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Elon Musk says the first Mars settlers are likely to die

One day, humans will colonize the planet Mars… The private space company SpaceX is actively working to make this sweet dream a reality very soon. Elon Musk warns, however, that the conquest of the red planet will not come without sacrifices … and many deaths.

At the “Human to Mars” conference held online on August 31, the eccentric billionaire was very frank: colonizing Mars is perfectly possible, but it won’t be easy. Above all, you shouldn’t expect everything to go well from the start.

Pixabay credits

Elon Musk has indeed predicted that there is little chance that all the first settlers will survive.

Sensitive hearts refrain

For Elon Musk, it is not the trip to Mars that is the problem, but rather the implantation on the planet. As he explained during the virtual conference: “Getting to Mars, I think, is not the fundamental question. The fundamental question is to build a base, to build a city on Mars that is autonomous. […] We are going to build a propulsion plant, a first base on Mars – Mars Base Alpha – and then bring it to the point where it is self-sufficient. « 

Musk then added that all of these steps were “a very hard and dangerous thing, difficult, not for the faint of heart. «  True to himself, the billionaire did not mince words about what could happen to vulnerable people who would like to be part of the adventure. « [There’s] a good chance you’ll die, it’s going to be tough, but it’ll be pretty glorious if it works. » « 

The Starship project is progressing well

While some may not be very keen on moving to Mars anymore, Elon Musk gave news of SpaceX’s Starship project that will take the first settlers to the Red Planet. And the news is good: Musk said great progress has been made, although there is still a long way to go before we can send people to Mars.

“We are making good progress. What is really holding back progress on Starship is the production system… A year ago there was nothing and now we have a lot of production capacity. […] We have to make it work first, automatically deliver satellites and do hundreds of missions with satellites before we put people on board. « 

Elon Musk has remained elusive regarding the first launch (followed by orbital reentry) of the spacecraft that will transport the first settlers to their new planet. He simply indicated that it would probably be for next year… provided that all goes well!

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What defines a person’s age? This is the number of years she has spent on Earth since birth. But what is a year? It is quite simply the time during which our planet arrives to complete a complete circle around the Sun.

This duration is also known as the period of revolution. A year is thus generally accepted as a period of 365 days.Pixabay credits

You should know that this duration is valid only for the Earth since the other planets of the solar system have periods of revolution all different from each other. This means that a year on Venus for example will last around 225 Earth days instead of 365, and a year on Saturn will last around 29 Earth years. We can thus wonder how old we would be if we had been born on another planet of the solar system.

Well, the site  can answer this question since it proposes to calculate the age of a person in relation to the period of revolution of another planet.

We can say that the site has found here a pretty funny way to explain to Internet users how the movement of the planets in the solar system works.

How to calculate his « extraterrestrial » age on the site?

If you want to know your age on another planet, it’s easy. All you have to do is enter your date of birth and press the “Calculate” button. Immediately, we get its age on each planet. The site also indicates the day of the next extraterrestrial birthday.

To give you an idea of the kind of result given by the site, a person born on 1 st  January 1990, that is to say 30 year old in 2020 on Earth, would for example 127 years on Mercury, and his neighbor anniversary would be held on October 30th 2020. on Saturn, which is much farther from the Sun than Earth, that person would have just a little more than 1 year, and his next birthday would be held on 1 st  December 2048.

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An unknown celestial body appears in the Japanese sky

A fireball crossing the sky has been observed in several districts of Tokyo and some neighboring prefectures. A similar phenomenon had taken place in early July.

Residents of several Japanese prefectures observed the fall of an   unknown celestial body on the evening of August 21, reports the Yomiuri newspaper.

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On the videos made in certain districts of Tokyo, as well as in the prefectures of Kanagawa and Yamanashi, a bright ball crosses the sky before extinguishing as it approaches the earth’s surface.

On July 2, a similar object was observed in the Japanese sky, after which a fragment of a meteorite was found in Chiba Prefecture.

With Sputnik France

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This animation shows that the center of our solar system is not the Sun

Artist’s concept of our solar system. © NASA

It is common knowledge that the Sun is the center of the solar system. Around it, the planets orbit – with a thick asteroid belt, a few meteor fields, and a handful of distant comets. But this is not entirely correct. « Everything revolves around the center of mass of the solar system, »  James O’Donoghue, a planet scientist at the Japanese space agency JAXA , recently explained on  Twitter . “Even the Sun. « 

This center of mass or center of gravity, called barycenter, is the point on an object that achieves perfect balance, with its mass evenly distributed on all sides. In our solar system, this point rarely aligns with the center of the Sun. To demonstrate this, James O’Donoghue created the animation below, which shows how the Sun, Saturn, and Jupiter orbit the barycenter, dragging our star into looping mini-orbits.

In his free time, James O’Donoghue does animations to show how the physics of planets, stars and the speed of light work. “The natural thought is that we orbit around the center of the Sun, but this happens very rarely,” he explains. “It is very rare that the center of mass of the solar system aligns with the center of the Sun. The movement of the Sun is exaggerated in the video above to make it more visible, but our star travels millions of kilometers around the barycenter, sometimes passing above, sometimes moving away from it.

Much of this movement comes from the gravity of Jupiter. The Sun makes up 99.8% of the mass of the solar system, but Jupiter contains most of the remaining 0.2%. This mass “pulls” on the Sun. “The Sun actually revolves slightly around Jupiter,” notes James O’Donoghue.

In the solar system, the planets and their moons have their own barycenter. The Earth and the Moon make a simpler dance, the barycenter remaining inside the Earth. James O’Donoghue also made a video to show this

The animation also shows how the Earth and the Moon will move over the next three years, in 3D. (The distance between the Earth and the Moon is not to scale).

Pluto and its moon, Charon, do something similar, but with a peculiarity: the barycenter is always outside Pluto.

The barycenters sometimes help astronomers find hidden planets encircling other stars, since they can calculate that the system contains a mass they cannot see.

“The planets are of course orbiting the Sun,” concludes James O’Donoghue. “We’re just fussy. « 

Original version:  Morgan McFall-Johnsen / Business Insider

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Some quick work by astronomers nabbed the optical flash from a huge explosion caused by two neutron stars colliding nearly three-quarters of the way across the observable Universe. This is the second farthest short gamma-ray burst ever seen, the very farthest visible flash of light from one ever seen, and a rare beast indeed.

Gamma-ray bursts (or GRBs) are some of the most powerful and violent explosions in the cosmos. They were first detected in the 1960s, but their true nature didn’t start unfolding until the 1990s, when we learned they were extremely far away and therefore ridiculously powerful. Like, emitting in a few seconds the same energy the Sun will over its entire 12 billion year lifetime powerful.

They come in two flavors: Long (longer than 2 seconds on average) and short (you guessed it: shorter than 2 seconds). Long ones have a number of different sources, but in general come from massive stars exploding as supernovae, and their cores collapse to form black holes. Not every supernova generates a GRB, but when they do the explosion is incredibly energetic, allowing us to see them at vast distances.

Artwork depicting the moment of collision between two neutron stars. The resulting explosion is… quite large. Credit: Dana Berry, SkyWorks Digital, Inc.

Short GRBs involve neutron stars, also the leftover object after a star’s core collapses. They’re less massive than black holes, but still objects to be reckoned with. If two massive stars orbit each other, they can both explode to form binary neutron stars. Over billions of years they slowly spiral toward each other, then in the last moments they tear each other apart through their fierce gravity and merge, usually forming a black hole. This process generates an intense burst of gamma rays, the highest energy form of light.

This explosion isn’t quite as powerful as a supernova, so it’s nicknamed a kilonova. Still, quite a bit of energy goes into the blast of light after a merger, which means we can see them from far away.

The short blast of gamma rays is the key to finding them: NASA’s Swift observatory is designed specifically to detect GRBs and then train its ultraviolet and optical telescopes on them, nailing down their positions better and alerting telescopes on Earth to take a closer look.

Artwork showing the moment of the neutron star collision, with beams of energy shooting out and gravitational waves shaking ripples in the space-time continuum. Credit: NSF/LIGO/Sonoma State University/A. Simonnet

And so it was on 23 November 2018. Swift’s Burst Alert Telescope detected a flash of gamma rays lasting about a quarter of a second coming from the direction of the constellation of Coma Berenices. No afterglow was seen by its Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope, though to be fair it’s not a very big ‘scope. Swift then sent out an alert, and fast-acting astronomers pointed the huge Gemini telescope at that area of the sky just over 9 hours later, where it saw a feeble glow of near-infrared light (an i magnitude of 25, if you want the tech details, which is faint). It observed again a couple of days later and the glow had faded, confirming it was the GRB afterglow.

An image of the short gamma-ray burst GRB 181123B’s host galaxy (circled) taken by the Gemini Observatory. Credit: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/K. Paterson & W. Fong (Northwestern University). Acknowledgements: Image processing: Travis Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage), Mahdi Zamani & Davide de Martin

Not long after, the mighty Keck telescope took a look at what was now called GRB 181123B (the second GRB detected on 2018 November 23), and was able to take a spectrum of the host galaxy, and astronomers determined it is roughly 10 billion light years from Earth. This makes the GRB the second most distant short one ever seen (GRB 111117A, the current record holder from 2011, was 10.7 billion light years from Earth), and the most distant one with an optical afterglow detected.

Most short GRBs are much closer to us, averaging about 5 billion light years away. Only three are known at about this distance, making GRB 181123B an important marker for studying the Universe at this time.

Around that time of ten billion years ago, galaxies in the Universe were about at their peak of star-birth efficiency, churning out stars at prodigious rates. The host galaxy for this gamma-ray burst is smallish, with about 15 billion times the Sun’s mass worth of stars in it (our galaxy, the Milky Way, has about 50 billion solar masses of stars in it), but astronomers determined that at the time it was cranking out about 35 times the Sun’s mass in stars every year. That’s a lot (currently the Milky Way produces something like 1-2), but about average for galaxies of its size back then, and probably it was already past its peak of star formation.

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The reason this is important is because it takes time to make a short GRB. Massive stars blow through their nuclear fuel rapidly, exploding after a dozen million years or so, but it may take billions of years for them to spiral together and collide. This event happened less than 4 billion years after the Big Bang, so that’s a hard upper limit on how quickly you can go from making stars to creating a short GRB (and GRB11117A got to the finish line even faster). That tells us a lot about how these events work.

Finding short GRBs at this distance is hard; Swift isn’t really designed to see them this far away, so they have to be unusually bright, and even then they’re very rare. But the more we find, the better we’ll understand this time in the history of the Universe (rather poetically called Cosmic Noon, because so many stars were being made).

It’s amazing to me how generous the Universe is sometimes, giving us all these ways to investigate it, including merging neutron stars billions of light years away blasting out high-energy gamma rays for a fraction of a second. It doesn’t make things easy… but then where’s the fun in that?


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Send humans to Mars? Technically possible, but …

Send humans to Mars? We have been talking about it for decades. This seems technically feasible. Still, no trip is really planned. Explanations. 

On May 11, 1990, US President George Bush announced the next frontier in space exploration: a man on Mars before July 20, 2019, the fiftieth anniversary of the first step on the Moon.

The engagement obviously lasted a long time, and the similar promises of three of his successors (Bush son, Barack Obama and Donald Trump) did not give birth to any concrete program, which illustrates the paradox of the human conquest of the planet. red: promised because feasible.

The robot curiosity,whose mission should end around 2026

« I had to attend 10,000 presentations on how to send humans to Mars, » said G. Scott Hubbard, to Stanford, a former NASA student. « But no one since Kennedy has been able to put the substantial sums. »

Rocket, launchers, weightlessness and radiation

Experts agree: the major technological and health challenges for this mission, which would last two or three years, have almost been resolved. For launch, it will require a very powerful rocket, which NASA has been able to do since the 1960s. Today the new companies SpaceX, of Elon Musk, and Blue Origin, of the boss of Amazon Jeff Bezos, are building launchers heavy that will be able to send tens of tonnes to the red planet.

For the seven months of transit, twenty years of occupation of the International Space Station reassured scientists about the risks posed by radiation and weightlessness, such as loss of muscles: the body does not emerge unscathed, but the risk is considered acceptable.

There remains the stay on Mars, which will last fifteen months in order to wait for the two planets to return to the same side of the Sun. It is -63 ° C on average, and radiation is important, but we know how to make protective coveralls and shelters.

Medical emergencies and dust storms

For medical emergencies, the distance will make evacuation impossible. What glitches should astronauts anticipate? First a fracture, but a plaster cast will often suffice, says Dan Buckland, an engineer and emergency doctor at Duke University, who is developing a robotic intravenous needle with support from NASA.

Diarrhea, kidney stones and appendicitis are generally treatable, except 30% of appendicitis which must be operated and could therefore be fatal. With extensive testing, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of cancer developing and becoming dangerous in three years, says Dan Buckland. « In my opinion, there is no absolute medical obstacle to go to Mars, » concludes the doctor.

For homes and vehicles, one problem will be to prevent dust from entering. « Mars has this specific problem with dust storms, » ​​points out Robert Howard of the Nasa Johnson Center. These hellish storms can block the Sun for months… and therefore any solar panel. Nuclear mini-reactors will therefore be required. In 2018, NASA and the Department of Energy successfully completed a demonstration project, the Kilopower Project.

Ultimately, the goal will be to manufacture materials on site using mining resources, probably with 3D printing machines. There development is embryonic, but the American lunar program Artémis will be a test bed.

Colonize Mars?

Elon Musk advocates a colonization of Mars, with a first equipped to build an oxygen and fuel plant (methane), from Martian water and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. « Becoming a multiplanetary species, » he said in a keynote speech in 2017, « it’s still something other than being a monoplanetary species. »

Robert Zubrin, president of the Mars Society, tirelessly defends the creation of a « new branch of humanity ». That nothing has been done since the last step on the Moon in 1972 is shameful. « It is as if, after the return of Christopher Columbus from the New World, Ferdinand and Isabelle had said that they were not interested, » he compares.

« Stop the bullshit! » ”, Conversely exclaims the exobiologist Michel Viso, of the French space agency (Cnes).

« We have a great planet with atmosphere, oxygen, water … It’s criminal, we don’t have the right to make people believe that there is a plan B, a planet B, that we are going to make a Martian civilization! « 

Whether humanity installs a colony or permanent bases, the most important obstacle, for a lasting human presence on Mars, will be to convince the peoples and their leaders to accept a higher level of risk than for the Moon or the ISS, argues Dan Buckland. In the long run, not everyone will return from Mars.  

Source: south west