Friday, October 11, 2019

Space marvels - and possibilities


I don't know how much longer I'll be able to offer science and space news, as the crisis of survival of civilization gets crazier and more dangerous, daily. I promise some cool space news, below!

But first... Donald Trump's possibly worst treason, hidden under so much else! I'd talk about how the troops sent to Saudi and the Iranian ship hit by "missiles" all point to a return to an Iran-US dog-wag war. (Remind all your friends of the terms "Tonkin Incident" and 'Gleiwitz' and Reichstag fire. BUT THERE'S NO TIME! I'd get you all to insist the nation's mayors demand huge deposits before any Trump rally gets permits, since they stiff the taxpayers. BUT THERE'S NO TIME! Because something far more important is up!

Yes, a bigger danger. Trump appears to be about to pull the U.S. out of the Open Skies Treaty, by far the most-important arms control compact and the one Dwight Eisenhower prayed for (for all our sakes) till the day he died. Like with the IRBM treaty Trump abrogated, the one wanting this to end is the puppet master Vladimir Putin. Dig it, the KGB (it's renamed version) can already track goings on in the US. The treaty favors us, vastly! And that's why Putin has ordered his puppet to end it. (The IRBM treaty also favored us, hence Trump went 'siegheil comrade' and pulled out.) It is time for eminent officers to tactically and carefully and slowly but emphatically resign-and-speak. This relatively unmentioned move - hidden by other headlines - may be the most dangerous Trumpian Treason of all.

== The Universe goes on, magnificently... though maybe soon without us... ==

A second confirmed visitor from interstellar space appears this time to be a comet about 10 kilometers across as it appears to have a visible tail. Unlike Ou'muamua, this one is not only about six times brighter but is also making its way into the Solar System at about 30 kilometers per second, giving us a much longer period of time to study it.

Didn't expect this for a couple of years. Water vapor has been detected in the atmosphere of a super-Earth in a red dwarf's goldilocks zone. We are amazing. And we should be capable of wresting back the revolution that led to all these wonders.


Hayabusa! The Japanese spacecraft at asteroid Ryugo has done it again. Performed difficult sample collecting maneuvers flawlessly. They'd be great partners for NASA to head out and do valuable, exciting new things, instead of joining a crowded field of Apollo wannabes aiming to plant dusty footprints (with zero prospect for benefits) that our ancestors achieved half a century ago. Boldly go. Ikimasho!

Speaking of rocks. Japanese scientists have calculated that the dinosaur-killer asteroid would have ejected  billions of tons of life-bearing meteorites into space. Further, a A previous study found that more Earth ejecta must end up in interstellar space than all the other planets combined. As much ejecta would have ended up on Europa as on the Moon: around 100 million individual Earth rocks in some scenarios. That’s because the huge gravitational field around Jupiter acts as a sink for rocks, which then get swept up by the Jovian moons as they orbit. If life evolved at just 25 different sites in the galaxy 10 billion years ago, the combined ejecta from these places would now fill the Milky Way.

== Steps toward Space Exploration ==

The Moon might be only 50 million years (an eyeblink) younger than Earth itself. The massive collision that tossed a lot of Earth’s crust into orbit, to settle into the Moon, appears to have occurred very early, not the 150 million years previously thought. The newborn Moon was covered in a magma ocean, which formed different types of rocks as it cooled. 'These rocks recorded information about the formation of the Moon, and can still be found today on the lunar surface,' says Dr Maxwell Thiemens, former University of Cologne researcher and lead author of the study. (Terrific work, Max!) Though it doesn’t change the fact that there are no “ores” on that barren dustpile, that is (for the foreseeable future) only good for tourism.

Hollow lava tubes almost certainly exist on the Moon and Mars – we count many openings – “skylights” whose bottoms aren’t plumbed by orbital scans. In fact NIAC has supported small research efforts aimed at exploring these potentially valuable cave systems, which could be crucial for supporting extended human presence, for much roomier habitats that are safer from temperature swings, radiation, meteorites and blowouts.  Most intriguing are pits inside Philolaus Crater near the north pole of the moon. "They might be skylights associated with a network of lava tubes formed not in volcanic lava flows, but in an impact melt sheet, the temporary pool of molten rock that ponded inside Philolaus Crater following the large impact that created the crater," combining the habitat attraction with water ice.

Caves may become important to the future of Mars exploration because they provide shelter from the entire range of harsh surface conditions while maintaining near-pristine interior surfaces and relatively stable microclimates. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter‘s (MRO) cameras have spotted hundred of “candidate” cave entrances, just in the area of the three Tharsis shield volcanoes. Many may just be shaded alcoves but even those offer opportunities for potential future explorers/colonists.  There’s also a chance that these sites have served as water-ice collection sites in places much more convenient than the polar craters where the sun never shines.

A pretty good article detailing how well-prepared humanity is, for discovering and appraising asteroids that might impact the Earth, especially two vital survey telescopes in Hawaii.  Alas, we are in more danger from comets, which can come in with little warning. But there’s work on that, as well. And the NGO-nonprofit you could join, to help prevent that particular catastrophe, is the B612 Foundation.

== Space tech ==

The Bigelow “inflatable” habitat modules keep getting more impressive.

Meanwhile, Collins Aerospace has unveiled its next generation spacesuit, which can be adapted to either micro-gee  or the lunar surface.

Vast sheets of ultra-light aerogel might be key to terraforming swathes of Mars. But there are tradeoffs. Strong enough to last decades? Then when they shred do they become ultimate pollution?

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach explores the irresistibly strange universe of space travel and life without gravity.

Soon to be released: Space Exploration: A History in 100 Objects - from Sputnik to Hubble and the Curiosity Rover, author Sten Odenwald visualizes the iconic objects that have enabled us to explore and see further into the cosmos. 

It’s widely believed that the Trump rush to get footprints on the moon is ego driven, to land before the end of his “second term.” But here we see another possible reason… An urgent hurry allows contracts to be given without abiding by competitive bidding and evaluation rules. I’m not saying this is so! But in light of what happened in Iraq, when Bush-Cheney family logistics companies were the beneficiaries of “emergency” no-bid contracts to the order of tens of billions, we should be wary.

Airbus, Boeing, and SoftBank are now developing stratospheric autonomous drones, capable of flying at (and even above) 60,000 feet. Intended to fly for months without intervention, the drones could deliver imaging and even internet services from above.

A new kind of space elevator would evade some of the safety and materials worries of earlier concepts. The Spaceline would be tethered to the surface of the Moon and dangle down into geostationary orbit around the Earth like a plumb bob. “Instead of rocketing all the way out of orbit, astronauts would only need to reach the end point of the Spaceline, cutting back the cost and challenge of rocket launches. Once it reaches the vacuum of space, free of terrestrial gravity and atmospheric pressure, the spacecraft would meet up with the cable and latch onto a solar-powered shuttle that would climb along its length."

My own concept for a moon-anchored space elevator goes in the opposite direction… outward away from Earth, and yet it would serve a similar function… plus one more, over the course of millions of years. Saving the Earth!

We can do all those things! But first -- save civilization.

68 comments:

David Brin said...

Some of you still buy into the kremlin-fostered notion of some dastardly clade of "corporate sellout democrats," an imbecility of huge proportions. Ignoring the vast amount Pelosi's dems passed in 2009, during the 72 days in 24 years they had the power to legislate, these splitters also ignore what's happening in DP run states like CA, OR and WA. In a single week of October 2019, California banned private prisons. Passed new rules about guns in the hands of abusers and the mentally ill, augmented privacy regulations, restricted the power of oligarchs to run private beaches inaccessible to the public, and much else… You guys are eimply crazy, or else kremlin shills.

https://news.google.com/articles/CAIiECCkd4rAs3ULCUCBmi5yC9EqFggEKg4IACoGCAowjKxcMOvhCzC5zg8?hl=en-US&gl=US&ceid=US%3Aen

mythusmage said...

Where Luna is concerned, it had to be a collision? Why not Gaea's and Theia's gravities pulling the other apart, stripping Theia of much of her mass? In the case of Gaea leaving some of that world's crust intact to survive to modern times.

David Brin said...

Not energetic enough. Theia would have to come through super slowly for there to be even a chance of a Roche Limit rupture. Also Luna is very clearly Earth crust. Isotopic analysis.

Daniel Duffy said...

Wouldn't planets in the Goldilocks zone of a red dwarf be tidally locked, with one face always towards the hot sun the other side perpetually froze? The only place for advanced life would be in the twilight area between the two halves, and area constantly subject to hurricane force winds?

Doesn't sound very promising.

mythusmage said...

But just 50 mega years after consolidation would the two have been so tightly bound? And is Luna's crust more a matter of hope than observation?

mythusmage said...

Oh heck, for that matter would it be a matter of just one encounter, with the two worlds coming close and being stressed?

Larry Hart said...

Daniel Duffy:

Wouldn't planets in the Goldilocks zone of a red dwarf be tidally locked, with one face always towards the hot sun the other side perpetually froze? The only place for advanced life would be in the twilight area between the two halves, and area constantly subject to hurricane force winds?


Did you ever read Asimov's novel called Nemesis. He posited an interesting solution to that problem. A huge Jupiter-like planet orbiting the red dwarf which is tidally locked, but with an earth-like moon orbiting the planet in turn having a more normal day/night cycle.

scidata said...

Another solution: the lifeform dawns and evolves in the twilight zone, and moves to other parts of their world once it's achieved the technology to survive. Of course, such a civilization might also be quite isolationist. I'll await the SETI fallacy for that one :)

Mitchell Wyle said...

@David: I assume you receive this sentiment frequently from your readers: We prefer your Space Science ideas, news, opinions in this space. Your political writings are less interesting to some of us. In Woody Allen's "Stardust Memories" there is a scene where hyper-intelligent space aliens tell Woody Allen they prefer his older, funnier movies. We, your readers, may not be hyper-intelligent, but some of us do prefer the science to the politics.

Larry Hart said...

@Mitchell Wyle,

While I'm sure you speak for a faction of Brin blog readers, be aware that there is also a faction who prefers the political comments. It's not that I don't like the science stuff either, but the one seems more pressing than the other.

Mitchell Wyle said...

@Larry Hart: I agree entirely.

Larry Hart said...

From the previous post, relative to the troops supporting Trump...

Are they ok with Trump being ok with Turkey bombing our soldiers in Syria and our Kurdish allies?

David Brin said...

Generally, for one planet to bring down near zero its relative velocity with another planet, you need a third object to steal away all that excess energy/momentum... a 3 body problem. Show me that third planet? And the similarity of lunar rocks to Earth's crust is not theoretical. We have many samples.

Mitchell, I am doing sci fi and you are welcome to buy my sci fi comedy, published in December, pre-order it soon!

But I have a pulpit and ideas that could make a difference, and right now the civilization that I love is under open attack by ruthless enemies who would plunge us all into darkness. If I can arm some of our heroes with meme-weapons then by the ghost of Thomas Paine I will forge them. These are the times that try men's souls.

I urge YOU to prioritize and stand up.

Larry Hart said...

This article in today's Wall St Journal reminded me that Dr Brin has been saying this for a long time now...

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-ultimate-learning-machines-11570806023

The future of artificial intelligence depends on designing computers that can think and explore as resourcefully as babies do.

mythusmage said...

Dave, you forgot the other alternative, orbital insertion. Say Theia comes up on Gaea on the inside at just the right speed and just the right angle to get caught in an orbit. The new moon is still moving at a good clip, but now it's at just the right distance of the larger world's gravitational tide to mostly rip it up.Instead of a passing event you get a constant event, and as such enough time for most of Theia to be ripped off and either flung into space of to rather into a ring about Gaea and in time to be incorporated into the now greatly modified world.

Of course it's speculation, but then again so is the violent collision scenario. And mine deals with the bits of Earth's crust that apparently date from before the introduction of the Moon.

David Brin said...

mythusmage, you're not paying attention. That cannot happen. It just can't. You are demanding that energy and momentum magically vanish. What you desire requires a propulsive force (rocket) or else a third body to carry that excess away.

Also please provide references for the moon NOT being similar to Earth crust. Of course there would be some subsequent meteoritic falles of earlier rocks.

mythusmage said...

Dave, you're not paying attention, the momentum and energy are still there. The two worlds are still in motion, just not in relation to each other. The two now orbit a common center of gravity. When you speak of the Earth/Moon system you are essentially speaking of a single body with a center of mass that just happens to vary in composition and density.

And I didn't say that the two are all that different in composition, considering that both most likely took form in the same nebular neighborhood you'd expect them to be similar to some degree.

To make this short, you can expect that overall the amount of energy in the system didn't substantially change. Some was lost due to friction, but most of it is still there.

BTW, this is fun.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Our host's mention of JAXA (the Japanese space agency) reminded me of a superior anime from about 8 years back, "Space Brothers". Unlike most animes in that it is scientifically rigorous, has a solid if somewhat slow-paced plot, entirely believable characters, and a very fastidious attention to detail. It really shows the Japanese attitudes toward space exploration, an approach similar to that of America's in the 1960.

David Brin said...

Sorry mythusmage, but repeating the same thing over and over again doesn't make it true. Something does not "enter orbt just because in was somewhat slow and passed nearby. It... does... not... happen. I know you have a movie in your mind in which it does. But in physics and orbital mechanics it... does... not.


AND ISOTOPIC RATIOs are fantastic at parsing between even parts of the same solar system. It's how we know some south pole meteorites come from Mars.

Jon S. said...

Mythus, may I ask where your information regarding orbital mechanics and lunar analyses comes from? I'm aware of Dr. Brin's qualifications in these regards already, and would personally hesitate to argue with him quite so publicly in the arena of his expertise.

If yours are equally impressive, I'd be interested in watching this discourse ascend to levels I can barely comprehend, with equations and everything.

mythusmage said...

Sorry, Dave, but magic isn't necessarily, it's a simple matter of physics. Gravity will change your direction of motion, but if you go too fast it can't hold on, you go too slow you wind up crashing into the other object.

After all, what is an orbit but a case of one object falling to the ground and missing. Continually missing. Satellites do it all the time. So do planets. Our Sun is constantly falling to the center of the Milky Way, and missing. Luna has been falling to the Earth and missing for over 4 billion years. No magic, no third party, just the right speed. And I suspect you know this Dave, you're just having fun.

That's the thing about Jews, we're pucks. Jesus was a puck, Bugs Bunny is a puck, We are pucks and we have fun making fun of revealed truth. From what I can see Theia was going just slow enough and at the right angle as to enter into orbit around Gaea. But then you have those who just have to have things right, and it is these Pharisees who have a need to over explain. We've been inserting things into orbit for years now, and other then the initial acceleration into orbit it really doesn't take all that much energy. The right velocity at the right angle at the right time and you are in orbit. Even around a black hole.

David Brin said...

I give up. This is an example of an intelligent person reacting with utter obstinacy and complete lack of curiosity about why someone who knows vastly more about a subject says that he really, really needs to go back and ask questions of someone at a chalk board. Mythusmage I will not answer this again. You have no way of eliminating the kinetic energy at closest passage that will AGAIN turn itself back into potential energy that exceeds escape velocity.

Your assertion is not true. It is completely not true. It is totally and absolutely not true.

Your counter example is a freaking ROCKET that is CHANGING the object's momentum and energy by hurling some mass AWAY the way the third body in a 3 body problem can do.

Notice guys, there is calm and friendship and goodwill here between two educated guys, and STILL you can get utter, utter pigheadeded obstinacy. PLEASE go find someone who knows something and stand at a chalkboard till you get it.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Look on the bright side, Doctor. Now we all know what an orbit is.
True story: when I was five, my dad took me out to watch for the Sputnik. And we did see it--a tiny, moving star. He tried to explain to me how it was flying around the Earth, but I was at an age when the idea that the Earth was a globe was utterly mystifying. So for a few years, I believed that the Russians had erected a big boom at the north pole, and at the end of the boom, there was a rope, and at the end of the rope was the Sputnik, and the boom rotated, causing Sputnik to fly around the Earth.
I should tell Trump that theory. I hear being the head of NOAA pays pretty good...

duncan cairncross said...

Let me try
Mythusmage

When you "Fall" towards an object and miss it then you fall away from it at the same speed that you fell towards it
This speed is higher - a LOT higher than orbital speed
If you fall to earth you reach a MINIMUM speed of 11 km/sec - you can fall FASTER - but not slower

Orbital speed is 8 km/sec - you need to LOSE 1080 km/hr for something falling from outer space to go into orbit

TCB said...

Dr. Brin hath said:

"PLEASE go find someone who knows something and stand at a chalkboard till you get it."

I should have this printed on a T-shirt.

David Brin said...

There is the slingshot effect, which I usein EXSITENCE, under which an object swings by a planet and gains or loses velocity. But not in the planet's reference frame. Rather, the SUN is the 3rd body. Your ship or asteroid can gain velocity with respect to the sun.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Nearly all the probes to the outer planets used the slingshot effect, and I remember a fairly good layman-accessible description from one of Asimov's non-fiction books from the 70s.

scidata said...

To really appreciate the slingshot effect, watch the scene from "Armageddon"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_8ILn5kdBo

David Brin said...

Except for the Armageddon slingshot being wrong in every conceivable way. Except for that.

scidata said...

American utilities help with Manitoba freak winter storm damage. The world hasn't gone completely mad. Feels good.

Larry Hart said...

Charles Blow says the obvious...

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/13/opinion/trump-republicans.html

...

Conservatives scoured every facet of his [Obama's] life looking for a scandal and found none. They picked at every imaginary faux pas — wearing a tan suit, putting his feet on the desk, putting mustard on his burger — and yet they not only defend Trump’s truly vulgar behaviors, they cheer them.

Sarah Palin made a whole campaign out of saying that Obama “pals around with terrorists,” while Trump quite literally cozies up to murderous dictators and brags about the love letters he exchanges with one.

Republicans see nothing wrong here. Trump is a rich white man defending white supremacy and white nationalism. For him, the rules are different. For him, certain dispensations must be given.

According to Politico:

“One of Donald Trump’s most prominent Christian supporters will argue in a book due out before the 2020 general election that American evangelicals ‘have a moral obligation to enthusiastically back’ the president.”

...

Larry Hart said...

From the same Charles Blow article above:

Pat Robertson, upset last week over Trump’s unconscionable abandoning of the Kurds in northern Syria, said: “The president of the United States is in danger of losing the mandate of heaven if he permits this to happen.”


This is the same Pat Robertson who almost literally said (and might as well have literally said) of the Saudi murder of Khashoggi, "This is supposed to be a happy occasion! Let's not bicker about who killed who."

Darrell E said...

Larry Hart,

"If you gave him an enema first you could bury him in a matchbox."

Zepp Jamieson said...

LH: “One of Donald Trump’s most prominent Christian supporters will argue in a book due out before the 2020 general election that American evangelicals ‘have a moral obligation to enthusiastically back’ the president."

They're already doing that.

Larry Hart said...

The sad thing is that supposedly-patriotic Republicans are ok with this...

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/12/opinion/sunday/ukraine-trump.html

...

Here’s what’s not complicated. Throughout our history, America has committed many sins against democracy around the world, but we used to be on the right side in Ukraine. Not anymore. As one former U.S. diplomat said to me recently, “The beacon has gone out.” We’re with the oligarchs now.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

They're already doing that.


I would guess that the book author's point is that Evangelicals have a moral obligation to keep doing that.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I saw one cartoon on FB (which got taken down almost immediately) that depicted Trump being nailed to a cross by leading Democrats--all of whom were wearing yarmulkes. Revelation and Mein Kampf merged.

Catfish 'n Cod said...

On Theia and Gaea's collision dynamics: There is only one way I can see a capture happening... if it happened so early in their formation that they still had their own debris fields / hydrogen-helium-rich atmospheric components present. With thicker and broader atmospheres, the possibility of friction arises; and friction could provide the braking to bring Theia into enough of an orbit for a Roche Limit scenario.

Any collision of compact bodies in physics, from individual subatomic particles up to stellar-mass objects, involves the tradeoff of potential and kinetic energy. For large masses, gravitation dominates the potential energy. Kinetic energy rises as they fall closer together and falls in equal measure as they pull back apart. For there to be braking, there must be some third place for energy to go -- a third body or a third form of energy. Having Theia torn apart, half of the debris ejected at higher speed and half going into an orbiting debris ring might be possible. Atmosphere-on-atmosphere friction as above would convert kinetic energy to heat. You could have electrostatic or magnetic field interactions, theoretically, though I have no idea how that would work; the only such example I know of in the Solar System today is the Io-Jupiter flux tube, a very different scenario.

The point is, you have to have some other branch of physics besides two-body orbital mechanics involved. Pick one and knock yourself out hypothesizing -- but don't try to claim a body can just brake itself in empty space. Can't happen.

===========================================

We are seeing much more clearly now who has even a residual sense of honor and duty, and who's in it for the power and money. To my surprise, Pat Robertson and Franklin Graham both have some portions of their souls yet unsold. It would appear Ralph Reed is out of chips, though.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Revelation and Mein Kampf merged.


And these are the ones trying to present themselves to American Jews as friends of Israel. Those yarmulke-wearing Christ-killers in the cartoon are presumably supposed to represent anti-Semites like (their depictions of) The Squad.

What totally baffles me is how, at this point, any Jews support Trump.

David Brin said...

Thanks, I'll use the Charles Blow thing in POLEMICAL JUDO.

Let me reiterate that I think it’s a mistake to claim that right-wing putschism is solely… or even mostly… about racism. Yes, the victims who have hurt the most have been minorities, immigrants, children and so on. But only a fool ignores the clades who are truly most-hated by this madness, the professions who deal in facts and who truly stand in the way of an oligarchic takeover, around the world. (Chapter 5.)

This is not zero sum. The confederates have plenty of hate to spread around. I simply assert that they reviled Barack Obama as much for his nerdiness as for the color of his skin.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I've had laboured explanations given to me about how there are 'real Jews' who are the children of Israel, and Jews who descended from some other segment of the 12 houses of whatever--same one the Celts came from, apparently. It's a mishmash of mythology and mystical crap, widely embraced amongst neo-Nazis. Netanyahu is a true Jew whereas Elie Weisel was not. It goes downhill from there.

Larry Hart said...

@Zepp Jamieson,

Yes, I read that back in the 1980s. A white supremacist cult up in Idaho maintained that they, white Aryans, are the true Chosen People of the Old Testament. The Semites who call ourselves Jews today are pretenders to the title who are in actuality (I couldn't possibly make this up), "Indo-Turkish Khazars fathered by Satan."

@Dr Brin,

The ones actually orchestrating the putsch hate fact-users, but their dog whistles meant to rile up their unwashed base? I suspect Charles Blow is right more than not that those are meant to stir up racial animus. Racism isn't necessarily what drives Trump, let alone McConnell or Roberts, but it is what keeps Evangelicals and rural "real Americans" in line against those followers' own socio-economic interests.

Larry Hart said...


"Indo-Turkish Khazars fathered by Satan."


I just Googled that entire phrase, and the top item to appear was the 1986 Chicago Tribune story that I read back then.

The third item, incidentally, was me telling you this on this very blog.

Larry Hart said...

A post on LinkedIn, to which my reaction is, "Well, duh!"

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/rise-generation-burnout-why-self-driving-cars-have-top-rundown-us-/

Driverless cars not quite ready for prime time: Despite the grand visions and promises, the age of fully autonomous vehicles has yet to arrive, The Economist reports. Elon Musk missed his 2017 deadline for a vehicle that’s capable of “complete autonomy,” Alphabet’s Waymo didn’t deliver its driverless taxi fleet in 2018 and General Motors ditched its plans for a steering wheel-free car in June. What happened? Teaching a computer to use its skills to adapt to new circumstances — an act humans perform with relative ease — is a lot harder than many assumed.

scidata said...

I was an AI programmer in the 1980s, GM being one employer. Yup, the early 80s, folks. The current machine learning craze is fun to watch. Reminds me of the scene in the Matrix where Morpheus describes the starry-eyed enchantment humanity had for itself as it 'gave birth to AI'. We are kids playing with matches at best. For a good laugh, here are some ABBA lyrics run thru Google Translate a couple of times (English->Swedish->English I think)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxoY5G5sj9Q

TCB said...

Fresh space news: Massive, AI-Powered Robots Are 3D-Printing Entire Rockets / Relativity Space may have the biggest metal 3D printers in the world, and they're cranking out parts to reinvent the rocket industry here—and on Mars.

"To make a rocket 3D-printable, Ellis’s team had to totally rethink the way rockets are designed. As a result, Terran-1 will have 100 times fewer parts than a comparable rocket. Its Aeon engine, for instance, consists of just 100 parts, whereas a typical liquid-fueled rocket would have thousands. By consolidating parts and optimizing them for 3D printing, Ellis says Relativity will be able to go from raw materials to the launch pad in just 60 days—in theory, anyway. Relativity hasn’t yet assembled a full Terran-1 and doesn’t expect the rocket to fly until 2021 at the earliest."

Fewer parts means fewer possible failure points, which is nice. Their long-term concept is to have the same capability on Mars.

"With every new part, the machine learning algorithm gets better, until it will eventually be able to correct 3D prints on its own. In the future, the 3D printer will recognize its own mistakes, cutting and adding metal until it produces a flawless part. Ellis sees this as the key to taking automated manufacturing to other worlds.

“To print stuff on Mars you need a system that can adapt to very uncertain conditions,” Ellis says. “So we're building an algorithm framework that we think will actually be transferable to printing on other planets.”

jim said...

Larry maybe the racist who though of themselves as the “real” Jews just heard about what Israeli Rabbi Ovadia Yosef said:
“Goyim were born to serve us.”

And wanted to get in on the whole master race thing only this time with a bullshit Jewish justification rather than the bullshit “scientific eugenics” that the Nazis used.

David Brin said...

assholes in every direction. So? In some directions, the assholes are repudiated anecdotes. In others they are symptoms of lethal illness.

Larry Hart said...

@jim,

If the racists who thought of themselves as the "real" Jews heard that back in 1986, they must have a working time machine. The least they could do is go back and kill Hitler.

Actual Jews think it's amusing that someone else would want the title. Back in the 80s, I imagined a council of old Rabbis going in their best stereotypical accent, "They want to be the Jews? Why would they want to be the Jews? Let them be the Jews."

frabjoustheelder said...

Remember like a month ago when you said that impeaching Trump would be a mistake? This is one of those times when admitting that you were wrong would be intellectually honest.

David Brin said...

What a load of crap. I supported Pelosi's timing then and I support it now! The Ukrainian stuff is BARELY sufficient to proceed, but it is sufficient to start moving toward the real impeachable stuff.

YOU are the one who needs to admit you were wrong about her, as a general.

David Brin said...

By the way, we haven't "impeached Trump." We have started using impeachment hearings to get around the stonewalling and get to the good stuff.

And stretching it out till spring is vital!

Alfred Differ said...

Two main problems with capture theories.

1. Explaining where the energy and angular momentum went.
2. Getting the isotope ratios right.

The first is a killer for most ideas. Thou shalt not violate conservation laws!
The second is a killer for Roche breakup and most remote formation ideas. Luna looks just like much of Earth's crust.

Interaction ideas that survive both generally bury most of the collider within Terra and blow TERRA's crust into orbit... or farther.

Alfred Differ said...

Musk had a more important requirement to meet in 2017.
Many were in a state of disbelief that Tesla could manufacture cars in large quantities.

Their sales numbers are high enough now that shareholders can see the vision being implemented. As for AI they are delivering it in bits and pieces... which is the only way it can be done I think.

[I have yet to see a driverless Tesla moving across the parking lot toward its driver, but I'm sure I will fairly soon. The software for that is out in the wild now.]

matthew said...

TCB, thanks for the 3D printing link.

As someone that works intimately with 3D printed metal microstructures, I'd give a BIG note of caution regarding the quality of the aluminum that is being laid down via the plasma melting. Before I put any money into the technique I would want to do a thorough random sampling of the product.

It's interesting to hear of someone working at the scale that these folks are working at but I am extremely doubtful about a rocket made from their technique.

David Brin said...

The most amazing thing is not that cars are self-driving, but that it requires no expensive infrastructure of embedded transponders and all that. We never expected they'd just use the existing roads and drive.

Alfred Differ said...

Relativity Space is funded to the tune of about $45M last we heard. Their incremental testing approach is what is needed to succeed in later funding rounds... or in getting purchased by a sector leader who wants to add something innovative to improve their supply chain.

Personally, I think it is a little late in the game to compete as a rocket builder, especially for small LEO payloads. It DOES make sense to build a parts company that the others would want to buy to prevent their other competitors from leveraging external innovation teams.

A.F. Rey said...

And stretching it out till spring is vital!

We just have to keep the "good stuff" coming! Or Americans will think (or be convinced) that the Democrats are just doing this for the political reasons. :(

Fortunately, Trump is delaying letting out the stuff, so he's playing right into Pelosi's hands. :)

Larry Hart said...

The NY Times tells it like it is...

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/15/opinion/trump-ukraine.html

...

This point can’t be stressed enough. Because if Trump is removed from office and the country is healed afterward, it will only be because a majority of Americans understand that this is, at its core, a fight between these noncorrupt, apolitical civil servants — whose norms and institutions make America’s government so envied and respected around the world — and Giuliani and Trump and their pals, who care only about serving themselves and their conspiracy theories.

Trump and his enablers at the state-directed Fox News want to portray this as just another partisan fight — between Trump and his Democratic rivals — in the hope that the public will shrug and say, “There they go again.” They don’t want Americans to understand that this fight is about guarding the most cherished norms and institutions that define us as a nation.

We can’t let that happen. ...

scidata said...

A robotic hand learns to solve rubiks cube via adversity. Very analogous to CITOKATE (and evolution).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4O8pojMF0w

"But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin."
- John the Savage BNW


When a politician says leave everything to me, I'm a genius, RUN.

TCB said...

@ matthew, yes, I saw a comment elsewhere that a person versed in 3D metal printing noted that "printed metals never cut cleanly" which must mean the crystalline structure is pretty pretty bogus...

Which leads me to wonder: do you suppose that 3D printed aluminum etc. would behave better if they were being done in near-vacuum of space or Mars atmosphere? or are the people doing this work using inert gas already? etc. etc.

David Brin said...

Huxley was wonderful. William Goldman even better. His young savage wanted... “Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles.”

Sigh. Romance.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin quoting:

"...Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles.”


In other words, that character wanted fiction.

A.F. Rey said...

Actually (looking up the quote), he wanted sports. :)

Unknown said...

It's been said before, but if your leader starts saying things like "In my great and unmatched wisdom...," it's time for the oversize butterfly nets.

Pappenheimer

scidata said...

Star Trek V "The Final Frontier" was panned by critics and generally regarded as the worst ST film ever made. It has one short scene, though, that epitomizes the ST sensibility, simultaneously trashing demagogues and championing rationality:
"I need my pain" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLzJAebfEIg

matthew said...

@TCB, watch GE for the future of 3D printing in vacuum. They are heavily specialized in printing Ni-Fe superalloys to the exclusion of other alloy systems.

Superalloys are 1) very useful in rocketry due to their creep resistance and 2) are very similar in makeup to many of the asteroids.

I expect GE to be the early leader in space 3D.

For stainless steels, the catch will be carbon control in the alloy. Using a carrier gas during sintering (assuming binder-jet 3D printing, which is best for steels)to remove carbon is the key.

Other metals like titanium and aluminum will require much more sophisticated extra-terran mining techniques. I expect superalloys and steels will be the first native space materials and I expect GE to have a huge early lead.

David Brin said...

onward

onward