HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » LongTomH » Journal
Page: 1

LongTomH

Profile Information

Member since: Wed Oct 13, 2004, 05:42 PM
Number of posts: 8,636

Journal Archives

A magician and his apprentice making planets, asteroids and comets.



From Io9:

With a wasteland as their canvas, a Master and his Apprentice set about turning rubble into planets and moons, asteroids and comets, spinning them in orbit around a symbolic Sun. So begins Ambition, a short film made by Academy Award-nominated director Tomek Baginksi in collaboration with the European Space Agency.

Produced in Poland and shot on location in Iceland, the film was just screened during the British Film Institute's celebration of "Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder" in London.

At the heart of the film is the Rosetta comet mission, but the ESA says it's a larger tribute to how contemporary space exploration is crucial to searching for clues to our own origins.

Commenting on Ambition, Alastair Reynolds said, "As a science fiction writer, it's hard to think of a more stirring theme than the origin and ultimate destiny of life in the universe."



NASA funds deep sleep research for Mars missions

Remember those cryo-sleep chambers in 2001, the Alien franchise and Avatar? Those may soon become a reality as a way to reduce the costs of sending astronauts to Mars and beyond.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, here’s a quick rundown. Traveling far into space is a tricky endeavor. With existing technology, traveling to a planet like Mars takes about 180 days, for example. Keeping a crew of people alive (and entertained) in space for that long isn’t hard, but it does require a lot of food, water, energy, and other supplies. This makes manned long-distance space travel extremely expensive, since hauling more supplies requires huge amounts of storage space, and thousands of additional dollars just to get it all that stuff into orbit.

In theory, suspended animation would help solve this problem. If astronauts could be placed in a deep sleep during the journey, they would require far fewer resources along the way. Instead, they could just be put to sleep at the beginning and woken back up when they arrive at their destination.

Now, with a manned mission to Mars likely in its sights, NASA has begun to explore the viability of such an idea, and has recently funded a study by Atlanta-based aerospace engineering firm SpaceWorks Enterprises to help work out the kinks in the process.

The bulk of the study revolves around placing humans in torpor — a state in which metabolic and physiological activity is drastically slowed down. To do this, the company has developed a three-stage system. Step one involves sedating the person and using a neuromuscular blockade to prevent movement, whereas step two is to physically lower the person’s body temperature by about 10 degrees farenheit, thereby reducing cellular activity and metabolic rate by around 50 to 70 percent. This is achieved with the help of cooling pads and a nasally-inhaled coolant that lowers the subject’s temperature from the inside out. Then, once in torpor, the subject is hooked into an intravenous drip that supplies their body with all the nutrients needed to keep them alive.

Using these methods, SpaceWorks has reportedly managed to keep a person in stasis for a week — an impressive feat, but even so, there’s still much work to be done before the technology is ready for primetime. In addition to extending the length of the stasis period, the company has a handful of other hurdles to overcome. The potential onset of pneumonia, muscle atrophy, and bone loss have yet to be addressed; and the long term-effects of stasis on human organs is still largely unknown. SpaceWorks still has a long road ahead of it, but with a few more years of research, it’s not unreasonable to think that suspended animation, cryostasis, torpor –whatever you want to call it– might finally bring a manned mission to Mars within reach.




There are some exciting possibilities here for outer-solar system and interstellar missions (ala Avatar)




Go to Page: 1