Category Archives: Space

Mission to Mars Project

The project has garnished quite a few applicants. The co-founder estimates that its total cost will be 6 billion U.S. dollars.

The concept is interesting and is centered around  ‘reality tv’ being the  ultimate  source of funding.

The source of the video news is TIME–at its Word Press site.


Added after post– The initial cost is estimated to be 6 billion dollars–and not the total cost.


With Gratitude and Inspiration!

Because you have chosen to read my blog, I am humbled and thankful. I will continue to write and find much enlightenment from all of you!

I thought I would post the image to illustrate how inspired I am from my fellow bloggers.

Here is a description of the image from its companion site:
Galaxies of the Infrared Sky
This panoramic view of the entire sky reveals the distribution of galaxies beyond our Milky Way galaxy, which astronomers call extended sources, as observed by Two Micron All-Sky Survey. The image is constructed from a database of over 1.6 million galaxies listed in the survey’s Extended Source Catalog; more than half of the galaxies have never before been catalogued. The image is a representation of the relative brightnesses of these million-plus galaxies, all observed at a wavelength of 2.2 microns. The brightest and nearest galaxies are represented in blue, and the faintest, most distant ones are in red. This color scheme gives insights into the three dimensional large-scale structure of the nearby universe with the brightest, closest clusters and superclusters showing up as the blue and bluish-white features. The dark band in this image shows the area of the sky where our Milky Way galaxy blocks our view of distant objects, which, in this projection, lies predominantly along the edges of the image.

Image Credit:  2MASS/T. H. Jarrett, J. Carpenter, & R. Hurt

If we are all made of stardust, then you have infused much into my existence and intellect!
Image Credit:
2MASS/T. H. Jarrett, J. Carpenter, & R. Hurt

“Atlas Image [or Atlas Image mosaic] obtained as part of the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS), a joint project of the University of Massachusetts and the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center/California Institute of Technology, funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation.”

Mad Art Lab | Sagan Day 2013 – We All Live on a Tiny Blue Dot

Mad Art Lab | Sagan Day 2013 – We All Live on a Tiny Blue Dot.

The link above was sent to me from  —follow it. It is beautiful!


Correction added to blog–the following link might work better if you had problems with the first link?


Martian Moons—short note

About two years ago, the Russian republic launched an ambitious probe that never achieved its stated goal—landing on the Martian moon, Phobos. The general public may not readily recall mission, but if it had succeeded it would have brought to Earth a treasure trove of data and materials. As I recall the ballyhooed launch, it was an unfortunate loss and posed a potential environmental hazard (as portrayed by some in the media). The probe eventually fell back to Earth—here is the NYTimes article: Russia’s Failed Mars Probe Crashes Into Pacific .

According to the NASA website: (Phobos-Grund)

“The plan for the mission if it had made it to Mars is as follows: It will orbit Mars for a few months and touch down on Phobos in February 2013. Sample assessment and collection will take place over the next 2 to 7 days. It will collect 15 to 20 separate samples. After the samples have been collected, the springs will propel the return stage away from the lander and the rockets provide the 35 km/hr velocity needed to escape Phobos’ gravity. After the necessary maneuvers, the return capsule should arrive at Earth in August of 2014. The lander experiments will continue to operate on the surface for a year.”

Image of the Phobos-Grund spacecraft

[] –URL source

Martian moons

The moons of Mars bear the potential imprint of past ejecta; SNC meteorites (e.g. Alan Hills meteorite) are found on the Moon and the Earth–and possibly on Phobos (or Deimos) as well.

Although there are many uncertainties, it has been suggested that the ejecta (Martian meteors) may contain evidence of past life (and the potential for panspermia). The topic of panspermia is controversial in many “quarters” of mainstream science–it has not been completely disproved.

Fall Book Review II—Elaboration upon Frontiers of Astrobiology (chapter 13)

Post based upon an elaboration of a chapter in the book: Frontiers of Astrobiology,  (Characterizing Exoplanet Atmospheres, chapter 13 author—Giovanna Tinnetti) [Drs. Impey, Lunine & Funes –editors (Cambridge University Press 2012)]. I hope to further elaborate upon a handful of other chapters, as well.

As I interpret bits-and-pieces of the text in an erudite manner (for reader consumption), I am reminded that anyone pick-up a book, read it and regurgitate the contents. (I hope to provide insight into the text and give some of the book’s flavor to you.)

The author of chapter 13 draws the reader into exo-planet spectral characterization—specifically stating the case for ESA’s future probe, EcHO.


Let’s Speak of Exo-planets and their Spectroscopy

Current space-based telescopes do not possess the technological capabilities for spectral analysis of distant “earth-like” exo-planets.

In spite of the recent breakthrough in exo-planet imaging, of the planet Kepler 7b, astrobiologists need to utilize technological breakthroughs (in parallel fields) to advance their paradigms. The cloud map of Kepler 7b could not be discerned further for it components. (below):

Kepler-7b (left), which is 1.5 times the radius of Jupiter (right), is the first exoplanet to have its clouds mapped. The cloud map was produced using data from NASA’s Kepler and Spitzer space telescopes. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MIT

Image URL:

The cloud map of Kepler 7b is obtained in part from reflected light (the host star is utilized as a light source for cloud discernment).

Using the website description of the “cloud map”—

“Kepler’s visible-light observations of Kepler-7b’s Moon-like phases led to a rough map of the planet that showed a bright spot on its western hemisphere. But these data were not enough on their own to decipher whether the bright spot was coming from clouds or heat. The Spitzer Space Telescope played a crucial role in answering this question. . . . Spitzer’s ability to detect infrared light means it was able to measure Kepler-7b’s temperature, estimating it between 1,500 and 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (1,100 and 1,300 Kelvin). This is relatively cool for a planet that orbits so close to its star — within 0.06 astronomical unit — and, according to astronomers, too cool to be the source of light Kepler observed. Instead, they determined, light from the planet’s star is bouncing off cloud tops located on the west side of the planet. “Kepler-7b reflects much more light than most giant planets we’ve found, which we attribute to clouds in the upper atmosphere,” said Thomas Barclay, Kepler scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. “Unlike those on Earth, the cloud patterns on this planet do not seem to change much over time — it has a remarkably stable climate.”

Nominally speaking, the cloud map of Kepler 7b seems to indicate a non-habitable world. For sake of argument, how can “we” further discern cloud characteristics of Kepler 7b? What are the component(s) of the clouds? Infrared spectroscopy is key to Kepler 7b’s component characterization. The duty may eventually fall to the next generation of space-based telescopes.

Let’s speak briefly of EcHO

EcHO (when and if launched) provides an unprecedented view of the components of exo-planet atmospheres—namely, the successful quest of a habitable exo-world is paramount to de-provincializing the Earth. Our planet, in many ways, is much the way that Galileo would have interpreted it centuries ago—so much so that we “still” consider ourselves the only kids on the block. EcHO, when successfully deployed, will possess the ability to characterize stellar companions similar to ones in our Solar System. The manner of discernment is to image the planet(s) via transit spectroscopy—in short staring at a part of the sky known to possess an exo-solar system.


Cambridge University Press Link to the Book



October 2012, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 311-353


Tinetti, G. et al

(135 authors total)

Fall Book Review—Part I: Frontiers of Astrobiology

I have been reading a book called Frontiers of Astrobiology. The book is published by Cambridge University Press (2012). The editors are Dr. Chris Impey, Dr. Jonathan Lunine and Reverend Father Jose Funes. Drs. Impey and Lunine are well-known but Father Funes was a new name to my pantheon of astronomers. I was happy to see that Father Funes held a Doctorate in astronomy and is the current director of the Vatican Observatory in Rome. (I can only assume Galileo Galilee is smiling somewhere. J )

The book is a compilation of essays aimed at the professional and the hard-core enthusiast, as well. The list of authors reads (almost) like a who’s who of prominent astrobiologists—from Dr. Paul Davies to Dr. Jill Tartar. At this point of reading (actually—skimming for content), I find that the book is a welcome addition to my library of astrobiology for the following reasons:

  • Covers mainstream thinking and research
  • Gives enough background for one to not become lost (or mired in too much detail)
  • Allows newcomers to become acquainted with the field
  • “Good” bibliography list and notes

(In part II of my post, I will further delve into the book.)

Amazon Link to the Book

Barnes & Noble Link to the Book

Cambridge University Press Link to the Book

Of Gravity, Physics, Astronauts and the Movies (spoiler?)

Opening this week is the movie-Gravity. I happen to stumble upon the NY Times review after seeing the trailer for the film. Much to my surprise, the review came away somewhat glowing except for the a crucial (and unfortunate) problem. Although I have not seen the movie–there is a “problem with orbital logistics.” I will leave it with that and let you read the review, or see the trailer or go enjoy the movie.


and the trailer should be on YouTube or fandango