Permanent Human Settlement of the Earth, Space and Ocean Frontiers

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Comet Holmes

Ralph Buttigieg
Sydney NSW
Comet Holmes should be more visible in the Northern Hemisphere, has anyone seen it? Expansive Comet Holmes

Credit & Copyright: Jean-Charles Cuillandre (CFHT), Hawaiian Starlight, CFHT

Picture from the Astronomy Picture of the day website.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Lloyd's next adventure

Ralph Buttigieg

Sydney NSW


We extensively covered Australian Lloyd Godson's underwater Biosub expedition. He spent 2 weeks earlier this year in an underwater habitat that used a bio-regenerative life support system. Since then he has been busy preparing his next adventure. From their website:

The Australian marine biologist Lloyd Godson and his Greek partner Carolina Sarasiti, will 'migrate' 500km through the Ionian Sea off the west coast of mainland Greece during September - October 2008. They will do so in two custom-built human powered fish shaped submarines designed by pioneering Greek engineer, Alex Sarasitis. The submarines, 'Ulysses' and 'Penelope', will explore the secrets of the ocean in a unique and unusual way.

The submarines will be using some unique technology:

The scientific and technological part of our mission is true innovation. The submarines will be designed and built by project Engineer Alex Sarasitis and will utilise a hydrofoil tail fin attached to the pilots legs for propulsion. The foil angle will change automatically producing an 'automatic transmission' effect making it the most efficient way of swimming. This new fin technology will be used by Herbert Nitsch, "The Flying Fish", during a Constant Weights World Record attempt in 2008. Alex's designs will be based on the motion and shape of fast swimming fishes such as tuna and mako sharks, giving them the fastest form possible. The “dry” submarines will be built from carbon fibres, giving rise to a new species of fish: the Carbon Fin Tuna. They will be capable of diving to approximately 50m with a clear polycarbonate dome serving as the viewing port. Both submarines will be equipped with video cameras for observation and research, as well as an advanced communication system and sophisticated diving equipment for safety
This is an exciting and worthwhile project and we will provide further reports in the future.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

moonrise, moonset

Ralph Buttigieg
Sydney NSW
The Japanese Kaguya probe is currently orbiting the Moon and has returned some stunning HD footage:

NASA tests inflatable habitats

Ralph Buttigieg
Sydney, NSW
The polar regions are probably the closest environments to Mars we have on Earth. So Antarctica is a good place to test inflatable habitats:
An inflatable habitat designed for explorers on the moon or Mars is headed for an Antarctic test run, NASA said Wednesday.

The habitat – built by ILC Dover and resembling an inflatable backyard bounce for children – will make its South Pole debut early next year. NASA demonstrated the inflatable prototype on Wednesday at ILC Dover's Frederica, Del., facility.

"We deflated [and inflated] it in about ten minutes," said Larry Toups, habitat lead for NASA's Constellation Program Lunar Surface Systems Office, in an interview.

Toups and several other habitat designers from NASA's Johnson Space Center and ILC Dover will attempt to deploy the structure in the Antarctic this coming January. Their goal: to use just four people and deploy everything in four hours. Working in bulky cold weather gear will also make the deployment more analogous to the challenges facing astronauts clad in cumbersome spacesuits on the moon.

The habitat prototype will eventually serve as a multilayered test platform for new technologies such as health monitoring systems, self-healing materials, and protective radiation materials. When not inflated, the habitat can save on space and weight during transportation. It's just one of several models, including another prototype that stands on eight legs and has two pressurized cylinders connected by an airlock door, under scrutiny by NASA engineers.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Deep We Never Knew

One of the most influential geniuses of our time, Buckminster Fuller, pointed out that we as humans are crowded on a single continental island in the middle of a vast planetary ocean. While we think we know a lot about our planet, as it turns out, we certainly know far less than what we think. Such gross ignorance about most of our planet is dangerous, at best, and outrageously irresponsible under any circumstances. It means that while we struggle to understand what influence we may be having on the planet, if we don’t even know what lies within three quarters of it, then how can we even assume we can fix the very problems we are creating? Such is the logic of the Atlantica Expeditions that seeks to solve part of that problem. But, see what has just been discovered off Hawaii – a fantastic, never before seen creature being dubbed a “OctoSquid”. This from the Honolulu Star: It's a squid, it's an octopus, it's ... a mystery from the deep.

What appears to be a half-squid, half-octopus specimen found off Keahole Point on the Big Island remains unidentified today and could possibly be a new species, said local biologists.

The specimen was found caught in a filter in one of Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority's deep-sea water pipelines last week. The pipeline, which runs 3,000 feet deep, sucks up cold, deep-sea water for the tenants of the natural energy lab.

"When we first saw it, I was really delighted because it was new and alive," said Jan War, operations manager at NELHA. "I've never seen anything like that."

The natural energy lab is a state agency that operates Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park in Kailua-Kona, adjacent to one of the steepest offshore slopes in the Hawaiian Islands.

According to Richard Young, an oceanography professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the specimen tentatively belongs to the genus Mastigoteuthis, but the species is undetermined.

War, who termed the specimen "octosquid" for the way it looked, said it was about a foot long, with white suction cups, eight tentacles and an octopus head with a squidlike mantle.

The octosquid was pulled to the surface, along with three rattail fish and half a dozen satellite jellyfish, and stayed alive for three days. According to War, the lab usually checks its filters once a month, but this time, it put a plankton net in one of the filters and checked it two weeks later.

The pitch-black conditions at 3,000 feet below sea level are unfamiliar to most but riveting to scientists who have had the opportunity to submerge. The sea floor is full of loose sediment, big boulders and rocks, and a lot of mucuslike things floating in the water, which are usually specimens that died at the surface and drifted to the bottom.

"It's quite fascinating," War said. "When you get below 700 feet, it's a totally different world. Lots of fish have heads like a fish and a body like an eel. There are fish floating in a vertical position, with the head up, and don't move unless they're disturbed."

Christopher Kelley, program biologist for the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory, went to the natural energy lab Tuesday to pick up the preserved octosquid, rattail fish and jellyfish, which had been stored in a freezer, and brought them back to UH-Manoa's oceanography department.

"It's a beautiful squid. It's a gorgeous ruby red color," Kelley said. "We really enjoy these little mysteries that come up."

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Moon Time

Ralph Buttigieg
Sydney, NSW
It looks like I'm not the only person wondering how space colonist will measure their time. has developed a Moon time system.

The Lunar year consists of twelve days, named after the first men who walked on the Moon. Each day is divided into 30 cycles of time, with each cycle being divided into 24 moon-hours. Each moon-hour then has 60 moon-minutes, which in turn of course are made up of 60 moon-seconds each.

The standard notation is: Year-Day-Cycle ∇ Hour:Minute:Second

40-06-17 ∇ 11:01:05

Lunar Standard Time (LST)

This feels similar to what we have here on Earth, does it not? That is the point. It feels similiar, but there are differences.

Conditions on the Moon are somewhat different compared to the Earth. For one thing, you have about 15 days of continuous daylight (and then 15 days of total darkness). So, a "day" on the Moon, would correspond to about 29.5 Earth-days. About a month. And this is why we have months! You can see it in the sky, once every 29 days or so, you have a full moon, which is "noon" on the center of the disk. This is also called the synodic month.

So, on the Moon, a day, counting from noon to noon, lasts about 29.27 to 29.83 Earth days. It is not a constant. The mean value, roughly 29.530589, is not a constant either! Over time it will be longer. However, this will not be a problem in the near future (your grandchildren might have to add a leap second or two though) .

This means that we will have to fit 30 moon cycles into 29.53 or so Earth days, while keeping the same type of 24 hour clock that we have all come to know and love. The solution is to simply define the moon-second as 29.530589/30, and the rest follows. Go here for Lunar Standard Time definitions.

Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon surface on July 21th 1969 at 02:56:15 UT, and this is the obvious choice for a point in time for the calendar to start. So, this is Year 1, day 1 cycle 1, 00:00:00

Here's the time on the Moon!