Cape Verde - (Mars) © Erik Wernquist

Cape Verde – (Mars) © Erik Wernquist

Sheer magic – and narrated as only Carl Sagan can – exquisitely.

“Check out this stunning short Sci-Fi film by Swedish digital artist and animator Erik Wernquist, in which he shares with us how he envisages humanity’s future when we leave Earth. Here’s a description of his work that can be found on his website:

The film is a vision of our humanity’s future expansion into the Solar System. Although admittedly speculative, the visuals in the film are all based on scientific ideas and concepts of what our future in space might be like, if it ever happens. All the locations depicted in the film are recreations of actual places in the Solar System, built from real photos and map data where possible.

Stunning Short Film “Wanderers” Brings Carl Sagan’s Words Back To Life

Wanderers – A Short Film By Erik Wernquist

Mars One


Click image for Mars One link

This project just doesn’t look serious – especially with its ‘reality TV’ component. Their mission is overly optimistic to the point of being delusional. The technologies do not exist yet, particularly to shield against radiation. Ten years to establish a settlement (with a 2022 launch) is simply not possible. Even a massive increase in NASA’s budget, for example, could not do it within that timeframe. Whole industries need to be started up to support the project, and be maintained, to ensure its success. And addressing all the safety issues will cost a lot more than $6 billion. Frankly, any space exploration or colonisation on the cheap is criminal. Full trials of crafts, test flights, and testing of concepts/theories and materials on Mars would be essential. If you want a realistic vision of how we can colonise Mars read Buzz Aldrin’s Mission to Mars.

“More than 2500 Australians have applied for the one-way trip to Mars, which will double as a reality TV show.

The Mars One project, which aims to create the first human settlement on the Solar System’s second-smallest planet, has received 165,000 applications from astronaut hopefuls from 140 different countries.

“We now have a large group of applicants from where we can start our search,” Mars One chief medical officer Dr Norbert Kraft said.

“Finding the best crews of qualified and compatible individuals is crucial to the success of our mission.”

Successful applicants will have to say goodbye to Earth forever, with the first crew of four people expected to launch into space for their seven months journey to Mars in 2022.”

Australians apply to be part of the Mars One project

“The Martian surface is therefore extremely hostile to life, says Dr Veronica Bray, from the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, who is sceptical about the project.

There’s no liquid water, the atmospheric pressure is “practically a vacuum”, radiation levels are higher and temperatures vary wildly, she says.

“Radiation exposure is a concern, especially during the trip. This can lead to increased cancer risk, a lowered immune system and possibly infertility.”

To minimise radiation, the project team will cover the domes with several metres of soil, which the colonists will have to dig up.

“I have no doubt that we could physically place a human being on Mars. Whether they’d be able to survive for an extended period of time is much more doubtful,” adds Dr Bray.”

Applicants wanted for a one-way ticket to Mars

Obama Retreats, Russia Steps In

UPDATE: December 6, 2012 Expert panel: NASA seems lost in space, needs goal

Despite economic problems, Europeans realise the importance of space exploration.

“Europe and Russia are cementing their plans to explore Mars together.

European Space Agency member states have approved the agreement that would see Russia take significant roles in Red Planet missions in 2016 and 2018.

The former is a satellite that will look for methane and other trace gases in the atmosphere; the latter will be a surface rover.

Russian participation fills a void left by the Americans who pulled back from the projects earlier this year.

For a while, it looked as though the ventures, known as ExoMars, might have to be cancelled. But Russian desire to pick up many of the elements dropped by the US means ExoMars is now on a much surer footing.

Esa member states indicated their happiness with the cooperation text on Monday. All that remains is for the documentation to be signed by both parties.

This is likely to happen before the end of the year.”

Russia and Europe joint Mars bid agreement approved

“European Space Agency (Esa) member states have resolved key issues at their ministerial council and agreed a 10.1bn-euro programme of activities.

The big decisions included a go-ahead for an upgrade on Europe’s Ariane 5 rocket in parallel with design work on a replacement for the early 2020s.

Esa nations also approved the project to provide the propulsion unit for Nasa’s new manned capsule, Orion.

In the surprise of the meeting, even the UK put money into this project.

It has long stayed out of the agency’s human spaceflight activities, but agreed to a one-off, 20m-euro contribution because of the technology development it could enable in a number of British companies.

“We’re confident our interests will be reflected,” UK science minister David Willetts said.

Most of the meeting’s agenda had been worked out in advance. Great uncertainty however had remained over how much the 20 nations could commit to space in the midst of the Eurocrisis.

With that context in mind, Esa director-general Jean Jacques Dordain expressed great satisfaction at the outcome.

“Member states recognise that space is not an expense; it’s an investment,” he said.”

European Space Agency defines Ariane and space station plans

One Giant Leap For Mankind

One Giant Leap Backwards

Obama Hammers The Last Nails Into The Coffin Of NASA

NASA’s “Foremost” Mission Under Obama

The Eagle Is Grounded

Obama To Cut NASA’s Budget

One Giant Leap For Mankind

Or should that now be “The Great Leap Forward For Mankind”?

“The passing of Neil Armstrong is a sad occasion in the history of our nation. But it is also a reminder of one of the most glorious achievements in American history and in the whole history of humanity. Moreover, it’s a reminder of an era when the efforts of brave astronauts and brilliant engineers were spearheaded by a president with high horizons and an apt appreciation of American (and human) greatness.

Alas, President Obama is no JFK. As I wrote two years ago when the Obama administration decided to scrap funding for voyages to the moon and Mars:

You know those great pictures of Earth from outer space, showing our planet suspended against the blackness, a beautiful blue ball? No one has seen that view since the Apollo program ended 38 years ago. No astronaut has seen that view since then. We’ve all just seen the pictures.

Now, unless Congress rejects the president’s recommendations, the next people to see that view will likely be the Chinese.

Mitt Romney would do well to pledge to reverse this rather visible aspect of American decline. To do so would certainly be consistent with Armstrong’s hopes. In the obituary written on his behalf, the New York Times says:

Mr. Armstrong re-entered the public spotlight a couple of years ago to voice sharp disagreement with President Obama for cancelling NASA’s program to send astronauts back to the Moon. Later, he testified to a Senate committee, expressing skepticism that the approach of relying on commercial companies would succeed.

Last September, Mr. Armstrong testified to a House committee that NASA ‘must find ways of restoring hope and confidence to a confused and disconsolate work force.’

Forty-three years have now elapsed since Armstrong, and hence humanity, first set foot on the moon. Amazingly, the country that sent him there is not currently capable of sending anyone else on a similar voyage–at least not in short order–and many of its fiscal and social problems now appear almost impossible to solve.

Yet the Apollo program remains a source of inspiration and an antidote to pessimism. Andrew Smith, the author of the wonderful book Moondust, sums up Armstrong’s thoughts, which are surely applicable to the moment at hand: “Armstrong hopes that Apollo 11 shows how seemingly impossible problems may be overcome if the will is there.” ”

One Giant Leap for Mankind

One Giant Leap Backwards

Obama Hammers The Last Nails Into The Coffin Of NASA

NASA’s “Foremost” Mission Under Obama

The Eagle Is Grounded

Obama To Cut NASA’s Budget

One Giant Leap Backwards

©William Warren

See updates below: Some NASA scientists are saying the latest budget will not allow for near future missions to Mars. People are naive if they think Obama is maintaining the legacy of JFK. His gradual gutting of NASA is a repudiation of everything JFK stood for.

“Washington – Scientists say NASA is about to propose major cuts in its exploration of other planets, especially Mars. And NASA’s former science chief is calling it irrational.

With limited money for science and an over-budget new space telescope, the space agency essentially had to make a choice in where it wanted to explore: the neighboring planet or the far-off cosmos.

Mars lost.

Two scientists who were briefed on the 2013 NASA budget that will be released next week said the space agency is eliminating two proposed joint missions with Europeans to explore Mars in 2016 and 2018. NASA had agreed to pay $1.4 billion for those missions. Some Mars missions will continue, but the fate of future flights is unclear, including the much-sought flight to return rocks from the red planet.

The two scientists, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the budget, said the cuts to the Mars missions are part of a proposed reduction of about $300 million in NASA’s $1.5 billion planetary science budget. More than $200 million in those cuts are in the Mars program, they said. The current Mars budget is $581.7 million.

“To me, it’s totally irrational and unjustified,” said Edward Weiler, who until September was NASA’s associate administrator for science. “We are the only country on this planet that has the demonstrated ability to land on another planet, namely Mars. It is a national prestige issue.”

Weiler said he quit last year because he was tired of fighting to save Mars from the budget knife. He said he fought successfully to keep major cuts from Mars in the current budget but has no firsthand knowledge of the 2013 budget proposal.

Mars “has got public appeal, it’s got scientific blessings from the National Academy,” Weiler said in a phone interview from Florida. “Why would you go after it? And it fulfills the president’s space policy to encourage more foreign collaboration.”

Two years ago, President Obama said his ultimate goal was to send astronauts to Mars.

Read more of this post

Obama Hammers The Last Nails Into The Coffin Of NASA

Yonatan Frimer, copyright 2010

Obama revives the dangerous/failed shuttle program, kills the new rocket program, gives up the moon to the Chinese, uses NASA to do PR work with the Muslim world, and monitors “Global Warming”. What’s more, his administration expects private companies to do the work for them without proper incentives. NASA might as well be broken up after this! I don’t think it’s going to survive the damage.

“The act will mark a sea change in the way Nasa does some of its business, particularly in the realm of human spaceflight.

The legislation calls for $1.3bn to be allocated to the development of commercial crew services over the next three years.

The money will seed private companies to design and build rockets and capsules capable of delivering astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

The legislation also signals a formal end to the Constellation programme begun under President George Bush that sought to return humans to the Moon with a new spaceship called Orion and two new rockets called Ares 1 and Ares 5.”

‘Obama signs Nasa up to new future’


17 October, 2010


Take Me To Your (Unelected) Leader

The UN never misses an opportunity to stake its claim to world leadership. Just like the European Union, they need an appointee for this, that and everything. Surely there are more important things to do than this pointless navel-gazing?

“Professor Richard Crowther, an expert in space law at the UK space agency who leads delegations to the UN, said: “Othman is absolutely the nearest thing we have to a ‘take me to your leader’ person”.

The plan to make Unoosa the co-ordinating body for dealing with alien encounters will be debated by UN scientific advisory committees and should eventually reach the body’s general assembly.

Opinion is divided about how future extraterrestrial visitors should be greeted. Under the Outer Space Treaty on 1967, which Unoosa oversees, UN members agreed to protect Earth against contamination by alien species by “sterilising” them.

Mrs Othman is understood to support a more tolerant approach.”

UN ‘to appoint space ambassador to greet alien visitors’

27 September, 2010


NASA’s “Foremost” Mission Under Obama

NASA: National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Get it, Obama? Surely NASA’s job is to further America’s progress in “aeronatautics” and, “space” flight and exploration. Geez….

“NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a recent interview that his “foremost” mission as the head of America’s space exploration agency is to improve relations with the Muslim world.”

‘NASA Chief: Next Frontier Better Relations With Muslim World’

“As for President Obama’s commitment to beyond-lunar space: Has he given a single speech, devoted an iota of political capital to it?

Obama’s NASA budget perfectly captures the difference in spirit between Kennedy’s liberalism and Obama’s. Kennedy’s was an expansive, bold, outward-looking summons. Obama’s is a constricted inward-looking call to retreat.

Fifty years ago, Kennedy opened the New Frontier. Obama has just shut it.”

‘Closing the New Frontier’

“For the first time in history, the moon is not just a mystery and a muse, but a nightly rebuke. A vigorous young president once summoned us to this new frontier, calling the voyage “the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.” We came, we saw, we retreated.

How could we?”

‘The Moon We Forgot’

‘The worst kind of infantile psycho-babble and adolescent diplomacy.’

‘Krauthammer Bashes Obama’s Infantile NASA Muslim Outreach Program’

‘NASA = No Americans in Space Anymore?’

6 July, 2010


Stephen Hawking: If Aliens Exist, Be Wary Of Them

We don’t even know how life came about on our own planet, let alone on alien worlds. Therefore, I think these mathematical equations are seriously flawed. The variables are highly dubious; how are we to know whether life is one in a hundred billion, or one in fifty trillion? The equations have been made since the 60’s and 70’s and are mainly speculative.

What Professor Hawking is talking about is intriguing though, if we simply look at it from a scientific and mathematical perspective. With millions of star systems in a galaxy, and billions of galaxies, there is a high probability, mathematically speaking, of intelligent life somewhere in the universe. We don’t have evidence let alone proof of aliens, of course, but absence of proof is not proof of absence.

Hawking’s main point is that we cannot assume that aliens, who have mastered intergalactic travel, will be peace loving beings. How can we really assume that? The other point is that even if aliens have good intentions, they could still end up harming us, much like the first Europeans settlers to the New World, who killed off Native Americans indirectly through disease.

Some have suggested that this kind of speculation is madness. But, it is only mad to believe, with absolute certainty, that aliens are either pacifist or aggressive, or that they exist or do not exist. The scientific perspective is always open-minded. If there are aggressive conquering aliens out there, why would we want to alert them to our presence? Isn’t it best to err on the side of caution? Hawking is not declaring that aliens exist with any certainty. He is simply saying that we should be wary.

‘Don’t talk to aliens, warns Stephen Hawking’

‘Drake equation’

1 May, 2010


The Eagle Is Grounded

Peter Brookes, © 2010

The Obama administration has little regard for space exploration or genuine scientific advancement. The cancellation of the Constellation Program will not only allow the Chinese to land on the moon before the United States goes back, but will condemn the US to second or third rate status in space. And some people think that Obama is maintaining the legacy of JFK?

“In the meantime, the White House will direct NASA to concentrate on Earth-science projects — principally, researching and monitoring climate change — and on a new technology research and development program that will one day make human exploration of asteroids and the solar system possible.”

A lot of the funding will probably go to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and that lunatic James Hansen!

‘Obama to End NASA Constellation Program’

Obama’s mediocre attitude to space exploration:

Obama said he wanted to use Monday’s anniversary of the Apollo moon landing to show that “math and science are cool again.”

‘Obama Meets Astronauts; No Promise of Moon or Mars’

“The best way to honour and remember all those who were part of the Apollo programme is to follow in our footsteps; to boldly go again on a new mission of exploration.” ~ Neil Armstrong

‘Moon astronauts urge Mars mission’

‘Obama Puts Entire NASA Space Program in Limbo’

30 January, 2010