The "Great Filter
" is a hypothetical barrier to explain why civilisations are so unlikely to progress to the point of inter-stellar colonisation that we have not encountered any in 40 years of looking. Maybe humanity has already negotiated the filter - as some massive evolutionary improbability - or perhaps it lies in our future as an almost-certain threat to our existence? We should hold our breath as we look for evidence of life on Mars
posted by rongorongo
on May 12, 2008 -
The evolution of Mars imaging from orbit: Mariner 4 (1964)
, Mariner 6
and Mariner 7 (both 1969)
, Mariner 9 (1971)
(all NASA), Mars 5 (1973)
(USSR), Viking 1 (1975)
, Viking 2 (1976)
, Mars Global Surveyor (1996)
, Mars Odyssey (2001)
(NASA), Mars Express (2003)
(ESA), up to this spy-quality shot of an active avalanche
taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (2005)
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot
on Mar 5, 2008 -
There's a slight chance that an asteroid could impact Mars
at the end of this month. Usually, collisions between heavenly bodies have vanishingly small odds (a million to one, say), but the chances on this one have been steadily improving, from 350-to-1 to 75-to-1 to 25-to-1
(link to Washington Post). Scientists say that this could be comprable to the famous Tunguska blast
in Siberia a hundred years ago (not to be confused with this other Tunguska blast
). [more inside]
posted by math
on Jan 7, 2008 -
Mars and Beyond
- 50 years ago, this animated episode of Tomorrowland aired on Disneyland a few months after the launch of Sputnik - an entertaining melange of astronomy, sci-fi, pop culture, science, speculation, and surreality. Walt himself and Wernher von Braun make guest appearances and clip 5 is particularly trippy. (Parts 2
posted by madamjujujive
on Jun 10, 2007 -
The government of Canada
has just turned down
a request that would have seen Canada build the European Space Agency
's Mars Rover, even though no additional funding was required. Saying it hasn't made up it's mind about the future of Canada's space role, the government has also let the position of president of the Canadian Space Agency
remain vacant for more than a year (after Marc Garneau
resigned to run for the Liberal
party. The decision has left the ESA scrambling to find a new partner and already has some wondering whether the uncertainty will lead to another Avro Arrow
-esque brain drain.
posted by Zinger
on Dec 14, 2006 -
Miracles You’ll See In The Next Fifty Years
Some more up-to-date predictions: science
, space travel
, mental health
, smart machines
, robots, mind uploading
What is your prediction
posted by MetaMonkey
on Oct 5, 2006 -
is a skill pretty much taken for granted now, but it wasn't
. Accurate maps were once prized state secrets, laborious efforts that cost a fortune and took years (or even decades) to complete.
How things have changed. (Yours now, $110
) It took almost 500 years to map North America, but it's only taken one tenth of that to map just everything else. In the last 50 years, we've been able to create acurate atlases of two planets
and one moon
(with a second
in the works). Actually, we've done a lot more than that
. We're actually running out of things to map.
posted by absalom
on Jan 27, 2005 -
With all this talk of wars in distant countries, it's easy to forget that there's exciting things going on just 300 million km from your back porch. NASA has provided 90 second videos of the first 90 sols of the Spirit
[5MB .mov] and Opportunity
rovers [5MB .mov].
posted by fatbobsmith
on May 18, 2004 -
Life on Mars? Methane has been found in the Martian atmosphere which scientists say could be a sign of present-day life on Mars. It was detected by telescopes on Earth and has recently been confirmed by instruments onboard the European Space Agency's orbiting Mars Express craft. Methane lives for a short time in the Martian atmosphere so it must be being constantly replenished. There are two possible ways to do this. Either active volcanoes, but none have yet been found on Mars, or microbes
. The Independent has it as Methane find on Mars may be sign of life
. The second group to detect signals of methane in the Martian atmosphere is led by Michael Mumma of Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland, who used powerful spectroscopic telescopes based on Earth. This team is even believed to have detected variations in the concentrations of methane, with a peak coming from the ancient Martian seabed of Meridiani Planum, which is being explored by a Nasa rover. This could indicate a subterranean source of methane which is pumping out the gas, either due to some residual geological activity or because of the presence of living organisms producing it as a waste gas. Asked whether the continual production of methane is strong evidence of a biological origin of the gas, Dr Mumma said: "I think it is, myself personally." As to how...
posted by y2karl
on Mar 28, 2004 -
Meanwhile, on Mars, The Spirit rover has reached Bonneville Crater, a primary mission objective, and snapped photos of the far side of the crater rim with its navcam. But what is that glint to the left side?
posted by brownpau
on Mar 11, 2004 -
To the moon, Alice! (And then, on to Mars)
Time will tell whether this declaration will lead to an actual rebirth of NASA and realignment of goals for the agency. But I for one am absolutely thrilled that Bush is planning to give NASA a long-overdue new mission and goal. Avoiding the obvious pro/con debate of doing this (or the cost), I think it's absolutely vital to the national psyche for the United States to have a long-range goal that it can focus positive energy upon. This could be the first real "Challenge to the Union" that I think should become an annual event to replace the State of the Union.
posted by tgrundke
on Jan 9, 2004 -
The most accurate navigation in history
. "We had to know everything from how the iron molten lava in the center of the Earth was churning to how plate tectonic movements were affecting the wobble of the Earth to how the plasma in the atmosphere delayed the radio signals to and from the Deep Space Network stations". ..even the seemingly insignificant solar radiation pressure and thermal radiation forces acting on the spacecraft to a level equal to less than a billionth of the acceleration of gravity one feels on the Earth needed to be taken into account. This mission set a new standard for navigation accuracy for all future interplanetary missions.
posted by stbalbach
on Jan 4, 2004 -
Mars, take II
- Still no word from Beagle 2
), unfortunately, as Mars maintains its tough reputation. However, the first of two rovers much larger than 1997's very successful Pathfinder is expected to hit the Martian surface with a giant bounce tonight at 8:35 p.m. PST. Check out the realistic simulation videos
of how it will land and get to work, then watch Nasa TV
(RealVideo) for live coverage.
posted by planetkyoto
on Jan 3, 2004 -
In about 24 hours, the Beagle 2 lander
will descend to the surface of Mars, courtesy of the European Space Agency. After a few mighty bounces, encased in a giant rubber ball, the lander will open up and allow its instrument payload to start sampling the surface.
This is the first in a trifecta of landers
destined for Mars during the next month. NASA's landers
, Spirit and Opportunity
, land on January 3rd and January 24th.
posted by warhol
on Dec 23, 2003 -
Lego Astrobots Blog From Mars Rovers
- The Planetary Society has teamed with NASA to "man" it's two Mars Exploration Rover spacecraft with Lego "Astrobots." The bots, Biff Starling and Sandy Moondust, are blogging their adventure
"to allow kids to vicariously experience life in space, from launch, through the six-month space cruise, to landing and roving on the Martian surface."
posted by tpl1212
on Jun 13, 2003 -
Constance Adams, Space Architect
She designed the International Space Station's TransHab module
(a prototype for manned Mars missions), and says cool things about what the role of architecture is: "Architecture involves forming harmony around the human system, balancing culture, biology, planetary knowledge and technology in counterpoint to the unknowable." (via boingboing)
posted by vraxoin
on Jan 24, 2003 -
Art goes to Mars.
This may be the very first art that our species sends into space, unless you count the little naked folks on the Voyager plaque, or broadcast television. In a somewhat bold move, they've chosen shock artist putter-of-sharks-in-formaldehyde Damien Hirst
. Is it me, or would the chosen painting be much dorkier if this were NASA rather than the European Space Agency? Like a duck or something.
posted by condour75
on Nov 30, 2002 -
The Mars Gravity Biosatellite Project
is an unmatched international effort that pools top-notch technical talent from MIT, the University of Washington in Seattle, and the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. The mission is nothing short of groundbreaking. The plan is to build a spacecraft capable of housing a small crew of mice, including pregnant females, which will simulate the gravity of Mars to determine its effects on mammalian development.
posted by David Dark
on Sep 18, 2002 -
The New Frontier-
Preparing the law for settling on Mars. "Like the abandoned launch fields [at Cape Canveral], the Outer Space Treaty [of 1967] needs to have its valuable parts salvaged, and the dangerous ones demolished."
posted by Ty Webb
on Jun 4, 2002 -
With the Mars Odyssey
about to finalize gravitational orbit tomorrow, you too can observe the surface of Mars via a simulcast
or through the NASA
website on October 30th. NASA is still searching for irrefutable evidence
that Mars could have supported an ecosystem
or more importantly life. Interesting.
posted by Benway
on Oct 23, 2001 -
Did the Viking landers find life on Mars 25 years ago?
Some scientists think so. I have too much faith in planetary scientists and
the newly minted field of exobiology, to believe this is a just a ploy to
rekindle waning public interest in space exploration. I think this is
genuine 20/20 hindsight coupled with better scientific understandings of life
existing in the extreme hinterlands of possibility. . .
posted by crasspastor
on Jul 30, 2001 -