Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Biggest Breakthrough In Propulsion Since The Jet Engine!

From Space Daily:

The Biggest Breakthrough In Propulsion Since The Jet Engine
by Staff Writers
London, UK (SPX) Nov 30, 2012

The SABRE engine has the potential to revolutionise lives in the 21st century in the way the jet engine did in the 20th Century.
Reaction Engines has announced the biggest breakthrough in aerospace propulsion technology since the invention of the jet engine. Critical tests have been successfully completed on the key technology for SABRE, an engine which will enable aircraft to reach the opposite side of the world in under 4 hours, or to fly directly into orbit and return in a single stage, taking off and landing on a runway.

SABRE, an air-breathing rocket engine, utilizes both jet turbine and rocket technology. Its innovative pre-cooler technology is designed to cool the incoming airstream from over 1,000C to minus 150C in less than 1/100th of a second (six times faster than the blink of an eye) without blocking with frost. The recent tests have proven the cooling technology to be frost-free at the crucial low temperature of -150C.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has evaluated the SABRE engine's pre-cooler heat exchanger on behalf of the UK Space Agency, and has given official validation to the test results: "The pre-cooler test objectives have all been successfully met and ESA are satisfied that the tests demonstrate the technology required for the SABRE engine development."

Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts said: "This is a remarkable achievement for a remarkable company. Building on years of unique engineering know-how, Reaction Engines has shown the world that Britain remains at the forefront of technological innovation and can get ahead in the global race. This technology could revolutionise the future of air and space travel."

Well over 100 test runs, undertaken at Reaction Engines Ltd's facility in Oxfordshire, integrated the ground-breaking flight-weight cooling technology and frost control system with a jet engine and a novel helium cooling loop, demonstrating the new technologies in the SABRE engine that drive its highly innovative and efficient thermodynamic cycle.
This success adds to a series of other SABRE technology demonstrations undertaken by the company including contra-rotating turbines, combustion chambers, rocket nozzles, and air intakes and marks a major advance towards the creation of vehicles like SKYLON - a new type of reusable space vehicle that will be powered by SABRE engines, designed primarily to transport satellites and cargo into space.

Alan Bond, who founded Reaction Engines to re-build the UK's rocket propulsion industry and has led the research from the start, said: "These successful tests represent a fundamental breakthrough in propulsion technology. Reaction Engines' lightweight heat exchangers are going to force a radical re-think of the design of the underlying thermodynamic cycles of aerospace engines.

These new cycles will open up completely different operational characteristics such as high Mach cruise and low cost, re-usable space access, as the European Space Agency's validation of Reaction Engines' SABRE engine has confirmed.
The REL team has been trying to solve this problem for over 30 years and we've finally done it. Innovation doesn't happen overnight. Independent experts have confirmed that the full engine can now be demonstrated.

The SABRE engine has the potential to revolutionise our lives in the 21st century in the way the jet engine did in the 20th Century. This is the proudest moment of my life."
Dr Mark Ford, ESA's Head of Propulsion Engineering, said: "One of the major obstacles to developing air-breathing engines for launch vehicles is the development of lightweight high-performance heat exchangers. With this now successfully demonstrated by Reaction Engines Ltd, there are currently no technical reasons why the SABRE engine programme cannot move forward into the next stage of development."

Organic Materials On Mars

For Immediate Release

Curiosity's Discovery of Carbon, Chlorine on Mars a Critical First Step To Determining Origin of "Organic" Material

December, 3, 2012: Beverly, Massachusetts: Earlier today, NASA announced the first results from the SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) on the Curiosity rover on Mars. While organic compounds were found in this soil sample, the NASA investigators are not yet sure whether these organics were formed on Mars. According to SAM Principal Investigator Paul Mahaffy of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., "We have no definitive detection of Martian organics at this point, but we will keep looking in the diverse environments of Gale Crater."

"Those of us who have conducted missions in extreme environments - looking for evidence of living organisms where life is very scant - can totally appreciate the challenges that the MSL scientists are presented with in interpreting the SAM data that point to detection of organic compounds," said Dr. Steve McDaniel, biochemist and board member of Explore Mars. "Having said that, even where it is very difficult to detect life, with the evidence we already have about Mars, including the Viking data, ALH84001, seasonal methane plumes, ample water and other facts, it might be more scientifically prudent at this point to modify our working hypothesis from a negative slant to a positive slant and continue our experiments accordingly."
Curiosity will continue its progress toward Mount Sharp in Gale Crater over the upcoming months where it will be able to observe geological features on Mars that have never been observed before. The Curiosity team considers the base of Mount Sharp to be an extremely good location to investigate possible evidence of past or present Martian life.

Artemis Westenberg, President of Explore Mars stated, "The organic compounds that SAM measured could be something we took with us from Earth, they could be something that rained down from Outer Space onto Mars (Panspermia), or they could have formed on Mars itself. I am hopeful that the latter will turn out to have been the case, but we have to be patient to hear what the Curiosity mission will bring us next."

Explore Mars will be monitoring this mission closely and will be conducting a series of articles and programs discussing Curiosity and other Mars related topics leading up to the Humans to Mars Summit in May 2013 in Washington, DC (

Explore Mars was created to advance the goal of sending humans to Mars within the next two decades. To further that goal, Explore Mars conducts programs and technical challenges to stimulate the development and/or improvement of technologies that will make human Mars missions more efficient and feasible. In addition, to embed the idea of Mars as a habitable planet, Explore Mars challenges educators to use Mars in the classroom as a tool to teach standard STEM curricula.

Explore Mars, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation organized in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Donations to Explore Mars are tax-deductible. You can Contact us using our website or at the email .

Chris Carberry
Executive Director
Explore Mars, Inc

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sex On Mars

to undisclosed recipients
The year is 2222 and Jack and Elena land on Mars after accumulating enough Frequent Flyer miles.

They meet a Martian couple and are talking about all sorts of things. Jacke asks if Mars has a stock market, if they have laptop computers, how they make money, etc.

Finally, Elena brings up the subject of sex.

'Just how do you guys do it?' asks Elena.

The Martian responds, 'Pretty much the way you do.'

A discussion ensues and finally the couples decide to swap partners for the night and experience one another... Elena and the male Martian go off to a bedroom where
the Martian strips.. He's got only a teeny, weenie member about half an inch long and just a quarter-inch thick.

'I don't think this is going to work,' says Elena..

'Why?' he asks. 'What's the matter?'

'Well,' she replies, 'it's just not long enough to reach me!'

'No problem,' he says, and proceeds to slap his forehead with his palm. With each slap of his forehead, his member grows until it's quite impressively long.

'Well,' she says, 'that's quite impressive, but it is still narrow.'

'No problem,' he says, and starts pulling his ears. With each pull, his member grows wider and wider until the entire measurement is extremely exciting to Elena.

'Wow!' she exclaims, as they fell into bed and made mad passionate love.

The next day the couples rejoin their other partners and go their separate ways.
As they walked along, Jack asks, 'Well, was it any good?'

'I hate to say it,' says Elena, 'but it was wonderful.
How about you?'

'It was horrible,' he replies.
'All I got was a headache ... She kept slapping my forehead and pulling my ears.'

Lake Vida Bacteria: Antarctic Lake Untouched For 2,800 Years May Aid Search For Alien Life

Lake Vida Bacteria: Antarctic Lake Untouched For 2,800 Years May Aid Search For Alien Life

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Classic 1950 Film Flight To Mars

Flight to Mars is one of my all time favorite films. I have the DVD and a model of the rocket used in the film. The writers some 62 years ago thought that it would be possible to send a manned expedition to Mars using a nuclear-powered rocket at that time. NASA projects that the first manned mission to Mars will take place around 2030. Elon Musk make it happen quicker!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

INhospitable Mars-A Questionable Theory

PARIS: Instead of a warm, wet and possibly life-bearing planet as some scientists contend, early Mars may have been a hostile and volatile place with frequent volcanic outbursts, according to a new study.
Earlier research had theorised that certain minerals detected on the surface of the Red Planet indicated the presence of clay formed when water weathered surface rock some 3.7 billion years ago.
This would also have meant the planet was warmer and wetter then, boosting chances that it could have nurtured life forms.
But new research by a team from France and the United States said the minerals, including iron and magnesium, may instead have been deposited by water-rich lava, a mixture of molten and part-molten rock beneath Earth's surface.
Clay cannot be used to prove liquid water
Alain Meunier of France's Universite de Poitiers and a team studied clay minerals at Mururoa atoll in French Polynesia that seem similar to Martian examples, and showed they were formed from precipitation of lava.
The same process has also occurred at other locations on Earth, including the Parana basin in Brazil, said the study in Nature Geoscience.
"To crystallise, clays need water but not necessarily liquid water. In other words, clays are not exclusively typical of soils or altered rocks; they may crystallise also directly from magmas," Meunier said.
"Magmatic clays have no climatic significance. Consequently, they cannot be used to prove that the planet was habitable or not during its early history."
Previous study suggested Earth-like water cycle
If the theory is correct, it "would imply that early Mars may not have been as habitable as previously thought at the time when Earth's life was taking hold," University of Colorado geologist Brian Hynek wrote in a comment.
Two years ago, the same publication carried a study suggesting that a huge, potentially life-giving sea likely covered more than a third of early Mars as single-cell life forms were emerging on our own planet.
The authors of that study said the Red Planet probably had an Earth-like water cycle including precipitation, runoff, cloud formation, ice formation and groundwater accumulation.
Recent probes of our neighbour planet has found no liquid water, though ice has been discovered at the poles. All known life forms need water so the existence of a water source could point to a haven for primitive life.
Hynek said only on-the-spot examination of Mars' clay minerals can provide conclusive proof of their origin.
Two rovers that humans have placed on Mars, Opportunity which landed in 2004 and Curiosity earlier this year, may contribute such evidence.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Exploratorium: Press Information: | Mars and Beyond – October 27, 2012

Exploratorium: Press Information: | Mars and Beyond – October 27, 2012:

'via Blog this'

Real Tricorder To Be Tested On ISS

Ron Clatworthy 
1:38 PM (15 hours ago)
to undisclosed recipients

"Real-life tricorder" to be tested on International Space Station

The MicroFlow is a toaster-sized flow cytometer for medical diagnosis that will be tested ...
The MicroFlow is a toaster-sized flow cytometer for medical diagnosis that will be tested on the ISS 
While still impressive, the capabilities of early "tricorders," such as the Scanadu and Dr Jansen's tricorder, fall well short of the Star Trek device that inspired them. But new technology to be tested on the International Space Station (ISS) brings the age of instant diagnosis of medical conditions using a portable device a step closer. The Microflow could also make its way into doctor’s offices here on Earth where it might help cut down on the number of follow up visits required after waiting to get results back from the lab.
The Microflow is a miniaturized version of a flow cytometer, which analyzes cells suspended in a stream of fluid as they pass single-file in front of a laser. As the suspended particle passes through the beam, various detectors positioned where the stream meets the laser can analyze the physical and chemical properties of the molecules or cells in the stream. Because they work in real-time, flow cytometers offer diagnosis in just 10 minutes of everything from infections, to stress, blood cells and cancer markers. They can also identify bacterial pathogens in food or water.
Despite the technology first being proposed in the 1950s and their forerunners appearing in the 1960s, modern flow cytometers are generally still only found in labs because they are bulky and can weigh hundreds of pounds – until now.
With the Micoflow, researchers at Canada’s National Optics Institute (INO) have managed to shrink the flow cytometer down to device the size of a toaster that weighs less than 10 kg (22 lb). Tasked with developing a portable technology that worked in space, the INO team needed to find a way to keep the fluid stream from becoming unfocused in the weightlessness of space.
The answer was to suspend a tiny amount of liquid containing the particles to be analyzed inside a small fiber-optic structure that is permanently focused. After the device detects the particles, the collected data is transferred to a USB key for analysis.
A Microflow technology demonstrator will be carried to the ISS by Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut Chris Hadfield in December, 2012. If it functions in space as expected, it will provide astronauts with the ability to diagnose and treat themselves on long-duration missions without having to send samples back to Earth for analysis.
The technology also has obvious applications back on Earth, with the rapid testing of remote communities and disaster sites for infectious and other diseases providing an increased level of care while reducing costs. The INO says the technology could also be used for on-site quality-control inspections and tests in food and agricultural processing plants.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

New High-Definition Mars Pictures Released From Curiosity Rover (PHOTOS)

New High-Definition Mars Pictures Released From Curiosity Rover (PHOTOS):

'via Blog this'

Latin American Space Programs

Latin America’s space programs in 2012

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In 2008, I wrote a report for my organization, the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, titled “Space Technology Comes to Latin America: Part of the Hemisphere’s Road to Autonomy.” In the article, I discussed the space programs currently being carried out by a number of Latin American states, including Brazil, Peru, and Venezuela. I also highlighted how extra-hemispheric powers, such as China and Russia, as well as some European states, were helping Latin American countries pursue their space dreams.
While these states are still (light) years from being space competitors to the US, Russia, Europe, or China, it is clear that Latin America’s space interests and ambitions are here to stay.
Fast forward to 2012, when NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover scored a major achievement by successfully landing in Gale Crater on August 6. This was an amazing accomplishment for NASA, but it was also source of pride for Peru, as a native of the Andean nation, Melissa Soriano, works in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The role of Soriano can be added to other recent developments that exemplify how Latin American governments and their citizens are becoming increasingly more interested in space. While these states are still (light) years from being space competitors to the US, Russia, Europe, or China, it is clear that Latin America’s space interests and ambitions are here to stay.

Latin American astronauts

Besides Latin American technicians working for NASA, such as the aforementioned Soriano, there is a small but growing number of Latin American astronauts who have gone to space. For example, the Cuban Arnaldo Tamayo Mendez holds the distinction of being the first Latin American to fly in space via the Soyuz 38 spaceship in 1980, which was launched by the Soviet Union.
Other Latin cosmonauts include the Mexican Rodolfo Neri Vela, who participated in STS-61-B in 1985; Franklin Chang-Diaz, an American of Costa Rican descent; and Ellen Ochoa, the first female Hispanic astronaut. In recent years there have also been a number of other “firsts.” For example, Carlos Noriega became the first Peruvian-born astronaut, who flew in 1997’s STS-84. Noriega’s accomplishments are a source of pride for Peru as exemplified by a biography in a Peruvian radio website that explains that “he is an American citizen […] but his sentiments are Peruvian. He displays the red and white colors of our national flag.” Years later, Joseph Acaba became the first individual of Puerto Rican descent to fly to space onboard STS-119 in 2009.

Space research as a regional integration mechanism

An important development that confirms Latin America’s space aspirations occurred during a meeting of the defense ministers of the Union of South American Nations (Union the Naciones Suramericanas – UNASUR) that took place in Lima in November 2011. One of the agreements that came out of the summit was that the representatives collectively deemed it a priority to create a South American space agency. Argentine defense minister Arturo Pucelli declared that collaboration through UNASUR would reduce costs among participating nations, and allow them to share information and carry out multinational projects such as placing satellites in orbit. Before the meeting, the Argentine official had stated that, “the idea of a space agency is not an imitation of Europe but rather for our defense, [where] we will have much more to defend and control from space.”

International aid

A critical issue for the future of Latin America’s space programs is international aid, which comes from either foreign governments or private companies that already possess space technology and are willing to provide it to Latin American states for the right price. For example, Chile successfully deployed a satellite called FASAT-Charlie on December 2011, which is expected to operate until 2018. The satellite can take 2D and 3D photographs of Chilean territory with a particular emphasis on the country’s topography, such as glaciers and volcanoes. The satellite was built as a joint partnership between the Chilean Air Force and the UK’s Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.
Besides private companies, governments are also providing Latin American states with aid to pursue their space dreams. For example, Peru is preparing its second satellite, known as “Chasqui II,” which Lima aims to launch by 2014. Peru’s Universidad Nacional de Ingenieria (National Engineering University) and the renowned Russian South West State University are reportedly collaborating on the project; once it is ready, Russia will launch it. The satellite will monitor deforestation from natural disasters and study Peru’s ocean territory out to 200 miles. Moscow and Lima have a long history of partnerships, not just on space exploration but also on other ventures, such as Peru being a traditional importer of Russian military equipment like helicopters.
One of the agreements that came out of the November 2011 summit was that the representatives collectively deemed it a priority to create a South American space agency.
Furthermore, China has provided aid to a number of South American states with their space-related plans. For example, Venezuela’s Venesat 1, also known as “Simon Bolivar,” was successfully launched from the Xichang Space Centre in China on October 2008. Furthermore, this past June, China Daily published an articleannouncing a new Sino-Venezuelan cooperation to launch a second Venezuelan satellite this year. The second satellite will be known as “Miranda” and will help monitor natural phenomena such as earthquakes and flooding, in addition to manmade issues like illegal mining. The Chinese newspaper argued that, “by successfully putting the satellite into orbit, Venezuela has taken a step toward technological independence, entering into stiff competition with 62 other countries that are active in space.” It is unsurprising that Beijing is praising Caracas’ attempts at independence as greater inter-state cooperation does not occur in a geopolitical vacuum. Since Hugo Chavez’s election to the presidency, Venezuela has sought new allies, such as China and Russia, instead of maintaining ties with Washington. In fact, Beijing and Caracas have already signed deals worth billions of dollars for oil exploration. Hence, greater space-related relations can be regarded as another way to improve Beijing-Caracas relations.
In addition, China also began developing a communications satellite in conjunction with Bolivia in 2011. The satellite, known as Tupac Katari, is scheduled to be completed by 2013–2014 and will be built between Bolivia’s state-run agency and the China Great Wall Industry Corporation, a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC). “It [will] benefit Bolivia in areas such as education, medicine and communication,” Bolivia's deputy science and technology minister Pedro Crespo explained. Besides the satellite, reports appeared this past July that up to 74 Bolivian space scientists will be trained in China in order to be ready for the satellite’s launch. The satellite will cost around $300 million. “About $45 million would come from the Bolivian government and the other $250 million comes through a loan from China's Development Bank,” the Chinese Global Times reported.
A critical factor for Latin America’s space aspirations is that several space-states, such as the US and China, are actively helping regional states with their domestic programs.
Finally, it is important to note that NASA has shown interest in improving cooperation with Latin America. Back in 2009, NASA provided technological aid to Argentina with its SAC-D satellite, which was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Furthermore, on September 2010, the agency hosted a revealing symposium about its relationship with Latin America. According to a NASA press release:
The participants discussed some of NASA's ongoing work in Latin America, including the NASA and U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Regional Visualization and Monitoring System. The satellite system provides information from Earth observations to help local decision makers respond to natural disasters, and environmental threats, such as air pollution and fires.
The document also highlighted how NASA has signed more than 30 agreements with 20 Latin American countries. The issues covered by said agreements include Earth and space science as well as space-related education themes.

Brazil: still Latin America’s space poster child

While Bolivia’s, Chile’s, and Peru’s accomplishments and future plans are significant, Brazil, with its growing economy, remains the major case study of a government pushing its own domestic space program. The giant South American nation has the necessary financial resources to undertake such projects. For example, Brasilia has stated its interest in placing a satellite in orbit by 2014 for civilian and defense purposes. According to reports, the construction, launch, and control of the satellite will cost close to 700 million reales ($390 million USD). The Brazilian ministry of defense is particularly interested in a homemade satellite as it will facilitate better communication across defense systems, such as between border troops and naval units, including submarines. Another positive aspect of the satellite will be that it will allow the Brazilian air force to better monitor the country’s air space.
A 2010 report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on Latin America’s space programs pays particular attention to Brazil’s space ambitions and puts them in a geopolitical context. The report explains that:
Civil space exploration is still a requirement for achieving great power status. This lesson has not been lost on Brazil […] The need for [independent access to space] is something that Brazil has made a priority, as evidenced by the focus on space in its 2008 National Defense Strategy report. Brazil not only wants to develop greater launch capacity, but it also wants to build satellites for earth observation and enhanced communication capacity. [ CSIS report, P. 5]
Sadly, just like other countries with emerging space programs, Brazil has suffered its share of fatalities in the name of space exploration. In August 2003, an explosion at a VLS-3 rocket in the Alcantara Launch Center killed 21 people, mostly civilian technicians, and destroyed two research satellites.


While the space programs of several Latin American states have existed for some time, they are still in their most primitive stages as compared to “Global North” countries like the US, Europe, and Russia. Certainly, it should be noted that Latin American states (with Brazil as the lone exception) will not be capable of launching their own manned satellites or other spacecraft anytime in the near future, which, as CSIS argues, is a critical component to space independency. Nevertheless, there have been some significant advances in the past few years. The launch of home-built satellites by countries like Argentina and Venezuela (even with international aid) exemplifies that these countries possess a rudimentary knowledge that is only going to grow. The fact that we now see even more astronauts of Latin American origin, alongside the strong presence of Latin Americans in NASA’s pool of engineer experts, is a promising development.
Finally, a critical factor for Latin America’s space aspirations is that several space-states, such as the US and China, are actively helping regional states with their domestic programs. At one point in the future this may spark some debate, as Earth-bound geopolitical and security issues continue to spill over to space, particularly as governments currently characterized by anti-Washington sentiments, such as Caracas and La Paz, are receiving technological space-related aid from countries like China. In any case, while not yet a participant in the space race, it seems clear that Latin America as a whole is looking to the skies with ambitious eyes.

Greg Zsidisin's avatar
Greg Zsidisin· 1 day ago
Very surprising that there's no mention of Brazil's partnership with Ukraine to develop the Alcantara site into a commercial satellite launch facility, using a upgraded version of Ukraine's venerable Tsyklon (Cyclone) rocket. While not an entirely indigenous program, Brazil is nevertheless half of the partnership, making use of its near-Equatorial site. The program has been on a slow burn for a decade, but current projections have the first flight in 2013-14. There has also been discussion of bringing Russia's Angara launcher family to Brazil, which the author does mention in his cited 2008 article). Just last year, TSR ran a brief article by Doug Messier focused on these launcher developments: See also: And finally: (Love the little one-upmanship in the last sentence...)
I was surprised by the lack of discussion of Brazil's launcher ambitions. Construction of the Cyclone-4 launch facilities at Alcantara has been on-going for months. Brazil is moving ahead with development of VLS-1 for small satellite launches. And a family of Angara-derived launchers remain a future possibility. 

If they actually bring these projects to fruition and South America does create a space agency, then Alcantara could become a formidable rival to Kourou. It's got an equatorial location going for it.
Nico's avatar
Nico· 1 day ago
Brazil builds its own rockets. The NDX-1 space suit tested by Nasa was designed by the Argentine aerospace engineer Pablo de Leon. Also, Argentina is developing satallite launching capability and it was the 4th country in the world to send an animal to space.
hmmmWell's avatar
hmmmWell· 1 day ago
This was the market that SpaceX's Elon Musk had in mind when he talked about using his soon to be man-rated Dragon Capsule as space transport for other countries trying to develope a manned space program.
Alejandro Chavarri's avatar
Alejandro Chavarri· 9 hours ago
It is a good article in general, but it barely has information regarding space programs in Mexico and Central America. Regarding Mexico the author could have mentioned the MEXSAT satellite program as well as the newly created Mexican Space Agency.