo to dominate much of the visible plant life (at least as far as off world forests go), we may find space colony offices filled with a few specific house plants.

(GreenSpaces Blog) We have tried and tested these plants for 15 years at Paharpur Business Centre and Software Technology Incubator Park (PBC™ - STIP) in New Delhi, India. It is a 20 year old, 50,000 ft2 building, with over 1,200 plants for 300 building occupants.

PBC™ - STIP is rated the healthiest building in Delhi by the Government of India.* Their study found that there is a 42% probability of increasing blood oxygen by 1% if one is inside the building for 10 hours. [...]

We saved over 15% in energy costs as we did not have to inject 15-20 cfm of fresh air in to the building as suggested by ASHRAE – an industry standard.

Unless one is fortunate enough to live on the Moon, oxygen will be considered a precious commodity off world.

Despite their fancy names, these three plants may not only help keep air fresh and clean, but they could also help reduce the overall cost and energy needed to maintain a space colony (which is good news for space settlers heading for Mars, Callisto and Titan).

While this may mean that off world settlers will have to hire an extra gardener to ensure that these plants are growing up healthy and strong, future colonists may welcome the extra greenery (as it may help keep them from becoming too home sick).

(Hat Tip: LifeHacker)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Video: In Space, No One Will See You Stitched

Although microgravity is not exactly the greatest place to sustain an injury (unless you are a dangerous microbe), many scientists are exploring new ways of conducting surgery in a weightless environment.

While a space doctor will be needed to help mend the wounds of astronauts, they may choose to use lasers to seal the wound instead of medical stitches.

Since regular earthly stitches are composed of synthetic material and catgut, scientists may prefer using lasers as it would translate into one less item to pack (as well as one less requirement for a future space doctor).

(Hat Tip: Gizmodo)

Confirmed: Moon Is "As Wet" As A Terrestrian Desert

While this comes to no surprise based on last years analysis, it looks as if Japan's lunar satellite Selene confirms what many scientists have suspected all along.

(Moon Daily) "The surface can tell us a lot about what's happening inside the Moon, but until now mapping has been very limited," C.K Shum, professor of Earth sciences at Ohio State University, said in the February 13 issue of Science.

"For instance, with this new high-resolution map, we can confirm that there is very little water on the Moon today, even deep in the interior. And we can use that information to think about water on other planets, including Mars." [...]

The hard surface suggests very little water, researchers said. If there were water, even deep within the Moon, the surface would be more flexible than it was shown to be.

Since hauling water from the homeworld would probably increase the cost of a lunar outpost, future settlers may choose to simply import hydrogen from Earth instead (as it is much lighter).

Colonists could "simply" combine the hydrogen with oxygen extracted from lunar rocks, which would enable settlers to quench their thirst (not to mention help create rocket fuel as well).

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Avoiding Future Disaster (Blog Maintenance)

In order to avoid future problems down the road, this weblog is going under the DNS knife (so it may appear choppy for 48 hours).

I'll update this post as soon as it is back up. :-)

-- Post From My iPhone

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

To Fund Or Not To Fund: A Stimulus For SpaceX? (Video)

(Image: Falcon 9/Dragon configured for cargo delivery to the ISS. Credit: SpaceX)

With Congress wresting over the bailout stimulus package, it looks as if SpaceX (who launched their first successful rocket last year) is asking the public to contact their state representatives in order lobby for additional funding for COTS-d (aka the Constellation Orbital Transportation Services).

(SpaceX) What this would mean for taxpayers and high tech jobs in the United States is very significant. Let's consider the default plan under way, which expects that our country will use the Russian Soyuz at the currently negotiated price of $47 million per seat for the period between Shuttle retirement (2010) and Ares/Orion reaching Space Station (2016). Even assuming that we drop the number of US astronauts going to Station from the current 30 per year with Shuttle down to 14 per year, the cost will be approximately $3.3 billion. However, there is also a human cost in the thousands of jobs that the money could have supported back home.

In contrast, F9/Dragon would cost less than $20M per seat and it is 100% manufactured and launched in the United States. We are estimating that it would create well in excess of a 1000 high quality jobs at Cape Canaveral and an equivalent number in California and Texas, where we do our manufacturing and testing. Moreover, the total cost would only be $1.5B, so taxpayers would save nearly $2B. [...]

COTS Capability D can be completed within two years from date of funds receipt. In fact, with a little extra money and some modifications to the plan, it can be accelerated even further.

Since COTS Capability D is an existing option in an already competed contract, NASA could exercise it right away, resulting in immediate job creation. [...]

If you think this makes sense, please contact your representatives in the House and Senate, as well as Rep. Mollohan and Senator Mikulski who lead the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittees. Please encourage them to fund NASA Exploration in the Stimulus Bill and provide the $300M in funding necessary to begin COTS Capability D.

While the public may not be a fan of spending even more tax dollars for the private sector (note: this author is not), Congress should probably fund the COTS-d program (as outsourcing to Russia does not sound like a great idea).

SpaceX has even provided a video, in order to help inspire Americans to support a home grown NewSpace company.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Carnival Of The Space Geeks (87 And 88)

Note: In order to help kick off this recap (no future pun intended) I decided to embed this video from Hulu YouTube highlighting the best space geek commercial ever played on the super bowl.

Two weeks ago, Ryan Anderson (note: I think) hosted the Carnival of Space upon the Martian Chronicles, which featured articles ranging from methane on Mars to whether solar power satellites are ingenious or foolish to even detecting vegetation upon other worlds.

Articles readers of this site may be interested include:

  • Alexander Declama of Potentia Tenebras Repellendi highlights NASA's new chariot rover which will enable astronauts to freely roam the lunar surface (without fear of running low on supplies).
  • David Portree from Altair VI discusses how NASA could power moon bases throughout the long lunar night via flywheels (which would store energy collected during the day from solar). Beaming energy from Earth to the Moon is also discussed.
  • Riding with robots creates a video tribute to our mechanical friends who have scouted the solar system on our behalf (note: hopefully their scanners and wheel prints will be followed up by boots).

Before to read the rest of the entries from two weeks ago (as there is a lot of great content mentioned!).


Last weeks Carnival of Space was hosted by Carolyn Petersen over at The Space Writer's Ramblings which featured several interesting articles ranging from Fusion Starships to whether Obama would help or hurt NASA's lunar plans to remembering the Challenger tragedy.

Interesting articles readers here might be interested in include:

Be sure to read the rest of the articles from the Carnival of Space, and if you would like to have your article featured be sure to visit Universe Today for details on how to enter.