Tuesday, July 10, 2007

mars expedition preview

ESA is looking for 12 human lab-rats. They are to take part in an experiment which will simulate a 520 day Mars mission. This will take place in the Russian Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP). To have an idea on what is this experiment about, this is what the volunteers have to do:
  • Nutrition and hygiene of the crewmembers will be comparable to that on-board the International Space Station, i.e. food will be predefined and carefully rationed, there will be no shower, and water supply will be limited. Smoking and consumption of alcoholic beverages will not be allowed.
  • The crew will largely be autonomous, which will be expressed in independent decision-making, control of the environmental situation and of consumable resources, to name a few.
  • A signal passage delay of up to 20 minutes one-way during communication of the crew and the ground-based control center will be gradually built in with the aim of simulating a real interplanetary mission. Additionally, private communication to family and friends will be limited comparable to a spaceflight situation.
  • The daily routine will be similar to the schedule of crews in orbital flights (7 day week with two days off) and will consist of 8 hours of work, 8 hours of leisure time and 8 hours of sleep per day. In addition all crewmembers will operate on night-shifts for one week each, in rotation.
  • During work time the crew will conduct scientific experiments, perform physical exercise (1hour per day), as well as tasks related to maintenance of the facility, life support system control and maintenance, skill maintenance and learning, sanitary and hygienic procedures, etc.
More on this...

picture credits: ESA

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Space Poem Chain

Stars are full of poetry. The Japanese Space Agency decided that it cannot ignore the artistic dimension of stars and universe and initiated a project: the Space Poem Chain. For six months, people around the world submitted their vision about universe, earth and life to form a chain poem. 24 poems where chosen to be recorded on a DVD and be sent on the ISS.

We children of the stars children of space
Born in the oceans and matured on land
have the history of the universe its hundreds of billions of years
etched on our bodies
Look! Today too somewhere a tiny light
Naoko Yamazaki

More on this...

When bad luck turns to gold

If someday you feel unlucky, you're maybe on your way to take Science further...

The american robot Spirit is exploring Mars' ground for some times, and its NASA team was quite worried that one of its 6 wheels broke, until they found out that this broken wheel was leaving a deep track on the robot's path, and revealed an obvious silica presence : almost 90%, says the onboard X-ray spectrometer !

What is the point of finding silica in this big messy bunch of sands that is Mars' ground ?

Its origin can have 2 different sources :

- result of the interaction between acid rain and volcanic activity, with presence of water

- cluster coming from the cooling of ancient hot water sources

In both case, the process involves an obviously huge quantity of water...Mars, water, Mars, water, there is something that does not want these words to be dissociated...
Photo credits : NASA

Thursday, May 24, 2007

ESA photo album

During the last week, ESA released some pictures taken by ESA's spacecrafts orbiting the Moon (SMART-1), Mars (Mars Express) and Earth (Envisat). The huge Oreseme crater at the South Pole of the Moon, the Deuteronilus Mensae region on Mars and the Earth's Alps. These three pictures make quite a good point on why we should take care of our good ol' Earth.

*photo credits: ESA

Thursday, May 17, 2007

solar whisper

Did you ever wonder how it would be to have the solar wind whispering to your ears? Voyager 1 recorded it. Just check it here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Cell-Phone Base in Orbit

The Japanese Engineering Test Satellite ETS-8 has started operations on the 25th of April after its initial test phase. ETS-8 demonstrates a futuristic technology for mobile phone devices, wireless communication services and digital multimedia broadcasting services. It covers all of Japan with 2 tennis-court sized antennas, including mountainous regions, oceans and even the small islands around Japan. Unlike the previous satellite mobile phone systems, we do not require a backpack-phone or a shoulder-phone or an umbrella-sized mobile antenna. Just a normal size mobile phone for communication will suffice, even in the middle of nowhere!

Photo credits: JAXA

Monday, May 14, 2007

ultra large geometry

Some twenty years ago, Voyager 1&2 took pictures of a strange phenomenon in saturnian atmosphere. Now, in the 15 years long saturnian polar night, Cassini imaged it again. It is a spinning hexagon four times the size of Earth. It spins and spins and spins at the nordic pole of Saturn. For now, nobody can tell exactly what it is and how it works. Best guess is that is just a strangely shaped polar vortex, similar to the Earth's circular polar vortex.

More on this...

photo credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona