Re-Post: Say Hello To Baby Aliens On Enceladus


(Originally posted on Read With The Gringa 7/6/17)

If scientists discover microbial life one of Saturn’s moons, is this a big deal? Well, the gringa supposes that humans could officially lay to rest the question of whether or not we are alone in the universe. But it does leave open the question of whether or not mankind shares the Universe with intelligent life. After all, I’m not so sure microbial life counts as an intellectual peer for humanity. So what, exactly, did NASA report they found on Enceladus? See for yourself:

So microbes eat hydrogen like candy. Does that mean that life might evolve on Enceladus or that life is dead and gone and this candy is all that’s left? You know, kind of like coming home and finding traces of teenagers in the crumbs left on the sofa and smears of chocolate on the gaming controls.

It means that it’s possible that microbes can exist in Enceladus’ ice covered sea. The next step would be to explore this cosmic ocean, perhaps with a probe that can take samples, to see if microbes are alive and well. But what kind of environmental conditions would microbes need in order to survive? Let’s take a look at some of the basic environmental conditions of Enceladus:

-Surface temperature of -330 degrees F (or -201 degrees C)

-Freshwater ice surface that reflects 100% of sunlight

-5 surface features: cracks, ridges, fissures and crust deformation

-Liquid fresh water sea underneath surface crust of ice

-Tidal forces created upon internal sea by Saturn’s pull, which creates internal heat, so sea temperature would be warmer than surface temperature but still unknown

-Smooth surface plains of ice crust indicate that water once flowed upon the surface, possibly forced upward from eruptions of volcanoes in the interior sea

-No detectable atmosphere

-No magnetic field

Are there any microbes known to man that could survive these conditions?

-Microbe Colwellia psychrerythraea strain 34H can survive temperatures as cold as -320 degrees F. Testing was conducted with liquid nitrogen, which is -321 degrees F.

-No detectable atmosphere and no magnetic field means no protection from radiation. But, as concluded from microbe studies on the International Space Station (ISS), there are microbes that not only survive such conditions, but actually thrive in them: Deinococcus radiodurans, also called the Conan of microbes, could live quite happily in Enceledus’ frigid ocean.

So, if there are microbial Conans alive and well in the interior sea of Enceledus, how long might it take for them to gain some intelligence and start communicating? Well, let’s start with the moon’s suspected age, 100 million years. The earth, by comparison, is thought to be about 4.5 billion years old. Enceledus is just a baby.  It was during Earth’s second phase, the Archean phase, when the first signs of microbial life appeared on Earth. This would have been when Earth was about 1 billion years ago.

So, Enceledus may just be getting started. Those microbes out there in its interior sea? Those could be the earliest seeds of a future humanoid race that evolves to build a bone-chilling, zero oxygen, radiated civilization in another couple of billion years or so. So, just stay tuned, right?

Sources: Science Mag

New Scientist

Sea Sky Org.

BBC

Image Credit: America Space

Video Credit:  NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

There REALLY IS Life On Mars (And The Moon)


What if the gringa told you that there was, without a doubt, life on the Moon and life on Mars? You might not believe me if you are a strict science enthusiast. You might believe me without hesitation if you’re a UFOlogist. You might hope that I’m telling the truth if you are a science-fiction fan.

Well, the gringa’s got exciting news for all of you. It IS true and there is proof and NASA testimony to back it up. But there’s a curious twist. The life discovered in both locations is not alien. It is very Earth in origin. What does this mean?

The strict science-evidence buff will say this of course means that NASA scientists have contaminated the regions they have explored. UFOlogists will claim it is trace evidence of mankind’s ancient extra-terrestrial ancestry. Science-fiction fans will simply shrug, nothing coming as a surprise to them.

The first thing to do is examine the decontamination procedures of NASA. Is it possible to launch space exploration vehicles that are not contaminated with even microscopic traces of Earth sourced materials? Nope. If complete decontamination is not possible, are there Earthly micro-organisms that can survive the harsh conditions of space travel, be delivered to an alien landscape and, ultimately, thrive only to be discovered later by exploration equipment? Yep.

NASA does not fly solo, determining unilaterally decontamination procedures before or after a space flight. About 50 years ago the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), comprised of UN members from the International Council of Science (ICSU), created the Treaty of 1967 which outlined certain protocols related to outer space travel and research. Contained within the document are guidelines for 5 categories of space missions, rated according to the risk of contamination posed.

  • Category 1: Any mission to celestial body that does not involve study of biological systems (like launching of an orbiting satellite).
  • Category 2: Any mission to any cosmic body within our Solar System where documentation of biological or chemical systems involves a remote chance of contamination (like when a satellite takes a sample of a vent plume to see what kind of gas it is without entering a cosmic body’s atmosphere).
  • Category 3: Any mission with a specific purpose of studying chemical or biological systems that may contain living organisms that poses a risk of introducing contamination to other cosmic bodies (as in taking a satellite sample that could involve an orbit or fly-by into a cosmic body’s atmosphere, elevating risk of picking up atmospheric particles that could cross-contaminate another planet, moon, etc.)
  • Category 4: Any mission that lands equipment on the surface of a cosmic body for the purpose of interacting with the natural processes of the extra-terrestrial body which will certainly create the possibility of introducing contaminates from Earth to a celestial body (this is what occurred with the Lunar Apollo and Mars Rover missions, the equipment at risk of contaminating the Moon and Mars with Earth organisms).
  • Category 5: Any mission that has equipment set down on an extra-terrestrial body and returns physical samples from an extra-terrestrial body to Earth. This creates 2 subcategories of Restricted and Unrestricted. If the host for the sample is rated a Class III stringent, in other words, not a host for possible life, the returning sample is considered Unrestricted. Any specimen returning from a cosmic body where life is possible, must go through severe decontamination and quarantine protocols.

But how effective are these guidelines? Well, considering what happened with the lunar missions in the 1970s, none of these protocols may even matter. Even though there were procedures for quarantines and decontamination, there was simply no baseline to compare against any data.

Astronauts, equipment and geological samples were quarantined in isolation units for 3 weeks after a “bath” in a super-bleach solution or a betadine wipe-down. An examination for biological, bacterial and chemical anomalies would determine whether or not there was any risk posed by releasing from quarantine. And what about alien contaminants that had dormancy periods longer than 21 days?

Not all returning Apollo mission “stuff” was scrupulously cleaned and monitored. You know the raft the astronaut crews rode in from the module that splashed down to the ship that picked them up? Yeah. It just got a wipe down with betadine and was then sunk in the ocean. And guess where Earthly biological life as humans know it is theorized to all begin? Yeah. In the oceans. Hm. That might not have been such a good idea. That raft may have just been converted to a lunar life nursery.

And you know the geological samples the astronauts returned? Those “Moon Rocks”? Yeah. They didn’t even get quarantined or a splash of Lysol. They were whisked away in a helicopter and taken to NASA laboratories in Houston. So that means a couple of pilots, their crew and an entire helicopter were not just contaminated but blazed a trail of contamination across the sky of half of the United States. The helicopter and crew were quarantined but what about all of that airspace? Yeah. There’s that.

So, basically, humans have already cross-contaminated the Moon and Earth. That means any samples that pop-up on either locale that indicate alien life from one or the other are suspect.

The same is also probably true for Mars. Chances are Earth-origin micro-organisms have probably already survived the trip,arrived and set up shop for the next millennia or two. And, if climate change continues on course, Earthlings may not be around to explain human life on Mars for the ETs that eventually discover them. They will be on their own to figure out that little conundrum.

Which poses the question. Is that how life on Earth originated? Are humans the ancestors of alien contaminates? Could be.

And what is NASA’s solution if samples are determined to be contaminated with biological matter that is a threat to humans? If a danger is discovered en-route back to researchers on Earth, their fall back plan is to fly the stuff into the Sun. Hmm. Yes, by all means. Let’s continue our practice of pollution and let the chips fall where they may.

Sources:

Gizmodo

NASA

Johnson Space Center

Image Source: Gizmodo

Video Source: Licensable

Dispelling Some Space Myths


(Originally posted 2/2/17 on Read With The Gringa)

If you are a dear reader of Read With The Gringa, chances are you are also a fan of science fiction. The gringa has seen every episode of her favorite series like the Star Trek franchise, Battlestar Galactica and Firefly. If it’s a cheesy, classic or epic sci-fi movie, I’ve seen that, too. What about some of the common themes and aspects of this genre? Is there any kernel of truth to these commonalities or are they just creative license?

Spacecraft Explosions: Cosmic space battles between a star ship battle cruiser and a sporty, feisty spacecraft that maneuvers with lightning speed often end up with the absolute destruction of one, maybe even both. But what about those fabulous fireballs and bits and bobs of bulkhead that create an enormous blast radius. Does that really happen?

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NO! Why? Well, think about it. There is no oxygen in space! No oxygen, no fire. The best you could hope for is an insignificant spark that, pfft, quickly goes out. And the boom factor? Nope. You wouldn’t hear anything either. Sound only travels through Earth’s atmosphere because of a complex recipe of certain gases. So, that pfft effect goes for explosive sounds as well.

Human Explosion: Sci-fi takes a reverse course on the pressure effects of deep water on the human. Go deep enough in the ocean without protective gear and  the water pressure will implode you. Not a pretty sight for a human to be crushed like an aluminum soda can. Sci-fi screenwriters like to imagine the vacuum of space would result in the atoms of humans no longer experiencing enough atmospheric pressure to remain cohesive. Thus an explosion of eyeballs and fingernails. A rather gruesome and bloody prospect. Is this accurate? Would astronauts who experience spacesuit failure explode in the vacuum of space?

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First, you would quickly begin to dehydrate as water began evaporating rapidly through your pores. You would also begin to feel the chill of MINUS 455 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, instead of exploding into itty-bitty bits, you would quickly become a human ice cube. About 30 seconds to be exact.

frozen-person

The dark side of the Moon… who could live there? Well, a colony on the “dark side of the Moon” would get just as much sunlight as the “other” side of the Moon. You see, it is only the Earth that the Moon hides its backside from. That’s because of tidal influences between these two planetary objects. The Sun, on the other hand, enjoys seeing every aspect of the Moon.

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What of golden sunsets and sunrises? Are they as beautiful when seen from space? Well, they are definitely as bright but not golden. Stars, which our Sun is, have colors that are determined by their temperature. Our Sun, at about 6,000 degrees Kelvin, is actually white. It only appears yellow to us Earthlings because of how it’s short-wavelenths of blue, green and violet are scattered as they travel through Earth’s atmosphere. And you know those wavy little rays we always draw around our Suns when we are little kids? Yeah, those are all wrong too. The Sun isn’t burning. There are no flames. It is EXPLODING with gases so it’s glowing. Like a light bulb.

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Have you ever seen those crack pilots zipping about in their little shuttles, navigating like aces through the hazards of an asteroid belt? Yeah. That’s not real either. Even in a really, super crowded asteroid belt with millions of space rocks each of these hunks of geological junk are most likely hundreds of thousands of miles apart. How do you think NASA’s probes make it to the farthest reaches of space if there were such dangerous obstacles? Remember, space is really, really, really, big. Plenty of room to navigate.

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Could a huge meteor slam into a wilderness area and create a fiery crater? Nope. A crater, yes, but not a fiery one. I know, I know. The dear reader is saying, “Hold on there, gringa! I have actually seen a fiery fireball of a meteor that raced across the sky!” Yes, I am sure that you did. However, it is the outer surface of the meteor that has heated up, liquefied and converted to flaming plasma from the friction of hurtling through Earth’s atmosphere at high-speed. Its core, however, is frozen solid from a lifetime in space where temperatures are hundreds of degrees BELOW freezing. So, you would most likely end up with scattered fires from fiery plasma scattering on impact and then a soggy mess in the crater after the cosmic ice ball melts. Basically, a meteor is like a flaming snowball.

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The gringa’s really sorry if she spoiled things for you. But I must remind you that the most important thing about science-fiction is that it is FICTION. So enjoy it the way it is meant to be enjoyed… an escape from reality into fantasy for pure pleasure. Let it titillate your imagination and inspire you to greater things. But always know the difference between fact and fiction!

Sources:

NASA

David Darling

Geoffrey Landis

Stanford

How Stuff Works

www.space.com

Image Credits: Discovery Channel

Star Trek Desktop Wallpaper

YouTube

Keyword Suggestions

Top Tenz

UK2

Animal New York

Gizmodo

Will There Be Lunar Water Wars?


How important is the Moon? Well, pretty darn important. Without the Moon we could pretty much say good-bye to life on Earth as we know it. The relationship between the Moon and Earth results in our ocean’s tidal systems. The movement of the ocean oxygenates the waters, keeping them healthy and providing oxygen for all the life living in the seas. This movement is also like an air conditioner for the entire world, moving cold arctic waters throughout warmer ocean regions to cool overall water temperature.  Although the Sun and wind would affect waves and tides, our ocean’s would still see a reduction in tidal movement by about one-third.

Also, if there was no Moon to light up the sky every night, our year would become much longer. That’s because without the gravitational effect of the Moon, the Earth would rotate slower. Days would become shorter, nights longer and a year of 365 days stretch to more than one thousand days.

In addition to helping keep all of Earth’s life-forms alive, the Moon is also a great source for poets, artists, song-writers and conspiracy theorists. Even though we still have the Moon, lunar conspiracy theorists may have to find a new past-time.

The gringa is talking about the conspiracists who believe that the Moon is hollow. The hollow Moon theory came about as a result of some experiments conducted by NASA in 1969 during the Apollo 12 mission. They deliberately crashed a spacecraft on the Moon as part of a geological study to measure the vibrations of the Moon.

After setting up seismographic equipment, the team of astronauts climbed back into their spacecraft. When they reached the right coordinates they jettisoned their lunar module and recorded the seismic results. Impact occurred at nearly 4,000 mph and made an impact crater. Upon impact, the astronauts said that the Moon sounded like a ringing bell with reverberations lasting for about an hour.

Did this ringing sound and vibrations really mean the Moon is hollow? Are these lunar conspiracy theorists on the right track or over-reacting? Watch Vintage Space’s video below and find out.

Well, considering that some go even further and claim that an abandoned space alien spaceship is parked in the center of our “hollow” Moon, the gringa thinks maybe they have gone too far. After all, I don’t think the Moon is a cosmic garage. But it is true that the relationship between the Moon and Earth does contain many unexplained mysteries.

Physicists are puzzled by the size relationship. It’s simply much more enormous than mathematics and physics say it should be. To enjoy such consistency in its orbital and gravitational relationship with Earth, the Moon should be about 40 miles in diameter. The reality is that it’s more than 2,000 miles in diameter.  That makes it about one-fourth the size of Earth.

Hollow Moon theorists claim that because the Moon is actually hollow, it has less mass which solves this physics anomaly. This also feeds their add-on conspiracy that the Moon is artificial, constructed by ancient aliens, and not a natural satellite. But Moon Express will soon be blowing these conspiracies out of the sky.

Moon Express has gotten approval  from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Defense, NASA, Federal Aviation Authority and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for a private Moon landing this year which will be the first step toward their goal of mining Moon minerals. The company will not be sending humans with pick-axes and spacesuits. They will engage in robotic mining. The MX-1E lander will launch with the aid of their Electron rocket. Once it lands the MX-1E will explore the Moon with an array of sophisticated instruments.

MX-1E won’t just be collecting geological samples. It will also be searching for water resources. Water will be the single most valuable natural resource on the Moon. It will be critical for future Moon missions as well as deep space missions.

Although it is very good news, indeed, that frozen water was discovered on the Moon, the gringa is very sad to hear one thing about this discovery. The founder of Moon Express, Bob Richards, had this to say,

“Water is the oil of the solar system, and the Moon has become the gas station in the sky.”

Unfortunately, Earthlings have been slaughtering one another and invading one another’s lands, fighting over control of the world’s oil supplies. The gringa hopes that the Moon doesn’t inspire the same kind of behavior. After all, the co-founder of Moon Express explains that space travel is the only way humanity can ensure the survival of the human race. How will we ever survive if we keep killing one another?

Sources:

www.space.com

Moon Express

Silicon Beat

Inside Science

Scientific American

Huffington Post

Express UK

Video Credit:  Vintage Space

Image Credit:  NASA

A Year With The Stars


(Originally posted 1/6/17 on Read With The Gringa)

Now that the new year is in full swing, it’s time to mark all the significant events that you don’t want to miss. By now you’ve already missed the first meteor shower of the year, the Quadrantids, that happened in the wee hours of January 4th. Later that same day Earth arrived in its closest position throughout its annual orbit round the Sun, called Perihelion, despite the fact that it was cold as the dickens with most Earthlings experiencing their winter seasons. But don’t despair if you missed out. There is so much more to come!

Feb. 10/11 Penumbral Lunar Eclipse:  It may seem like a normal full Moon but it’s not. The Moon will be moving through the outermost part of the Earth’s shadow. Because this part of the shadow is so faint, the Sun’s reflection off the Moon is incredibly striking and bright. As the three celestial bodies align, rather than see the Moon blocked out by the Earth’s shadow, the reverse will happen, it will shine brighter. Look at this image and see the difference between an ordinary full moon and the Moon in penumbral eclipse:

penumbral-lunar-eclipse_CNNPH.png

Feb. 26 Annular Solar Eclipse: If you live in the geographical swath of Earth that stretches across southern and western Africa, most of South America, and the islands dotting that belt in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, or if you happen to be in Antarctica, you will get to see the very best of this event. Some places, like the gringa’s H-town, won’t be able to see it at all. The eclipse will start around 6am Houston time and take about 5 hours to complete its cycle. However, you can’t just gaze up at the sky to see a proverbial “ring of fire” unless you want to come away blind and this be the last thing you ever see. To view a solar eclipse safely, you can always use a homemade pinhole projector, welders’ goggles or special solar filter viewing products. Check out Mr. Eclipse and discover how not to commit optic suicide while viewing a solar eclipse.  Here’s a map so you can see if you will be anywhere where you might get to see it.

path-760-feb26-eclipse

April 22/23 Lyrid Meteor Shower:  This annual celestial event takes place during the time of a waning crescent Moon. That means the setting will be fantastic to watch meteors streak across the sky. Although the Lyrid Meteor Shower season can start lighting up the sky as early as April 16 and last as late as April 25, the 22 & 23 are the days where activity should peak. So, as long as it’s not cloudy or raining, all you have to do is sit outside anytime after nightfall and watch the show until daybreak.

What direction should you look? Well, the event takes its name after constellation Lyra. That’s the direction from which the meteors emerge. Look toward the star Vega, it’s one of the brightest stars in the sky in April. To spot it, look directly overhead for a brilliant star that looks bluish-white. Folks in the Northern Hemisphere have the best seats for this show but just about everyone in the world has a chance at a peek.  Here’s a star map to help you find Vega so you will be looking in the right direction:

vega-lyra_sky-map

May 5/6 Eta Aquarid Meteors: If you didn’t get to see anything exciting with April’s meteor showers, maybe you will see something in May. The Eta Aquarid meteor shower season lasts from April 19 until May 28. However, the time of most activity will be May 5 & 6. Well, more specifically, the week hours on the morning of May 6. These meteors are the product of dust and debris from Halley’s Comet. During this time, Earth is passing through the path this famed comet travels around the Sun. This happens twice every year. The second event occurs in October. It takes the comet about 76 years to complete its orbit around the Sun. So, we are seeing rocks burn up in our atmosphere that have been hanging out on their own for nearly a century, at least. But, that’s just how long the rock has been separated from the comet. As to a meteorite’s true age, there’s really no telling. When you witness a shooting star, you could be watching the end of millions of years of history. To look for these meteors look toward the Aquarius constellation. Eta Aquarii, the namesake of this event, will be the brightest star of Aquarius. Here’s a star map to help you:

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Aug. 7/8 Partial Lunar Eclipse: This will be visible in most of southern/eastern Asia, Europe, Africa and Australia. The eclipse will begin around 4pm UTC with maximum effect happening around 6:20pm UTC.

Aug. 12/13 Perseid Meteors:  This is one of the brightest and most active meteor showers throughout the year.  The entire season lasts from July 17 until August 24 but these are the best 2 days to be expected from the peak period of Aug 9-13. If you can, get out of town on a really dark night, settle down on a blanket and wait for the sky to light up right before dawn. These meteors are debris from the Swift-Tuttle Comet and can be viewed by looking toward the Perseus constellation. Folks in the Northern Hemisphere should look at the zenith of the northeastern sky. Here’s an image of the Perseus constellation:

perseus-constellation

Aug 21 The Great American Eclipse: A total solar eclipse will be center attraction across the entire U.S. Refer to Mr. Eclipse listed in the event for Feb. 26 to find out how to watch it safely.

October 8 Draconid Meteor Shower:  The debris left behind by dust from comet 21 P/Giacobini-Zinner makes for a spectacular light show but only for certain lucky people who live in North America, Europe and Asia. The further south you go toward the equator, the less likely it is you will get to see any action. For the best opportunity, look toward the 2 brightest stars of the Draco the Dragon Constellation, Eltanin and Rastaban. If you can find the Little Dipper, Draco is close by. Take a look:

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October 20/21 Orionid Meteors:  Right on the heels of one fantastic meteor shower event is another. The Orionid meteors are blasting away throughout all of October but these two nights are the biggest shows. The best time to start watching is right after midnight. More dust from Halley’s Comet is making an encore appearance. Everyone in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere is invited to watch. It’s as easy as looking right overhead no matter where you are.

Nov 17/18 Leonid Meteor Shower:  If you want to have a chance at seeing light shows from burning space debris created by the Tempel-Tuttle Comet, this show promises about 20 meteors per hour.  People in both hemispheres can view the meteors starting around midnight on Nov. 17. No particular direction is better than another. Just get out of town, away from city lights. Pack a few sleeping bags so you can snuggle down in comfort and warmth, then lie on your back and enjoy the show.

Dec 3/4 Supermoon: End the year with a fabulous Supermoon. It will appear about 12-14% larger than normal. Being nearer the Earth will also mean the Moon will have a stronger tidal effect. If you have a chance, get to a beach and view three cool natural events, a Supermoon, amazing high tide and super-low neap tide. As the Supermoon pulls the tide further away from the beach than normal, there’s no telling what kind of treasure might be found!

The gringa hopes you are all excited about an interesting year ahead with cool space stuff to do every single month! Get out and enjoy the stars with someone you love! Pack a midnight picnic, disconnect from devices, lay back, relax and be patient. The show will begin in its own time!

Source:  www.timeanddate.com

Image Credits:  Fine Art America

CNN Philippines

www.timeanddate.com

www.space.com

Fall Of A Thousands Suns

Shmoop

aslc-nm.org

Young Mr. Daniel’s Moon Musings


One of the gringa’s dear readers shares the blog post over breakfast with his children. Thank you so much for the support, Neil. Now, Neil has reported that his 12-year-old wants to know why the heck no one seems interested in the poor, little Moon anymore. His son thinks we are simply wasting the opportunity of a lifetime for mankind to have an outpost that would make it easier to explore the Universe.

The gringa is impressed with such matter of fact, forward thinking. It does make perfect sense to establish a pathway of outposts. Rather than have to travel for months at a time, space explorers could station hop. So, indeed, why does an Earth orbiting space station receive all of our efforts? Is there any interest in a lunar outpost? Here’s what the gringa has found out.

The Arguments FOR A Lunar Orbiting or Fixed Base Station:

  1. Not only could all the research currently performed on the International Space Station (ISS) be done on a lunar orbiting station, but scientists would also have access to the surface of the Moon for hands-on terrestrial studies.
  2. Long-term opportunity from an orbiting lunar station would eventually result in the establishment of a lunar base on the ground. Reconnaissance for suitable habitat locations could be performed. Hothouses for growing food could be constructed. Eventually human habitats could be perfected.
  3. Astronomy studies would be optimized with telescopes that are much closer to targets.
  4. An orbiting lunar station would become a gateway to the rest of the solar system. Interstellar travel would be empowered, no longer requiring the massive amounts of fuel payloads in order to exit the Earth’s gravity and atmosphere.
  5. An orbiting lunar station could also serve as an intermediary warning system for near approaches of comets or asteroids. They could, perhaps, even be equipped to intervene should one pose a threat to Earth.
  6. Of course, ambitious politics would claim the importance of remaining relevant and dominant (pfft).
  7. Practice makes perfect. So, if the goal is to explore the far reaches of space, starting with a Mars base, having a trial run making a go of it on the Moon makes perfect sense. Technologies for constructing habitat, like 3D printers, can be tested and perfected before investing in a Mars mission, raising the potential for success on the first go round.
  8. To evolve and advance into an interplanetary species could result in unifying the world and contribute to world peace. Most wars are fought to gain dominance over the Earth’s limited supplies of natural resources. With the Universe within reach to all, such goals seem childish and unnecessary. And to achieve such a monumental goal will require cooperation of the best and brightest throughout the world.

What A Lunar Station Needs

  1. Radiation Protection: The ISS has shielding to protect it from Earth’s powerful magnetosphere. Further out, a lunar orbiting station or an outpost on the Moon’s surface would need sufficient protection from massive radiation exposure.
  2. Micro-Meteoroid Protection: Even a tiny piece of flying debris can be deadly if it pierces any protective layer, whether that layer be protecting a human or habitat.
  3. Supplies: Whether it is food, medicine, or power, supplies are necessary. Being so far from home means developing the technology for self-sustainability.

The Challenges

  1. Radiation shielding is heavy. All that heavy stuff would have to be transported. That would be very expensive.
  2. Rescue and escape from the current ISS can happen quickly. Crews can launch home in the Soyuz capsule and arrive home in a few hours. Time is critical especially for medical emergencies. Emergency transfer from the Moon would take days.
  3. Although the Sun is the primary source of the radiation challenge, it is also the primary source of power. Re-juicing solar panels on the ISS is easy with day/night cycles that occur every 90 minutes. On the Moon, a station in orbit or on the ground would go without sunlight for two weeks on a monthly basis. Alternatives to solar power reliance is a must.
  4. Climate: Apollo mission astronauts performed their duties in sealed spacesuits and space capsules. Yet, when they arrived home they all had toxic lunar dust in their respiratory systems. Inhalation most likely occurred when returning to the confines of their capsules and taking off dusty space suits.

Is There Interest?

The Russians are interested. They hope to achieve a semi-permanent lunar base by 2030. NASA is interested but wants to build a station on the dark side of the Moon. That means privacy away from the prying eyes of the public with high-powered telescopes. They are looking at “libration points” as part of the plan to get a manned crew to Mars. Libration points, also called Lagrangian points, are sweet spots in space where gravitational forces between two objects in space create a sweet spot to park a space craft. The Moon is considered just one leg of the journey, being a prime libration point. NASA has tentatively put a $10 billion price tag on a Moon base plan with hopes of mission accomplishment by 2022. It seems that the old space race between the US and Russia has been revived.

So, my dear, young Mr. Daniel, your bright, intelligent mind is on the cutting edge of space exploration ideas. By the time a US lunar station becomes a reality, you will be old enough to contribute your own talents and skills. Hone them and become part of the dream. Study math and science and geology and medicine and botany and robotics. Let your musings take you to the Moon, young Mr. Daniel!

Sources:  Forbes

space.stackexchange.com

www.space.com

Daily Mail UK

National Geographic

BBC

Image Credit: Thornhill Radio & TV

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Dubious Path To Delightful Wonder


The gringa loves all things outer space. I even get a kick out of exploring the possibility of extra-terrestrial life. Filtering through reports from UFO conspiracy theorists is very inspiring and often leads me to interesting place. For instance, I started out on a lark to examine the truth behind a report that claims that Russia has threatened the U.S. if the nation doesn’t “fess up” and tell folks the truth about the existence of alien life. And this led to something absolutely fascinating that captured my attention upon a completely different topic. Let’s travel the twists and turns of the gringa’s rabbit trails together.

First, UFO conspiracy theorists use a couple of quotes from space agency officials to claim that they are hinting that space aliens exist. Let’s examine the quotes:

“I think we’re going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we’re going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years.” – Ellen Stofan, NASA chief scientist, Tuesday, May 12, 2016.

Now what UFO conspiracy theorists leave out is that Stofan said this during a panel discussion about finding WATER in outer space, which is necessary to life as humans know it. Stofan later clarified that she is specifically referring to finding life in the form of MICROBES and not little green men.

The same UFO conspiracy theorists go on to use a quote by NASA’s Dr. John Grunsfeld, who works on the Science Mission Directorate, as also claiming that mankind is on the verge of discovering life on other planets. The conspiracy theorists weave into his words the implication that aliens have been visiting Earth for hundreds of years. So what the heck did he say? In July, 2015, Grunsfeld testified before the U.S. House Science, Technology and Space Committee where he made his pitch for more funding. This was the teaser he hoped would open the funding spigot:

“Are we alone? Many, many people on planet Earth want to know… We are on the cusp of being able to answer that question.”

The gringa hates to burst the bubble of conspiracy theorists but I don’t see any indication that he is expecting to find sentient beings in another part of the Universe that we might have a conversation with. The gringa also finds nothing worthy in his words that lead me to believe that he believes Earthlings have played host to extra-terrestrial visitors. But there’s more, and boy is what the UFO conspiracy theorists claim next a real dilly.

They claim that in March of last year there was a top secret shindig on the Moon attended by 70 civilians and 120 officials representing Earth’s national governments and space programs. Now, for being a top secret affair, the gringa finds it incredibly interesting that security was so lacking that UFO conspiracy theorists were able to discover that an 8’ alien was the guest of honor and even found out his name! He’s called Raw-Teir-Eir from the Blue Avian race that is part of the Sphere Being Alliance. By now the gringa is having great difficulty typing because I am laughing so hard but I must go on and get to the final leg of my rabbit trail journey.

It was at this point that the gringa took a turn off this strangely beaten path. Although I don’t believe a word about a secret meeting taking place on the moon with blue birdmen, I am struck by the fact that even if a meeting like that did occur, mankind would never be the wiser. There is no way for us regular folk to eavesdrop or spy on anything that happens on the dark side of the Moon. Or is there? And here the gringa goes again.

My final leg of this curious journey landed me on the website of Icarus Interstellar. This is a group of citizen scientists who are opening up the possibility for anyone to be a part of designing spacecrafts and exploring the stars. They have many different projects in the works. If a person thinks that they have something to contribute, they want you to sign up and be part of a team. And trust the gringa, there is something for everyone. The group believes that interstellar travel is possible but only through a united global effort of talent. Project Icarus was initially launched thanks to the British Interplanetary Society (BIS). Here’s a list of current projects:

  • Project Icarus: Design a theoretical interstellar spacecraft
  • Project Hyperion: Manned interstellar flight
  • Project Bifrost: Nuclear Space Technologies
  • Project Forward: Beamed Propulsion
  • Project Persephone: Living Architectures
  • Project Tin Tin: Interstellar Nano Mission To Alpha Centauri
  • Project XP4: X-Physics Propulsion & Power
  • Project Astrolabe: Navigating The Future Of Civilization
  • Project Voyager: Mapping A Path To The Stars

Collegiate student chapters are forming the next generation of citizen scientists, engineers, artists, etc. who will be continuing the mission of taking man to the stars. Join one and become part of a community of scientists and humanitarians, contribute to the advancement of missions, be a part of the Starship Congress (interstellar annual conference) and have your own space on the Icarus Interstellar website.

If you don’t have any specific skills or talents, you can always become a charter member by making financial contributions. For those who can’t afford charter membership, even small donations are appreciated. A reciprocal way to help fund these missions is to purchase merchandise from their shop. They have some pretty cool stuff like:

  • Board games
  • Plans for how to build a spaceship

So, although the gringa started out with crazy UFO conspiracies, look at where that led! The take away lesson from that is don’t be afraid to tread along dubious paths. They just might lead to really cool destinations.

Sources:

Waking Times Media

www.space.com

CNN

exopolitics.org

Icarus Interstellar

Image Credit: Astrology King

 

 

 

You Lost What?!!


 

Tell me it ain’t so, NASA. Tell me that you didn’t really lose the original tapes of the Moon landing. I mean, what were you thinking? The one time in ALL of human history that a human being sets foot on a patch of ground that IS NOT Earth and you don’t have the best proof that it really happened in some sort of Fort Knox type security vault? Really? You lost them?

The gringa is torn between being hopping mad and curiously perplexed. Since I recently discovered just how bad being mad is, I will try to cultivate stronger feelings of perplexity.  But NASA didn’t just “lose” the tapes. No, they ERASED THEM! They recorded over the original footage. Anything we see today is a “restored version of the original”. In other words, a copy, a cheap imitation, something that ain’t quite true.

Again, the gringa has to ask NASA, “Who in their right mind ERASES and TAPES OVER the original footage of the most historical moment of mankind’s modern history? Who, NASA? Who?” I mean, the gringa hasn’t even taped over my oldest son’s ballet recital when he was 3-years-old and thought dressing up in a pink sequin outfit with bunny ears and a cottontail and performing on stage was the coolest thing ever. I still have that tape. I don’t even own a VCR anymore but I STILL HAVE THE TAPE! Are you kidding me NASA?

You know what this does for the gringa? It calls into question all the validity of the Moon landing altogether. The gringa clings tenaciously to the hope that the Moon landing was not staged. The gringa wants to believe in the noble cause and purpose of America’s space agency. The gringa does not want to believe that her government was willing to stage a bit of Cold War propaganda with NASA when it was a fledgling organization. But stuff just keeps coming up that makes the gringa continue to scratch her head and think that Moon landing conspiracy theorists may have gotten this sordid tale right.

Why in the world would the original footage ever be considered unimportant enough to tape over? Unless it was footage of a staged event that modern videography experts can now pick apart detail by detail with sophisticated technology and techniques to expose it as a fraud. The gringa is trying so hard not to feel anger.

So, basically, way back when, on July 16, 1969 President Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) and his wife, our First Lady affectionately called Lady Bird, watched Apollo 11 launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, hurtling Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins toward the Moon, maybe. Four days later what we have always believed the world has seen, a grainy video of Neil Armstrong “Moon walking” and saying those famous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” was the next big event after the launch. And the next big event after that? In 2006, nearly 40 years later, NASA fesses up that the original video cannot be located.

After an investigation, led by Rich Nafzger, NASA discovered that the original footage had been part of a batch of videos that had been magnetically erased and re-used. My, how convenient. Their excuse was that the original video had only been intended for live broadcast, never for re-airing. Why? All throughout television history live broadcasts have been re-aired. And wouldn’t scientists want to preserve the true video feed of the one and only FIRST time a human has walked around on another surface other than Earth? I mean, apart from historical value, isn’t there other scientific, safety and training value to such video?

So now what we see are copies originally furnished by CBS News that were restored by Lowry Digital. The new versions have cleaned up the images to be more clear. So what of the footage of following Moon landings, five more that occurred between 1969-1972? Does NASA have original video footage of astronauts gallivanting on the surface of the moon for those? And who was this Lowry Digital? What kind of reputation did this Lowry production company have?

Here are all the Moon missions when an astronaut walked on the Moon’s surface:

Apollo 11 – Neil Armstrong & Buzz Aldrin walk on the Moon:

Apollo 12 – Pete Conrad & Alan Bean walked on the Moon.

Apollo 14 – Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell walked on the Moon.

Apollo 15 – David Scott & James Irwin walked on the Moon.

Apollo 16 – John Young & Charles Duke walked on the Moon.

Apollo 17 – Eugene (Gene ) Cernan & Harrison (Jack) Schmitt walked on the Moon.

(Apollo 13 – Uncompleted mission with a harrowing crisis and narrow escape and recovery)

Lowry Digital has restored all sorts of movies like Bambi, The Robe and Star Wars. Considering the quality of science fiction productions during 2009 when the original Moon landing tapes were restored, sure, it’s possible to have faked the production. But then there’s the reality that the original footage of five other Moon walking missions are in existence. So, the gringa believes that where conspiracy theorists are concerned, the status of the first Moon landing’s original footage does, indeed, make for good fodder for the conspiracy gristmill. However, when you weigh it against the other videos NASA has that proves that astronauts actually did land and walk around on the Moon throughout the following decade, the balance tips in favor of NASA credibility.

Whew. That was close. The gringa is sure glad she followed that little trail to a happy conclusion!

Sources:  NASA

NPR

Reuters

Image Credit:  todaysdocument.tumblr.com

 

 

 

A Special UFO Dedication


Today’s post is dedicated to dear reader “mike7sedona”. Thanks “mike7sedona” for some interesting leads on UFO stories.

A dear reader commented on a recent post including three links to stories regarding statements made by a former Canadian government official on the existence of alien life. The gringa became curious about just how many government officials have gone on the record with statements. I am sure there is much more information than what I can include in a single post. However, the gringa doesn’t want to spoil all the fun for my dear readers. This should be enough to whet your appetites and get you hot on the trail of your own UFO story.

Former Canadian Defense Minister, Paul Hellyer, who served during the 1960’s, was interviewed on live television. These are a few highlights of his interview with regard to space aliens:

  • Aliens exist, live amongst us and have developed much of our technology such as microchips, LED lighting and Kevlar protective vests.
  • Aliens are hesitant to share more technology because mankind are poor stewards of humanity. They are particularly unhappy with our nuclear capabilities and the fact that nuclear weapons have been used.
  • They have become so unhappy with our pollution and wars and neglect of the needy that they have been warning key humans since the 1970s that we nasty humans need to change our ways.
  • He and his wife personally witnessed a UFO flying over Lake Muskoka about 120 miles north of Toronto. The sighting lasted for about 20 minutes
  • He discussed aliens with Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell. They concluded that there could be as many as 80 different species living among us, many humanoid and virtually indistinguishable from native humans. You could pass one in the street, live next door to one, share an office with one, and never know.
  • Tall Whites are a species who have two operatives working in the United States. Although, in general, they have rules governing their relations with other species such as non-interference.
  • The book “Millennial Hospitality”, written by Charles Hall, is about his relationship with one of the Tall White aliens working with the U.S. government.
  • Species “Nordic blondes” are virtually indistinguishable from natural humans.
  • Short Grey’s have very slim arms and legs, are short, barely taller than 5 feet, have big brown eyes in their very big heads.
  • Most are nice and want to help humanity but a couple of species are not so nice.
  • Their origins are varied such as: Andromedia which is one of Saturn’s moons, star systems like Pleiades & Zeta Reticuli.
  • Alien civilizations on Venus and Mars are thought to be communicating with each other.
  • A portal exists in the Andes, located in Peru that allows for space travel across vast distances.
  • They have been visiting Earth for thousands of years.
  • In 1961 50 UFOs left Russia, flew across Europe, buzzed the North Pole & returned to Russia which inspired a 3 year investigation by Russian officials who determined that the UFOs were of alien origin, four species to be exact.
  • A collaborative effort between powerful groups suppress information from reaching the public: U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission, international banks, and specialized military personnel.

The source of this interview, Russia Today, is considered by Western journalists to be the strongest propaganda arm of Russia. However, considering the politics at play, the gringa understands why the West criticizes the East, attacking their credibility. If the U.S. did have a military edge with an extra-terrestrial alliance, of course they would want to discredit any revelation of this truth by Russia.

Unless the video is an absolute fake, edited piece, possibly even featuring a Hellyer doppleganger, there is no disputing the words spoken. Regardless of other reports that could be fake news, it seems that this interview would be difficult to classify as fake. The gringa tends to believe it is a genuine interview and that the former defense minister was entirely sincere.

But don’t just take the gringa’s word for it regarding the Russia Today video. Oh no, there’s more. In addition to the Russia Today interview, Hellyer testified at a Citizen Hearing On Disclosure (CHD) in Washington D.C. in 2013 which was also videotaped. He testified that aliens are indeed living among humanity with two operatives within the U.S. government. He testified before six former U.S. congressmen.

He then goes into the politics between the aliens and humans. The aim is for a one world government. He is also at odds with famed physicist Stephen Hawking who believes extra terrestrials have malevolent intentions toward humanity.

The gringa finds this incredible! Why was this not front-page headline news? However, I really shouldn’t be surprised. There’s actually quite a long list of government officials who have made public statements affirming the existence of extra-terrestrials and these reports have been equally buried or marginalized.

  1. Hillary Clinton campaign team-member John Podesta is an advocate for full disclosure of government information on UFOs and extra-terrestrials. He has succeeded in getting some documents declassified. The gringa can only wonder if this might have played a part in the FBI seemingly sabotaging Clinton’s presidential campaign? Hmmm.
  2. Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich claims to have personally witnessed a UFO.
  3. Former president of the Russian Republic of Kalmykia, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, also the current president of the World Chess Organization, claims he was abducted by humanoid extra terrestrials. He communicated telephathically during the experience on their spacecraft.
  4. Former NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell is an avid UFOlogist, active in conventions. His origins are from Roswell, New Mexico, site of the famous UFO crash.
  5. Former Air Force Captain Robert Salas claims UFOs commonly interfered with nuclear warhead testing. He claims one of his crews came upon a UFO that was triangular in shape and emitted a substance like molten metal.
  6. The entire U.S. government admitted that the Roswell, New Mexico crash was an alien spaceship then changed their story, claiming it was only a weather balloon. This reversal has created controversy over what is known as the Guy Hottel memo, as well as other FBI documents, which contain descriptions of extra-terrestrial bodies that were recovered along with eyewitness testimony, descriptions of cattle mutilations, NSA documents on UFO crashes and coded messages that were intercepted.
  7. NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong claimed that he and Buzz Aldrin were watched by “someone” with more advanced technology than mankind when they were performing their famous Moon mission.
  8. Nine other NASA astronauts claimed to have witnessed UFOs.
  9. Most recently NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, after returning from an historic one year mission on the International Space Station, included a reference to space aliens in a statement about the harsh effects of gravity upon humans. But this could have been a joke and not at all serious, however many UFOlogists wonder if it was a cryptic admission. Especially since:
  10. Kelly Tweeted a photo from the station on day 233 of his mission which UFOlogists claim contains a UFO in the top right corner.

So there you have it. Dear readers, you will have to follow the links, dig up the dirt and decide for yourself. The gringa is fascinated and by no means a full-fledged believer or a full-fledged skeptic. Just as I am an astronaut hopeful, I am also hopeful that there are other beings out there who are kind. Who have succeeded in creating societies that are peaceful, co-existing with one another without war and greed. Civilizations who care for the planets that make their lives possible. Species that are so generous that they are willing to help us learn how to do the same. Who are so patient that despite how stupid humanity continues to be, they haven’t given up on us. If they haven’t given up on mankind, then the gringa won’t either.

Sources: provided through links throughout the post

Image Credit: pctechmag.com

The Earth v. Theia Smackdown


In just a few days, November 14, the Moon is going to be a Supermoon. There are lots of opportunities to see a Supermoon but the super-super-super-ness of this particular Supermoon won’t happen again for 70 years. What better time to pen a post that explains just how our Moon ended up in the orbit it’s in around our pretty, blue planet? You see, despite the fact that we are all accustomed to that big, gray rock circling us every day, how it got there to begin with is actually a mystery. Earth and her moon have not always been a couple.

Scientists think that Earth had a major smackdown with a protoplanet millions of years ago that resulted in it becoming our Moon. A protoplanet is a large body orbiting around a sun, or star, that eventually develops into a regular planet. In other words, it’s a hunk of rock that eventually transforms into creating its own motion that affects the events and natural environment of its surface. So, although the Moon has its own motion, it is controlled by the Earth’s gravity. Interestingly, although the Moon is not yet a planet in its own right, it does affect environmental events on Earth, our ocean tides.

But the gringa has gotten sidetracked. Back to just where the heck the Moon came from. So, a protoplanet slams into Earth yet is not obliterated. Researchers suspect that for a hunk of rock to survive such a collision it would have had to have originated from a protoplanet the size of Mars. Scientists have named this theoretical Moon-producing protoplanet Theia. Here’s a picture of Earth next to Mars and Mars next to the Moon. Picture the middle guy slamming into the big guy and ending up the little guy.

compareemm

 

Now, the gringa wants to know that if this is how it happened, how did the Moon become so perfectly round? I don’t know about you, but whenever I have seen any rock get pulverized, I don’t find any fragments that are spherical. So, the gringa takes her skepticism further. What kind of rock is the Moon?

Well, the Moon actually consists of geological material that can be found on Earth. What this means is that an impact theory between Earth and Theia doesn’t really make sense. The Moon would then consist of Earth stuff and foreign Theia stuff. But, the Moon’s just made of Earth stuff.

Another thing that keeps scientists scratching their heads about the Earth-Theia impact theory is where the Moon is. If it was a piece of space debris from an impact, the Moon should orbit around Earth’s equator. Instead, it orbits elliptically at a tilt, five degrees off our equator.

Scientist Sarah Stewart at the University of California thinks she has solved these problems. She theorizes that:

  • Number one, the clash between Earth & Theia involved much more energy than previously thought.
  • This caused the Earth to spin like crazy, much faster than it does now.
  • Some of the debris was vaporized, meaning melted Earth material fused with Theia and Theia material fused with Earth. The Earth and Moon are actually mixed together. So, when it seems that the Moon is only comprised of Earth materials, in a way that’s true but yet not all true. The Earth and the Moon are BOTH made up of Earth & Theia stuff.
  • When the collision first happened, causing the Earth to spin wildly, our axis pointed right at the Sun and we only had a 2 hour day.
  • As Theia a.k.a. the Moon stabilized in its orbit around the Earth equator, its affect was to gradually slow the rapid spinning of the Earth by affecting the tidal movements of the oceans.
  • As the Earth slowed down the Earth’s axis also shifted which caused Theia a.k.a. the Moon to no longer orbit around our equator.

Now, it would have taken more than 10 million years for all of this to happen. But, it all makes perfect sense to the gringa. Except for the round bit. Why is there not a big dent still visible in the Earth and the Moon? And despite the fact that I really like the name Theia, I don’t have any plans to call the Moon anything other than the Moon.

Source:

www.ibtimes.co.uk

Image Credit: www.space.com

www.digipac.ca