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Thread: The Astronomy Thread

  1. #61
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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Adrian View Post
    There are plenty of natural disasters that can render the earth completely devoid of life from your odd meteor to that future supernova that is aiming right at us.
    A supernova or similar catastrophy on interstellar scale would not render Earth less hospitable than a space colony. It would render everywhere within conceivable reach inhospitable, discounting space colonies as a survivable alternative.

    The worst asteroid impact we know of, the K/pg boundary one that wiped out the dinosaurs, left earth incomparably more survivable than the next best place in our solar system. Building shelters and a strategy to assist recovery would make infinitely more sense than building space colonies.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Adrian View Post
    Moreover even if those things do not happen, the resources on this planet are inherently limited and plenty of them are not renewable, and that includes the planet's ability to harbor complex life. What happens after you've mined everything or when the earth can no longer sustain life?
    The only process I know of that fits the description is the inexorable brightening of the sun, which will not threaten complex life for a few 100s of millions of years.

    Whether it's supernovas, asteroid impacts or the brightening sun, it's simply delusional to consider that any civilization, or even species for that matter, would survive so long it would make sense to plan for such time scales or infinitesmal odds.


    Terraformation isn't paradoxical, you understanding is somewhat flawed. Yes interim structures have to be robust enough to resist whatever environment, however you cannot deny that it is sub-optimal for everyone to live cooped up in prefab shelters all their life when they could be living like we do here on earth. Terraforming is not a flight of fancy, it's a necessity.
    You are right that long term survival 'cooped up in prefab shelters' is not sustainable, but you forget that terraformation, if possible at all, is a process that will take a number of generations. If it is to be run by people, you know up front that they will have to spend entire lifespans in habitats. This is a boundary condition for the whole undertaking. Those habitats cannot be like a submarine, whose crew's well being relies on the prospect of surfacing at the end of the dive. They must be capable of keeping their occupants physically and psychologically healthy indefinitely. So there is the paradox: the habitat that is capable of terraformation is one that overcomes the need for a terraformed planet. And so the justifiable question is whether its occupants will feel the need to pursue the project after the 3rd, 4th, 5th etc generation. There aren't many (any?) examples of such multi generational projects in human history.
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  2. #62
    swabian's Avatar igni ferroque
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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Muizer View Post
    A supernova or similar catastrophy on interstellar scale would not render Earth less hospitable than a space colony. It would render everywhere within conceivable reach inhospitable, discounting space colonies as a survivable alternative.

    The worst asteroid impact we know of, the K/pg boundary one that wiped out the dinosaurs, left earth incomparably more survivable than the next best place in our solar system. Building shelters and a strategy to assist recovery would make infinitely more sense than building space colonies.



    The only process I know of that fits the description is the inexorable brightening of the sun, which will not threaten complex life for a few 100s of millions of years.

    Whether it's supernovas, asteroid impacts or the brightening sun, it's simply delusional to consider that any civilization, or even species for that matter, would survive so long it would make sense to plan for such time scales or infinitesmal odds.




    You are right that long term survival 'cooped up in prefab shelters' is not sustainable, but you forget that terraformation, if possible at all, is a process that will take a number of generations. If it is to be run by people, you know up front that they will have to spend entire lifespans in habitats. This is a boundary condition for the whole undertaking. Those habitats cannot be like a submarine, whose crew's well being relies on the prospect of surfacing at the end of the dive. They must be capable of keeping their occupants physically and psychologically healthy indefinitely. So there is the paradox: the habitat that is capable of terraformation is one that overcomes the need for a terraformed planet. And so the justifiable question is whether its occupants will feel the need to pursue the project after the 3rd, 4th, 5th etc generation. There aren't many (any?) examples of such multi generational projects in human history.
    Colonization and therefore terraforming cannot be directly controlled by humans, that is very true. But what we as biological and emotional beings could do is to send AI-controlled vessels to prepare something for us. Yeah..., it's absurd.

    Humanity in it's current form cannot colonize space consistently. We humans, as we are today, are utterly bound to earth. Sad, really But AI controlled machines and maybe - just maybe - modified versions of us might not only expand into space, but into an age of bioengineering.

    But all of this is a future that lies hundreds and more likely tens of thousands of years ahead. Until then, we won't have our sun glow red for us with shame for the Earthlings orbiting it.

  3. #63
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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by swabian View Post
    But AI controlled machines and maybe - just maybe - modified versions of us might not only expand into space, but into an age of bioengineering.
    AI is a rapidly progressing discipline, whereas the science that would be required for humans to survive in space indefinitely is almost completely stalled. It really should be blatantly obvious that space exploration, if it happens, will be all about AI controlled machines. I think Nasa and the likes just don't want to burst people's sci-fi induced dreams by openly admitting it. Would be bad for business.
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  4. #64

    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Muizer View Post
    Besides why look to space, when we have Antarctica and the world's oceans left. Then there are ideas that are inherently paradoxical notions like 'terraformation', a process that takes so long that in order to make it happen would require an interim solution so robust that it would negate the need for terraformation in the first place.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Adrian View Post
    What happens after you've mined everything or when the earth can no longer sustain life?

    Terraforming isn't paradoxical, you understanding is somewhat flawed. Yes interim structures have to be robust enough to resist whatever environment, however you cannot deny that it is sub-optimal for everyone to live cooped up in prefab shelters all their life when they could be living like we do here on earth. Terraforming is not a flight of fancy, it's a necessity.
    Quote Originally Posted by Muizer View Post
    A supernova or similar catastrophy on interstellar scale would not render Earth less hospitable than a space colony. It would render everywhere within conceivable reach inhospitable, discounting space colonies as a survivable alternative.

    The worst asteroid impact we know of, the K/pg boundary one that wiped out the dinosaurs, left earth incomparably more survivable than the next best place in our solar system. Building shelters and a strategy to assist recovery would make nfinitely more sense than building space colonies.
    Quote Originally Posted by Muizer View Post
    You are right that long term survival 'cooped up in prefab shelters' is not sustainable, but you forget that terraformation, if possible at all, is a process that will take a number of generations. If it is to be run by people, you know up front that they will have to spend entire lifespans in habitats. This is a boundary condition for the whole undertaking. Those habitats cannot be like a submarine, whose crew's well being relies on the prospect of surfacing at the end of the dive. They must be capable of keeping their occupants physically and psychologically healthy indefinitely. So there is the paradox: the habitat that is capable of terraformation is one that overcomes the need for a terraformed planet. And so the justifiable question is whether its occupants will feel the need to pursue the project after the 3rd, 4th, 5th etc generation. There aren't many (any?) examples of such multi generational projects in human history.
    A really good conversation, guys. I must say at this point that I side with Muizer on this one and feel that numerous points he made are crucial, to the point, and to be taken seriously. Of course, I am a feasibility skeptic and a subscriber of the idea that optimism is not a virtue when predicting future.

    There is not much that I can add to the considerations already expressed in this conversation, but there is one thing that has to do with the daunting size of the task of terraforming a planet that is completely hostile to life. In places where it seems impossible to ship all the resources needed to, especially if resources are too few for survival in the first place. If we could perform actions that change the entire environment on a planetary scale, such as making a dry, cold, and radioactive Mars livable (that seems like a paradise compared to Venus or other alternatives), why couldn't we engineer Earth more or less back into the way it used to be?

    Earth is losing some important resources such as helium, but most of it just becomes a question of recycling and advanced material sciences. And accepting that certain resources become scarcer and more expensive. But if a phenomenon such as climate change becomes a threat to our survival, surely the planetary-level measures would be easier to carry out right here than somewhere seriously far away with no protective magnetic field, no atmosphere to speak of, and either way too cold like Mars or a veritable acidic hellhole that Venus is.

  5. #65
    Sir Adrian's Avatar the Imperishable
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    Because mister sun says no. The earth can support complex life for another couple hundred million years and single cell life for about 1 billion years after that. This is no matter what we do. Also you can't really add raw materials to a planet. What happens when all the iron has been mined and all the oil is gone.

    Quote Originally Posted by Muizer View Post
    A supernova or similar catastrophy on interstellar scale would not render Earth less hospitable than a space colony. It would render everywhere within conceivable reach inhospitable, discounting space colonies as a survivable alternative.
    Space colonies in our solar system, yes. And only in the case of a supernova. Space colonies in other solar systems or around other planets if the disaster is not a supernova, no. A meteor wiping life on earth has no bearing on the Martian colony. Moreover gamma ray bursts from nearby supernovae or hypernovae do not kill life on all planets. They kill by saturating the atmosphere with protons that cause a self perpetuating reaction that destroys the protection from cosmic rays. Life on earth does not die because of the burst, it dies of cancer and lethal doses of radiation from outer space. Other planets atmospheres may not be affected in the same manner.

    Quote Originally Posted by Muizer View Post
    The worst asteroid impact we know of, the K/pg boundary one that wiped out the dinosaurs, left earth incomparably more survivable than the next best place in our solar system. Building shelters and a strategy to assist recovery would make infinitely more sense than building space colonies.
    I disagree. With the technology we have right now humanity could survive on mars, but it could not survive on post K/pg earth. And let's not forget what kind of life survived the K/pg impact. in case of a simmilar impact we'd be the dinosaurs not plesiadapis. Moreover K/pg was not even the biggest impact. The aftereffects were so serious because of where it hit, namely one of the few concentrated iridium deposits on earth. If it hit anywhere else but Chixulub it would have wiped out north america. There are rocks out there that can outright end ALL life on earth.



    Quote Originally Posted by Muizer View Post

    The only process I know of that fits the description is the inexorable brightening of the sun, which will not threaten complex life for a few 100s of millions of years.

    Whether it's supernovas, asteroid impacts or the brightening sun, it's simply delusional to consider that any civilization, or even species for that matter, would survive so long it would make sense to plan for such time scales or infinitesmal odds.
    There is no reason for humanity, or better put, descendants of humanity to not be able to survive if we colonize. Moreover we are currently living thought the 6th major extinction even, and so far the science says this will be the worst so far (previous worst was the Permian-Triassic). Even if the Earth can harbor complex life it does not mean it will or that it can harbor human life. And this is ignoring all the other dangers we have discussed previously. Besides, even if it can, do we want our species to thrive or just scrape by in a post-anthropocene world? We were already nearly wiped out once before, when the total number of humans on earth was reduced to 75k individuals.

    Quote Originally Posted by Muizer View Post
    You are right that long term survival 'cooped up in prefab shelters' is not sustainable, but you forget that terraformation, if possible at all, is a process that will take a number of generations. If it is to be run by people, you know up front that they will have to spend entire lifespans in habitats. This is a boundary condition for the whole undertaking. Those habitats cannot be like a submarine, whose crew's well being relies on the prospect of surfacing at the end of the dive. They must be capable of keeping their occupants physically and psychologically healthy indefinitely. So there is the paradox: the habitat that is capable of terraformation is one that overcomes the need for a terraformed planet. And so the justifiable question is whether its occupants will feel the need to pursue the project after the 3rd, 4th, 5th etc generation. There aren't many (any?) examples of such multi generational projects in human history.

    Actually yes and no. We already know how to terraform Mars, we just lack several key technologies to do it. The early stages of terraformation, namely creating a more friendly atmosphere, does not really require any human presence as it can be done via genetically engineered plants and bacteria, and while the rest of the process would indeed take several centuries it would be a lot more preferable to live in conditions mimicking the Vorkutan trundra or the Gobi desert than in spend your life in ISS conditions.

    Though all this talk is moot given that the number of discovered out-of-the-box (theoretically) habitable planets is increasing.
    Last edited by Sir Adrian; May 26, 2021 at 01:31 PM.
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  6. #66
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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Adrian View Post
    Because mister sun says no. The earth can support complex life for another couple hundred million years and single cell life for about 1 billion years after that. This is no matter what we do. Also you can't really add raw materials to a planet. What happens when all the iron has been mined and all the oil is gone.
    The problem with this argument, which I already addressed but you're ignoring, is the life-span of civilizations and even species. You're essentially asking us to believe a civilization will arise that will last a hundred million years or more. Only for such a civilization then would the brightening sun or earth shattering asteroid impacts become likely problems. You're postulating a continuously operating civilization that stays in operation for a length 2 orders of magnitude larger than the entire human species, 5 orders of magnitude larger than the longest lasting human civilization and 6 orders of magnitude longer than the industrial age. I reject that as a boundary condition for any discussion concerning what we today should be thinking of doing in the near (this century) future. It's absurd.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Adrian View Post
    Space colonies in our solar system, yes. And only in the case of a supernova. Space colonies in other solar systems or around other planets if the disaster is not a supernova, no. A meteor wiping life on earth has no bearing on the Martian colony. Moreover gamma ray bursts from nearby supernovae or hypernovae do not kill life on all planets. They kill by saturating the atmosphere with protons that cause a self perpetuating reaction that destroys the protection from cosmic rays. Life on earth does not die because of the burst, it dies of cancer and lethal doses of radiation from outer space. Other planets atmospheres may not be affected in the same manner.
    Same counter argument. This thread has already discussed how unlikely it is humans will ever jump to other solar systems. As for the Martian colony, again it's a matter of odds. One cannot possibly call a Mars colony a sensible contingency plan except at ludicrous timescales in the context of our civilization.



    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Adrian View Post
    I disagree. With the technology we have right now humanity could survive on mars
    Attempts to create closed system biospheres have as yet not been successful. A self regulating biosphere would be a requirement. Technological solutions are going to fail sooner or later. We may be able to survive on Mars, but only 'submarine style', meaning they'd need to 'come up for air', i.e. be resupplied from earth, or its occupants returning to earth.

    but it could not survive on post K/pg earth. And let's not forget what kind of life survived the K/pg impact. in case of a simmilar impact we'd be the dinosaurs not plesiadapis. Moreover K/pg was not even the biggest impact. The aftereffects were so serious because of where it hit, namely one of the few concentrated iridium deposits on earth. If it hit anywhere else but Chixulub it would have wiped out north america. There are rocks out there that can outright end ALL life on earth.
    I already disproved the validity of a human civilization planning for such a rare event, but even if: Given life survived the K/pg impact unaided I'm sure humans can today already build shelters that could survive the impact. And any such habitat will have a way easier time surviving, with access to water, oxygen, nutrients, food even, than any habitat on Mars.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Adrian View Post
    There is no reason for humanity, or better put, descendants of humanity to not be able to survive if we colonize. Moreover we are currently living thought the 6th major extinction even, and so far the science says this will be the worst so far (previous worst was the Permian-Triassic). Even if the Earth can harbor complex life it does not mean it will or that it can harbor human life. And this is ignoring all the other dangers we have discussed previously. Besides, even if it can, do we want our species to thrive or just scrape by in a post-anthropocene world? We were already nearly wiped out once before, when the total number of humans on earth was reduced to 75k individuals.
    And so the solution is to try to jump out of our own self-poisoned petri-dish to the next? Does it not seem much more sensible to take better care of our own planet? Should not every resource go into that accute, imminent problem rather than some totally unfeasible de-camping to Mars? In any case, if that is the reason, why not colonize Antarctica first. Or the oceans? Both eminently more survivable than Mars.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Adrian View Post
    Actually yes and no. We already know how to terraform Mars, we just lack several key technologies to do it. The early stages of terraformation, namely creating a more friendly atmosphere, does not really require any human presence as it can be done via genetically engineered plants and bacteria, and while the rest of the process would indeed take several centuries it would be a lot more preferable to live in conditions mimicking the Vorkutan trundra or the Gobi desert than in spend your life in ISS conditions.
    Mars had an atmosphere and water on its surface. They're gone. Mars already died as a survivable planet. I don't see humans capable of reversing the process and create a stable ecosystem. And yes, on the time scales you mentioned that necessitate a departure from Earth, it would have to be stable. No solution that relies on continuous operation of an artificial system can expect to survive uninterrupted for that long. Not knowing our own history as a species.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Adrian View Post
    Though all this talk is moot given that the number of discovered out-of-the-box (theoretically) habitable planets is increasing.
    This is quite irrelevant in the context of anything we plan in terms of space exploration in the next few centuries or so, since we won't be able to get there.
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    swabian's Avatar igni ferroque
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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    Without trying, we know nothing. Being overly pessimistic and explaining everything away in order to rationalize our homely comfort here on earth is certainly less helpful than a spirit of endeavor.

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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by swabian View Post
    Without trying, we know nothing. Being overly pessimistic and explaining everything away in order to rationalize our homely comfort here on earth is certainly less helpful than a spirit of endeavor.
    You can't be serious. Be a good sport and the impossible becomes possible?

  9. #69
    swabian's Avatar igni ferroque
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    What makes you so convinced, though?

    Quote Originally Posted by Septentrionalis View Post
    You can't be serious. Be a good sport and the impossible becomes possible?
    I'm not sure what you mean. We were talking about detecting alien life, not colonizing space.It's not impossible at all to colonize near moons and planets, there is currently just no incentive, like resource exploitation or survival. Once times change and new technological possibilities emerge, incentives to colonize are extremely likely to rise. The most extreme scenario would of course be that earth's biosphere is facing sudden large scale extinction. In that case I can imagine humans leaving earth and living in habitats for example. That would of course most likely only be possible for a select minority. If the very existence of the species is under imminent threat, human kind will certainly not give up without a fight.

    In case of the emergence of options to exploit certain celestial bodies, small, unprocriative, non-autarchical colonies for specialists are thinkable (orbital or surface based). Curiosity and lust for adventure is a powerful drive and many revolutions were caused by seemingly irrational dreams (e. g. Wright Brothers). I don't see a strong rationalist basis for the a conviction it can't happen.

    Scenarios like this are thinkable without us ever getting far enough to detect alien life. The latter really is depending on our capabilities of long range detection, while colonization is far less dependent on that. But of course, I'm mostly thinking of very limited 'colonization'.
    Last edited by swabian; June 17, 2021 at 04:17 AM.

  10. #70

    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    For humanity to survive a giant asteroid impact, it might be easier and cheaper to build a large ark city underground, say a 1km or 1/2 mile. If we bury the city deep enough it should also survive a nearby supernova or famma ray outburst. Difficult and expensive, but so is any Mars colony.

  11. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flinn View Post
    On the matter of moons' orbits, it's also interesting to distinguish between a Planet-moon relation and a double planet system: if we look at the Earth-Moon system, we can barely say that its not a double planet system, this because of the arbitrary definition we humans gave of it: all the objects that orbit one around the other influence each other (even the sun, despite having 99,9 % of the total mass of our system, is influenced, in minimum terms, by the masses of all the other objects in the system; this is also a method used to spot extrasolar planets, due to their orbital influence on their own stars), and they have a center-of-mass that they share, around which both orbit; if this point (aka barycenter) lays within one of the two bodies, then the other one is orbiting the one who has the barycenter inside: that's the case of the Earth-Moon system, it lays inside the Earth, but not for much. On the contrary, the Pluto-Charon system is actually a "double planet", since the barycenter lays outside of the bigger body (Pluto)
    Quote Originally Posted by Septentrionalis View Post
    Yes, it is a an extremely complex process to calculate cosmic distances and positions from our fixed observation post here on Earth with all its limitations. I have a lot of respect for the astronomers and astrophysicists who have developed models and observational methods. The precision of the radial-velocity method in detecting exoplanets, for instance, is nothing short of miraculous to a layman such as me. Scientifically literate or not.
    Yea, radial velocity method of detecting exoplanets should be basically impossible, if you think about it (but scientists are always smart enough to find a way ). As you guys said, the main body in a system is not just sitting in the centre of the mass of the system, but it is also orbitting it, but the movement caused by this is negligible. I dont remember exact numbers right now, but the velocity of the Sun relative to the center of the mass of the SS (due to other massive objects in the system, i.e., the planets) is just a few tens of m/s.

    And the most precise method to detect an exoplanet is by this method (of course, unless we can literally see the exoplanet, but thats extremely rare...), i.e., by measuring what velocity does a star in an extra solar system has relative to the centre of the mass of the system (the method of transits, i.e., measuring the changes in brightness of a star, is much more common and easier to accomplish, but basically the possible exoplanet in such a system remains just a candidate, until its confirmed by the radial velocity method). Because once you measure the velocity, you will be able to decide whether the candidate/companion is an exoplanet (when the velocity of the star is just a few tens of m/s) or whether its multi star system (when its hundreds of m/s... can be up to tens of km/s).

    So if you think about it, you are trying to measure a movement of a few tens of m/s on a distance of tens, hundreds, thousands and more light years (which is really many kilometers ), which is absolutely crazy . I suppose you guys can imagine how difficult it is, as the precision and resolution must be extreme... definitely one of the greatest accomplishments of human kind...



    Regarding the other discussion about colonization, extra solar life and so on, you guys should definitely check this new youtube series, absolutely stunning. Better than any documentary i have seen, the is some other astro content on the channel as well...

  12. #72
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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    What a shame this thread hasn't been posted in over 2 months!

    On Jupiter and its importance for the solar system and for the survival of terrestrial planets in our system (and hence of life).


    Jupiter, we all know it, it's the second biggest body in our system; his total mass is no match for that of the Sun of course, but the gas giant by itself is more than 2,5 times as massive as all the other planets together and it's massive enough so that the barycenter of the Sun/Jupiter system lies outside of the Sun, effectively making this a double system. Jupiter is far from being able to ignite as a star (even a Brown Dwarf) but none the less it looks to be atypical compared to the majority of the systems we have analyzed so far, which have one or more gas giants much closer to their stars, thus making our system something probably in between the typical system and a binary star system. Nasa's mission Juno has been created also at the scope of studying the evolution and the importance of Jupiter in shaping our system.

    However, studying the evolution of a planetary systems is extremely difficult, because of extremely long time frame; add to that that each system is unique and that we have no comparison yet for our own, and you can get a rough picture at the best.. none the less is pretty evident that Jupiter, among all the bodies in our system, has been the most important in shaping it, probably even more than the sun itself (every star has less or more the same behavior, what really makes the difference is the chemical composition of the nebula from where the star and the systems originated), this because Jupiter seems to have migrated twice during its life, the first time it got closer to the sun because of reduced speed due to friction with gases (which have been later on pushed away by the increasing sun wind) and later (when it was still quite larger and hotter than today) it migrated back towards the outer system: during this process it stabilized the system (ie the Trojan asteroids or the resonance 1:2 with Saturn) and caused the Late Heavy Bombardment (I've already wrote about it here). This last event seems to be particularly important for the formation of life, since it made it possible for water and other light elements that have been pushed away far from the rocky planets at the beginning of the system, to come back and fall on internal planets.

    Clearly, there are other elements that contributes to the formation of life as we have already discussed, but as far as our knowledge goes, it looks rather difficult for any system to have habitable rocky planets in the Goldilocks zone without a gas giant on the outer zone, and it's highly probable that all the systems with rocky planets we have discovered so far (ie the Trappist system and no gas giants, only have sterile, dry rocky planets. Besides, Jupiter now acts as a screen for many wandering objects (possibly even extra solar objects) and protects the inner system from many of them, attracting and blasting them into its own atmosphere.

    Other than this, Jupiter forms it's own system, which might be very interesting for the human exploration of our system (and for future explorations outside of it), this because of course of the internal rocky moons (Europa and Ganymede) which might have the right conditions for permanent colonies. Because of its importance Jupiter has been visited my many flyby probes and studied extensively by two missions, Galileo and Juno (currently ongoing).

    For a load of nice pics from the Juno mission, just click here.
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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    On Asteroid mining


    The pic above is an artistic representation of 16 Psyche, the most famous of the potential asteroids to be mined in the future.

    Now, this is not a new argument in space exploration, it has been imagined since decades that the Main Asteroid Belt could be the starting point for manned exploration of outer Solar system and other systems as well, this because of the presence of "abundant" resources on most of those bodies, that could be used to construct locally bigger spaceships and also to produce fuel for the same. If you are familiar with The Expanse TV Series (or even better the novels), you'll know well what I'm talking about; the Expanse world is actually an accurate depiction of what the future of humanity could be should we go full throttle on space colonization, and it's based on well reasoned scientific theories and facts.
    However, the interesting part about the whole asteroid mining thing is that they could not only be used as a local source of materials for ships and fuels, but also as a source of important elements (metals, even precious ones, but also water, hydrogen, etc) to be mined and brought back on Earth (or Moon and Mars in a far future), this in order to deal with the scarcity of some if not most of those elements.

    How cost effective this would be depends on various factors, the first of which is: how much are those asteroids worth? For instance, 16 Psyche, is said to have an estimated value of 26.67 billions of US dollars, Ryugu (which has been visited by the Hayabusa2 probe on its search for details on the early life of our solar system), is said to be 83 billions $ worth; the richest one should be 2001 CC21 (147 billions!). In total (calculated on Sept 2016) there are 711 known asteroids with a value exceeding US $ 100 trillion.

    But, there's a "but" of course. First, this is just the estimated gross value, not the actual profit, which can go down as far as the twentieth part of the gross values (I.e. 16 Psyche est profit is 1.78 billions, approx one fifteenth); that data is influenced by various elements, such as the distance, the size, the actual composition of the asteroid and more. Besides, the est gross values is really random, it's based more on what the asteroids "could be made of" rather that on what exactly they are made of. To further complicate the calculation, it needs to be considered what could be the impact of such huge quantities of elements on the Earth economy and how they'll affect the actual market value of rare elements (ie platinum).
    To further add on the costs there's also the pure theoretical studies to be considered, in other words most of the technology that we'll need is still to be developed (for the most is already feasible, but needs to be designed, tested, etc), not to say that each asteroid will be different so it will need a specifically adapted approach, which in turn needs more studies etc.
    To summarize:

    • Research and development costs
    • Exploration and prospecting costs
    • Construction and infrastructure development costs
    • Operational and engineering costs
    • Environmental costs
    • Time cost

    Same examples below of the actual state of the art of asteroid mining.

    Quote Originally Posted by Source Wikipedia
    Failed mining projects

    On April 24, 2012, a plan was announced by billionaire entrepreneurs to mine asteroids for their resources. The company was called Planetary Resources and its founders include aerospace entrepreneurs Eric Anderson and Peter Diamandis. Advisers included film director and explorer James Cameron and investors included Google's chief executive Larry Page. Its executive chairman was Eric Schmidt. They planned to create a fuel depot in space by 2020 by using water from asteroids, splitting it to liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen for rocket fuel. From there, it could be shipped to Earth orbit for refueling commercial satellites or spacecraft. In 2020, the scheme was wound down and all hardware assets were auctioned off.

    Telescope technology was proposed by Planetary Resources to locate and harvest these asteroids has resulted in the plans for three different types of satellites:

    Arkyd Series 100 (the Leo Space telescope) is a less expensive instrument that will be used to find, analyze, and see what resources are available on nearby asteroids.
    Arkyd Series 200 (the Interceptor) Satellite that would actually land on the asteroid to get a closer analysis of the available resources.
    Arkyd Series 300 (Rendezvous Prospector) Satellite developed for research and finding resources deeper in space.
    In 2018, all public plans for The Arkyd space telescope technology were abandoned, and Planetary Resources assets have been acquired ConsenSys, a blockchain company with no public space facing goals.
    Quote Originally Posted by Source Wikipedia
    Proposed mining projects

    Another similar venture, called Deep Space Industries, was started in 2013 by David Gump, who had founded other space companies. At the time, the company hoped to begin prospecting for asteroids suitable for mining by 2015 and by 2016 return asteroid samples to Earth. Deep Space Industries planned to begin mining asteroids by 2023.

    At ISDC-San Diego 2013, Kepler Energy and Space Engineering (KESE, llc) also announced it was going to mine asteroids, using a simpler, more straightforward approach: KESE plans to use almost exclusively existing guidance, navigation and anchoring technologies from mostly successful missions like the Rosetta/Philae, Dawn, and Hayabusa, and current NASA Technology Transfer tooling to build and send a 4-module Automated Mining System (AMS) to a small asteroid with a simple digging tool to collect ≈40 tons of asteroid regolith and bring each of the four return modules back to low Earth orbit (LEO) by the end of the decade. Small asteroids are expected to be loose piles of rubble, therefore providing for easy extraction.

    In September 2012, the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) announced the Robotic Asteroid Prospector project, which will examine and evaluate the feasibility of asteroid mining in terms of means, methods, and systems.

    As of 2020 (also under NIAC support) technology is being developed by Deep Space Industries. NASA is partly funding planning and development efforts to examine, sample, and harvest asteroids. These plans involve three proposed families of spacecraft:

    FireFlies are triplets of nearly identical spacecraft in CubeSat form launched to different asteroids to rendezvous and examine them.
    DragonFlies also are launched in waves of three nearly identical spacecraft to gather small samples (5–10 kg) and return them to Earth for analysis.
    Harvestors voyage out to asteroids to gather hundreds of tons of material for return to high Earth orbit for processing.
    Technology is being developed by TransAstra Corporation to locate and harvest asteroids with the Apis family of spacecraft, which comprises three classes of flight systems:

    Mini Bee is an experimental technology demonstration vehicle designed to showcase the company's patented approach to asteroid mining using concentrated solar energy known as optical mining
    Honey Bee is a mid-sized spacecraft designed to utilize optical mining technology to harvest asteroids up to 10 meters in average diameter
    Queen Bee is the largest spacecraft in the Apis family, an evolution of the Honey Bee that is scaled to enable capture and mining of asteroids up to 40 meters in average diameter
    Another obstacle to the exploitation of those resources is the issue around property of the same: who owns them? the first that arrives gets them? and who's gonna tax them? or are they common properties of the whole humanity? Legal and ethical implications will cost more money, either in courts or on battlefields, that's granted.

    It is quite clear that we are still very far from any possible exploitation of elements, might them be rare or not, from asteroids. Personally I believe that the process is inevitable to happen in the larger scheme of space colonization, and certainly the Asteroid Belt will become the main inhabited area of the solar system: Ceres seems to be an excellent candidate for setting up a huge, leading colony of the belt

    Although Ceres is not as actively discussed as a potential home for microbial extraterrestrial life as Mars, Europa, Enceladus, or Titan are, it has the most water of any body in the inner Solar System after Earth, and the likely brine pockets under its surface could provide habitats for life. Although it does not experience tidal heating, like Europa or Enceladus, it is close enough to the Sun, and contains enough long-lived radioactive isotopes, to preserve liquid water in its subsurface for extended periods.The remote detection of organic compounds and the presence of water mixed with 20% carbon by mass in its near surface could provide conditions favorable to organic chemistry. Of the biochemical elements, Ceres is rich in carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, but phosphorus has yet to be detected, and sulfur, despite being suggested by Hubble UV observations, was not detected by Dawn.
    However, as usual with anything related to astronomy and space, only time will tell.
    Last edited by Flinn; December 06, 2021 at 08:36 AM.
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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    The University of Colorado has already an established Master degree course in Space mining. Great stuff.

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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Morifea View Post
    The University of Colorado has already an established Master degree course in Space mining. Great stuff.
    Well someone has to start somewhere, I guess.

    After all studying Quantum Physics is no more practical than Space Mining, heck maybe even less
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flinn View Post
    Well someone has to start somewhere, I guess.

    After all studying Quantum Physics is no more practical than Space Mining, heck maybe even less
    Well, those Guys have already a degree, most in some engeneering stuff. The Graduates get Jobs with NASA or some other Space companies.
    And yes, someone has to start :-)

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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    Two recent updates from space exploration

    Jazero crater exploration, quite impressive; remember that the colors have been exalted to make it easier to distinguish particulars.


    Also, I'm sure most of you have read or heard about the launch of the new Webb Space Telescope, which promises to revolutionize most of the knowledge we have about far Universe (both in distance and time) or at the least to fill many of the gaps we today have. In case you know nothing about it or wants to know more, the Wikipedia page holds a huge amount of info about the mission, the equipment, etc.

    Below is the video of the launch (short version):



    Currently, the Webb telescope is heading towards it's operating position at the Lagrange point L2, which has been used already in the past for other telescopes and observatories (such as the famous Planck or Herschel missions, as well as many more minor and less famous one). The advantage to put an observatory/telescope in that position is to reduce to the minimum the local interference (mostly on the radio and infrared bands) as well as reducing to the minimums the needs (and costs of course) of maintaining the orbit; the cons is that if anything goes wrong, it will be beyond the possibility of any manned mission, if needed (it being at 1,5 million Km from the Earth).
    Overall it will take 6 months before that the Webb Telescope will be fully operational.

    If you are curious to follow the development of the mission, just click here (news are listed from bottom to top, oldest to newest).

    For a simplified version, the live stream below shows the distances from Earth and to L2 point, and other essential info (such as the expected phases of the instruments deployment, etc).



    If and when anything major will happen, I'll try to post updates
    Last edited by Flinn; December 30, 2021 at 04:08 AM.
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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Flinn View Post
    If and when anything major will happen, I'll try to post updates
    As promised.

    https://www.space.com/james-webb-spa...hotos-unveiled

    Looks like everything is going fine for now, we should soon have a lot of info coming from it.
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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    It's amazing that with hundreds, if not thousands, of things that could go wrong James Webb telescope is right on track to become the greatest telescope of our time, so far.
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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by PointOfViewGun View Post
    It's amazing that with hundreds, if not thousands, of things that could go wrong James Webb telescope is right on track to become the greatest telescope of our time, so far.
    Yes, impressive. I was expecting some sort of issues honestly, but even if not everything is already fully functional, afaik nothing major could happen now (I mean, only minor glitches possibly, at the least for what they considered a possibility).

    I'm really looking forward for the next weeks, even though I'm sure it will take months before we could see it at 100% its potential and years to have sensible scientific results.
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