NASA Seeks Private-Public Business Partnerships to Enable the Human Desire to Explore Mars and Asteroids

Visiting Mars and a nearby asteroid is an adventure far beyond climbing the tallest mountain or sailing the deepest seas

Low-resolution VMC image acquired on 15 December 2012 at 03:10:03 GMT at an altitude of 9761.02 km above Mars, on Mars Express orbit number 11,396. On 18 December 2012, this image was selected as the symbolic
Low-resolution VMC image acquired on 15 December 2012 at 03:10:03 GMT at an altitude of 9761.02 km above Mars, on Mars Express orbit number 11,396.
On 18 December 2012, this image was selected as the symbolic “first data” to be downloaded via ESA’s new Malargüe deep-space tracking station in Argentina. The image was acquired by the Visual Monitoring Camera on the Mars orbiter and traveled 327 million km in just over 18 minutes.
The tracking pass began at about 22:11 GMT (23:11 CET) on 18 December. On arrival at the station, the data were transmitted to ESOC, ESA’s European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany.
Credit: ESA

 

Space news (December 1, 20140) enabling the journey to Mars –

NASA recently reached out to the public to ask for proposals concerning the development of the concepts and technology required to travel to a nearby asteroid or Mars in the near future. They want to develop partnerships with private individuals and businesses to share combined funding to develop faster space propulsion systems, space habitats capable of keeping humans alive in deep space for extended periods, and small satellites to explore the solar system.

This 3D image shows what it would look like to fly over the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image was generated by data collected by the Rosetta Lander Imaging System (ROLIS) aboard the European Space Agency's Philae spacecraft during the decent to the spacecraft's initial touchdown on the comet Nov. 12.
This 3D image shows what it would look like to fly over the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image was generated by data collected by the Rosetta Lander Imaging System (ROLIS) aboard the European Space Agency’s Philae spacecraft during the descent to the spacecraft’s initial touchdown on the comet Nov. 12.

NASA and their partners will make use of the Moon and space around it to help enable the next phase of the human journey to the beginning of space and time. It will be easier to both manufactures many of the things needed to enable the journey and develop many of the technologies required on or in space around the Moon. At the same time, we’ll learn many things about traveling and surviving in space needed to make the trip and return.

NASA seeks proposals to develop a state-of-the-art solar electric propulsion system in the 50 to the 300-kilowatt range. Currently, NASA uses systems generating less than five kilowatts. They have also selected proposals to develop a solar electric propulsion system in the 40-kilowatt range.

NASA currently has Orion in development, a human habitation capable of keeping four human beings alive in deep space for 21 days and bringing them back to Earth in one piece. They seek proposals concerning possible studies and the development of technologies and concepts to allow humans to travel to a nearby asteroid or Mars and return safely after exploring extensively.

They intend to study architecture, subsystems, and engineering of a modular habitat capable of doing the job. NASA will use any habitat designed and engineered to enable planned missions to the Moon, which will help test it for use in future missions. Studies proposed should address transportation, habitation, operations or environmental capabilities of a modular space habitat.

NASA’s also hoping to form partnerships with private firms and individuals in the development and delivery of small satellites called CubeSats. Proposals selected will fly as secondary payloads on Exploration Mission-1, which offers an opportunity to launch these CubeSats into deep space and enable future space science, technology growth, exploration and commercial applications.

NASA wants to provide rewards or incentives for private concerns and individuals desiring to take a hand or increase their stake in the future of human space exploration through this announcement. They’re doing this in order to both accomplish current missions and objectives and sustain current investments in space technologies and capabilities needed to journey to the beginning of space and time. They expect partners to contribute significantly to any agreement since any technology or capabilities developed could make a lot of money.

Check it out!

NASA asks all interested private firms or individuals to submit their proposals electronically by 4:30 p.m. EST December 12, 2014.  American businesses, charities and international institutions are all eligible to apply. All rewards or incentives can be affected by the amount of money available. NASA could hold off on making awards until it receives funding for the next year or decides to make awards in certain areas and keep the rest back until they know exactly where they stand financially.

You can find more information on this NASA initiative here.

For more information on NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships go here.

Read about mysterious x-ray sources keeping astronomers guessing

Read about Einstein’s Spacetime

Read about the search for extra-terrestrial moons

Astronomers can provide a rough estimate of the number of stars in a galaxy

The Possibility of Intelligent Lifeforms Existing in the Universe

Crunching the numbers leaves little doubt in the minds of many scientists and broad thinkers

Astronomers can provide a rough estimate of the number of stars in a galaxy
Astronomers can provide a rough estimate of the number of stars in a galaxy

Space news – We can estimate the number of galaxies and thus approximately how many stars there are in the universe. Can we extrapolate the number of possible intelligent lifeforms in the universe? Lifeforms with an advanced civilization and technology?

Astronomers also have a very rough estimate for the number of galaxies they see
Astronomers also have a very rough estimate for the number of galaxies they see

NASA astronomers are finding more and more planets orbiting distant stars using the Hubble Space Telescope. Space scientists on Earth find microbes still surviving after thousands of years frozen in ice and thriving in environments we once thought hostile to life.

NASA astronomers have confirmed the existence of exo-planets orbiting distant stars
NASA astronomers have confirmed the existence of exoplanets orbiting distant stars

Astronomers estimate the Milky Way contains around 400 billion suns, give or take a few. Sol is only one of these stars. They also estimate the universe holds a minimum of 125 billion galaxies.

If we crunch the numbers a bit, we find the universe contains roughly 400 X 125 billion billion, or 50,000 billion billion stars. We won’t at this time include the number of planets per sun in the universe, which would make our estimate even less precise. NASA space scientists and astronomers haven’t determined this number and the knowledge we have now isn’t sufficient enough to come to even a rough estimate.

How many of these suns have intelligent life living on a planet in orbit with a highly advanced civilization and technology? In future articles, we’ll try to narrow this number down a bit, by estimating the number of intelligent life forms in the Milky Way.

Let me know what you think? Take part in our poll below.

Warren Wong, 

Managing Editor

Learn how orbits of asteroids within the Main Asteroid belt are calculated.

Learn more about the search for life on Europa.

Read about the African Dogon tribe and their cosmology.

Space Exploration: To Boldly Go Where We Have Never Gone Before

The human journey to the beginning of space and time begins

A comparison of the sizes of the stars in the Alpha Centauri system and our own Sun
A comparison of the sizes of the stars in the Alpha Centauri system and our own Sun

Astronomers watch the greatest show on Earth every night

Astronomy News ( 2013-10-15) – Walk out to the darkest star viewing spot you can find at dusk and take a seat, “The greatest show on Earth is about to begin!” Lay back on your cold seat and you become lost-in-space as you stare upwards at one of the first sights to greet human consciousness onto the stage upon awakening during the distant past. Close your eyes and let your mind boldly fly off into the night sky in search of new lands of promise warmed by alien suns. Stand upon undreamed landscapes straight out of the Twilight Zone and record ideas and thoughts that could alter the course of human history and open up avenues to undreamed of events. Human beings have looked skyward in wonder and awe for thousands of years and dreamed of voyaging to the lights in the night sky. Today humans dream of traveling to the nearest star in our sky and standing on alien landscapes which will alter human beings as a race and create history unlike anything dreamed of by science fiction writers.

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For thousands of years, mankind has stood on the tip of the cosmic iceberg and dreamed of reaching for the stars. During the next century, mankind will venture out into the solar system and the unknown. The exoplanet in this Hubble image is Epsilon Eridani (HD 22049 one of the closest to Earth at 10.5 light-years. A voyage to this Jupiter-size planet’s going to take considerably longer than traveling to the Alpha Centauri system. Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble

 

Will human adventures travel across outer space to distant suns in search of answers to questions pondered throughout human history? Will human beings one day journey through the universe seeking the origins of human life or a suitable planet to call home? As Mr. Roddenberry points out, space will be one of the last frontiers of humankind. At the current rate of technological growth, it could be only a matter of time before human beings have the ability to travel across interstellar space looking for non-terrestrial life and the resources humans need to survive and prosper.

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A true visionary, Star Trek’s one of the most popular television shows in history. His dream for the future of mankind is truly inspiring. Credit: StarTreak.com

 

Space Exploration will be far more challenging than life on earth

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Frosty white water ice clouds and swirling orange dust clouds above a rusty landscape show Mars has a dynamic, often chaotic environment in this Hubble image. Even a 43 million miles, it can see details as small as ten miles across. A large amount of seasonal dust storm activity can be seen above the northern polar region (top), with smaller storms nearby, and a large one spilling out of the giant Hellas impact crater in the Southern Hemisphere (bottom right). Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble

 

Traveling across the vast stretches of outer space between Earth and a nearby star system will be far more challenging and dangerous to undertake then climbing the tallest mountain or sailing an unexplored ocean. The distances in both space and time involved in such voyages will require human beings to surmount technological and social obstacles unlike any experienced during life on planet Earth. During the past century, humans have designed and engineered mechanized devices capable of launching into outer space and crossed the short stellar distance between Earth and its moon. We have started to become acquainted with life-in-space and the challenges involved in space travel. During the next fifty years, mankind will travel into the solar system and start to develop the technology required to successfully travel to nearby star systems to begin life again under an alien sun.

 

A Global Mars Map
The image seen here was made by combining four hemisphere views of the Hubble Space Telescope during the Red Planet’s closest approach to Earth into a full-color global map – called a Mollweide projection -. The resolution of Hubble is 12 miles per pixel near the equator. Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble

 

Does mankind presently have the technology, will power, and resources to journey to a nearby star system? The answer at this point in human history is a realistic and resounding, “No!” Using a reaction engine similar to the liquid oxygen/hydrogen main engine of the space shuttle to travel to the nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, would require over 100 years and fuel tanks too big to carry. Nuclear powered propulsion using fusion or fission requires technology and radiation shielding presently unavailable in order for human beings to survive the journey. Doctors also have questions concerning the possible medical problems associated with long-term exposure to acceleration and deep space radiation, and the drag forces involved using this form of propulsion still have to be addressed. The often dreamed of, but at this point unrealized, warp drive will probably never make it off the pages of science fiction books and into the cold of deep space. Instead, it will be replaced by an undreamed of propulsion system allowing us to travel closer to the speed of light, or circumvent the universe’s speed limit using a new idea, yet to be conceived.

Fly over the craters and canyons of Mars watching this Hubble video.

The distances between the stars in the Centauri system are extreme, but it's possible for planets to exist
The distances between the stars in the Centauri system are extreme, but it’s possible for planets to exist

Proxima Centauri or bust

If mankind made traveling to the nearest star system the top priority during the years ahead what would be needed to make the journey a success? The answer to this question continues to change as scientists and engineers study the goal more. The closest alien sun to Earth is the Red Dwarf Proxima Centauri, which on average is the short stellar distance of just 4.22 light-years (24.7 trillion miles or 29.9 km) away. Traveling at the estimated speed of Voyager 1, around 37,000 mph, it would take a spaceship over 76,000 years to complete the journey. During this length of time, human beings would have long enough to evolve significantly in the new and alien environment of deep space. Would we recognize our human ancestors after 76,000 years evolving during a trip through outer space?

The red dwarf sun Proxima Centauri could have planets which could serve as a new cradle for human life to begin anew
The red dwarf sun Proxima Centauri could have planets which could serve as a new cradle for human life to begin anew

Proxima Centauri also has no known planets upon which humans could begin life again under an alien sun. This Red Dwarf star is also significantly cooler than our own sun, so the habitability of any existing alien worlds would be questionable at best. Optimistic humans point out that Proxima Centauri is part of a bigger star system, containing other possible candidates which could have habitable planets. This dim star is considered by many to be part of the bigger Alpha Centauri system, which includes the binary stars Alpha Centauri A and B, just 4.4 light-years from Earth. Astronomers and scientists have their doubts about the possibility of other habitable planets in this star system at this point. Instead, they point to star systems further out in deep space, which seem to offer a better possibility of habitable planets.

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At 4 light-years, Proxima Centauri isn’t visible in the night sky because of its low luminosity and small size at 1/8th the size of Sol. Even though it’s considered a close neighbor this sun is only a pin-like source even with the eagle eye of the Hubble Space Telescope. Considered a flare star, Proxima Centauri occasionally puts on a show. This stellar production of the Milky Way’s expected to have periodic shows throughout the life of the star, an estimated 4 trillion years or over 300 times the age estimate of the cosmos. Better get comfortable. The next show could be awhile! Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble

 

The stars can’t wait

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The International Space Station will be the first stop for mankind on its way deeper into the solar system. From here we’ll make bigger better stations and travel to the Moon, Mars and beyond. Credit: NASA

If humans move to a new home circling an alien sun, we’ll do it in stages, beginning with the exploration of the solar system. The International Space Station will be the staging point for the next phase of the exploration of the solar system. From here we can reach outward into the solar system to see what mysteries and discoveries await us just beyond the visible horizon. We’ll need time to develop the technology required for interstellar space travel and the terraforming of alien worlds. In the meantime, we’ll continue to send out envoys and ambassadors in the form of unmanned spacecraft to nearby star systems within our reach. The first of these envoys of the human race, Voyager 1, has traveled a distance of around 11 billion miles during 35 years of continuous space travel. This puts Voyager 1 still firmly within the boundaries of the known solar system, which reaches some 4.6 trillion miles into cold space and the Oort Cloud on the fringes of our system of planets. Eventually, Voyager 1 will travel beyond the boundaries of the solar system and into interstellar space, and this is when the real human journey to the beginning of space and time begins.

Click this link to watch a YouTube video on the search for earth-like planets.

The search for earth-like planets

Click this link to watch a YouTube video on finding a new cradle for human civilization.
New Earth: A new cradle for human life

Read about NASA’s Messenger spacecraft and its mission to Mercury

Have you heard about the recent meteorite that exploded near the Ural Mountains

Read about the supernova astronomers are studying looking for a black hole they think was created during the explosion