Archive for April, 2012

With all the recent information and stories about some rich billionaires getting ready to get  even richer by mining both asteroids and other planets, the majority of doubters out there don’t think it is either possible or profitable.  Imagine that!  Lets look at some facts.

First, look at some the links, this one is real mainstream and is CNN.


The Arkyd-100 telescope.

Seattle-area’s Planetary Resources, backed by big-money investors including filmmaker James Cameron and Google executives Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, said Tuesday it plans to develop and launch a series of robotic systems and unmanned spacecraft, starting with its Arkyd-100 Earth-orbiting space telescopes that it hopes to launch by the end of 2013 to identify candidate near-Earth asteroids.

They also make the Arkyd-300 robotic spacecraft for mining asteroids.  That’s right, you heard me.

This company, Arkyd Astronautics, doesn’t really have much detail to be known…Interesting.

They plan to find, get to, and return minerals from asteroids.  Sounds far fetched? Expensive? (yeah probably, but you have spend money to make money),  Think again!  Lets just do some simple reasoning as they obviously already have.

First, I need to rant a bit…. A country of 300,000,000 of the richest people on the planet, can’t afford to fund ANY space program, yet 2 guys who run web sites can.  Right.  The argument that they could better spend their money ‘feeding the poor’ sounds stupid when applied to individuals but seems perfectly logical when applied to the collective (us).  Stupid.   They will be paid back a THOUSAND FOLD on any investment in minerals, new technology, and PATENTS!!!.  So would we (the public) if we funded it.    This is basically a no-brainer.  We won’t, because 98% of the population are idiots.  End of rant.

Now back to the science!

Well, if one did not know any better,  you would think that we do not have any real technology to go out to these asteroids and return.  You would be wrong.  We are there and poking around right now!  We normally think of  our inter-stellar craft as just fly bys and sling-shoting  around planets.  Which is true, mostly.  It is RARE to have something come back!   What is even more rare, is going out there and just kind of motoring around.  This takes the kind of engine we just don’t have.  But we DO! 

From NASA: I would have you note MAGNETIC and ANTIMATTER propulsion systems since theoretically, they don’t exist yet, but there they are!


The ion thruster is powered by large solar panels. The power ionizes the fuel (Xenon) and then accelerates it with an electric field between two grids. Electrons are injected into the beam after acceleration to maintain a neutral plasma.


The DAWN space craft has just visited VESTA ( a very large asteroid that is 330 miles wide) .  Launched in 2007, this craft uses the above engine design.  It can get very close to surface and then fly up again.  It will then travel to CERES (a dwarf plant, about the size of Pluto, also in the asteroid belt).   We have NEVER had a space craft capable of just wandering about, willy nilly,  but we do now!


Just some interesting facts about VESTA before we continue on:

Data reveal temperatures can vary from as warm as minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 23 degrees Celsius) in the sunniest spots to as cold as minus 150 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 100 degrees Celsius) in the shadows. This is the lowest temperature measurable by Dawn’s visible and infrared mapping spectrometer. These findings show the surface responds quickly to illumination with no mitigating effect of an atmosphere.

Sounds pretty cold, but actually not much colder than Antarctica!

So, given that the technology already exists to get there and back.  Could these guys actually make money?  Well SURE!  Once you have the machinery in space, you just need fuel to keep going.  The fuel can be mined right on the asteroids.  You just build ‘gas stations’ there and back from the stuff you are mining.  We already know this is quite possible since there is WATER on these asteroids!  Once you do that, you can freely (and cheaply) move material back to Earth orbit.  And get this, no competition!  These asteroids will be easy to mine!  Like using a snow blower (low gravity).   To send to earth surface, you just let the material fall down.  That’s it. easy as.  Oh, you think they would burn up?  No, not really.  See the  Virgin Galactic low earth orbiter!  It returns to Earth with NO HEAT SHEILD and has done so in its winning the coveted X prize!   How? simply using drag and aerodynamics.  It literally is not a mystery!

So no new technology is necessary.  Once a craft is in space, it stays in space.  You only have to shoot them up there ONCE.  From then on,  mine your own fuel.  No royalties, no taxes.  Robot workers. Unlimited supply.   Will cost a few billion.  Will make TRILLIONS, probably much, much more.

And this is the cool part!  YOU PAID FOR IT but decided it was better to ‘feed the hungry’ and in so doing (i.e. cut space budgets, gut programs, etc), we did not feed the hungry, we did not create new jobs, we gave up FOR FREE all of our investment with no return, and let others (individuals) benefit from our magnanimous donation to their pocketbooks.  Our species is very, very strange.

Post Script – Under development, a complete game changer!


Key tests for Skylon spaceplane project

The proposed Skylon vehicle would operate like an airliner, taking off and landing at a conventional runway.

To be able to have such a Space Plane, it is ALL ABOUT THE ENGINE!!!!


The pre-cooler that is being tested and is the key technology to allow this process to work.


The actual jet/rocket engine.  Up and back to space like any other jetliner..


Sabre is part jet engine, part rocket engine. It burns hydrogen and oxygen to provide thrust – but in the lower atmosphere this oxygen is taken from the atmosphere.

The approach should save weight and allow Skylon to go straight to orbit without the need for the multiple propellant stages seen in today’s throw-away rockets.


So far, 85% of the funding for Reaction Engines’ endeavours has come from private investors, but the company may need some specific government support if it is to raise all of the £250m needed to initiate every next-phase activity.

"What we have learned is that a little bit of government money goes a long way," said Mr Bond.

"It gives people confidence that what we’re doing is meaningful and real – that it’s not science fiction. So, government money is a very powerful tool to lever private investment."

This public seed fund approach to space has certainly found favour recently within government.

POST SCRIPT – May 3, 2012


New Scientist published an article about secret earth moons .   What it is really about is that asteroids are caught in Earth orbits, all the time!.  Getting to these is relatively easy.  Can be done in under a week.

What is an asteroid made of?

Asteroids come in three basic types. M-types are largely metal and were once at the hearts of now-shattered protoplanets. S-types are stony asteroids but are noticeably rich in metals such as iron, nickel and magnesium. C-types are the most common and are composed of elements in their average cosmic abundances but without the hydrogen and helium gases. Even though C-types are not notably enriched, they still contain enough precious metals to make them extremely valuable if they were brought to Earth.

What is an asteroid worth?

Back in 1994, William Hartmann at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, estimated that a 2-kilometre-wide asteroid would be worth $25 trillion in metal and mineral resources (see diagram). That’s enough to pay off the US’s $15 trillion national debt, use the loose change to settle up for Greece and still make the investors very rich indeed. "I don’t see how you can look at any economic study of Earth and not think about the potential resources of the inner solar system," says Hartmann.


That would pay for the ENTIRE WORLD DEBT, and a cash payment to each man, woman and child of about $10,000 with what is left over.  That’s just ONE.

Others reaching for the stars

Space| In-Depth Articles

I’ll put millions of people on Mars, says Elon Musk

And he means it. He owns PayPal and has tons of money.  He now runs the company SpaceX and the electric car company Tesla Motors.  SpaceX is a private company that will be the first private vehicle to go to the space station in May.   Wouldn’t you want to be the only person on the planet capable of sending up rockets to planets (asteroids) for profit?  Time will tell, but the rich do get richer so maybe time to invest.

We will see…



No dark matter?

Well in another blow to standard model cosmology, a recent study by the Europeans has found no dark matter, none, where some must be if current models/predictions are true.  This has profound implications on current theories, specifically with gravity!


The blue “halo” is meant to represent the dark matter surrounding our galaxy and basically ‘holding it together’ since we seem to not have enough visible matter to make the whole thing work, gravitationally speaking.   I should not have to say this, but I will.  This is NOT a picture, there are no pictures of our Galaxy.  You would have to be 100,000 thousands of light years away to get such a picture.  This should be self explanatory, but for many it is not.  Sorry for the rant.

The amount of mass that we derive matches very well with what we see — stars, dust and gas — in the region around the Sun,” says team leader Christian Moni Bidin (Departamento de Astronomía, Universidad de Concepción, Chile). “But this leaves no room for the extra material — dark matter — that we were expecting. Our calculations show that it should have shown up very clearly in our measurements. But it was just not there!

The above statement is confronting (although it sounds straightforward enough), because of the following standard scientific belief:

Today it is widely accepted that this dark component constitutes about the 80% of the mass in the Universe [1], despite the fact that it has resisted all attempts to clarify its nature, which remains obscure. All attempts so far to detect dark matter in laboratories on Earth have failed.

By very carefully measuring the motions of many stars, particularly those away from the plane of the Milky Way, the team could work backwards to deduce how much matter is present [2]. The motions are a result of the mutual gravitational attraction of all the material, whether normal matter such as stars, or dark matter

And this leads to this conclusion:

Despite the new results, the Milky Way certainly rotates much faster than the visible matter alone can account for. So, if dark matter is not present where we expected it, a new solution for the missing mass problem must be found. Our results contradict the currently accepted models. The mystery of dark matter has just become even more mysterious. Future surveys, such as the ESA Gaia mission, will be crucial to move beyond this point.” concludes Christian Moni Bidin.

Personally, I would look elsewhere…. Say the black hole at the center of the Galaxy and it’s effects on the matter around it.  Perhaps gravity is not what it appears!  Doh!

And in classical denial (not the river in Egypt), what some scientists have to say:

"We have many independent lines of reasoning that lead us to the conclusion that we have substantial amounts of dark matter in the local part of our galaxy," says Hooper. "This is not going to be easily abandoned as an idea. I’m not saying they’re wrong, just that you’re going to have to work really hard to convince me."

So in this ‘standard model’ being defend so vigorously here:

In the standard view, dark matter drew together under its own gravity to form small clusters shortly after the big bang. Those clusters snowballed in size, and galaxies as we see them today grew up inside massive, near-spherical haloes of dark matter.

If that were true, the streams of stars, clusters and small galaxies that orbit the Milky Way should be distributed randomly in a sphere around the main disc. But Kroupa reports in a paper to be published in Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia that most of them are clustered in an enormous disc that rotates in a plane perpendicular to that of the Milky Way.

I don’t actually need to read a paper to know that.   Every fifth grader knows that, so they must explain what we can see clearly in our night sky as:

That disc could be the remnants of another galaxy that collided with the Milky Way some 11 billion years ago, but it could not be the result of dark matter, Kroupa says.


They really do work hard to defend a position once taken, no matter what the onslaught of facts and readers of scientific materials should ALWAYS keep that in mind.  Now, back to whatever it is you were doing before coming here!

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