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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Space mining law, Rosetta's top 3 finds, and monitoring wildfires from space...

If the moon were 1 pixel wide....

I've seen a lot of attempts to represent the vast size of our solar system, but this is still one of the best. How far do you get before your patience gives out?

Above: A screen shot of a tiny part of Josh Worth's to scale solar system.

Three things Rosetta taught us - and three mysteries

The Rosetta space probe has shown us a lot about comets during its time at comet 67-P... but what are it's top three?

Unregulated space mining

Although the idea of mining the Moon or asteroids has been around for, well, as long as I've been alive and then some, the hurdles to making it happen (and profitable) have always been two fold: The technology, and the legality of it. While the tech is coming along, this is the first time I've heard of a big stride being made on the legal front - a US law is waiting to be signed into law by President Obama (the U.S. commercial space launch competitiveness act) that puts limits on the regulation needed for both private space flight and in-space mining, to encourage growth.

Above: A sample from an asteroid, etched and polished to show the pattern of iron crystals within.

Support a space mission that could save lives:

Fire sat is a kickstarter project for a constellation of heat sensing satellites that would monitor the world in real time for sudden increases in temperature. As our world warms the risk of wildfires will increase - and monitoring temperature flare ups is useful in other ways too: Oil spills, unlicensed flaring of gas, impending volcanic activity could all be monitored by the system. But rather than go the traditional route, the Firesat team are attempting to gain support for their idea through a kickstarter! 

Massive flood in Mars' 'grand canyon' 

Although Mars is known to have had a lot more water activity than today in the deep past, how much water activity can sometimes be a surprise:  ESA has found evidence of gigantic floods rushing through the regions of Aurora chaos and Ganges chasma, two to three billion years ago.

Above: The flood channels in Aurora Chaos and Ganges Chasma, as seen by ESA's Mars Express spacecraft.

Mission for Lunar Resource Prospector laid out 

The Lunar Resource Prospector is a rover mission to the Moon, designed to seek out usable materials like water. But the mission is still in the design phase, and exactly what it would do and how hasn't been laid out. This presentation sets out the goals and some of the likely methods the mission would use. 

Above:A shadowed crater on the Moon. In some craters the Sun is never seen, and the ultracold temperatures have trapped water ice and other useful things. Courtesy of NASA.

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