Archive for the ‘Space’ Category

Space Dreams

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

I’ve blogged in the past about space exploration. It’s probably my most inner desire, to explore space beyond our planet.

[era uma vez o espaço]

It’s not that I want to be an astronaut, get into a spaceship and fly into space. No. What I’d like is to be part of a space exploration mission, deal with the technology aboard the spacecraft, develop software (both onboard and mission control), and give our data back to the experts to analise.

A probe like the Mars Science Laboratory would be a cool start.

But there is still so much to do! We’re just taking peeks through a small hole at our Universe. We still (apparently) need to do a lot of effort to put a spacecraft decentely into space (just look at the most recent missions, Phobos-Grunt springs to mind), when missions like these should already be under our complete control, tried and tested. We should be aiming higher, like building a bigger spaceship in Earth orbit, capable of taking a decent crew (something like 25 people), with “artificial gravity” and high-tech facilities on-board with wich we could safely travel to other planets and study them. This is what I would really like to be a part of. Something like the Enterprise from Star Trek, but obviously smaller.


Imagine getting our Enterprise on Mars orbit, and launching robotic probes like the Fobos-Grunt or MSL from the ship. A lot less things could go wrong, communications and remote control would be simpler (almost no lag, from Earth it takes 19 minutes), samples would be available in hours, and testing could be done at the onboard laboratory, with results sent to Earth.

If we could just stop wasting money on useless stuff (we see governments doing this every day) and focus on the evolution of Mankind…

Think about it for a second. Do you really believe we’re meant to be stuck on this planet? I’m certainly not going to tell you how we’re going to travel all those light-years that separate galaxies in a reasonable time-frame. But our solar system is pretty near us, and it bears a lot of answers about our Universe! Thinking it is Mankind’s fate to be stuck on Earth is, at the minimum, a very poor thought. We’ve been given the courage, the intelligence, the resources. It’s not easy, but nothing worth doing is easy.

Plus, I believe there is another reason for us to colonize other planets, moons, or space stations. Earth is a little fragile celestial body on a dangerous Universe. Imagine a catastrophe would happen to our planet; we’ve all seen movies about this (2012, Armagedon, Terminator, etc), wether it’s a meteor, Earth instability, or our plain stupidity using massively powerfull weapons and/or technologies. The Earth is really, really small when we reach this scale, and it’s imperative that we proliferate away from Earth so that Mankind has a chance to survive. Former NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin spoke really well about this.

I’d hate to see the every-civilization-autodestroys-itself-quickly-answers-the-Fermi-paradox guys being proved right.

I’m really disappointed with our performance as space-faring creatures. I hope I can contribute one day, in any way, to our space exploration endeavours.

And don’t get me wrong, one day I’d love to go “up” there. But I’d prefer it to be a trip on the “Enterprise” to one of our Moon colonies, or to a space station orbiting Mars.

Phobos-Grunt, wake up!

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

You might be aware of a very interesting space mission launched this November: the Phobos-Grunt sample return mission.

Mission control does not have (2-way) communications with the vessel while in close Earth orbit (yes, this is apparently a planned situation), so it was expected to slingshot away from Earth autonomously. Although the launch went well, and positioned Phobos-Grunt on Earth orbit, the spacecraft has experienced a problem and did not insert into the elliptical (slingshot) orbit around Earth, as planned. So mission control has had a very hard time communicating with the vessel.

I read the ESA has finally managed to receive signals from the spacecraft. Here’s hoping they can regain contact with it, and that mission control can effectively send Phobos-Grunt to it’s intended destination: Mars.

More on this later.

Andromeda Ascendant

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Tenho mixed feelings por esta série de ficção científica; adoro a ideia, a nave, a história de background (ou não tivesse sido o Gene Roddenberry a imaginá-las), e a primeira season foi boa na globalidade, mas depois os episódios começam a parecer um pouco “forçados”, sem ligação, pouco credíveis e até vazios… principalmente a partir do momento em que o Robert Hewitt Wolfe deixou de os escrever.

Muitas vezes a Andromeda parece a nave mais poderosa do Universo, capaz de quase tudo, mas outras vezes parece muito fraquinha, e aquilo que fez no episódio anterior, incompreensivelmente já não o faz neste.

Com o passar dos episódios, também se nota o budget pequeno; sempre as mesmas (poucas) zonas da nave, o mesmo corredor, até as cenas no espaço são poucas, efémeras e parecem ter sido feitas depressa, com pouca atenção ao detalhe.

É certo que não tenho tido tempo para ver muito e ainda só vou na terceira season, mas mesmo assim… Agora quero ver se ponho as garras em alguns DVDs da Babylon 5. Vi alguns episódios quando era mais moço e pareceu-me mais envolvente, mais credível, e mais espectacular.

Nestes últimos anos tenho descurado a minha dose semanal de ficção científica. Playing catchup! Alguma recomendação a um trekkie?

Giant leap lost in time

Monday, July 20th, 2009

What happened to the “giant leap for mankind”? When I was a kid, I thought we would be much more advanced in space exploration by now. I checked the Lunar Exploration Timeline… 40 years have gone by, and I see no obvious evolution from that amazing Apollo 11 feat.

I used to dream about space exploration, watching stuff on TV like Space 1999, Il etait une fois l’espace, and Star Trek.

Heck, I thought that, by 2010, we would have one or more space stations orbiting Earth, the Moon, and possibly other planets. I thought that by now, the Moon was already colonized, a center for space study and exploration. Frequent spaceships would go to and from the Moon and the space stations, taking people and resources from place to place. I thought that, by now, energy-autonomous rover robots had already been deployed in the most interesting planets and moons of our solar system. I thought that, by now, we would already have a cheaper way of getting to space (gauss launchers, space elevators, etc).

Was I wrong.

I guess space exploration has no big motivation to drive it. Since it seems we are alone in this solar system, and we still haven’t stupidly stripped Earth of it’s natural resources (although this is not that far off), we don’t actually *need* to go anywhere else.

And, I think, the most important thing: it has no return on investment (or does it?). If no profit can be made from an activity (read real money, not mankind evolution, Universe awareness, etc), nobody will seem to do it.

But I hope to see a great evolution in the comming 10-20 years!