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Thread: Pluto & Beyond (Space Exploration)

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    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Pluto & Beyond (Space Exploration)

    Starting a new thread. I searched the archives and the threads that slightly-related to the topic of "space exploration" were narrowly-focused. I believe that a broader view would be informative, so I rocket over to PLUTO & BEYOND.

    NASA.....Is NASA necessary? At the beginning of President Kennedy's term in office he challenged America to place men on the moon before the decade was over. In July, 1969, human beings walked on the surface of the moon. It was an exciting giant step.

    But moon exploration fizzled after a few years as NASA focused more on space exploration "in-close", using the Shuttle system. For thirty (30) years, NASA has gobbled taxpayer money, with returns that some call negligible. (Perhaps those complainers can't visualize incredible technical advancements made possible with NASA).

    Mars.....The Red Planet has haunted us for centuries. Probably because it is so close in size, it could have harbored life forms.....and it has been smashed into our culture (canals, "angry" Red Planet, Martians attacking as heard on the radio, etc.).

    Do we need to continue our slow but steady development of an eventual manned landing on Mars? Are the returns with this program worth it? Should we send robots instead?

    Pluto.....This tiny planet is ten (10) years away from Earth, as the spacecraft flies. That is one (1) long way away! The other day we sent a spacecraft on its' way to Pluto. The New Horizons craft will fly past Pluto in about ten (10) years.

    After it passes Pluto it will continue toward the newest "planet", still with no name. It has been called "UB313" by the team that discovered it this past year. No official name has been given to this chunk of rock (double the distance to Pluto, and then some!) because the scientific community is still debating as to whether or not it is really a "planet".

    BTW.....David Letterman said we should call it "Goofy".
    _____

    Summary Questions.....AIB the UFO thread by Maister, the recent space shot to Pluto, our duties as questioning citizens, and a sly comment on another thread about "intelligent life".....here are some questions.....

    Should we continue to fund space exploration? If we do, at the present level? At what level?

    Do we continue with our plans to explore the planet Mars?

    If we send a craft to a very distant place (such as Pluto) and the information stream that is radioed back (in the year 2016) tells us "Yep, made of rocks. No air. Daxx cold.", should we forget this type of exploration?

    Is mankind destined to explore those places that are unknown? Would those funds be better off used to improve water quality in Africa, crop hybrid projects in arrid areas, imrpove infrastructure in the world's older cities?

    And finally, are we being "watched"? Are there really intelligent beings who are watching us? Is there life in other parts of the universe? Or are we "alone"?

    Jules Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North
    Pluto.....This tiny planet is ten
    One tiny correction: I heard that Pluto was recently Officially Declared NOT A Planet.

    Carry on with your fascinating topic.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Space exploration is hard to debate. It demands lots of money, and yet it also provides dozens of new inventions for us back on earth. Velcro comes to mind.

    Should we spend money exploring outer planets, yes, knowledge brought back from these planets can also help us deal with problems here on earth.

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    blah, blah, blah

    Am old enough to remember the "whitey on the moon" phase of dumping upon space exploration (early '70's). However, am no longer fan of manned exploration, but avid and hungry viewer of robotic missions. Yes, the money could be spent on other things, but so could all the money spent on symphonies, rap music, museums, professional athletes, etc., etc. Log onto the Cassini or Mars Rover web sites and marvel. Preferably with Beethoven or Strauss playing in the background.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    Anyone who denies the tangible economic, scientific, social, and educational benefits resultant from space exploration is effectively outside the realm of reasonable conversation. Further, anyone who decries the spending on NASA is invited to liquidate their SUV, downsize their home, wear a sweater inside during winter, campaign for a decreased military budget, and pine away for bureaucratic efficiency.

    As for remote, robotic missions I think they're marvelous. We surely wouldn't want to bother a HUMAN with a kamikaze mission into the nothingness of Pluto's domain. But to then extend that argument to say that human exploration is irrelevant is hardly being kind to reason, either. Just as with most affairs there are tasks of varying degrees that require varying solutions. A policy of just one or the other is simply inadequate.

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    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by sadarryl
    Am old enough to remember the "whitey on the moon" phase of dumping upon space exploration (early '70's). .
    Unresolved issues? What is that about?

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    The reference is to Gil Scott-Heron's song from 1970 of the same name. You can google to find the lyrics. I agree with the general sentiment, but still maintain that unmanned missions are worth the cost.

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    Cyburbian Mtn Woman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by sadarryl
    Log onto the Cassini or Mars Rover web sites and marvel.
    Preferably with Beethoven or Strauss playing in the background.
    Better yet, some Holst. Get it, "The Planets".
    Living and dreaming are two different things-but you can't do one without the other."
    -Malcolm Forbes

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    We should increase NASA's budget (preferably taking it out of the military's piece of the pie). At this stage, manned missions should be limited to terrestrial orbits for spacestation construction, however, we could do much more in the unmanned mission department. I can't believe there is only ONE telescope in orbit (and plans to replace it with one other). By now, I thought we would have had several afloat instead of astronomers having to wait in line for months or even years to gain a little access time. Money on telescopes would be extremely cost effective considering the many discoveries they will certainly provide.

    If we send a craft to a very distant place (such as Pluto) and the information stream that is radioed back (in the year 2016) tells us "Yep, made of rocks. No air. Daxx cold.", should we forget this type of exploration?
    I know Bear phrased it like this to spur comment and actually knows better, but I'm sure there probably are a lot of folks out there who do believe that the entire purpose of these types of missions is precisely to determine 'yep, rocks, no air, cold'. This is another reason NASA needs to increase it's budget. Improved public education will only make it easier for them to acquire public support for funding future missions. Once the general public understands that the real reason we send probes to the outer reaches of the solar system is to find clues about how ours (and other) solar systems were formed based on the composition of matter found in the Kuiper belt, funding for these sorts of missions would likely receive more public support.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    Unless of couse those people happen to think Jesus' Pa had something to do with it...

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Mission To Mars

    Rolling Stone magazine has an excellent article on sending a manned mission to the planet Mars. Strongly encourage those interested in such things to check this issue and this story out.

    The article is called "Mars or Bust" and provides a lot of details on how such an event would shape up, what would be involved in the planning, how long it would take (the planning, the development, the actual event), and what it would cost.

    The article is divided into these parts.....

    The Vision.....Sending a spaceship to Mars, probably about fifty (50) years from now. The group that is developing the initial plan refer to the vehicle as "The Winnebago". Six (6) astronauts would make the trip. Estimated costs (in today's dollars) range in the $500 billion area.

    Faded Glory.....Exploring space just doesn't have the flare and spark that thrilled us back in the 1960's and early 1970's.

    Getting There.....There are a host of problems with getting The Winnebago to the Red Planet. Fuel, weight, food, urine (and .....), the actual physics of the event, etc. Biggest challenges would be the severe atrophy that the bodies encounter and the high risk of cancer (caused by radiation).

    Being There.....The astronauts will stay on the Red Planet for about eighteen (18) months. This will be in a hostile environment with killer air, 81-degree below zero average temperatures, incredible windstorms.

    Getting Back.....Toughest part yet.....fuel to leave the planet will have to be refined....on the planet!

    Sex In Space.....NASA is even looking at this issue, because it will be an issue.

    The Cost.....Did I mention the $500 billion?

    The article points out that even with all of the planning and development, with all of the testing (by sending more men to the moon to develop base-building skills and techniques), with everything going right (for 50 years!), the whole thing could crash on landing.....or the Mars' "residents" could be stuck on the planet.

    Very interesting article. Anybody with even the slightest interest in space exploration would get excited (and scared) reading this article.

    The Angry Red Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  12. #12
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North
    Sex In Space.....NASA is even looking at this issue, because it will be an issue.

    The Cost.....Did I mention the $500 billion?
    Seems kinda pricey.
    You know, you always hear people go on about how great zero G sex would be, but if you think about it, apart from being able to do maybe a few different positions, the friction's still the same.

    I imagine zero g sex with folks in the over 40 set will become wildly popular - body parts which would otherwise (thanks to gravity) be headed south will float magically suspended in air like they were 18 again .....
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Pluto is only a planet by historical convention. If it were discovered today it'd just be considered an "object." There are a number of problems with it being a planet, including that it's not in the same orbital plane of all the other planets (meaning it probably didn't form the way the other planets formed), it's very small, and it has a solid core.

    In fact, there's probably a wikipedia page about it.

    Well Bow me Down, there is

    The space station is stupid. The Shuttle is a death trap. NASA's manned program is corporate welfare, like much of the military. NASA can and does do great science, but not with people. The manned program should be canned and the unmanned program should get its budget.
    Reality does not conform to your ideology.
    http://neighborhoods.chicago.il.us Photographs of Life in the Neighborhoods of Chicago
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    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Incredible

    The other day it was announced that scientists are convinced (or at least in theory mode) that there is cold water on a small moon of Saturn. A recent fly-by of this small object indicated that there is water.

    This news received very little airplay. The things everybody was talking about, including the War in Iraq, possible civil war in that same country, the argument about operating the seaports, the abortion ruling in South Dakota.....all important and maybe of personal interest (loved ones, etc.) to you.

    IMHO.....this is some of the most important news EVER.

    To me it just proves that water is throughout the universe.....and just another step in my logical belief that "we are not alone". I told Katie last night about this discovery and how it seems to prove that life exists throughout the universe. She shrugged.....as many of you probably are doing right now.

    I am disappointed because I will be gone from this Earth civilization long before we ever come into contact with somebody else. We probably never will, because of distance and the end of our existence on this green ball.

    I believe the universe goes on forever and the number of civilizations goes on forever.

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

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    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    I'm not sure why you think this is so important.

    It's been known forever that there is ice on Mars, and Europa (a moon of Jupiter) is covered in ice with tetonically-heated oceans underneath. Comets are all made mostly of ice.

    It's been known that there was ice all over the solar system for a long time.
    Reality does not conform to your ideology.
    http://neighborhoods.chicago.il.us Photographs of Life in the Neighborhoods of Chicago
    http://hafd.org/~jordanb/ Pretentious Weblog.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North
    IMHO.....this is some of the most important news EVER.

    We probably never will, because of distance and the end of our existence on this green ball.

    Bear
    Green? I didn't get the memo about our vast oceans turning green Blue marble is a more adequate term

    Now, is this discovery so important? Not really, jordanb said it... Ice is in lots of places in our solar system. And what is more important than ice is water... in liquid form, that can't exist that far out. Space exploration should be done in mega missions like flying self sustaining citadels that wander through the universe trying to find habitable worlds for humans. In short, taking out all the eggs from the same basket.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    You can disagree all you want about my comments.....bottom line is that there have been a spaceship load of scientists the past few days who are very excited about the eruption of geyser-like something or other from the surface of the Jupiter moon.

    Comments included "smoking gun". I share their excitement.
    _____

    skel.....showing my age, with a vague reference to an old rock and roll song, "Green Eyed Lady".

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

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    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Let's throw Pluto a bone. We've been calling it a planet for years. Seems kind of cruel to jerk it away now. It's got a moon (sure so do some asteroids). How would you feel if you'd been playing in the major for 75 years and suddenly got sent to the minors? We call Mercury a planet and it is only twice the size of Pluto, and doesn't have a moon.

    Besides it is my son's favorite.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

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    Cyburbian dobopoq's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by otterpop
    Let's throw Pluto a bone. We've been calling it a planet for years. Seems kind of cruel to jerk it away now. It's got a moon (sure so do some asteroids). How would you feel if you'd been playing in the major for 75 years and suddenly got sent to the minors? We call Mercury a planet and it is only twice the size of Pluto, and doesn't have a moon.

    Besides it is my son's favorite.
    Why are we balking at calling Pluto a planet? Because human brain can't process much more than nine planets damn it! Beyond nine, they're planetesimals - ok!

    But seriously, exploration is an essential need for the human species. Exploration fuels dreams and dreams fuel a better tommorow. Throw away space exploration and you might as well bring back slavery and capital punishment - oh wait, we still have capital punishment - doh!

    I quote Rush, from the song "Anthem"

    Anthem of the heart and anthem of the mind
    A funeral dirge for eyes gone blind
    We marvel after those who sought
    The wonders of the world, wonders of the world,
    Wonders of the world they wrought.
    "The current American way of life is founded not just on motor transportation but on the religion of the motorcar, and the sacrifices that people are prepared to make for this religion stand outside the realm of rational criticism." -Lewis Mumford

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dobopoq
    Exploration fuels dreams and dreams fuel a better tommorow.
    Damn, you should be writing copy for Texaco or Shell. Isn't that someone's corporate motto?
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Throwing back into orbit an older thread.....

    Anybody aware of (and anticipating) just how close the planet Mars will be to our own Earth, this August (2009). Closest in recorded history!

    Won't come this close for another kabillion days, months, years, whatever.

    Should be an informative and educational August, especially for grandpappys, etc.

    BTW.....closest day will be August 27. My birthday is August 28. Just has to be some sort of meaning in that confluence.

    Bear

    EDIT.....Or was it 2003? Or 2007? Heh heh heh.....
    Last edited by Bear Up North; 25 Jun 2009 at 9:17 PM. Reason: Spread The Hoax !!
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Exit, Stage Pluto

    Voyager I is just about to exit our solar system. Solar winds will dramatically change. The spacecraft, launched more than 33 years ago, will move on. What a story. Incredible.

    A million years from now will it still be sliding through space, perhaps seen by human-like folks on the distant planet Maisterize?

    Who knows. Incredible.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyager_1

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  23. #23
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    For Christmas, I bought my nephew the old Dr. Suess book, There's No Place Like Space. I thought it was funny (yet wise) that they updated it to not include Pluto anymore.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  24. #24
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North View post
    Voyager I is just about to exit our solar system. Solar winds will dramatically change. The spacecraft, launched more than 33 years ago, will move on. What a story. Incredible.

    A million years from now will it still be sliding through space, perhaps seen by human-like folks on the distant planet Maisterize?

    Who knows. Incredible.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyager_1

    Bear
    Stuff like this always fascinates me. NOW, let's find a way to have the powers-that-be clear the current ultra-PC cr_p out of the NASA mission and budget and go back to making space FUN again.

    The fact that the two Voyager probes are still working as designed and that we are still able to communicate with them at their current distance is a WOW! feat in itself. According to http://www.heavens-above.com/solar-escape.asp Voyager I is now 16.13 HOURS one-way light time - 116.39 astronomical units (1 AU is the mean distance between the Earth and the Sun) - away from Earth.

    Mike

  25. #25
    Cyburbian dobopoq's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mgk920 View post
    According to http://www.heavens-above.com/solar-escape.asp Voyager I is now 16.13 HOURS one-way light time - 116.39 astronomical units (1 AU is the mean distance between the Earth and the Sun) - away from Earth.

    Mike
    WOW. Far out dude. Another way to put this in perspective is that 16.13 hours of light speed travel is still only .184% of a light year. That's in 33 years since it was launched in 1977. The nearest star to us - Proxima Centauri is 4.2 light years away. So if Voyager I maintains the same speed, it could go the same distance as Proxima Centauri in about 75,000 years.
    "The current American way of life is founded not just on motor transportation but on the religion of the motorcar, and the sacrifices that people are prepared to make for this religion stand outside the realm of rational criticism." -Lewis Mumford

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