Archive for Astronauts

Mars Madness

Posted in America, Britain, Europe, Life in the Universe, Modern World, News, Space, Teens, UK, USA with tags , , , , on 21/02/2015 by floroy1942

MarsIf someone had told me five years ago that people would be lining up to commit suicide by going on a one way trip to Mars I would have called them daft. It seems inconceivable that around 200,000 people world-wide signed up for this mad idea, and now after careful selection we are down to the final 100 candidates – 50 men and 50 women. More selection processes will be carried out until we get to the final 24 who will make the one way trip to the red planet.

The whole process of getting the Mars inhabitants to their destination are complex, and will, according to the planning, continue from the initial launch of equipment in 2020. Crew One will follow in 2024 and a second in 2026. It is anticipated that more people will be sent every two years.

Mars Rover Due For Launch In 2020

Mars Rover Due For Launch In 2020

Before the launch of Crew One in 2024 there will be four years of preparation starting with the launch of a Rover and a trailer which will, supposedly, search the area for a suitable site and  generally prepare the chosen site for the landing of the first habitats. The Rover will move the equipment to the chosen site using the trailer and begin erecting them.

According to the plan, the site should be operational in 2023 and ready for the arrival of the first astronauts in 2024. When they arrive they should find the habitats erected with a good supply of oxygen, water and food, all completed by the Rovers.

It all sounds like science fiction to me and the fact that normally sane people would volunteer for such a trip astounds me, especially when you consider that most of the volunteers are young with the prospect of a long life ahead of them. It seems that for some at least, the idea of going down in history as the first humans to inhabit another planet is the deciding factor.

Bas Landsdorp - CEO Of Mars One

Bas Landsdorp – CEO Of Mars One

This whole venture is the brainchild of a group of Dutchmen who formed the company ‘Mars One’, and according to them the whole project will cost around $6 Billion. They are hoping to raise this amount from donations. The company has said that it wishes to film all elements of the adventure and screen it across the globe. They state that it is not for profit, but is intended to be the ultimate TV ‘reality show’. I am not sure I would be willing to sacrifice my life for such a venture, but there is no accounting for taste!

Since my last post on this subject i.e. (https://floroy1942.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/mars-anyone/) a lot more information has come to light, but none of it convinces me that it is a feasible venture. Even NASA has stated that the people involved could not be expected to live beyond 68 days, for the risks involved in getting the astronauts to the red planet are enormous. Even so, there are plans by NASA to send a mission to Mars in 2030. It is interesting to note that even Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reckon settlers on Mars would all be dead within a few months. Like I said, suicide, but at least they would get their name in the papers.

Mars One Habitats

Mars One Habitats

To begin with, it seems that Mars One are putting an awful lot of faith in the robotic rover that is intended to not only scout the terrain for a suitable site, but will also have to work for a minimum of four years to move and erect the habitats when they arrive. It is also presuming that everything arrives on time and at the right place on the planet. In 2022 a second Rover along with two living units, two life support systems, and a supply unit will be sent to Mars. A problem with these Rovers would be catastrophic for the whole venture.

Not only do they rely on these robots to prepare the housing for the people, but they will also have to provide the water and oxygen for a breathable atmosphere in the habitats. The water will be extracted from the Martian soil by evaporating the subsurface ice particles in an oven. Following this the evaporated water is condensed back to its liquid form and stored. Part of the water is used for producing oxygen. Nitrogen and Argon will be filtered from the Martian atmosphere to make up the other components of the breathable air inside the habitat. Whichever way you look at it, this is a complicated process, and one can only hope that everything goes according to plan.

Earth To Mars

Earth To Mars

As mentioned in my previous post, the continued health of these astronauts comes into question, for such are the conditions in space they may not even reach the planet. Travelling time between the Earth and Mars can vary between six and eight months depending on the orbit alignment. In deep space there is cosmic radiation that is deadly to the human body. Prolonged exposure will lead to cancer and osteoporosis. Here on Earth we are protected by the magnetic field around the planet. In space there is no such shield.

Another worry for the people in their capsule is the prolonged lack of gravity which can lead to bone and muscle wastage and loss of eyesight as the ISS occupants have already encountered. One would presume that the astronauts would have a strict regime of exercises but these are difficult in a non-gravity situation. If they finally get there one can only hope they have the necessary strength to exit the capsule and gain entry to the habitats.

Exercise On The ISS

Exercise On The ISS

Once established, exercise will be paramount to survival because the gravity on Mars is 62% less than on Earth so the astronauts will have a very tough time keeping their bodies in sufficient shape to retain their muscle power. Should they fail in this their bodies will steadily get weaker.

ISS astronauts lose a maximum of 30% muscle performance and maximum loss of 15% muscle mass after only 4-5 months on the station, so you can imagine what will happen to our brave young people on the way to Mars, and particularly when they get there.

On top of that the habitats will need to be fully insulated, for the average temperature on the planet is -63C compared to Earth’s average of 14C. Can you imagine living in a permanent -63C, plus or minus a bit, for the rest of your life? It will be worse than living in a freezer.

Three Mars One Team Members

Three Mars One Team Members

Among the 50 hopefuls are 5 Brits, the oldest being 35. They are Ryan MacDonald, a 21-year-old masters student from Derby, Maggie Lieu, 24, a PhD student in astrophysics at the University of Birmingham, Hannah Earnshaw, 23, a PhD student in astronomy at Durham University, Alison Rigby, 35, a science laboratory technician, from Beckenham, Kent, and Clare Weedon, 27, a systems integration manager for Virgin Media, from Addlestone, in Surrey.

Ryan MacDonald

Ryan MacDonald

In an interview Ryan MacDonald said,  “The most important thing to do in life is to leave a legacy. A lot of people do that by having a child, having a family. For me this would be my legacy. Hundreds of years down the line who is going to know who was the President of the United States? Everyone will remember who were the first four people who stepped onto Mars.”

Apart from the British contenders there are 39 from the Americas, 31 from Europe, 16 from Asia, seven from Africa and seven from Oceania. From these fifty finalists twenty-four will be chosen to go in either 2024 or 2026 with the rest supposedly following on later flights.

Why Would Anyone Want To Leave This Behind?

Why Would Anyone Want To Leave This Behind?

There can be little doubt that the psychological strain of being away from family and friends and everything that one accepts as normal here on Earth will be a major problem. The participants will be imprisoned in their habitats with only their compatriots for company. It will be akin to being in prison, for you cannot go outside without a space suit, and what do you do when you are outside? No more parks for a nice stroll or a beach on which to lay in the sun. No more interaction with people other than your fellow astronauts so perhaps it is a good thing their lives will be short.

There can be little doubt that this is a very risky venture and a thousand things can go wrong. A small error can cost the lives of the people even before they reach the planet, and when they get there, their chances of living past a few short weeks is very small. We shall have to wait and see if the contestants for the subsequent flights still want to go if the first crew die after only a few short days or weeks.

Mother Earth - I Love You!

Mother Earth – I Love You!

As for me, I am not going anywhere. I am staying right here on good old Mother Earth and I would advise you to do the same!

Roy.

Is It Really Possible To Live On Mars?

Posted in America, Environment, Health, Insanity, Life in the Universe, Modern World, News, Space, Travel, USA with tags , , , , on 25/10/2014 by floroy1942
Going To Mars

Going To Mars?

I have read with some interest the reports on sending people to live on Mars, and the experiments currently taking place in Hawaii. Although I am not a scientist, it makes me wonder if we are not going too far. The idea that six people could live a sustained life on the Red Planet for many years seems just a bit too ambitious.

Mars Habitat Trial In Hawaii

Mars Habitat Trial In Hawaii

Consider what it would be like. You live in a small habitat (1,000 sq.ft.) with five other people with basically no-where to go. No bars, cinema’s, local shops, parks or even family. You can go outside but only when wearing a spacesuit, and once you get outside what can you do, basically nothing except go for a stroll. In the first few months there will be all sorts of experiments to keep you busy, but when they are finished, what then? You are doomed to spend the rest of your life on this planet because you can’t get back to Earth. I think the average person would go crazy after a few months of this.

Inside The Dome

Inside The Dome

The current experiments in Hawaii are looking at how people will react to one another when cooped up in a single habitat with nowhere else to go. So far there have been two missions of four months each, and two more are planned, one of eight months and one of a year. These experiments will give a good idea of how people react to each other in a small space over a given period.

Cosmic Rays - Earth Is Protected By Its Magnetic Field

Cosmic Rays – Earth Is Protected By Its Magnetic Field

The first challenge will be to get there and still be in sufficient good health to be able to build your habitat. Experience has already shown that prolonged exposure to cosmic radiation, which is everywhere in space, is detrimental to health. NASA has already learnt this from I.S.S. astronauts who stayed on the space station for prolonged periods. Experts consider the longest time a man can be in space is 400 days, and for a woman it is less at 320 days. The strength of cosmic rays is determined by the sun which goes through periods of high and low activity. The more activity the less the rays will penetrate our solar system. The time taken to reach Mars is anything from 131 to 225 days depending on the orbits of Earth and Mars.

So this begs the question, what affects will the cosmic radiation have on the Mars astronauts? Prolonged exposure to cosmic rays will cause radiation sickness and cancer. Will they be fit enough to get out of their capsule and begin building their habitat, or will they even survive long enough to get there? All questions no-one seems to have an answer for.

Let us presume they make it to the landing site, for then comes the next big challenge i.e. building their home. In a Mars atmosphere this could take weeks, and in the meantime they will have to live in their capsule or ship. One would presume that earlier spacecraft had been sent to the planet stuffed with building parts, tools and of course food and water. One can only hope that the craft carrying them will land near enough to those supplies. Imagine if something goes wrong and they land perhaps ten or a hundred earth miles from the supply craft. That could be a disaster. The one thing never to be forgotten is that with any plan, something can always go wrong.

Oxygen Scrubber As Used In Submarines

Oxygen Scrubber As Used In Submarines

Given that everything goes to plan, the habitat is built and they move inside, what then? They are forced to rely on man-made equipment that must keep them alive until either they die of radiation sickness and cancer, old age, or just maybe space science makes sufficient advances to bring them back in maybe ten or twenty years. So far as the habitat is concerned, they will have to rely on oxygen scrubbers to provide them with this necessity and they do work for long periods, like in submarines, but would they last for years on end? Everything has a life when it eventually wears out or something breaks.  Any breakdown in the oxygen system would be catastrophic, for the repair shop is not just around the corner.

ISS Meal - Yummy!

ISS Meal – Yummy!

The next thing that comes to mind is food. Current plans showing the proposed housing unit does not seem to show any space for plants. If that is the case then growing their own vegetables is out of the question. The inhabitants may have to rely on so-called space rations like they use in the space station. I can’t imagine spending the rest of my life eating goo from a plastic bag. Can you?

ISS Supplies En Route

ISS Supplies En Route

People living on Mars will also require regular supply rockets in order to keep them alive. Anything can interrupt this which would condemn these people to die. A rocket failure, a tracking failure, even an economic crisis that would prevent such an expensive endeavour, for expensive it would be.

Launch Failure

Launch Failure

Allowing for the twenty four minute delay in radio transmissions to Mars, I can imagine the faces of the Mars crew to hear that their next supply ship has crashed on the launchpad. I for one would certainly not volunteer for something like this and I don’t think any sane person would. There are many experts who are of the opinion that this project is impossible from a practical viewpoint and it may be cancelled, but we will have to wait and see.

Moon Landing

Moon Landing

There is a saying; “Don’t run before you can walk”, which seems to aptly describe this current endeavour. It would make more sense to try this on the moon before attempting to put people on Mars. At least it doesn’t take ten months for anything to get there, communication is much better and it would not be as expensive. Most important though, is that it would be possible to retrieve people if the whole experiment went wrong. Perhaps someone should give this some thought.

Roy.

Mars Anyone?

Posted in America, Britain, England, Europe, Insanity, Modern World, UK, USA with tags , , , , on 23/04/2013 by floroy1942

 No, I don’t mean a Cadbury’s Mars bar, I mean the real thing! It beggers belief that over ten thousand people have already put their name forward to be one of the first humans to tread on the red planet after applications for future ‘marsnauts’ were requested. It has been made clear that whoever goes will never be able to return home to mother, tea and cookies, but they are still lining up. I can only think that something must have gone wrong in the current human gene pool for so many people to willingly commit suicide in this fashion.

The Mars One Team

The Mars One Team

According to the organizers, a Dutch non-profit (really?) company called strangely enough ‘Mars One’, they intend to turn the whole event into a TV reality show. I cannot think of anything more ridiculous in the world.

You Wanna' Live Here? Are You Sure?

You Wanna’ Live Here? Are You Sure?

They are intending to send four individuals on a one-way trip to Mars that will take a whole year to reach, and televise the whole thing for all the world to watch. Wow! That should get them some air-time. They tell us the Olympic Games netted $4 billion in TV revenues in four weeks so their costs of $6 billion should be attainable over the year of travel and reports from after they arrive – IF they arrive! It sounds like a 21st century way to make a lot of money to me!

The International Space Station

The International Space Station

Before they even get there, these people will run the risk of the physical effects of exposure to high-energy cosmic rays and other forms of ionizing radiation which already effects ISS astronauts after only a short stay in space. Don’t forget that ISS personnel only stay in space for a maximum of a few months, and these people will be there for over a year and no-one knows what the effects will be on the human body. Another ISS astronaut problem is the physical effects of a prolonged low-gravity environment, which could include bone and muscle wastage and eyesight loss. Not much point in going there if you don’t have the muscular power to move and you can’t see a damned thing.

The Planned Living Accomodation

The Planned Living Accommodation 

As if all that is not enough, there is also the psychological stress of prolonged isolation from Earth. It won’t be any good crying for mummy or wishing for a cool glass of beer. Also the psychological effects of lack of community due to lack of real-time connections with Earth must be considered, and the social effects of several humans living under crowded conditions for over a year. On top of that they will not be able to go to the local doctor, hospital or dentist if they develop something nasty. Last but not least, there is also the very good chance of equipment failure in the propulsion systems or even worse, the life-support systems. The next big problem, assuming they make it, is what then? The atmosphere of Mars is mostly carbon dioxide, which is poisonous to humans and they will have to endure temperatures of -55C.

Good Luck!

Good Luck!

The ‘Mars One’ people say that a nice little cottage with a nice garden will be waiting for them when they get there, if they can afford it. Well, perhaps it won’t be a cottage, but some inflatable capsule with all the comforts of home? I doubt it. Even if the advance landing of the habitats goes to plan, what if it gets blown away by a martian storm. Our intrepid ‘marsnaughts’ had better hope that part goes without a hitch, or they will be left with nowhere to go.

Proposed Living Quarters

Proposed Living Quarters

The Dutch company hopes to be able to televise the entire undertaking from astronaut selection through to their stay on the planet. It will certainly be a moneymaker and for a ‘non-profit’ venture I can see them making billions, if it ever gets that far. With such a venture on prime-time TV they will be able to print their own money so to speak, and don’t forget it will go on for over a year. Big Brother move over the Dutch are coming.

OMG! What Have I Done?

OMG! What Have I Done?

You have to ask yourself why so many people have stepped forward as would-be ‘marsnauts’. It becomes immediately clear that not one of them have taken any serious thought into what the enterprise will entail. The big one of course is the ‘never coming home bit’. Are some people really so tired of life that they are willing to throw it all away for five minutes of fame? Or is it that they will be able to brag to their friends: “I volunteered for the Mars mission”. I have the feeling that after a long hard think, and as the day comes closer, many will have an attack of conscience and drop out. Ah Well! There goes my moment of fame!
Roy.

The 17,500mph Rubbish Tip

Posted in Britain, Environment, Europe, Insanity, Life in the Universe, Modern World, Plastic Rubbish, USA with tags , , , , on 29/06/2011 by floroy1942

It amused me somewhat to read the other day about a supposed UFO sighting over the BBC building in London that was ‘filmed’ and put on YouTube. In my opinion, all UFO sightings can be discounted these days, and in fact for the last several decades, because no extraterrestrials could get near our planet because of all the garbage that is currently surrounding Earth.

Yuri Gagarin – The First Human In Space 1961

Ever since the first manned space flight by Russian Yuri Gagarin, in 1961, the level of debris floating around above our atmosphere has risen rapidly. In 1981 it was estimated there were about 5,000 items both large and small floating around the Earth. By 2011 this has increased to 22,000 known objects with a total mass of around 5,500 tonnes What will it be in 2050 – 100,000, a million? These figures do not take into account the hundreds of items that have burnt up in the atmosphere over this period.

It has become necessary for people like NASA and their Russian equivalent to use sophisticated radar to track the path of all objects in this gigantic garbage patch to avoid collisions when launching space missions.

We have already done quite a good job of turning our entire home into a waste dump (remember Plastic Island?), and have for the last four decades been equally successful with the space that surrounds it.

The International Space Station

This week the astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) had to retreat to their Soyuz rescue vehicles because of a near miss by a small object. It missed by only 250 metres. Had it hit the station, the results could have been catastrophic, and many billions of dollars would have ended up as more useless space junk.

News Report:

This is the first time such drastic action has been necessary, and it was undertaken because the piece of trash was seen too late for avoidance measures., On many occasions in the past the ISS has had to move to get it out of the trajectory of floating objects.

Everything But The Kitchen Sink!

Actually, the term ‘floating junk’ is a bit of a misnomer as the junk is not actually ‘floating’, but travelling at a speed of 17,500mph. Moving that fast, a small fleck of paint can dent a panel or crack a window on the ISS. Any astronaut on a space walk would be instantly killed by even such a small thing. Remember the old adage that a piece of straw will pass through a block of concrete if it is travelling fast enough?

 Space junk can be anything from a tool lost by an astronaut during a spacewalk to the burnt out sections of rocket boosters or dead satellites. They can vary in size from several millimetres to something the size of a small house.

Many are in low earth orbit (LEO) and eventually burn up on reentry into the atmosphere, but those further out like weather, communication, and GPS satellites in geosynchronous orbit, can be with us for years and even forever.

The Final Launch Phase – Adding To The Debris

Every time someone sends something into space we end up with burnt out rocket stages, shields, discarded satellites, Elton John’s old piano and many other bits left floating around out there and no-one seems to care. I suppose it will not be until an astronaut dies, or there is serious damage to the ISS that costs millions of dollars to repair, that someone will eventually decide to bring out the space vacuum cleaner.

Space Junk Tracking:

Some plans have already been put forward to clean up te mess, but we have yet to see one in action. One idea was to launch a satellite that carried a huge net capable of capturing  debris but so far nothing has come of it. While the idea may have some merit, it certainly hasn’t been thought through sufficiently because to cover anything like a reasonable area the net would have to be gigantic. The use of lasers has also been suggested, but to be honest, on the scale they would be required, they are still science fiction.

The Future Of ‘Taking Out The Trash’?

I wonder how long it will be before we are so swamped in trash that someone has the bright idea of sending it all to the Moon or Mars?

It seems clear to me that before Man can attain his long sought goal of reaching the stars, something will have to be done to solve the problem of all this space junk. For there can be little doubt that eventually we will seal ourselves in with an impenetrable layer of rubbish that will make space exploration a distant dream.

Roy.

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