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the asinine cretin

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  1. Not a chance. That might have been ExoMars (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ExoMars), but "Under the FY2013 Budget President Obama released on February 13, 2012, NASA terminated its participation in ExoMars due to budgetary cuts in order to pay for the cost overruns of the James Webb Space Telescope. With NASA's funding for this project completely cancelled, most of these plans had to be restructured."


    Now it's well over a decade away, mid 2020s.


    That may be so. Mars sample return is the major goal of the current planetary decadal survey doc and formulating a plan for the 2018 launch opportunity is what this meeting is all about. I think there is a chance. The sample return space shuttle that lands like a harrier jet isn't going to be chosen, that's for sure. It'll be one of the small-scale, low cost missions. And some participation in ExoMars is not completely ruled out. Fingers crossed

  2. Ahh. Future, not current. Unfortunately, also canceled about a year ago, http://www.spacenews...ssion-2018.html. And it's not coming back until 2020 at the earliest, http://www.spacenews...-out-rover.html. The way over-budget Mars Science Lab and the way over-budget James Webb Space Telescope are killing NASA's science budget. Not to mention that the current economy is killing NASA's budget in general.


    Damn. You know, that's what really sucks about these talks so far; a deluge of awesome concepts and partially developed systems, and no certainty that any of them will actually be fulfilled. I'm fairly confident that there will be a Mars sample return mission of some kind in this decade though.

  3. The presentation was made yesterday and it's about a 2018 MER MSR mission, not MSL. Verbatim from the slide:


    Updated EDL System Enables Precision Landing


    - Reduces MER landing ellipse from 100 km x 20 km -> 12 km x 10 km. (Within one CRISM image.)


    - New, larger heat shield fitted with thrusters for guided entry...



    Basically, this is achieved by the incorporation of four RCS thrusters from MSL heritage. Heat shield redesign similar to Viking in that the heat shield is the component that carries those thrusters.


    Now I have to say that this is not what the presentation was about. The next few hours of talks are about entry, descent, and landing; the set of talks to which this one belonged were about mission architectures and strategies. I'm sure there will be more detail to come.


    Here are the session abstracts for the "entry, descent, and landing" presentations which I'll be watching either this evening or tomorrow.





    All the abstracts for the meeting can be found here. http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/marsconcepts2012/pdf/program.pdf


    The abstract for the talk that included the provocative slide is here (although I think you'll have to watch the lectures to see the slide, and it doesn't say much more than what I copied above and the talk itself had more to do with the caching machinery than with the details of the descent and landing).) http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/marsconcepts2012/pdf/4228.pdf


    P.S. And yes, I did think the numbers were remarkable. That's why I thought to come here and post in the first place. I am suspending judgement for now as it may be nothing more than a lofty design goal, but it seemed to be a given for this mission since the CRISM footprint seems to establish a requirement.


    In any case, all of those numbers are far too big for a human mission, particularly one in which multiple vehicles must land in more or less the same spot (e.g., this silly Mars One proposal). NASA thinks that a pinpoint landing capability of 100 meters CEP ("circle of equal probability") is needed for a human mission with multiple landers. That's about two orders of magnitude smaller (linear dimension) than current capabilities. Two order of magnitude improvements usually means uncharted territory.

    Viking was able to touch down within 30 km of their targets without active guidance and I think a mission that required (or at least very much desired) high precision could be designed to employ beacons. I wouldn't put it past NASA's engineers. Apollo landers were able to come within 200 meters of their target. But I am curious to know the source of the 100 meter CEP. I think Zubrin and many others would not agree. I personally do not know very much about it and remain only curious.

  4. We do not know how to do pinpoint landing on Mars. Multiple landers must land in extremely close proximity to one another to make them useful. The Mars Science Laboratory (which hasn't landed yet) is supposed to improve our pinpoint landing skills to within 20 kilometers. That's not good enough for multiple landers that need to support humans. A factor of ten improvement is pushing it.

    I'm watching the Mars Concepts 2012 presentations and 2.5 hours into session 1 of day 3 there is a slide which says that the current MER landing ellipse is 12 km x 10 km. Apparently the "modern" MER hardware has a much improved heat shield and thrusters for guided entry. Kind of cool. I'm pretty much willing to bet that the MER legacy will be utilized in meeting the MSR goal of the decadal survey.


    As far as Mars One (a project I can't stand, incidentally), I'm guessing they're assuming SpaceX will meet their goals, including the "Red Dragon" project, and have a craft even more capable of precision landing.


    Back to Mars One: It's the basis for a TV reality show. Here's a fluff piece at gizmag that highlights the details: http://www.gizmag.co...ent-2023/22799/.

    Yeah, no thanks. Screw reality shows. That's a show stopper in my opinion - pun intended.


    We do not know how to do the mining and refining needed to support human life on Mars. It's easy to say that the technology exists for extracting oxygen from CO2 via the Sabatier process. There's a problem here: Nobody has built a Sabatier reactor for use on Mars. You can't just say that the technology has been used elsewhere. Things don't work that way. The US and Russia have learned that lesson many times over. That's why they are so conservative when it comes to new technologies.

    I recently read the 2011 update of The Case For Mars and it mentions recent end-to-end testing of a scalable reactor for Martian ISRU. The impression I have is that the TRL is perhaps 6. He says that Pioneer Astronautics has a serious demonstration system, fully automated and able to produce methane and oxygen in any ratio desired, that can run nonstop for days in simulated Martian conditions. I wish I knew more about it. I'll have to take a look at the references.



  5. apurvmj,

    The Solar sail wiki article is pretty good.


    Edit to add:




    I have a collection of papers on my computer related to the topic, a couple books with relevant chapters, and several titles in one of my wish lists; and yet, when considering what to recommend as reading material the wiki page seemed best.


    If you're still curious I'd recommend relevant papers by Geoff Landis as well as K. F. Long's book Deep Space Propulsion. Plenty of other resources but I think the references and links on the wiki page more than suffice.



  6. Interstellar solar sail/light sail concepts typically involve immense lasers that are basically sci-fi for now. There are currently active projects studying the feasibility of interplanetary solar sails. I assume the solar sail concept is what you're referring to.

  7. Thanks D H. smile.gif

    Antarctica would be orders of magnitude easier to colonize than Mars yet we don't see any big shove to colonize Antarctica, Mars is difficult to colonize and if anyone thinks that terra forming Mars is going to create a tropical paradise i suggest living in Antarctica for a couple years....


    This is a tangent, but I think things like FMARS sound like a lot of fun.


    Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station


    I suspect that the Desert Rats have even more fun. Look at some of those toys.


    Desert Research and Technology Studies


    NASA D-RATS Website

  8. When reading the alleged words of Christ in the NT it seems his worldview had a lot to do with demonic forces, the divine will, prophetic texts and visions, and the centrality of faith. Nothing suggestive of a scientific curiosity or thought process comes to mind. But I'll be the first to say that I'm no scripture scholar.

  9. I was discounting Mars One as non credible. All of the credible Mars terraforming projects require a nuclear reactor. What happens to those light thin-film solar panels when the first Martian storm hits? Six landers, more than six launches from Earth, all for six billion dollars? That is not credible.



    Baloney. They use tons of new technology. Powered landing of those large landers on Mars. We don't know how to do that. Growing food on Mars. We don't know how to do that. Rovers that can haul large landers around on Mars. We don't know how to do that. Precision landing on Mars, in close enough proximity for those rovers to move the landers to one spot. We don't know how to do that. Extracting water and oxygen from the Martian soil. We don't know how to do that.


    Aside: What water ice in the Martian soil? There's water ice in the Martian soil near the poles. Away from the poles, not much. Note that depending on power from solar arrays is highly problematic near the poles.




    They are extracting water and oxygen from the Martian soil. That's mining and refining.




    Just because a technology exists on paper does not mean that it is an existing technology. Just because an existing technology has been used in a very different setting does it mean that it will work when used in a radically different environment. An existing technology deployed in a radically different setting is a new technology. NASA has learned this lesson, so have the various incarnations of the Soviet Union / Russian space programs.



    There's no discussion of the landing process at that site. There's very little discussion of growing food. There's very little discussion of power, and no discussion of how the facilities will be powered at night. There's no discussion of waste management. There's no discussion of how to handle medical emergencies. This is just bunk.


    I actually do agree. There are far more questions than answers. And just asserting that there are no new technology requirements won't make everything fall into place.


    From the superficial stuff I've read on their website thus far, I'm thinking that even if they managed to launch all of these things to Mars and send four pioneers to Mars, it might end up being a highly publicized disaster for the entire world to watch that would set back human space exploration. I think of the heroic age of antarctic exploration and imagine that someone had the idea to send four people on an expedition deep in the antarctic where they would live out the rest of their lives somehow. It's inhumane.


    And yet I am encouraged and excited about private space exploration ventures. Perhaps something legitimate will come of this in the end. I think it quite possible that my fears are at least somewhat misplaced.


    Edit: There's always a f*ckin typo. Maybe I'll learn to proofread someday.

  10. One final problem is the reliance on nuclear technology. . .

    "We do not require development and launch of a nuclear reactor." - Mars One



    "The Mars One base will be powered by solar panels. This is possible because we do not require the production of fuel for a return journey. Many of the other plans propose the use of a nuclear reactor, which would have to be small enough to be launched all the way to Mars. Such a nuclear reactor does not exist yet and a great deal of time and money will have to be poured into the idea before it will. Moreover, seeking permission to launch a nuclear reactor – even with a great track record for the launcher – can set off political alarm bells. The chances of it being granted are diminutive due to fears of what would happen to those nearby if something were to go wrong."




    if you assume that untested technologies will work the very first try, if you ignore the two steps forward / one step back nature of developing new technologies, and if you use these untested technologies on humans right off the bat.


    It's easy to say that the technology exists for extracting oxygen from CO2 via the Sabatier process. There's a problem here: Nobody has built a Sabatier reactor for use on Mars. You can't just say that the technology has been used elsewhere.

    "No new developments – Our entire plan revolves around using existing, validated technology." - Mars One



    I haven't seen anything suggesting that in situ fuel production is part of Mars One.


    The kinds of people who would volunteer for such a mission are exactly the kind of people who would go nuts in a very bad way on an extended mission.

    This is a baseless assertion. You don't know what kind of screening they will do and what kind of people they will select.




    We do not know how to do the mining and refining needed to support human life on Mars.

    There is nothing about mining in Mars One, and I've not seen anything about refining that we don't know how to do.




    If SpaceX manages something like their Red Dragon Martian sample return mission in the next few years, and if it is as cheap as they say it will be, I'll consider this wacky Mars One thing to be a real possibility. Sort of a scary thought as I'm very uncomfortable with the finality of it. Even if they ask for it, sending people to live in tiny habitats on Mars with no hope of escape? Not cool.


    I think the in situ fuel production and a return vehicle are not merely nice-to-haves, but that's just me.


    We do not know how to perform aerocapture with the Martian atmosphere. Aerobraking has been used, but that takes a long time and also uses extra propellant compared to aerocapture. All of the low cost missions to Mars just assume aerocapture will work as a way to reduce mission cost.

    Based on the Mars Design Reference 5.0 document we do know how to perform Martian aerocapture. It's been studied extensively via simulations and systems analysis and MDRM5 recommends it for cargo missions ("aerocapture for the crew transfer vehicle was eliminated from consideration due to the physical size of that element"). It's a viable option, not a fantasy, and it's not considered to be particularly risky. Basis: MDRM5 6.4 "Decision 3: Aerocapture vs. Propulsive Mars Orbit Capture of Cargo"


    I get the feeling that you're overstating the difficulty. I want to come back to this thread in a few years (I'll say less than seven) after SpaceX aerocaptures a Dragon and possibly lands it on Mars with nothing but drag and retro-propulsion thrusters. Mark my words.

  11. The recently launched Mars Science Laboratory cost $2.5 billion.

    A 2003 Decadal Survey document classified the MSL as a "medium cost mission" and estimated it would require a budget in the $325 - 650 million range. I can't help but chuckle.


    Edit: And based on the wiki page the official MSL budget was still under 1 billion in 2008. And I think this is why those Mars One people are trying to do everything by partnering directly with private entities like SpaceX, presumably avoiding the vampirish onion skin of middle men and bureaucracy.


    Then we need to get rid of human slavery and sex trafficking. The illegal arms trade needs to be destroyed.

    Yeah, and I don't mean that as a practical suggestion, just a bleak social/cultural commentary. There are so many things that we apparently care a lot about as a species and global civilization. The noblest and most valuable things may be quite low on the list. Perhaps after considerable social evolution our world will be more dominated by the better parts of our humanity.

  12. I see you reside in Uranus so its not your turnbiggrin.gif


    More seriously, I hope you are lucky with the weather. You wont get another chance for 105 years (or so I read).

    I'm sure you must have thought about it - but have a camera handy.





    Haha. Well, actually the sky is pissing me off today. I might be enjoying the event from within Starry Night. angry.gif

  13. TransformerRobot,


    I read somewhere that the illegal arms trade sucks up a few hundred billion per year. I think human slavery and sex trafficking takes hundreds of billions as well. If humanity were cooler there would be less slavery, killing, and Snooki, and more science, space exploration, and humanitarianism. We're kinda lame still. (I say 'still' because I'm hopeful that we'll have super awesome descendants in the far future.)

  14. D H,


    Thanks for taking the time to write up that post. Good stuff to think about. I still don't share your cynicism but I do share those concerns. I like that people are dreaming big and taking on the huge challenges. I hope they succeed. And I think the cost of MSL was ludicrous and way over budget, but it need not have been so. And perhaps these people are assuming Elon Musk's third generation space launch system (and relying on other concurrent and independent developments that are currently planned or in the works) when they say 6 billion. I'd like to read the details on Mars One as I've so far only seen the surface. Thanks again for the thoughts.

  15. I think we need large movable habitats in space, they could take very slow orbits from one asteroid to the next, refining the minerals on then and build copies of themselves and send refined metals or what ever the earth needed or sell and trade back and forth between colonies.

    This concept would work better than sending out disposable probes and would be a stepping stone to colonies on the surface of planets. I think that once we begin the process of living in these freely orbiting colonies we will loose interest in planets...


    I don't know if you say the link I posted on your wall, but I've long been fascinated by the kinds of scenarios you've here described. This video is nice.





    The analogy of the Austronesian expansion comes to mind. It provides a means of interstellar expansion that does not require relativistic speeds or any of that. The "leap" would be from our Oort cloud to the Oort clouds of our nearest star, which may happen quite seamlessly. I suppose this may lead to a geometric expansion of life in our galaxy. This thought makes me recall the Fermi paradox. Hmm...



    Edit: removed https from youtube vid so it renders properly.

  16. The sci-fi novel: Amped, by Daniel H. Wilson

    "As he did in Robopocalypse, Daniel Wilson masterfully envisions a frightening near-future world. In Amped, people are implanted with a device that makes them capable of superhuman feats. The powerful technology has profound consequences for society, and soon a set of laws is passed that restricts the abilities—and rights—of "amplified" humans. On the day that the Supreme Court passes the first of these laws, twenty-nine-year-old Owen Gray joins the ranks of a new persecuted underclass known as "amps." Owen is forced to go on the run, desperate to reach an outpost in Oklahoma where, it is rumored, a group of the most enhanced amps may be about to change the world—or destroy it. . ."



    A very brief convo wit the author.





    Why I am posting this? Because I think there is something pretty plausible about the main premise. Thoughts?


    In particular, how realistic is the idea of a neural auto-focus implant?


    The amazon page for Amped.

  17. Silly, nonsensical steps. Science fiction can be fun to read, but just because it's fun to read doesn't make it reality. This concept is divorced from reality in every way. It's not even good science fiction. It's just nonsense.


    I'm not quite that cynical about it, but it does seem like a good recipe for disaster to me. Not a very good way to inaugurate manned exploration of other planets. I'd prefer something based less on romance and more on clear and valuable scientific objectives, and with the ability to abort. I don't think it makes sense to propose permanent colonization as the first step. I thought the old Mars Semi-Direct mission was pretty good. I'm about to start reading Zubrin's updated book The Case for Mars; it should be a good read and I imagine I'll have more opinions about this when I'm done.



    If you don't mind, feel free to elaborate on your thoughts here. I'd like to know what you're thinking more specifically. Thanks.

  18. Jesus was talking about the tax collectors, who he refered to as being strong and said they did not require a physician, but those who are ill do. Jesus said he came not to call upon righteous people, but sinners.


    In conclusion, the tax collectors required help, they were sinners.


    My assumption was that the poster who alluded to that passage of Scripture was trying to make some relevant point to the discussion. I understand what the passage is about on the obvious level. It's the specific applicability and particular interpretation that I was inquiring about. Thanks though.


    P.S. Auto Engineer,


    I think it may not be important, and my curiosity has since dissolved, but here is the context anyway.


    First Appolinaria said:


    It's a shame that I can't freely discuss my uneasiness about existence, the meaning of the universe and question the purpose of life with others. I think these are normal feelings that no one should be afraid to discuss. If I were to ignore them, instead of facing them and coming up with a realistic solution, I would probably rely on religion.


    Then Villain replied:



    I think you will find that the religious are more than willing to talk about the reality of life and I'm not talking about the American idea of reality but the real world reality. Perhaps you are capable of understanding what Christ was talking about in Mark 2:17. I wouldn't bother with the nonsense that the majority on this forum have to say about religion, it is quite obvious that they have little understanding of it.


    Here is the passage in question:



    On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."


    My question for Villain:


    I wouldn't mind understanding it. How would you elucidate its meaning?



    To elaborate, I wanted to know how this was being applied concretely to Appolinaria in the context of the discussion up to that time. If Villain's question were simply about the literal meaning of the verse than phrasing it as "perhaps you are capable of understanding" would just be rude condescension. Of course I don't think this was the case. I was just curious enough to request expansion of the idea from Villain.


    the asinine cretin,


    I suppose my rule would be, if the thing you, or I, or they are/am considering the truth, is a thing that only you or only I or only they can know, it is probably a false or made up, imaginary thing. Whereas if it is a thing that everybody can know, it is probably true.


    Consider the condition of a person living their whole life, never hearing the name Jesus, nor any talk of his being the son of God or the messenger of God or anything about Christianity. The common things about reality that this hypothetical person and a devout Christian would both consider to be true, would be the true type things. The things about reality that only the Christian "knows" are probably the silly, made up stuff.


    I am not trying to be cryptic. Just allowing that the truth that the asinine cretian knows and the truth that TAR2 knows, is already the case, is already true and need not be "pointed out" by one of us, to the other. The "unexplained" that needs no explanation, if you will. The already assumed, common reality that we are in and of.


    Inow knows this thing we all share, Appolinaria knows it, everybody knows it...already.

    That's a good rule of thumb. There are caveats and tangents, but I don't think this needs to be said. Thanks for the clarificatiom, TAR2.


    I forget what I was "saying before". Can you give me a hint?

    I'm okay with where things are at right now. Going back on this and the original thread doesn't seem worth it at the moment. Thanks again for the additional remarks.






    I wonder... if we were to analyze or think carefully about the way we're using the word "meaning" in this thread, would we discover that it implies a subject? Like, perhaps when we ask whether something (life, the universe, and so on) is meaningful, we're implicitly wondering if it is meaningful to someone.


    If so, then the theist says it is meaningful to God, and therefore it is all meaningful even if it isn't meaningful to me personally (God's values = objectivity). So from a theistic perspective, an atheistic universe would be meaningless.


    But from a thoroughly atheistic perspective, without any theistic reference or expectation (thus without any expectation of objective meaning), I can rest content that something is meaningful to me.

    This fundamental distinction was intended in a couple of my posts. Maybe I'm not as clear as I think I am. And it's just a generalization as there are outlier points of view within theism and atheism that don't conform to this neat dichotomy. I mentioned Platonism in its broadest sense in an attempt to be a bit more inclusive. But still, I agree with you. In my experience, theists often assume that the source of meaning and value is extrinsic to humanity or it does not exist.


    This is purely a tangent so feel free to disregard, but I think it is theoretically possible to have a theistic universe in which meaning and value are intrinsic to humanity and God could be regarded as the "source" in the sense of an efficient cause, at best. In other words, I think an essentially humanistic conception of meaning and values can hold within a theistic universe. It takes more assumptions than just the existence of God to think that without God values and meaning are void. Perhaps what underlies the idea is the attitude that without personal immortality, we might as well be nihilists. If my service to others, my devotion, or whatever it is I live for, is for nothing in an absolute, eternal view of things, then it's worthless and I might as well not bother. It's similar to the old, "if God doesn't exist, why be good?" Theist or not, I think we are good for reasons even more basic than religious world view. Similarly, I think our capacity for meaning and value is more basic than our construction of a supernatural world picture. But I've rambled enough. . . What do you think?


    Edit: the usual typos

  19. I don't have anything very specific to offer, but I must mention these excellent books as worth checking out: Napoleon's Buttons, and The Disappearing Spoon.


    The following titles are from one of my wish lists and I'm quite sure I was made aware of one of these through Bryson's book mentioned above.


    Crucibles: The Story of Chemistry from Ancient Alchemy to Nuclear Fission


    Creations Of Fire: Chemistry's Lively History From Alchemy To The Atomic Age

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