Permanent Human Settlement of the Earth, Space and Ocean Frontiers

Tuesday, May 22, 2007




Astro-Aquanauts

credit NASA

Ralph Buttigieg

Sydney, NSW

Australia

NASA has been involved with undersea habitats for decades, Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter took part in the Sealab II missions in 1965, and modern day astronauts are conducting experiments in the Aquarius habitat. A team of astro-aquanauts have just completed a 12 day expedition:

Six aquanauts returned to the surface of the Earth Friday after 12 days of mock moonwalks and robotic surgery experiments on the Atlantic Ocean floor.

The joint team of NASA astronauts, surgeons and professional divers completed a successful expedition to the Aquarius undersea laboratory, which rests more than 62 feet (18 meters) below the ocean's surface off the coast of Key Largo in the Florida Keys.

"I think we've had a very full mission...we worked really hard, but we really enjoyed it," U.S. astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, commander of the NASA Extreme Environmental Mission Operations (NEEMO) 12 team, told SPACE.com before leaving the undersea laboratory. "I know I will be looking forward to some sunshine, and also it'll be nice to have some fresh food."

Joining Stefanyshyn-Piper on the Aquarius mission were fellow NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez, flight surgeon Josef Schmid and University of Cincinnati researcher Tim Broderick, who watched over telerobotic surgery experiments with a two-armed automaton dubbed Raven and another robot named M7. Rounding out the NEEMO 12 crew were professional divers James Talacek and Dominic Landucci of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, which operates Aquarius for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"We actually had the robots doing telerobotic surgery tasks, which was a great step forward," Broderick said in a shore-to-sea floor phone call before coming home.

Researchers at the University of Washington's BioRobotics Lab in Seattle operated the 50-pound (22-kilogram) Raven remotely vie an Internet connection. The handy robotic surgeon and the M7 surgical automaton built by Menlo Park, California's SRI International are being studied for future applications in remote areas of the world and on long-duration spaceflights.

Schmid, NASA's first flight surgeon ever to visit the undersea Aquarius laboratory, used theexperience to identify with astronauts who launch spaceward to the International Space Station (ISS).

"To better understand how to take care of our crews, we have to actually live, fly and dive with [them]," he told SPACE.com. ...

The NASA NEEMO expedition website is here.

Monday, May 21, 2007




Cold Fish

Ralph Buttigieg

Sydney, NSW

Australia

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Ctenocidaris

For the past few years an international team of scientist have been exploring the waters around the Antarctic continent. The research is part of the Antarctic Benthic Deep-Sea Biodiversity Project and they have discovered over 700 new species:

Heart-shaped sea urchins, carnivorous sponges, and giant sea spiders the size of dinner plates are among the surprising discoveries brought up from the seafloor about 2,300 to 19,700 feet (700 to 6,000 meters) beneath the Antarctic waves.

We were astonished by the enormous biodiversity we found in many groups of species," said study lead author Angelika Brandt, a marine biologist at the University of Hamburg in Germany.

"We used to think that, with decreasing nutrient and food availability, there might cause a decrease in biodiversity toward the Poles," Brandt said.

"There were a lot of species we hadn't seen before, because so little was known before we started," said study co-author Brigitte Ebbe, a marine biologist at the German Centre for Marine Biodiversity Research in Willhelmshaven. .....

"In other oceans the number of species drops the deeper you go," said study co-author Katrin Linse, a marine biologist at the British Antarctic Survey. "But in the Southern Ocean we found the opposite trend."....

“The great advantage in the Antarctic is that the water column is cold all the way up,” said Angelika Brandt, a marine biologist at the University of Hamburg in Germany, “so we can bring material up on deck and extract DNA before it becomes damaged by heat.”

More photos of the unique sealife can be found here.

Saturday, May 19, 2007




History of the Dan Scott Taylor II Submarine

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Ralph Buttigieg

Sydney, NSW

Australia

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Dan Scott Taylor II

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The Dan Scott Taylor II submarine has a fascinating history. It even includes mysterious sea monsters! Dennis is preparing a full report on the sub but here is an extract :

In 1969, Dan Scot Taylor traveled to Loch Ness with his own one man submarine, the Viperfish, to look for the legendary creature of the Loch. He had designed and built the Viperfish on his own initiative and using his own funds. He launched the Viperfish into the loch and gave chase to a shadowy creature at an underwater speed of 14 knots only to be outrun by whatever it was. Dan decided what he needed was speed and a depth potential equal to the Loch. So he returned to the states and began work on a larger submarine, the vessel we now call DST II. He worked on the submarine as its designer and only engineer for decades. Tragically, Dan passed away after heart surgery on Saturday, July 23, 2005 and never saw his creation in the water. When Dan passed away, it about 75% complete.

In his will, Dan left his submarine to a young enthusiastic woman whom he had mentored for many years, Vicki Mudd. Vicki took the submarine and stored it before deciding she would like a research concern to use it for marine research, a passion of hers. She was also sure that Dan would heartily approve. We connected with Vicki and after reviewing our goals, she not only contributed the submarine to the non-profit research company that supports our expeditions but we managed to sign her and her husband, Kevin up as members!

We decided to name it the Dan Scott Taylor II because we did not want his connection to the submarine to be lost. While our mission is different than his, it is still an affirmation of both our dreams – to discover what lies beneath and go to where few have dared to go before. The Expeditions received the contribution on Sunday, May 6th, 2007.

Dennis Chamberland

Friday, May 18, 2007




A submarine for the League of the New Worlds

Copyright (c) 2007 by the League of the New Worlds, Inc

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT BY DENNIS CHAMBERLAND

In Atlanta, Georgia on Sunday morning, May 6th, 2007, Atlantica Expeditions crewmember Vicki Mudd contributed the research submarine, the Dan Scott Taylor II (DST II) to the parent corporation of the Atlantica Expeditions, the League of the New Worlds, Incorporated, a non-profit research company of Florida.

On that morning, Claudia and I met with Vicki and her husband, Kevin and signed the paperwork that formally turned over the submarine to the expeditions. After our "signing breakfast", Claudia and I immediately drove to Savannah, Georgia to look her over and photograph her fore to aft,inside and out.

This incredible acquisition clearly opens up an essential avenue to establishing our ultimate goal, which is the first permanent undersea colony off the coast of Ft. Pierce / Stuart, Florida in 2012. With the redesigned submarine, we will have direct access to the seafloor at 120-150 feet for days of vital research and development of the site before the colony structures themselves arrive.

The DST II is 44 feet in length, six foot in diameter and rated for a crew of four. The submarine was designed for a maximum running depth of 2000 feet with a top submerged speed of 22 knots. Her designed mission durations were for less than a single day. We found the need to modify her to meet the requirements of our unique mission, and yet many of her essential systems will remain intact as Dan Taylor originally designed them.

In the redesign we are not at all concerned with speed and our maximum depth will be 200 feet with an operational depth of 150. However, we require the ability to descent to the seafloor and remain on station with a four man crew for periods up to five days. We have redesigned her shape and appearance to allow us to use the DST II for a manned seafloor habitat-base during those periods. We have installed two larger midsection windows and a dive trunk underneath her manned pressure hull. We have also squared off the deck for working and staging equipment, rigged her superstructure for blue water ocean voyaging by the installation of a deep conning tower, installed lighting systems and installed landing legs to hold her off the bottom for crew access. We have fixed her unique propeller and will control her dives and direction of movement with thrusters and dive planes.

Chief Engineer Joseph M. Bishop is also designing a unique delivery platform and surface support system so that she can be transported in the open ocean safely to our departure point, saving all her energy for the seafloor operations. She will literally descend from the platform using her own propulsion against the strongest of all ocean currents, land at the established undersea base and remain until the mission is completed She will then rise from the seafloor and return to the surface platform on her own power. This is an essential capability because our chosen site is in the Gulf Stream and she will need her engine power to buck the stream and dock with the floating platform on the surface!

The DST II will be designed with an internal decompression capability so that crews can saturate to depth while underwater and then decompress on the ocean floor before returning to base.

The DST is the one of the most unique submarines of her kind, specifically designed for the specific purpose of establishing an undersea colony.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of Vicki's gift to our expeditions and what this capability will mean to our operations. I also want to emphasize the importance of naming it after its original designer, Dan Scott Taylor II. He spent much of his professional life pouring his heart, life and dreams into this project and we wanted to be certain that his work was not lost or forgotten. While our mission is different than his, it is still an affirmation of both our dreams - to discover what lies beneath and go to where few have dared to go before.

The DST II is an awesome boat, and I absolutely cannot wait to get started on her makeover for the new mission and very much look forward to the day we can all get her wet.

Dennis Chamberland

Atlantica Expeditions Leader

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Dennis has been working hard on his new book, Undersea Colonies, which is why we haven't heard from him in a while, but he still managed to find time to collect a submarine. Incredible! The timing of the submarine post by me yesterday was pure coincidence too.

The Undersea Colonies website will have more information once its completed.

Ralph Buttigieg




U-boat

Ralph Buttigieg

Sydney, NSW

Australia

If we have undersea habitats then we are going to need some way to get there. Going out by boat and SCUBA diving down is one way but it has limitations, especially if you can't swim. A better form of transportation is required. Submarines would be ideal but they tend to be costly and complicated.

Well, it looks like the Dutch are building a possible solution, there is now an affordable recreational submarine:

With a price in the region of an expensive sports car, the appropriately named Dutch company Uboatworx has begun producing the first affordable recreational submarine (U-Boat). Uboatworx currently builds a single seat version known as the C-Quester I with a two-seater due in June. Both C-Questers have a top speed of 3.5 mph, are safe to a depth of 50 metres and offer a dive time of 150 minutes. At just over 9 feet long, 6 feet tall and wide and weighing 1.1 tons, the submarine is small enough to trailer to the nearest boat ramp or launch from a yacht. Entry is jet fighter style through a canopy, steering is via a joystick and both the seating position and the experience are apparently quite similar to flight, though getting a license is much cheaper and less time-consuming than a pilot’s license - a three day course and an exam being the only obstacles, apart from the UKP65,000 price tag (more for the two-seater). The cabin is pressurized, a filtration system removes spent air, oxygen is added to maintain air quality and all the safety boxes appear ticked, so the C-Quester appears an out-of-the-box winner at such an affordable price. Motive force is supplied by three electric motors – so it’s a genuine plug-in electric boat which just happens to be able to operate below the surface too.....

At their current price its still out of my league, but hey, its helluva lot cheaper then a Collins Class submarine. The Dutch are likely to have some competition too, Spaniard Guillermo Sureda-Burgos is developing his own design.:

Those pictures sure remind me of the old Gerry Anderson TV puppet series Stingray !

Thanks to Alex Michael Bonnici for the sub links.

Monday, May 14, 2007




Awesome Sight

Ralph Buttigieg

Sydney, NSW

Australia

The picture above is not a Star Wars death ray but a full size model of the Webb Space Telescope.

The Webb will be replacing the Hubble in 2013. The model was recently shown at the Seattle American Astronomical Society meeting. It certainly deserves that overused adjective awesome! From the news report:

The $4.5bn (£2.3bn) telescope will take up a position some 1.5 million km (930,000 miles) from Earth.

It will measure 24m (80ft) long by 12m (40ft) high and incorporate a hexagonal mirror 6.5m (21.3ft) in diameter, almost three times the size of Hubble's.

Hubble, launched in 1990, has sent back pictures of our solar system, distant stars, and remote fledgling galaxies formed not long after the Big Bang.

But scientists say the JWST will enable them to look deeper into space and even further back at the origins of the Universe.

"Clearly we need a much bigger telescope to go back much further in time to see the very birth of the Universe," said Edward Weiler, director of Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Centre.

Martin Mohan of Northrop Grumman, the contractor building the telescope, said that the team was making excellent progress.

"There's engineering to do, but invention is done, more than six years ahead of launch," he said.

When ready, the JWST will be launched by a European Ariane 5 rocket. It is expected to have a 10-year lifespan.

Until then, the 17-year-old Hubble telescope will continue to do its work. Nasa plans to send astronauts on the space shuttle to service it in 2008.

The telescope will be launched in a folded form and deployed in orbit. Heres a short video on how it will be done. Lets hope it doesn't get stuck!

The NASA site is here. Via Gizmodo.

Thursday, May 03, 2007




New Horizon at Jupiter

Io shows its plume. NASA
Ralph Buttigieg
Sydney, NSW
Australia

On February 28th the New Horizon spacecraft did a close flyby of Jupiter to receive a gravity boost on its way to Pluto. NASA used the opportunity to test the crafts instruments on the giant planet and its moons. The spectacular results have now been released:

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has provided new data on the Jupiter system - stunning scientists with never-before-seen perspectives of the giant planet’s atmosphere, rings, moons and magnetosphere.

These new views include the closest peek yet at the Earth-sized “Little Red Spot” storm churning materials through Jupiter’s cloud tops; detailed images of small satellites herding dust and boulders through Jupiter’s faint rings; and of volcanic eruptions and circular grooves on the planet’s largest moons.

New Horizons came to within 1.4 million miles of Jupiter on Feb. 28, using the planet’s gravity to trim three years off its travel time to Pluto. For several weeks before and after this closest approach, the piano-sized robotic probe trained its seven cameras and sensors on Jupiter and its four largest moons, storing data from nearly 700 observations on its digital recorders and gradually sending that information back to Earth. About 70 percent of the expected 34 gigabits of data has come back so far, radioed to NASA’s largest antennas over more than 600 million miles. This activity confirmed the successful testing of the instruments and operating software the spacecraft will use at Pluto.

“Aside from setting up our 2015 arrival at Pluto, the Jupiter flyby was a stress test of our spacecraft and team, and both passed with very high marks,” says New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, NASA Headquarters, Washington. “We’ll be analyzing this data for months to come; we have collected spectacular scientific products as well as evocative images.”

Images included the first close-up scans of the Little Red Spot, Jupiter’s second-largest storm, which formed when three smaller storms merged over the past decade. The storm, about half the size of Jupiter’s larger Great Red Spot and about 70 percent of Earth’s diameter, began turning red about a year before New Horizons flew past it. Scientists will search for clues about how these systems form and why they change colors in their close observations of materials spinning within and around the nascent storm........

More here.

Next stop Pluto in 2015!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007




Space Time

Ralph Buttigieg

Sydney, NSW

Australia

the watch from 2001 Space Odyssey

The measurement of time will be just as essential to a Space colonist as it is to anyone on Earth. In fact it may be more so as regular monitoring and maintenance of a habitat is a matter of life or death.

Colonist will properly need to keep three time measurements, Universal Time the old Greenwich Mean Time, Mission Elapsed Time the time at mission control on Earth and Mean Local Time, the time in the habitat.

Planetary habitats will try to match the natural rotation of the planet for local time. However humans have evolved to cope with a 24 Earth hour cycle, the only planet with a similar cycle is Mars which has a day about 39 minutes longer then ours. The other planets have very different cycles. It would be impossible for humans to match the Moon's month long rotation or Saturn's 10 and half hours rotation. So the habitats will need to keep their own time system.

This is were the fun starts. People have proposed various unique time systems. Author Kim Stanly Robinson gave his Martians a special 39 minute hour at midnight to match their clocks with Earth. Others have proposed some sort of decimal time.

What people forget is that our 24 hour time system is essential for navigation. Longitude is a measurement of time. To give a planet a different time system you would also need to invent a different navigation system. Astronomers have long ago given planets longitude and latitude co-ordinates . Each planet effectively has a different “second” with the unit stretched or shrunk to match the planet's rotation. Space agencies like NASA use the time systems as they have to work with the planet's environment. A good example of this is the current Mars rovers missions. The Mars rovers are solar powered so the controllers have to be very aware the Martian day/night cycle. NASA even had to ask watchmakers to develop special Mars timepieces to keep time with the Martian Sol (day).

Now you can see what confusion this will cause. A colonist on say, the moon, will need to have a watch that keeps two times, the habitat's time system and the real Moon time. Imagine trying to pick the best time to ring Auntie Martha on Mars and cousin Tim on the floating Saturnian cloud cities. Its enough to make my head spin faster then the seconds hand of a Jovian clock.

Theres going to be a need to have some sort of standard time that will be a universal yardstick. A Standard (Space?) Second will need to be agreed upon otherwise interplanetary commerce will just not work. For larger units Earth's Universal Time could be used but I think the hours and minutes will just cause more confusion, besides theres no need to have any direct reference to Earth time for a yardstick. SF author Joan Vinge worked out a perfectly usable Space Time system years ago in The Outcasts of Heaven's Belt . The second is the base unit and other units are just metric multiplications of that. Other SF authors have used it and a explanatory chart is linked here.

More on time and other good stuff can be found on Winchell Chung's website.