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> The James Webb Space Telescope, Will the successor to the Hubble be worth the cost?
net2007
post Mar 29 2016, 12:40 AM
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NASA is designing a telescope two stories tall and about the size of a tennis court, by comparison, the Hubble Space Telescope is about the size of a school bus. The JWST will see in infrared light, with some optical visual range as well. They're really starting to hype up this telescope, it is impressive when you look at it in both appearance and scale.

The primary purpose for Webb will be to see deeper into space and further back in time than any telescope we have, but many other things are in store for it. One of the most interesting is the potential to learn more about planets orbiting other stars (exoplanets). That's the most significant thing in my eyes, we've been able to detect exoplanets since the mid 90's and have discovered thousands of them in fact, but we know very little about them.

We can't see planets orbiting other stars directly due to the brightness of the star, it's like trying to see a pebble next to a spotlight from 100 yards away, only worse. They have ways to get around this to at least know the planets are there, but we want to know more about them. The planets in this solar system are dead, with the exception of Earth, and the possibility of microbes on Mars, so looking further out for habitable earthlike planets is high on NASA's agenda.

The JWST will be able to see some planets directly and even better it'll be able to measure their atmospheres and that's a big deal. If we point this telescope at a planet and it detects an oxygen rich atmosphere or water vapor it's a good place to look for life, and it's potentially a place we could go to with the right technology. In combination with TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) scheduled for launch in 2017, we'll have some powerful planet-hunting tools like never before.

The JWST is scheduled for launch in 2018, and construction of it is well underway. This is a mockup of the telescope so you can get a feel for its size and appearance (On a computer hold down Ctrl and tap + to zoom in) That works on any website...

JWST mockup

Here's a very short video that explains the telescope some...

Sci Science JWST Video

And another that shows it unfolding to its full size, it's too large to send up without doing this....

Unfolding Animation

Now the bad news, this telescope is costing NASA and taxpayers almost 9 billion dollars. It's also very complicated and will have an orbit that's so far away that if it breaks there'll be nothing we can do about it. Unlike Hubble, the JWST will orbit the sun at a point beyond the moon called Lagrange 2. They're doing this because it's an infrared telescope that will be extremely sensitive, so it needs to be kept cold to work properly. When we launched Hubble in 1990 it didn't work properly from the get go, it required a repair mission to correct the optics so sending a telescope more complicated and more expensive 1 million miles away from Earth is a risk that might not sit well with some. For more details on this project go here... http://jwst.nasa.gov/index.html


Questions for debate...

1. Is the James Webb Space Telescope worth the risk?
2. What are your thoughts on the risk vs. benefits of space exploration in general?

Bonus:

If you're interested in space exploration, NASA, or another space agency, feel free to share things you find to be the most impressive, it's a rarely discussed topic here.

This post has been edited by net2007: Mar 29 2016, 12:48 AM
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AuthorMusician
post Apr 16 2016, 03:34 PM
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QUOTE(net2007 @ Apr 15 2016, 12:24 AM) *
AuthorMusician
QUOTE
However, the overall point is that we don't need, and it's probably stupid, to continue manned space flights. We've got robotics and AI, along with highly advanced cameras, scopes, and sensors. The mechanics are actually better at space exploration than humans. We should focus on what we do best, which is to manipulate our world as it is, not the Martian landscape. I haven't seen the movie but did read the book, and The Martian left me with the distinct impression that human exploration isn't a very good idea.


Aww, come on. I have to part with you on that one, robots are more robust than humans, that's the biggest advantage but they have limits in terms of their ability to explore, particularly when it comes to exploring the surface of a new world. It's an issue of mobility but also the lack of ability to reason. AI is impressive but compared to a human brain your talking about the intelligence of an insect, although they are better than humans at repetitive task in a controlled environment.

Robotics, AI and analytical instrumentation are techs moving ahead quickly. Humans are improving by a millionth of a snail's pace by comparison. We are already good at applying and improving tech, so that evolution has no reason to advance.

One of the advantages of robotics is making them smaller. That means lighter, and therefore cheaper to transport than human bodies:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/13/science/...wking.html?_r=0

We have evolved to live on Earth as well. A common take is that we should really learn how to manage this planet for longevity before attempting to manage a Martian landscape. I'm on board with that, have been since the first Moon landing. Meanwhile, use robotics for space exploration, which includes the James Webb telescope. Nobody seems to want to ship astronomers up there when there's wireless communication. Indeed, astronomers do just fine working with the data on Earth. There's no real reason to put them into space.

Note also that astronauts are, from a scientific viewpoint, primarily pilots and lab assistants. They follow instructions but don't do the analysis of collected data. I don't see the advantage, from a scientific viewpoint, of putting them on Mars. Our senses aren't evolved to discover subtle scientific facts without instrumentation to collect data and computers to crunch the data, and I doubt we are physically/emotionally stable enough to trust on Mars for lengthy periods. So rather than colonization, my bet is that short-term camping visits will happen, maybe with rich folks on board for the thrills.

But I do agree that exploring in person is a whole lot more fun than doing it through collected data. What humans have above machines are 1) sense of wonder, 2) appreciation of beauty, 3) imagination for what can be, and 4) drama. So we have lots of space exploration fiction, most of which I've enjoyed.

akaCG, of course NASA has been used for putting down-looking satellites into orbit. Nobody else (except the USSR and later China) was capable of doing that, and competition is developing too slowly for others to take over. Maybe your complaint is that NASA also does weather analysis? Maybe it'll make you feel better about that if you look at the Earth as a planet in space worthy of study, and more so than Mars from just about every viewpoint. In our quest for discovering life in outer space, we should not ignore the life that already exists all around.

Yet that's pretty common too. Familiarity breeds contempt in human beings. We take things for granted, up until those things are gone. Then it's too late. I do see room for evolutionary improvement on that level, but first we have to survive our current states of foolishness. The odds in favor of improvement via evolution are quite thin as a result.

So how else can humans improve? I'll just leave that question open.
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net2007
post Apr 18 2016, 02:38 AM
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QUOTE(AuthorMusician @ Apr 16 2016, 11:34 AM) *
QUOTE(net2007 @ Apr 15 2016, 12:24 AM) *
AuthorMusician
QUOTE
However, the overall point is that we don't need, and it's probably stupid, to continue manned space flights. We've got robotics and AI, along with highly advanced cameras, scopes, and sensors. The mechanics are actually better at space exploration than humans. We should focus on what we do best, which is to manipulate our world as it is, not the Martian landscape. I haven't seen the movie but did read the book, and The Martian left me with the distinct impression that human exploration isn't a very good idea.


Aww, come on. I have to part with you on that one, robots are more robust than humans, that's the biggest advantage but they have limits in terms of their ability to explore, particularly when it comes to exploring the surface of a new world. It's an issue of mobility but also the lack of ability to reason. AI is impressive but compared to a human brain your talking about the intelligence of an insect, although they are better than humans at repetitive task in a controlled environment.

Robotics, AI and analytical instrumentation are techs moving ahead quickly. Humans are improving by a millionth of a snail's pace by comparison. We are already good at applying and improving tech, so that evolution has no reason to advance.

One of the advantages of robotics is making them smaller. That means lighter, and therefore cheaper to transport than human bodies:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/13/science/...wking.html?_r=0

We have evolved to live on Earth as well. A common take is that we should really learn how to manage this planet for longevity before attempting to manage a Martian landscape. I'm on board with that, have been since the first Moon landing. Meanwhile, use robotics for space exploration, which includes the James Webb telescope. Nobody seems to want to ship astronomers up there when there's wireless communication. Indeed, astronomers do just fine working with the data on Earth. There's no real reason to put them into space.

Note also that astronauts are, from a scientific viewpoint, primarily pilots and lab assistants. They follow instructions but don't do the analysis of collected data. I don't see the advantage, from a scientific viewpoint, of putting them on Mars. Our senses aren't evolved to discover subtle scientific facts without instrumentation to collect data and computers to crunch the data, and I doubt we are physically/emotionally stable enough to trust on Mars for lengthy periods. So rather than colonization, my bet is that short-term camping visits will happen, maybe with rich folks on board for the thrills.

But I do agree that exploring in person is a whole lot more fun than doing it through collected data. What humans have above machines are 1) sense of wonder, 2) appreciation of beauty, 3) imagination for what can be, and 4) drama. So we have lots of space exploration fiction, most of which I've enjoyed.


In response to how you feel about us needing to learn to manage Earth better before attempting to manage the Martian landscape. I agree with you that Earth is number 1, and that managing it and studying it is the most important thing but I look at it like this (not an uncommon viewpoint either) We have problems here but we always will, we should continue to work on them but we'll always have problems managing ourselves and Earth.

When Christopher Columbus was attempting to get funds for a trip to find a shortcut to the east nobody wanted to fund him, he had a lot of trouble with that. I'm sure for some the argument was the same (shouldn't we solve our problems here first before we fund something so risky) I'll understand and respect that position but I disagree with it wholeheartedly, the thing is there are still problems in Spain, it takes continuous effort to address them. Columbus would have never left if Ferdinand and Isabella wouldn't have looked outward some.

I think you actually do understand this quite well, the argument you made about the benefits of exploring space was spot on, your difference is that you think it can be done with robots it seems. That's a hard argument to say is inaccurate, I just think it's incomplete. I'm very excited about the JWST and the new rover they're sending to Mars which will be similar to Curiosity, but with better instruments.

Robots and AI are advancing faster than us, but it may take a long time before they can surpass us in the most important things, and that's if they do. I don't think it'll happen in my lifetime, and I tend to believe there will always be something missing. In terms of an ability to explore space I think they're absolutely necessary but I think that once the probes and rovers pave the way and demonstrate a destination is worth visiting that humans will need to be involved.

I have to disagree that Astronauts, Scientist, ect, who go to Mars would not do well. It'd probably be the opposite, instead of going nuts from isolation they'd be together there exploring a new world and be very excited about it. They'll work in shifts so they'll be on Mars for about 18 months before the planets realign and a new crew comes in. The plan is to expand the habitat with every mission by connecting them, so it'd get less confined each time.

Anyone who goes will be trained in isolation chambers or modules, we even have people who are willing to do this now without a confirmed mission that we're going to Mars. Nasa's doing this as well as the Mars Society in remote locations.

I believe that it should be a companionship with humans using technology as a tool to explore, that makes use of the advanced ability to measure and see things we can't but incorporates our strengths as well, it's an awesome combination for surface exploration.

I like the list you gave, here's mine on where humans are useful or better...

________

1. Most importantly is that human involvement gets the nation interested in a way robots don't, and is more likely to result in youths being interested in pursuing careers related to space exploration.

2. Colonization, this doesn't have to be as far into the future as many believe and it's the end goal of all the science we're doing. Much of the reason we want to find out about space is so we can find life and spread life.

3. Adaptability and ability to reason, humans improvise and solve problems in a unique way, so they can make changes and do repairs when something goes wrong. (Much of that is changing with AI and robots, they now have some self learning ability but it's primitive compared to us. Your right that they're advancing faster, but as of now we leave them far behind in this aspect.

4. Mobility for surface exploration, what's true on Earth is also true on Mars. We can mine, and walk on terrain that wheels can't handle, robots with legs are still very clumsy. Also, rovers travel very slowly (inch by inch).

_________

There're others but that's all I can think of for the moment, your argument makes some good points so I'm just adding a thought to it. My fear is that I start to come off as preachy on this topic, which is not something I want. I know a good bit about space exploration but have learned from those who had the courage and brains to figure these things out. The Neil Armstrongs, Wernher Von Brauns, Robert Zubrins, and Chris Mckays. Although I did do a lot of model rocketry, and made my own rocket propellant for them.

Ironically I feel the same way you did about people who act like they know a lot but are only involved at a distance or don't have any passion for the topic, they just run their mouth. I did a forum here at AD about a phrase I had learned.... "pseudo intellectual"

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?...do-intellectual

It's also in regular dictionaries but I found this definition to be funny...

QUOTE
3. Typical cases of pseudo-intellectualism involve pre-pubescent 15 year olds that think they have everything figured out, including, but not limited to: life, religion, politics, education, and sex. Ironically, they have never quite experienced either of the aforementioned.


Trust me, I completely understand that, I've felt that way about people of different ages at times, so I created a forum about it. If someone isn't directly involved with a topic, say something like the war of 1812, I think they can avoid pseudo-intellectualism if they genuinely enjoy the topic and are open to ideas from others on the subject at hand.

I'm getting off topic but I think the reason for that little tidbit is that I enjoy topics like this, I'll throw in a lot of information when I feel I'm knowledgeable on it, but enjoy hearing for others too. Your take on human involvement in space is similar to what Hobbes was suggesting, in that humans don't need to be involved (if I remember right.)

This post has been edited by net2007: Apr 18 2016, 02:50 AM
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lo rez
post Apr 18 2016, 04:21 PM
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QUOTE(akaCG @ Apr 15 2016, 06:55 PM) *
QUOTE(net2007 @ Apr 15 2016, 05:19 PM) *
...
... Much of the technology required is Apollo era technology, in the 60's they didn't even have much of the infrastructure for rocket assembly in place, that huge Vehicle Assembly Building was completed in 65 or 66 (mid 60's I believe). They managed to get to the Moon anyway though in the same decade.

Sigh.

Those were the days when the National Aeronautics and Space Administration could simply focus on tasks having to do with things like ... Aeronautics ... Space ... and/or the interactions between them and stuff.

These days, ... well, ... there's all sorts of other non-Aeronautics/non-Space stuff that has been placed on their "plate", such as ... global warming/climate change/climate disruption/climate weirding/whatevs type "priorities".

I almost feel sorry for NASA.


TIROS-1 launched on April 1, 1960, 11 days before Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, and proved that satellites could be used to monitor climate. In the 60s, a quick google search shows four separate programs with some 30 satellites launched to study earth's climate. There's really nothing new about NASA turning the camera back on Earth.
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AuthorMusician
post Apr 18 2016, 04:55 PM
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QUOTE(net2007 @ Apr 17 2016, 10:38 PM) *
1. Most importantly is that human involvement gets the nation interested in a way robots don't, and is more likely to result in youths being interested in pursuing careers related to space exploration.

2. Colonization, this doesn't have to be as far into the future as many believe and it's the end goal of all the science we're doing. Much of the reason we want to find out about space is so we can find life and spread life.

3. Adaptability and ability to reason, humans improvise and solve problems in a unique way, so they can make changes and do repairs when something goes wrong. (Much of that is changing with AI and robots, they now have some self learning ability but it's primitive compared to us. Your right that they're advancing faster, but as of now we leave them far behind in this aspect.

4. Mobility for surface exploration, what's true on Earth is also true on Mars. We can mine, and walk on terrain that wheels can't handle, robots with legs are still very clumsy. Also, rovers travel very slowly (inch by inch).

1) Not a bad point, but the Space Race of the 60s was tightly tied to the Arms Race with the USSR. A fear factor was involved, which doesn't exist for Mars. Keep in mind the human factor can also work against manned space flight, which was the aftermath of the Challenger disaster.

2)I don't agree that colonization is the end goal of space exploration. It might be a goal to try it out and determine what those problems are -- kinda creating problems where they don't need to exist. Regarding the spreading of life, Ma Nature could have already covered that:

The tartigrade can survive the vacuum of space.

However, I'm pretty sure you mean human life, not life in general. There's a major reason why Mars will never become a replacement for Earth, and that's the weak electromagnetic field it has. Without the electromagnetic field protection of Earth, we'd not have much of an atmosphere either. Earth would be a dead planet. We'd all have to live in domed places and breath manufactured air, but that'd be moot because we'd have never survived long enough to figure it out.

3) Robots tolerate conditions that humans cannot, and humans stopped evolving because of our abilities to solve problems and apply technology (consider stone chipping a technology). For example, we didn't have to evolve fur and massive bodies in the last ice age. We used the fur from other creatures and developed shelters using the reasoning abilities that did evolve back in Africa. Now we are looking at shelters and clothing to allow us to survive the harsh conditions of Mars. Due to the expense, the natural question is: Why do we want to do that? If it's to study Mars, then the price tag could be way too high. On the other hand, if our invented systems of money become obsolete, the price issue would become moot. We could live on Mars if we wanted to -- a primary premise in Star Trek. Until that happens, robots make more fiscal sense, especially as the technologies advance at an accelerating pace.

While you may be right about humans forever being more capable than our creations, i.e. robots, we are expensive to transport and have very high demands (food, air, protection). It makes more sense to keep humans on Earth, where we have evolved to survive, rather than seeking out environments in which nothing like us can survive without a great deal of artificiality.

The speed of existing robots on Mars is a moot point. We could ship faster robots up there, but that would cost too much money. Yet that would be far less expensive than sending people.

I suppose we could genetically engineer people to be better at surviving harsh conditions like on Mars. Then the moral problems come up -- we're playing god? But it does make me think that the little green men could be part plant, creating their own food via photosynthesis. Someone somewhere has to be thinking about that.

4) Actually, robotic legs have moved way ahead:

Can't push this biped robot around.

Sounds like a chain saw, maneuvers like a horse.

Boston Dynamics is being funded via DARPA to develop the advanced robotics.

*

The scene in which scientists work side-by-side on distant planets is common in sci-fi. The bridge of the Enterprise served a similar purpose, just more exciting than research. Someday these fictions may become realities, but not now and likely not soon. It will never happen via humans if we don't figure out this world better than we have. Monetary systems make good examples of how we haven't figured it out yet.

On the plus side, a lot of smart people know this and are currently trying to come up with some kind of alternative to economics as it exists. Not capitalism, not socialism, not communism, not simple commerce -- something that will work in the upcoming world, which seems to be heading toward us faster than we can think.

Bitcoin is an example of an attempt to bypass current systems with one that works exactly the same, except via software and the web. Could that be the new way -- basically the old way, but empowered by smaller groups that agree with the premises? If so, could space exploration fit into one of these smaller economies? I don't see why not. After all, the global economy depends on every participant having faith in the currencies, and that's what Bitcoin depends upon too -- faith in the currency. Remember that currency is a symbol, not a real thing like a rock.

Anyway, it's not just robots versus humans to me. Establishing a colony of humans on Mars has more problems to it than first meets the eye. One problem, that of transportation overhead, would be reduced if the target were to be the Moon. It makes me wonder what's so dang special about Mars -- that it once might have supported life? Doesn't seem compelling enough, but then I assume that life exists elsewhere than Earth and don't need evidence to believe that. It just follows logically, since life exists here, and there isn't all that much unique about the Earth. Same elements as everywhere, same dynamics as planets in the Habitable Zone.

This is not to say that space exploration holds no interest for me, it does. It's just that we have one planet that might have supported life (Mars) and a few gas giant moons that might still support life, and I'm looking way out there where robots are likely our only choice. You know, in real life and not sci-fi.

Heh, ran across this a while back:

You are and are not the center of the universe.

This condition exists no matter where you are in the universe. Of course to humans it makes a difference if you're in Death Valley rather than San Diego, but that's splitting hairs within the context. Yet it's all important if you happen to be the human.

This post has been edited by AuthorMusician: Apr 18 2016, 04:57 PM
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net2007
post Apr 21 2016, 10:39 PM
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QUOTE(AuthorMusician @ Apr 18 2016, 12:55 PM) *
QUOTE(net2007 @ Apr 17 2016, 10:38 PM) *
1. Most importantly is that human involvement gets the nation interested in a way robots don't, and is more likely to result in youths being interested in pursuing careers related to space exploration.

2. Colonization, this doesn't have to be as far into the future as many believe and it's the end goal of all the science we're doing. Much of the reason we want to find out about space is so we can find life and spread life.

3. Adaptability and ability to reason, humans improvise and solve problems in a unique way, so they can make changes and do repairs when something goes wrong. (Much of that is changing with AI and robots, they now have some self learning ability but it's primitive compared to us. Your right that they're advancing faster, but as of now we leave them far behind in this aspect.

4. Mobility for surface exploration, what's true on Earth is also true on Mars. We can mine, and walk on terrain that wheels can't handle, robots with legs are still very clumsy. Also, rovers travel very slowly (inch by inch).

1) Not a bad point, but the Space Race of the 60s was tightly tied to the Arms Race with the USSR. A fear factor was involved, which doesn't exist for Mars. Keep in mind the human factor can also work against manned space flight, which was the aftermath of the Challenger disaster.

2)I don't agree that colonization is the end goal of space exploration. It might be a goal to try it out and determine what those problems are -- kinda creating problems where they don't need to exist. Regarding the spreading of life, Ma Nature could have already covered that:

The tartigrade can survive the vacuum of space.

However, I'm pretty sure you mean human life, not life in general. There's a major reason why Mars will never become a replacement for Earth, and that's the weak electromagnetic field it has. Without the electromagnetic field protection of Earth, we'd not have much of an atmosphere either. Earth would be a dead planet. We'd all have to live in domed places and breath manufactured air, but that'd be moot because we'd have never survived long enough to figure it out.

3) Robots tolerate conditions that humans cannot, and humans stopped evolving because of our abilities to solve problems and apply technology (consider stone chipping a technology). For example, we didn't have to evolve fur and massive bodies in the last ice age. We used the fur from other creatures and developed shelters using the reasoning abilities that did evolve back in Africa. Now we are looking at shelters and clothing to allow us to survive the harsh conditions of Mars. Due to the expense, the natural question is: Why do we want to do that? If it's to study Mars, then the price tag could be way too high. On the other hand, if our invented systems of money become obsolete, the price issue would become moot. We could live on Mars if we wanted to -- a primary premise in Star Trek. Until that happens, robots make more fiscal sense, especially as the technologies advance at an accelerating pace.

While you may be right about humans forever being more capable than our creations, i.e. robots, we are expensive to transport and have very high demands (food, air, protection). It makes more sense to keep humans on Earth, where we have evolved to survive, rather than seeking out environments in which nothing like us can survive without a great deal of artificiality.

The speed of existing robots on Mars is a moot point. We could ship faster robots up there, but that would cost too much money. Yet that would be far less expensive than sending people.

I suppose we could genetically engineer people to be better at surviving harsh conditions like on Mars. Then the moral problems come up -- we're playing god? But it does make me think that the little green men could be part plant, creating their own food via photosynthesis. Someone somewhere has to be thinking about that.

4) Actually, robotic legs have moved way ahead:

Can't push this biped robot around.

Sounds like a chain saw, maneuvers like a horse.

Boston Dynamics is being funded via DARPA to develop the advanced robotics.

*

The scene in which scientists work side-by-side on distant planets is common in sci-fi. The bridge of the Enterprise served a similar purpose, just more exciting than research. Someday these fictions may become realities, but not now and likely not soon. It will never happen via humans if we don't figure out this world better than we have. Monetary systems make good examples of how we haven't figured it out yet.

On the plus side, a lot of smart people know this and are currently trying to come up with some kind of alternative to economics as it exists. Not capitalism, not socialism, not communism, not simple commerce -- something that will work in the upcoming world, which seems to be heading toward us faster than we can think.

Bitcoin is an example of an attempt to bypass current systems with one that works exactly the same, except via software and the web. Could that be the new way -- basically the old way, but empowered by smaller groups that agree with the premises? If so, could space exploration fit into one of these smaller economies? I don't see why not. After all, the global economy depends on every participant having faith in the currencies, and that's what Bitcoin depends upon too -- faith in the currency. Remember that currency is a symbol, not a real thing like a rock.

Anyway, it's not just robots versus humans to me. Establishing a colony of humans on Mars has more problems to it than first meets the eye. One problem, that of transportation overhead, would be reduced if the target were to be the Moon. It makes me wonder what's so dang special about Mars -- that it once might have supported life? Doesn't seem compelling enough, but then I assume that life exists elsewhere than Earth and don't need evidence to believe that. It just follows logically, since life exists here, and there isn't all that much unique about the Earth. Same elements as everywhere, same dynamics as planets in the Habitable Zone.

This is not to say that space exploration holds no interest for me, it does. It's just that we have one planet that might have supported life (Mars) and a few gas giant moons that might still support life, and I'm looking way out there where robots are likely our only choice. You know, in real life and not sci-fi.

Heh, ran across this a while back:

You are and are not the center of the universe.

This condition exists no matter where you are in the universe. Of course to humans it makes a difference if you're in Death Valley rather than San Diego, but that's splitting hairs within the context. Yet it's all important if you happen to be the human.



I meant life in general, other forms of life will go a long way to ensure we can survive in a new environment, just as on Earth, also life is pretty awesome anyway, it's worth preserving. Your point about the weak magnetic field on Mars is without a doubt the number one concern, I don't think that prevents us from making Mars habitable but it's a tough one for sure. I was waiting for someone to point that one out btw. tongue.gif

I found the details to be interesting, solar wind does over time strip an atmosphere from a planet but it takes a lot longer than I had thought originally. If we were to do something like release gasses to thicken the atmosphere and heat the planet, gravity, and the remaining magnetic field would help some.

We don't know for sure how long a thick atmosphere would last on Mars, I've read anywhere from 10 - 100 million years....

http://esseacourses.strategies.org/Ecosynt...8ReviewAAAS.pdf

The reason I believe deterioration wouldn't happen too fast is because Mars lost its magnetic field 4 billion years ago, yet it still has a residual atmosphere. It's still being stripped away, but lucky for us this process takes a very long time. If there were a thick atmosphere it'd go a long way to protect us from radiation, many people don't consider that it's more than just our magnetosphere which protects us. Jets that fly at higher altitudes get higher doses of radiation despite being within our magnetic field, so an atmosphere makes a huge difference.

It's not the type of planet that wants to stay habitable at this point so it'd take maintenance, but we would have help. Consider all the striking similarities Mars has with Earth, A 24 hour day which plants and other life on Earth are designed for, a similar tilt of its axis would help a lot, not to mention all the local resources we could use, that's essential.

For example, releasing just enough greenhouse gasses intentionally, to raise the global temperatures a few degrees would cause outgassing of all the frozen C02 already on Mars, and it has a lot of it. The idea from there is to slowly introduce oxygen producing bacteria, then plants as the temperature rises which would result in a breathable atmosphere. That's the basics on how they want to terraform Mars, not an easy task by any means but we understand the science. We have other ideas which would help, but they're unrealistic by comparison.

Your concern is maintaining Earth, again I believe that's the most important thing by a long shot, but I thnk we should continue to grow and expand. Your right that it'll take a very long time, but why not start? It's when we've pushed our abilities to the next level, or explored a new area when we've learned the most, and a lot of that can be applied here to continue to help us on our home planet.

I'm familiar with what they're doing at Boston Dynamics (somewhat), what Japan has done with their Honda robots and Asimo is also pretty impressive. Early bipedal robots were funny to watch, some of them had counterweights at the top which swayed from sided to side to keep them balanced, others had to lean far to the right or left with every step, they looked like they were drunk. tongue.gif

So I agree, progress, but they still have a way to go with agility. Another problem with robot legs is they require more battery power than wheels. Our electronics and robotics are progressing faster than our battery technology, it's why we have these advanced phones that can do everything but fly to the Moon, yet they last 4 hours on a charge. grrr

This post has been edited by net2007: Apr 21 2016, 11:30 PM
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post Apr 23 2016, 10:33 PM
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I do understand where you are coming from, net2007. You make very good arguments why Mars is an especially interesting place to work. I wasn't aware of the longevity of atmosphere on Mars, so chalk that up to learning something new today.

Still, I do believe that people who go there need to survive for the world to get on board. Should this happen, it'd be a massive push to keep on going. If the initial presence of people fail, it would kill the idea quickly. So make the first stuff work.

My feeling is that yes, make the effort and see what comes out. It's either going to be really good or horribly bad. Well folks, what is it? Go for it or shirk from the danger?

On this I am also on board. One of the reasons we have survived as a species is the lack of fear, speaking about overall terms. Oh sure, individuals have and continue to experience fear, but as a large group, the concept is meaningless. We go hither and yon trying to find happy hunting grounds. We settled and developed cities. Today we have the nuts of the world in our hand.

Maybe I'm thinking of possible story plots, but it strikes me as true that when Mars becomes habitable for the average person, it'll get fully screwed up due to our humanity gone wild.

Which might be perfectly cool within our solar system. But what if we meet more advanced civs? Makes me wonder, and that is also perfectly cool.

Meanwhile, let's go exploring. Let's make life more difficult. Let's see what's out there and see what she's got. Go Kirk!
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post Apr 24 2016, 09:04 PM
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I think I understand your argument too. It starts with is a permanent base that's expanded with each mission, with new supplies coming in on every mission. With time, the idea is to make those on Mars much more self sufficient but that's a lot of missions back and forth, if one of them fails, or someone dies it could risk the program. That seems to be how our government approaches space exploration, if something goes wrong there's talk of canceling the program. I think the Astronauts and Scientist behind these programs think more along the lines of, (if something goes wrong, fix it so it doesn't happen again), but it's a scenario that could play out. I'd hope not if we put that kind of effort into getting things started.
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post Apr 25 2016, 03:57 PM
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QUOTE(net2007 @ Apr 24 2016, 05:04 PM) *
I think I understand your argument too. It starts with is a permanent base that's expanded with each mission, with new supplies coming in on every mission. With time, the idea is to make those on Mars much more self sufficient but that's a lot of missions back and forth, if one of them fails, or someone dies it could risk the program. That seems to be how our government approaches space exploration, if something goes wrong there's talk of canceling the program. I think the Astronauts and Scientist behind these programs think more along the lines of, (if something goes wrong, fix it so it doesn't happen again), but it's a scenario that could play out. I'd hope not if we put that kind of effort into getting things started.

This is why I brought up the Challenger disaster. After that, the unmanned idea got a lot of traction. The only other live broadcast I can think of that outdid Challenger was 9/11. Much earlier, the Hindenburg news reel pretty much killed that mode of transportation. Oh, the humanity!

Heard this morning that the world is dealing with 60 million refugees, and the number is growing. Also that Obama is sending over more Special Forces to combat ISIS/L/Doofuses. Missions to Mars have to compete with what's happening on-ground Earth for attention and funding, at least from the government. Here's where the lack of connection to defense is a major setback. People respond more powerfully to fear than to curiosity and adventuring, generally speaking. However, if a group of wealthy backers form . . . could be interesting.
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post Apr 28 2016, 01:55 AM
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QUOTE(AuthorMusician @ Apr 25 2016, 11:57 AM) *
QUOTE(net2007 @ Apr 24 2016, 05:04 PM) *
I think I understand your argument too. It starts with is a permanent base that's expanded with each mission, with new supplies coming in on every mission. With time, the idea is to make those on Mars much more self sufficient but that's a lot of missions back and forth, if one of them fails, or someone dies it could risk the program. That seems to be how our government approaches space exploration, if something goes wrong there's talk of canceling the program. I think the Astronauts and Scientist behind these programs think more along the lines of, (if something goes wrong, fix it so it doesn't happen again), but it's a scenario that could play out. I'd hope not if we put that kind of effort into getting things started.

This is why I brought up the Challenger disaster. After that, the unmanned idea got a lot of traction. The only other live broadcast I can think of that outdid Challenger was 9/11. Much earlier, the Hindenburg news reel pretty much killed that mode of transportation. Oh, the humanity!

Heard this morning that the world is dealing with 60 million refugees, and the number is growing. Also that Obama is sending over more Special Forces to combat ISIS/L/Doofuses. Missions to Mars have to compete with what's happening on-ground Earth for attention and funding, at least from the government. Here's where the lack of connection to defense is a major setback. People respond more powerfully to fear than to curiosity and adventuring, generally speaking. However, if a group of wealthy backers form . . . could be interesting.


True, unmanned programs do get traction after catastrophic mission failures, it's not what NASA wants right now though, it's just all they can do with what they have for the time being. With all the Space Shuttle missions that flew, 2 catastrophic failures gives the Shuttle a good track record in my opinion, but many people don't look at it like that. I thought the Shuttle was pretty cool, it had a lot of advantages too. A huge cargo bay and robotic arm allowed for satellite capture and repair, and it was extremely useful building the ISS. We don't have that capability now, I never liked that the Shuttle was only designed for LEO, but it could do useful things that set it apart. With the extra money that's not being spent on the Shuttle, I'm hoping they manage to get back on their feet but it may need to come with a more serious tone from a POTUS.

Mixed feelings on your second paragraph. Space flight is not linked to defense as much as it used to be, but the 60's do demonstrate that we can get things done in turbulent times. From everything I've read and heard, the 60's were much more chaotic than the state we're in now. Things are very divisive right now but the 60's were worse as far as that goes, yet our space program flourished. I'm sure you'd have a lot of insight to add on that era.

I understand, people respond more to fear than curiosity, and that's not a good thing. This may never change though, looking back throughout history could cause serious cases of Deja Vu.

Sorry for the delay in these responses, it's been busy here.
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post Apr 28 2016, 01:09 PM
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QUOTE(net2007 @ Apr 27 2016, 09:55 PM) *
Mixed feelings on your second paragraph. Space flight is not linked to defense as much as it used to be, but the 60's do demonstrate that we can get things done in turbulent times. From everything I've read and heard, the 60's were much more chaotic than the state we're in now. Things are very divisive right now but the 60's were worse as far as that goes, yet our space program flourished. I'm sure you'd have a lot of insight to add on that era.

I understand, people respond more to fear than curiosity, and that's not a good thing. This may never change though, looking back throughout history could cause serious cases of Deja Vu.

Sorry for the delay in these responses, it's been busy here.

No problem about the delay. I usually check in here daily, but I'm okay with waiting for responses. It's not like we're on the clock, eh?

I was in the 1960s from the ages of 8 to 18, so my perspective needs to be framed within a developing mind surrounded by open-pit iron mines and national forest. Fences were not very common when out tramping the fields hunting for roughed grouse, rabbits, and deer (bow&arrow). Early on I got interested in politics, probably after the assassination of Kennedy because that's when poo really hit the fan culturally in the US, but keep in mind the perspective. It wasn't so much the social upheaval that concerned me but that war called a police action in Vietnam that my brother went to when I was 13, shortly after being a stand-in groomsman at his first marriage. That failed by the time he came home. Served as a load master in the USAF.

The space program was a curiosity, my attention going to it with Mercury. It all seemed pretty cool, but the moon landing didn't impress me due to ignorance. I simply didn't know how hard it was with the technologies at hand and how much luck played into the whole deal. By that time I was 16, which meant that girls, cars, motorcycles and guitars were my prime interests. Pretty much in that order, too. Good old adolescence, which back then I termed addled-essence and add-old-essence. I was young and stupid and knew it.

When the first iteration of the Star Trek franchise came out, I was an immediate fan. Loved Captain Kirk and Spock, thought it was really funny that one crew member had a Russian accent, fake as it might have been. It was also the time that campus upheavals about Vietnam started to gain press, along with feminism. Civil rights were big too. Off on the fringes, gay rights were discussed, mostly in hushed voices, figuratively speaking. And then there was the Native American movement. Lots of movements.

The Beatles invaded when I was maybe 14, and it ticked me off. American music was hitting a stride after the Elvis hoopla-doo, but mostly I resented all the girls in my classes going wild over these upstarts. Hey Jude was my graduating class' tune, which by then I had accepted the British influence. But my eight-track tape deck in the 1955 Chrysler played a lot of Hendrix, Creedence, Santana, Grand Funk, and a bunch of other American acts I don't remember.

So in my adolescent mind, space exploration wasn't very high in priorities. I never dreamed of becoming an astronaut or a scientist, probably because I figured I'd be an iron miner and die an iron miner. Raise some kids, have some fun, check out early and leave a good-looking corpse -- a common philosophy among my peers. Vietnam turned us fatalistic. I was convinced I'd be dead by age 20 or 21. Then life went on, and fudge! No jobs in the mines, draft averted with a student deferral -- as strongly suggested by my vet brother (I was supposed to be the smart one) -- and the draft ending before I got out of college. Only one of my family to ever go in its entire history, as far as I knew. I'm sure some distant cousins did that too somewhere along the line. There were lots of engineers with my surname located in St. Cloud, MN.

I don't think anyone questioned the space program back then. Maybe that was because Sputnik scared the willies out of adults, or maybe it was the arms race. Or both, probably both, a general fear of communism taking over the world. Oddly enough, the civil defense exercises in grade school felt normal. Sure, get into the gym and await further instructions. Like getting polio vaccine, just routine stuff. They stopped doing that by 7th grade, don't know why. We were supposed to be adult about it at age 13? Yeah kid, just kiss your tush goodbye and forget about finding shelter. Besides, you're destined to become fodder for the war, ah, police action. Or something like that. Makes a youngster very cynical about pretty much everything. Except mechanics and electronics, which is what I gravitated to for getting my mind off big stuff.

Overall, my experience with the space program didn't boost interest until out of college, about four years later when I started in the very young computer industry as a tech writer. Got to rub shoulders with engineers who did have lots of dreams about getting involved in the space program, but ended up in a material testing outfit. Tested everything from concrete to car suspensions, and built the machines to do the testing. Built a wave machine for the US Navy and wind sway controllers for skyscrapers, a strut tester for the DC-10. Very advanced stuff for the time.

Fast-forward to the shuttle, the interest in space took a distinct bound upward among engineers and those of us working closely with them. It was, I feel, my golden age for being exposed to bleeding-edge technologies. And the story goes on from there, but it was the shuttle missions that truly captured my interest in space exploration. Until then it was merely a background curiosity. Around then, STNG was airing, and I became a fan of that. Still watch the old episodes now and again. That became an ideal that I really wanted to see becoming a reality. Got interested in AI, advanced math, physics and the origin of the universe. Also the developing Internet, and that's where I landed while working MCI. That outfit had a fourth of the Internet backbone in the USA.

So that's what the 60s were like for me. It was different depending on age, position and environment. For example, a guy I got to know in college fairly well came from money. His college graduation gift was five business suits. Yet he had this liberal streak and wanted to work with the elderly, known as geriatrics. We had conflict in common, as the pressures from my family had to do with getting back into the working-class hero mode. That I did, but four years later I was in computers doing jobs that my family never understood.

The overall impression that has stuck with me is that space exploration started out as a necessary thing for survival and morphed into an adventure we all can share in some manner. That devolved into a target for cutting government costs, and the luster faded.

Today, SpaceX is supplying the ISS:

http://www.nasa.gov/feature/dragon-spacecr...s-life-on-earth

And it has designs on Mars:

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2016/04/spa...8-mars-mission/

A private company working with NASA to carry out a really big mission -- reminds me of how the Internet developed. Also, SpaceX has expressed that its overall purpose is to colonize Mars with humans, not just robots. So you're right that the Mars objective does indeed end up with colonization.

Me, I just want to blast into the galaxy from space port at full warp speed, just to see what she's got. Also to meet a green-skinned fox, but chalk that up to adolescent fantasies carried over to geriatrics. OMG, I'm turning into Aqualung! ohmy.gif

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post May 2 2016, 04:02 AM
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That's funny, well not the first bit, last paragraph. tongue.gif

SpaceX has a lot of promise, they're achieving a lot of first in the private sector, they'll likely be the first in this category to put a human into space and that's a pretty big deal which could really help them get traction. Elon Musk is an interesting individual, for lack of a better term he's a jack of all trades. SpaceX couldn't have a better founder, but it's going to take a good bit of luck still. He said as much himself when they had consecutive test flight failures which jeopardised the success of the program. It's a tricky business, and an expensive one to take on for the private sector. One mission from NASA could eat through Donald Trumps entire bank account. I want them to succeed though, they're collaborating with NASA to achieve a common goal which I think could turn out to be a great thing.

I think we agree on most of these things, minus some of the details. Seeing how this forum progressed into things like Mars and SpaceX, maybe I should have made this a forum about the value and risk of exploring space in general.

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post May 4 2016, 05:30 PM
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QUOTE(net2007 @ May 2 2016, 12:02 AM) *
I think we agree on most of these things, minus some of the details. Seeing how this forum progressed into things like Mars and SpaceX, maybe I should have made this a forum about the value and risk of exploring space in general.

My turn to apologize for a lengthy absence. Book idea and a higher ed gig, along with a few other attention grabbers, are my excuses.

It's never too late to start a more generalized topic, but I don't think it's such a big deal. We're really not debating but discussing, and yeah, we're pretty much on the same page.

One viewpoint I came across involved the government creating the demand that SpaceX could meet -- supplying the ISS. I suppose this could be compared to the military-industrial complex, in which the government creates demand for weapons and weapon systems for the defense contractors to meet. However, I do want to believe that space exploration is primarily, if not exclusively, for peaceful reasons. Ergo, I'm a Trekkie and not a Star Wars fan.

Elon Musk is a guy who looks into the future positively, regardless of the hot headwinds from overly conservative (timid) minds. If global warming gets out of hand from a sudden influx of methane from frozen deposits, his kind will likely get the domes up before humans go extinct, along with designing the stuff we'll need to live on (plants, animals, synthetics). In that sense, experimenting with living on Mars makes very good sense for the survival of our species. I bring this up because someone showed me an article that was supposed to be about reefs for an aquarium magazine, but turned into a warning about methane pimples popping in Russia and the Arctic areas. Methane is 100 times worse than CO2 for global warming.

Anyway, that's all I've got regarding space exploration. Will be pretty concentrated on visual communication for the higher ed gig and secret (shhhh!) stuff for the nonfiction book. It is a subject about the future though, so who knows, Musk might show up in it. I've just started the research in the concept stage.

Sidebar: Have been getting pitches from headhunters for mainframe gigs. Huh, I almost feel sorry for them and their clients. Old mainframers do indeed die, but a lot of us have simply changed focus. So go fish, eh? Take yer Job (Control Language) and shove it, don't work for that no more.
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post May 11 2016, 07:06 AM
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QUOTE(AuthorMusician @ May 4 2016, 01:30 PM) *
QUOTE(net2007 @ May 2 2016, 12:02 AM) *
I think we agree on most of these things, minus some of the details. Seeing how this forum progressed into things like Mars and SpaceX, maybe I should have made this a forum about the value and risk of exploring space in general.

My turn to apologize for a lengthy absence. Book idea and a higher ed gig, along with a few other attention grabbers, are my excuses.

It's never too late to start a more generalized topic, but I don't think it's such a big deal. We're really not debating but discussing, and yeah, we're pretty much on the same page.

One viewpoint I came across involved the government creating the demand that SpaceX could meet -- supplying the ISS. I suppose this could be compared to the military-industrial complex, in which the government creates demand for weapons and weapon systems for the defense contractors to meet. However, I do want to believe that space exploration is primarily, if not exclusively, for peaceful reasons. Ergo, I'm a Trekkie and not a Star Wars fan.

Elon Musk is a guy who looks into the future positively, regardless of the hot headwinds from overly conservative (timid) minds. If global warming gets out of hand from a sudden influx of methane from frozen deposits, his kind will likely get the domes up before humans go extinct, along with designing the stuff we'll need to live on (plants, animals, synthetics). In that sense, experimenting with living on Mars makes very good sense for the survival of our species. I bring this up because someone showed me an article that was supposed to be about reefs for an aquarium magazine, but turned into a warning about methane pimples popping in Russia and the Arctic areas. Methane is 100 times worse than CO2 for global warming.

Anyway, that's all I've got regarding space exploration. Will be pretty concentrated on visual communication for the higher ed gig and secret (shhhh!) stuff for the nonfiction book. It is a subject about the future though, so who knows, Musk might show up in it. I've just started the research in the concept stage.

Sidebar: Have been getting pitches from headhunters for mainframe gigs. Huh, I almost feel sorry for them and their clients. Old mainframers do indeed die, but a lot of us have simply changed focus. So go fish, eh? Take yer Job (Control Language) and shove it, don't work for that no more.


Yea, I saw that too with spaceX. The Shuttle needed the ISS to help it stay afloat as well, contracts for it were drying up prior to when they started construction of it from what I remember. I agree that Space Exploration should be primarily for peace. Full blown Star Wars would be cool, but it'd suck like any other kind of War I'm sure.

As for the Global Warming issue, the environment is important. I'm one of the conservatives who believes the warming is real and that it's caused by humans, this time. Well at least to some degree, other natural factors play into global temperatures as always. I looked up about the methane bubbles, that's interesting, not the good kind of interesting, but intersting. Things can escalate in many ways with the environment when something changes, (still speculation) but they're saying it could be linked to Co2 spikes warming the temperatures and melting polar ice. I call myself a moderate Republican for a reason tongue.gif

Good luck on the book, I'm big on anything science, sci-fi, tech, future tech, so sounds like some interesting stuff. I have my website project to work on so I'll be out of here for a bit myself.
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