Space

Alien life may already exist in our galaxy

Saturn’s moon Enceladus, Jupiter’s moon Europa, Pluto and its moon Charon, as well as the dwarf planet Ceres are potential homes for extra-terrestrials, scientists at University of Texas at San Antonio and the Southwest Research Institute claim. It’s all down to a process called radioalysis, which experts believe could breed life across the universe. All that’s needed is a rocky core and water molecules – something scientists reckon our solar system has plenty of. The study found that a the rocky cores of some planets and moons emit radiation which break up water molecules and in turn feed microbial life. Scientists conducted an experiment to predict how the radiation would affect interior oceans on planets like Pluto and Saturn’s moon Europa. Alexis Bouquet, lead author said: “The physical and chemical processes that follow radiolysis release molecular hydrogen, which is a molecule of astrobiological interest.” The radiation comes from elements like uranium, potassium and thorium – all of which are found in a group of rocky meteorites called chrondites. Pluto, as well as Saturn and Jupiter’s moons, is made up of chrondite. That means any ocean water permeating the porous rock of the core could be affected by radiolysis, producing molecular hydrogen and reactive oxygen compounds – the building blocks for life. NASA seems pretty convinced that Europa has a big ocean on it, and is planning to send a spaceship there to search for alien life. Lifeforms which have formed through radiolysis can be found closer to home. Bouquet said that they have been found in extreme environments on Earth. These include a groundwater sample found nearly two miles deep in a South African gold mine and at hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. Their existence suggests microbes could be found where rock and ocean meet in planets like Enceladus or Europa. “We know that these radioactive elements exist within icy bodies, but this is the first systematic look at the solar system to estimate radiolysis. “The results suggest that there are many potential targets for exploration out there, and that’s exciting,” added co-author Dr Danielle Wyrick, a principal scientist in Southwest Research Institute’s Space Science and Engineering Division. Radiolysis could also help create food for these aliens. “Radiolysis in an ocean world’s outer core could be fundamental in supporting life. Because mixtures of water and rock are everywhere in the outer solar system, this insight increases the odds of abundant habitable real estate out there,” Bouquet said. It’s just the latest discovery to delight UFO hunters. Conspiracy theorists tongues were wagging after a mysterious star which could be home to alien life began flashing again last week.

Boeing is building DARPA’s new hypersonic space plane

A few years ago, DARPA started work on a new experimental aircraft project called the XS-1, a vehicle designed to make launching satellites a faster, less expensive endeavor. Today, that project just took a huge leap forward: DARPA has announced that it’s partnering with Boeing to build its next generation hypersonic space plane. Specifically, the aircraft manufacturer has been tapped to complete advanced design work on the XS-1 project, following up on the concept Boeing pitched to the agency during the project’s early stages — which it will now help build and test over the next several years. In practice, this means Boeing is now building a unmanned, reusable hypersonic jet with the goal of running ten test flights over ten consecutive days by the year 2020 — a program that’s designed to prove that the XS-1 will be able to launch satellites into low-earth orbit on short notice. “The XS-1 would be neither a traditional airplane nor a conventional launch vehicle but rather a combination of the two,” DARPA’s Jess Sponable explained in a press release. “With the goal of lowering launch costs by a factor of ten and replacing today’s frustratingly long wait time with launch on demand.” The XS-1 will manage this feat by flying to suborbital heights without boosters before deploying a disposable, secondary rocket to push its payload into orbit. Better still, the spaceplane be able to take a second satellite up within hours of delivering the first. Well, that’s the plan anyway — the project is still years away from being finished, and the earliest on-ground engine tests won’t start until 2019 at the earliest. Until then, we’ll have to settle for DARPA’s concept video, which admittedly, is still pretty cool. To see it, click here.

Very cool!!   🙂

Analysis: Who’s in charge of outer space?

In space, no one can hear you scheme. But here on Earth, plans to go where few have gone before are getting louder by the minute. In February, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo passed its third glide-flight test, putting it on pace to offer suborbital space tourism by the end of 2018. In March, Goldman Sachs announced to investors that a single asteroid containing $25 billion to $50 billion of platinum could be mined by a spacecraft costing only $2.6 billion—less than a third of what has been invested in Uber. “While the psychological barrier to mining asteroids is high,” the Goldman report concludes, “the actual financial and technological barriers are far lower.” In April, NASA selected Trans Astronautica Corp., an aerospace company based in Lake View Terrace, Calif., for $3.25 million in technology study grants. Among TransAstra’s NASA-approved projects: an asteroid-hunting telescope whose stated mission is “to start a gold rush in space.” The final frontier is starting to look a lot like the Wild West. As more companies announce ambitious plans to do business beyond Earth, serious questions are emerging about the legality of off-planet activity.

U.S. Military Warns ‘Space Is Now a Warfighting Domain’

The U.S. Air Force considers “maintaining space superiority” one of its “core missions,” high-ranking American military officials told lawmakers Wednesday, warning that “space is now a warfighting domain.” In jointly written testimony submitted to the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces Wednesday, top officials in charge of America’s military space program told lawmakers: “For decades the United States has enjoyed unimpeded freedom of action in space. This benign environment allowed us to operate satellites for intelligence collection, missile warning, weather monitoring, communications, and precision positioning, navigation, and timing in support of all military operations for all of the services, without thinking about how to protect these systems. That environment no longer exists. Space will be contested in any conflict… Clearly, freedom to operate in space is not guaranteed. In fact, space is now a warfighting domain, similar to the more familiar air, land, and maritime domains our men and women are fighting in today. We must ensure the reliability of our current systems and we must modernize. Our modernization will focus on our ability to deter potential adversaries, and to fight in a contested, degraded, and operationally limited environment should deterrence fail.” The warnings came from Heather Wilson, secretary of the U.S. Air Force; Gen. David Goldfein, chief of staff of the Air Force; Gen. John Raymond, commander of U.S. Air Force Space Command; and Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, commander of the U.S. Air Force Command’s Space and Missile System Center. “Our potential adversaries understand the advantage we derive from space and view our reliance on space as a vulnerability they can exploit,” they noted. “Near-peer competitors will offset any U.S. military advantage derived from our space systems and continue to pursue capabilities to degrade or destroy them.” In its latest World Threat Assessment, issued last week, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats identified Russia and China as America’s primary rivals in space. “We assess that Russia and China perceive a need to offset any US military advantage derived from military, civil, or commercial space systems and are increasingly considering attacks against satellite systems as part of their future warfare doctrine,” pointed out the assessment. “Both will continue to pursue a full range of anti- satellite (ASAT) weapons as a means to reduce US military effectiveness.”

Mars voyage will include one-year layover in moon orbit

The plan to send humans to Mars includes a one-year layover in orbit around the moon in the late 2020s, Space.com reports. Greg Williams, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for policy and plans at the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, revealed that NASA wants to build a “deep-space gateway” around the moon that would serve as the testing ground for the first Mars missions. According to BGR, NASA actually wants to make sure that the round trip to Mars, a 1,000-day endeavor, is planned carefully during the time. The moon orbit base also would serve as the staging point for the mission, and the spacecraft that will carry humans to Mars for the first time will be launched from the moon. “If we could conduct a yearlong crewed mission on this Deep Space Transport in cislunar space, we believe we will know enough that we could then send this thing, crewed, on a 1,000-day mission to the Mars system and back,” Williams said. Considering the length of the Mars trip, spending a year around the moon to make sure everything works correctly makes plenty of sense. NASA will kick off its Mars mission with Phase 1, between 2018 and 2026. During this time, the agency will send four missions to the moon that would deliver various components needed for the mission. Phase 2 will begin in 2027, with an uncrewed mission that would deliver the Deep Space Transport vehicle to the space between the earth and the moon. The actual trip to Mars is being forecast to take place in the 2030s.

Exciting!!   🙂

Reports claim UFO whizzes past International Space Station

A mysterious object appeared to have hovered past the International Space Station, according to new video footage from UFO researchers. SecureTeam 10, who in recent days has posted videos about a supposed alien tank and a cigar shaped disc over Paris, claims that a disc-shaped object whizzed past the ISS “at a very high rate of speed.” NASA, who did not respond specifically to the latest video, has often said that the objects are “distortions in a lens” and do not signify the presence of extraterrestrial life. Tyler Glockner, the voice heard on the video from SecureTeam 10, said that the object in the video moved “as if it knew the camera was watching.” UFO sightings have become more frequent in recent years. A book entitled “U.F.O. Sightings Desk Reference” said that U.S.-based sightings rose to 11,868 in 2015, up from 3,479 in 2001. A synopsis of the book on Amazon states that it presents “data and analysis for 100,000+ sightings of unidentified flying objects reported by individuals during the first 15 years of the 21st century.” SecureTeam 10 has nearly 900,000 subscribers on its YouTube channel, despite openly running conspiracy-theory based videos. To see the video in question, in its entirety, click here.

Definitely take a look at this video….and you be the judge.     🙂

NASA Reveals 4-Step Space Plan Ending in Mission to Mars

NASA has revealed their 4-step space plan for the next 15+ years, expressing their intentions to complete Mars missions by the 2030’s. Phase 0 seeks to “solve exploration mission challenges through research and systems testing on the ISS.” During this phase, which is set over the next few years, NASA also plans to “understand if and when lunar resources are available.” During Phase 1, which is set in the 2020’s and will operate in “the Lunar Vicinity,” NASA intends to “conduct missions in cislunar space,” and “assemble Deep Space Gateway and Deep Space Transport,” while Phase 2, which is set in the late 2020’s, will “complete Deep Space Transport and conduct Mars verification mission.” “As NASA’s Greg Williams explained this week at the Humans to Mars Summit in Washington DC, the Moon mission is on the slate for 2027 and could see a crew spending a year sailing above the lunar surface,” reported Science Alert on Friday. “That extended stay in space would be preceded by at least five missions, some manned and some unmanned, to lug bits of equipment towards the Moon. That kit would include a habitat for crew members as well as the Deep Space Transport spacecraft that NASA has in the works to take people all the way to Mars.” NASA’s Greg Williams further claimed in a comment that a year-long mission in cislunar space would be one of the most effective preparations for a Mars mission. “If we could conduct a year-long crewed mission on this Deep Space Transport in cislunar space, we believe we will know enough that we could then send this thing, crewed, on a 1,000-day mission to the Mars system and back,” said Williams. “We’re trying to lead this journey to Mars with a broad range of partnerships… One of the things we’ll be doing over the next few years is putting that package together.” President Trump’s Mars ambitions were revealed in March when he signed a bill securing funding for NASA. “Bill S.442, named the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017, was co-sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), provides NASA with $19.5 billion worth of funding for the 2018 fiscal year, with the aim of sending a ‘crewed mission to Mars in the 2030s.

It’s nowhere near enough.  But, it’s a step in the right direction.  So, we’ll put it in the win column…for now.      🙂