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Category Archives: Space Travel

Editorial: Space exploration is surging, as are Earthly rivalries – San Francisco Chronicle

Posted: December 30, 2020 at 4:59 pm

For many people, space travel is better contemplated than attempted. Its costly, dangerous and nonessential. There are more problems to solve down here than up there. Dream about the heavens by all means, but please skip the risky rocket trip into the unknown.

That view, its safe to say, is going nowhere. More than any time since the Cold War space race in the 1960s, this planet is gripped by a wide-open contest to study and sample this solar system and beyond. Space exploration is more popular than ever.

This country is the runaway leader by any measure. Its launched more satellites, astronauts and deep space probes than any other nation. American footprints are the only ones on the moon. The U.S. now contracts rocket launches to private firms using reusable boosters, and theres a line of eager Earthlings vying to buy tickets on space voyages.

But the rest of the pack is catching up. China landed a dirt-digging probe on the moon that retrieved soil. Japan landed another mission on an asteroid and brought back samples. Russia, which shocked the world with its Sputnik satellite in 1957, is also in the game. Israel and India have programs that are well along.

The next phase will be the most challenging. It may take years, but the U.S. wants to set up a base on the moon as a staging spot for a human mission to Mars. Building such a spaceport means long-term crews, extra fuel, and the technicalities of landings and liftoffs. Theres speculation about mining, industrial work and the complications that go with setting up on an unclaimed astral body.

Those are distant concerns for now.

Space travel is a near-weekly occurrence as spy satellites blast off, relief crews travel to and from the 20-year-old International Space Station, and communications hardware is sent aloft to help with driving instructions, radio stations and weather predictions. Space exploration is no longer a luxury or scientific preoccupation. Its an everyday part of life on the ground.

The scale of it all can be daunting and worrisome. Rivalries are a problem as the U.S., China and Russia fill the sky with satellites, some of them suspected of being weaponry that can fire at earthly targets and one another. The Open Space Treaty of 1967 barred nuclear weapons or territorial claims, but it lacks a way to settle disputes or limit militarization. Several tries to update the treaty have stalled.

If that sounds gloomy, consider the next step proposed by the Trump administration. In debuting the possible Mars mission, it invited other nations to take part. The military-flavored Space Force, which it also pushed, isnt the only feature of the departing presidency.

That mission, known as Artemis, could be the new feature of space exploration: multinational, cooperative and even less costly as expenses are shared. The first leg to the moon will feature a female astronaut stepping down to the powdery surface alongside a male.

These next steps bring up the familiar questions about risk and opportunity. Is it worth all the trouble to drive deeper into space? The first era of human exploration is giving way to another more intriguing one. The big questions remain: Is there life out there, how will humans handle an unknown frontier and what can space voyages teach a struggling home planet? The quest for answers all but guarantees that the space race will intensify.

This commentary is from The Chronicles editorial board. We invite you to express your views in a letter to the editor. Please submit your letter via our online form:

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Editorial: Space exploration is surging, as are Earthly rivalries - San Francisco Chronicle

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How Far Could A Spaceship Go If We Never Ran Out Of Thrust? – Forbes

Posted: at 4:59 pm

A multistage rocket that lost and jettisoned mass as it moved faster and faster would be required to ... [+] reach speeds approaching the speed of light, like the Super Haas rocket shown here. You must either posses a super-efficient type of fuel or gather more fuel along your journey to achieve relativistic speeds. In theory, a ship with constant acceleration could take us farther into the Universe than anything else we've hitherto envisioned.

Right now, there are only three things limiting how far our spacecrafts can take us in the Universe: the resources we devote to it, the constraints of our existing technology, and the laws of physics. If we were willing to devote more resources to it as a society, we have the technological know-how right now to take human beings to any of the known planets or moons within the Solar System, but not to any objects in the Oort cloud or beyond. Crewed space travel to another star system, at least with the technology we have today, is still a dream for future generations.

But if we could develop superior technology nuclear-powered rockets, fusion technology, matter-antimatter annihilation, or even dark matter-based fuel the only limits would be the laws of physics. Sure, if physics works as we understand it today, traversable wormholes might not be in the cards. We might not be able to fold space or achieve warp drive. And the limitations of Einsteins relativity, preventing us from teleporting or traveling faster than light, might not ever be overcome. Even without invoking any new physics, wed be able to travel surprisingly far in the Universe, reaching any object presently less than 18 billion light-years away. Heres how wed get there.

This launch of the space shuttle Columbia in 1992 shows that acceleration isn't just instantaneous ... [+] for a rocket, but occurs over a long period of time spanning many minutes. The acceleration that someone on board this rocket would feel is downward: in the opposite direction of the rocket's acceleration.

When we take a look at conventional rockets that we launch from Earth, it surprises most people to learn that they barely accelerate more rapidly than gravity accelerates us here on Earth. If we were to jump or drop from a high altitude, Earths gravity would accelerate us towards our planets center at 9.8 m/s2 (32 ft/s2). For every second that passes by while were in free-fall, so long as we neglect outside forces like air resistance, our speed increases in the downward direction by an additional 9.8 m/s (32 ft/s).

The acceleration that we experience due to Earths gravity is known as 1g (pronounced one gee), which exerts a force on all objects equal to our mass times that acceleration: Newtons famous F = ma. What makes our rockets so special is not that they accelerate at approximately this rate, as many objects like cars, bullets, railguns, and even roller coasters frequently and easily surpass it. Rather, rockets are special because they sustain this acceleration for long periods of time in the same direction, enabling us to break the bonds of gravity and achieve escape velocity from Earth.

British astronaut Tim Peake is seen on a video screen transmitted from the International Space ... [+] Station. Peake trained for and ran a 42 kilometer (26.2 mile) marathon in space onboard the (ISS) in 2016, but still required significant amounts of time back on Earth until he could reliably walk again under his own power. (Henning Kaiser/picture alliance via Getty Images)

One of the greatest challenges facing human beings who wish to take long-term journeys in space is the biological effects of not having Earths gravity. Earths gravity is required for healthy development and maintenance of a human body, with our bodily functions literally failing us if we spend too long in space. Our bone densities drop; our musculature atrophies in significant ways; we experience space blindness; and even the International Space Station astronauts who are most diligent about doing hours of exercise a day for months are unable to support themselves for more than a few steps upon returning to Earth.

One way that challenge could be overcome is if we could sustain an acceleration of 1g not for a few minutes, propelling us into space, but continuously. A remarkable prediction of Einsteins relativity verified experimentally many times over is that all objects in the Universe can detect no difference between a constant acceleration and an acceleration due to gravity. If we could keep a spacecraft accelerating at 1g, there would be no physiological difference experienced by an astronaut on board that spacecraft as compared with a human in a stationary room on Earth.

The identical behavior of a ball falling to the floor in an accelerated rocket (left) and on Earth ... [+] (right) is a demonstration of Einstein's equivalence principle. Measuring the acceleration at a single point shows no difference between gravitational acceleration and other forms of acceleration, something that's been verified many times over.

It takes a leap of faith to presume that we might someday be able to achieve constant accelerations indefinitely, as that would necessitate having a limitless supply of fuel at our disposal. Even if we mastered matter-antimatter annihilation a 100% efficient reaction we are limited by the fuel we can bring on board, and wed quickly hit a point of diminishing returns: the more fuel you bring, the more fuel you need to accelerate not only your spacecraft, but all the remaining fuel thats on board as well.

Still, there are many hopes that we could gather material for fuel on our journey. Ideas have included using a magnetic field to scoop charged particles into a rockets path, providing particles and antiparticles that could then be annihilated for propulsion. If dark matter turns out to be a specific type of particle that happens to be its own antiparticle much like the common photon then simply collecting it and annihilating it, if we could master that type of manipulation, could successfully supply a traveling spacecraft with all the fuel it needs for constant acceleration.

When a particle-antiparticle pair meet, they annihilate and produce two photons. If the particle and ... [+] antiparticle are at rest, the photon energies will each be defined by E = mc^2, but if the particles are in motion, the photons produced must be more energetic so that the total energy is always conserved. Scooping up particles and antiparticles (or dark matter) while traveling through space could enable an intergalactic journey.

If it werent for Einsteins relativity, you might think that, with each second that passes by, youd simply increase your speed by another 9.8 m/s. If you started off at rest, it would only take you a little less than a year about 354 days to reach the speed of light: 299,792,458 m/s. Of course, thats a physical impossibility, as no massive object can ever reach, much less exceed, the speed of light.

The way this would play out, in practice, is that your speed would increase by 9.8 m/s with each second that goes by, at least, initially. As you began to get close to the speed of light, reaching what physicists call relativistic speeds (where the effects of Einsteins relativity become important), youd start to experience two of relativitys most famous effects: length contraction and time dilation.

One revolutionary aspect of relativistic motion, put forth by Einstein but previously built up by ... [+] Lorentz, Fitzgerald, and others, that rapidly moving objects appeared to contract in space and dilate in time. The faster you move relative to someone at rest, the greater your lengths appear to be contracted, while the more time appears to dilate for the outside world. This picture, of relativistic mechanics, replaced the old Newtonian view of classical mechanics, but also carries tremendous implications for theories that aren't relativistically invariant, like Newtonian gravity.

Length contraction simply means that, in the direction an object travels, all of the distances it views will appear to be compressed. The amount of that contraction is related to how close to the speed of light its moving. For someone at rest with respect to the fast-moving object, the object itself appears compressed. But for someone aboard the fast-moving object, whether a particle, train, or spacecraft, the cosmic distances theyre attempting to traverse will be whats contracted.

Because the speed of light is a constant for all observers, someone moving through space (relative to the stars, galaxies, etc.) at close to the speed of light will experience time passing more slowly, as well. The best illustration is to imagine a special kind of clock: one that bounces a single photon between two mirrors. If a second corresponds to one round-trip journey between the mirrors, a moving object will require more time for that journey to happen. From the perspective of someone at rest, time will appear to slow down significantly for the spacecraft the closer to the speed of light they get.

A light clock will appear to run different for observers moving at different relative speeds, but ... [+] this is due to the constancy of the speed of light. Einsteins law of special relativity governs how these time and distance transformations take place between different observers.

With the same, constant force applied, your speed would begin to asymptote: approaching, but never quite reaching, the speed of light. But the closer to that unreachable limit you get, with every extra percentage point as you go from 99% to 99.9% to 99.999% and so on, lengths contract and time dilates even more severely.

Of course, this is a bad plan. You dont want to be moving at 99.9999+% the speed of light when you arrive at your destination; you want to have slowed back down. So the smart plan would be to accelerate at 1g for the first half of your journey, then fire your thrusters in the opposite direction, decelerating at 1g for the second half. This way, when you reach your destination, you wont become the ultimate cosmic bug-on-a-windshield.

Adhering to this plan, over the first part of your journey, time passes almost at the same rate as it does for someone on Earth. If you traveled to the inner Oort cloud, it would take you about a year. If you then reversed course to return home, youd be back on Earth after about two years total. Someone on Earth would have seen more time elapse, but only by a few weeks.

But the farther you went, the more severe those differences would be. A journey to Proxima Centauri, the nearest star system to the Sun, would take about 4 years to reach, which is remarkable considering its 4.3 light-years away. The fact that lengths contract and time dilates means that you experience less time than the distance youre actually traversing would indicate. Someone back home on Earth, meanwhile, would age about an extra full year over that same journey.

The stars Alpha Centauri (upper left) including A and B, are part of the same trinary star system as ... [+] Proxima Centauri (circled). These are the three nearest stars to Earth, and they're located between 4.2 and 4.4 light-years away. From the point of view of a relativistic traveler, fewer than 4 years would pass on a journey to any of these stars.

The brightest star in Earths sky today, Sirius, is located about 8.6 light-years away. If you launched yourself on a trajectory to Sirius and accelerated at that continuous 1g for the entire journey, youd reach it in just about 5 years. Remarkably, it only takes about an extra year for you, the traveler, to reach a star thats twice as distant as Proxima Centauri, illustrating the power of Einsteins relativity to make the impractical accessible if you can keep on accelerating.

And if we look to larger and larger scales, it takes proportionately less additional time to traverse these great distances. The enormous Orion Nebula, located more than 1,000 light-years away, would be reached in just about 15 years from the perspective of a traveler aboard that spacecraft.

Looking even farther afield, you could reach the closest supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* at the Milky Ways center in about 20 years, despite the fact that its ~27,000 light-years away.

And the Andromeda Galaxy, located a whopping 2.5 million light-years from Earth, could be reachable in only 30 years, assuming you continued to accelerate throughout the entire journey. Of course, someone back on Earth would experience the full 2.5 million years passing during that interval, so dont expect to come back home.

The Andromeda Galaxy resides in our local group, and is nearly twice as large in diameter as our ... [+] Milky Way. It is located 2.5 million light-years away, but if we constantly accelerated towards it at 9.8 m/s^2, turning around to decelerate halfway along the journey, we'd reach it after traveling for just 30 years from our frame of reference.

In fact, so long as you kept adhering to this plan, you could choose any destination at all thats presently within 18 billion light-years of us, and reach it after merely 45 years, max, had passed. (At least, from your frame of reference aboard the spacecraft!) That ~18 billion light-year figure is the limit of the reachable Universe, set by the expansion of the Universe and the effects of dark energy. Everything beyond that point is currently unreachable with our present understanding of physics, meaning that ~94% of all the galaxies in the Universe are forever beyond our cosmic horizon.

The only reason we can even see them is because light that left those galaxies long ago is just arriving today; the light that leaves them now, 13.8 billion years after the Big Bang, will never reach us. Similarly, the only light they can see from us was emitted before human beings ever evolved; the light leaving us right now will never reach them.

Still, the galaxies that are within 18 billion light-years of us today, estimated to number around 100 billion or so, are not only reachable, but reachable after just 45 years. Unfortunately, even if you brought enough fuel, a return trip would be impossible, as dark energy would drive your original location so far away that you could never return to it.

If you wanted to travel to a distant destination and accelerated at 1g for the first half of the ... [+] journey and then turned your spacecraft around to decelerate at 1g for the second half, it would take you half the time indicated on the y-axis at left. For someone back home on Earth, they would have aged by one-half the amount on the right side of the y-axis by the time you arrived at your destination.

Even though we think of interstellar or intergalactic journeys as being unfeasible for human beings due to the enormous timescales involved after all, it will take the Voyager spacecrafts nearly 100,000 years to traverse the equivalent distance to Proxima Centauri thats only because of our present technological limitations. If we were able to create a spacecraft capable of a constant, sustained acceleration of 1g for about 45 years, we could have our pick of where wed choose to go from 100 billion galaxies within 18 billion light-years of us.

The only downside is that youll never be able to go home again. The fact that time dilates and lengths contract are the physical phenomena that enable us to travel those great distances, but only for those of us who get aboard that spacecraft. Here on Earth, time will continue to pass as normal; it will take millions or even billions of years from our perspective before that spacecraft arrives at its destination. If we never ran out of thrust, we could hypothetically reach anywhere in the Universe that a photon emitted today could reach. Just beware that if you were to go far enough, by the time you came home, humanity, life on Earth, and even the Sun will all have died out. In the end, though, the journey truly is the most important part of the story.

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How Far Could A Spaceship Go If We Never Ran Out Of Thrust? - Forbes

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Long before Armstrong and Aldrin, artists were stoking dreams of space travel – Yahoo News

Posted: at 4:59 pm

In the midst of the space race, Hereward Lester Cooke, the former co-director of the NASA Art Program, observed, Space travel started in the imagination of the artist.

If the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing was an opportunity to celebrate a remarkable technological achievement, its also a good time to reflect on the creative vision that made it possible.

Long before Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon, artists and writers were crafting visions of extraterrestrial exploration that would make space flight possible.

For centuries, the dream of human travel into the cosmos has fired imaginations.

Ancient mythologies teemed with deities who suffused the skies, glimmered from stars and rode the Sun and Moon. Pythagoras, Philolaus and Plutarch each contemplated the Moon as a world of its own. Leonardo da Vinci famously imagined flying machines that would take their occupants skyward. Authors such as Cyrano de Bergerac whos credited with being the first to imagine a rocket being used for space travel fed a growing appetite for stories of celestial exploration.

In 1865, the French writer Jules Verne published his novel, From Earth to the Moon, followed five years later by its sequel, Round the Moon.

Vernes tale provides an uncannily prescient account of the development of space travel: Three astronauts blast off from Florida in a small aluminum capsule, fired from the end of an enormous cast iron gun. After orbiting the Moon and making observations with a pair of opera glasses, the three men return to Earth, splashing into the ocean as heroes.

Almost a century later, RKO Pictures would release a film inspired by Vernes adventure story, while a comic book version of the tale went through multiple printings between 1953 and 1971.

In the 1950s, the painter Chesley Bonestell further stoked the imagination of future space-farers with his visions of space stations, published in Colliers. Walt Disney would follow with three made-for-TV movies that illustrated the ways people might one day be able to fly into space and land on the Moon.

Story continues

In 1969, Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins would realize the vision that Verne and others had instilled in the minds eye of millions.

This accomplishment would, in turn, inspire artists anew.

Nothing will already be the same, reads the text along the right edge of Robert Rauschenbergs collage Stoned Moon Drawing. Published in the December 1969 issue of Studio International, Rauschenbergs work combined images of the Apollo 11 moonwalk, Cape Canaveral and the Gemini print shop. Rauschenberg wanted to draw attention to the deep collaboration required in the worlds of art and science, whether it was for print-making or lunar landings.

In the 1970s, the color field painter Alma Thomas explored what she described as the vastness and incomprehensibility of space in abstract paintings like Blast Off, Launch Pad and New Galaxy.

When I paint space, I am with the astronauts, she said.

The artist Red Grooms, who attended the Apollo 15 launch, turned to official NASA photographs to create a gigantic sculptural installation of astronauts David Scott and James Irwin exploring the lunar surface with cameras and a lunar rover.

I wanted, he explained, to do the sort of thing the [NASA] people were doing build something incomprehensible then try to get it off the ground.

What can be gleaned from this tale of outer space visionaries?

Perhaps, most simply, it is the power of the arts to cultivate the imagination to render possible in the mind what has not yet been tangibly realized. As the Canadian theorist Marshall McLuhan observed in his 1964 classic, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man:

The artist is the [person] in any field, scientific or humanistic, who grasps the implications of [their] actions and of the new knowledge in [their] own time. [The artist] is the [person] of integral awareness.

In recent years, American education policy has increasingly emphasized the value of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, often at the expense of support for the arts.

At what peril does education policy drift away from the arts? What sort of navigational cues might go missing?

Scientists, the essayist Rebecca Solnit noted, certainly play an integral role in human discovery. They transform the unknown into the known, haul it in like fishermen.

But it is the artist, she writes, who gets you out into that dark sea in the first place.

It was artists who first envisioned and produced photographic technologies. It was artists who first foresaw a world in which individuals might fly. And it will be artists who continue to shatter the perceived limitations to our own intellectual frameworks.

In 2018, the Japanese tycoon Yusaku Maezawa paid an undisclosed sum of money to become the first person to orbit the Moon since 1972. If all goes according to plan, hell depart in 2023 with companions of his choosing.

I find his selection fitting: He intends to take along a group of artists.

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This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts.

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Anne Collins Goodyear does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Long before Armstrong and Aldrin, artists were stoking dreams of space travel - Yahoo News

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ESA/Hubble public information officer Bethany Downer attempts to simplify space science – The Hindu

Posted: at 4:59 pm

Bethany works closely with NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute to highlight European contributions to the Hubble mission

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In Christopher Nolans Interstellar, children in schools are taught that the Apollo moon landing was staged to bankrupt the Soviets. This is to prevent children from pursuing space science, which is considered excess in the movies post-truth, blight-ravaged world. Bethany Downer is the antithesis of the school teachers in Interstellar. As the European Space Agencys (ESA) public information officer, she simplifies space science and technology to the general public.

Bethany did not have a brainwave that steered her interests in space. She says she was always fascinated by it. Her parents engineering and science backgrounds must have been an influence. Interaction with the famous Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield also encouraged her pursuit.

After a master of science degree in space studies from the International Space University in Strasbourg, Bethany was selected as a scientist-astronaut to attend the training with Project PoSSUM, a suborbital research program, in Florida.

Hopefully I can [be an astronaut] one day! says Bethany via email. Im working hard to lay the groundwork to undertake a suborbital commercial spaceflight sometime in the next several years.

In her role as a public information officer for the Hubble Space Telescope for the European Space Agency, she manages public outreach and press for the Telescope on its European page, She works closely with NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute to highlight European contributions to the Hubble mission.

It has been 30 years since the Hubble telescope was launched. The BBC film, Hubble: The Wonders Of Space Revealed, tells the story of how it revealed the awe and wonder of our universe. Hubble has contributed significantly to science and astronomy, says Bethany, The telescope itself is also a feat of engineering that has allowed for applications on subsequent astronomy projects. Because of this mission, we now have a much deeper understanding of the universe we live in.

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted astronomy like it did most other fields. The launch of NASAs successor to Hubble, the James Webb Space Telescope, faces seven more months of delay. But Hubble continued its operations throughout the pandemic, says Bethany.

Space and astronomy have been topics of public interest since the days of the Space Race. Space tourism and Mars missions are the latest buzzwords. Of the former, she says, I dream that in the future, anyone who wants to go to space can do so. I think space tourism is an important step of opening the door to space travel to more people, but it will take a few more years for this to be a regular activity.

For now, however, Bethanys focused on her mission to simplify and spark interest in space science. Space technology is an essential component of our daily lives, and space science teaches us of our universe. I want to inspire young women and girls to pursue various STEM careers and opportunities and to share personal experiences of my journey thus far.

It is not surprising that one of her favourite space films is Theodore Melfis Hidden Figures. It has spread awareness of the pioneering work of women at NASA many years ago. This film has inspired many young girls around the world to pursue careers in aerospace. She also likes fictional ones. I loved The Martian for its storytelling, soundtrack, and humour. I think space movies like this or Star Wars are a fun way to dream and wonder about what the future could hold.

(Hubble: The Wonders of Space Revealed airs on January 3, 10 pm on Sony BBC Earth)

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ESA/Hubble public information officer Bethany Downer attempts to simplify space science - The Hindu

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Neutrino Energy Will Unlock True Potential of Space Travel – I-Connect007

Posted: at 4:59 pm

By developing a new, more reliable form of usable energy, the Neutrino Energy Group hopes to do its part in unlocking the mysteries of space and propelling humanity into its rightful place amongst the stars. Led by energy visionary Holger Thorsten Schubart, the Neutrino Energy Group is thrilled to be involved in the development of tomorrow's space travel energy technologies.

Limitations of Current Spacecraft Energy Technologies

Once spacecraft have broken free of the Earth's gravity well, they no longer need the immense propulsive power of chemical rockets to stay aloft. Astronauts must still perform activities while in space, however, and vital functions like life support and lighting must also be supported.

At present, photovoltaic cells (solar panels) are primarily used to provide electrical power to spacecraft while they are in orbit or traveling between celestial bodies. Even though objects in space aren't pulled along by the Earth's diurnal cycle, however, they can't always be positioned in direct sunlight.

Additionally, solar panels take up considerable surface area, and they're constructed using inflexible materials. As a result, impacts from space junk, meteoroids, and other types of moving objects in space commonly impact the operation of solar panels.

Neutrino Energy Holds Infinite Potential

Over the decades, scientists have postulated that neutrinos might serve as a source of energy. It was only in 2015, however, that the mass of neutrinos was theoretically proven, and over the last five years, numerous laboratory experiments have definitively demonstrated that the mass of neutrinos can be converted into electrical energy.

Neutrino-generated electricity is currently held back by its low production capacity. Any reduction of the burden currently placed on solar energy, however, would come as a welcome development to engineers of spacecraft. Over time, neutrinovoltaic devices will become capable of producing increasing amounts of electricity, and they will become reliable sources of energy both in space and down here on Earth.

Unlike photovoltaic cells, neutrinovoltaic devices do not need to be directly exposed to sunlight. They can operate in complete darkness, and they can be placed inside the thick, protective outer hulls of spacecraft.

The Secrets of Space Will Soon Be Uncovered

Having attended the 69th International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany, Holger Thorsten Schubart maintains his contacts within the space travel community as he and the Neutrino Energy Group continue developing practical neutrino energy technologies. With the help of neutrinovoltaic technologies, humanity's exploration of the stars will become safer and more rewarding.

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Traveling to Greece during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go – CNN

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Editor's Note CNN Travel updates this article periodically. It was last updated in its entirety on December 29.

(CNN) If you're planning a trip to Greece, here's what you'll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the global coronavirus pandemic.

The basics

Greece reopened to some tourists on June 1, but has been under national lockdown measures since November 7, with strict new quarantine measures in place for all arrivals, including Greek nationals.

What's on offer

Ancient monuments, myriad islands, spectacular beaches and vast mountains. Greece attracts millions of visitors each year looking for a sunny seaside escape, or a history-focused trip exploring its long and storied past.

Its popular resorts are perfect for partying during the summer, but there's plenty of space to get away from the crowds, and outside of summer season you'll often find yourself the only tourist around.

Who can go

Residents from EU+ countries (the 27 member states plus Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and the UK), are allowed into Greece, along with travelers from Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.

However, until January 7, everyone must quarantine on arrival. See below for details.

Those from other countries are not permitted to travel, unless for essential reasons.

What are the restrictions?

Until January 7, all arrivals must quarantine. Those coming from the UK must quarantine for 10 days. All other permitted travelers must quarantine for three days at their hotel or home.

The QR code will tell you whether you need to have an additional test done at the airport. If you do, you must self-isolate until you have the results -- around 24 hours.

What's the Covid situation?

After a strict lockdown paid off in very low case numbers in the first wave, Greece has seen a rapid rise in cases and deaths since the end of October and has been under full national lockdown since November 7. It has seen a total of 133,000 and 4,402 deaths as of December 29. The government has extended lockdown measures until January 7, with all travel between prefectures banned. You can only go out to shop for essentials and exercise locally, with groups limited to three people. Such trips must be certified by texting the authorities (from a Greek phone number) or providing a note with your name, address and the reason for being outdoors.

A curfew has been in place since November 11. It runs from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., with exemptions for those traveling to work, walking pets close to home and for medical reasons.

What can visitors expect?

Cafes, bars and restaurants will remain shut across all of Greece until January 7, meaning there's no chance of sipping a Mythos while watching the sun set over the sparkling Aegean.

Masks are mandatory in public, both indoors and outdoors.

Useful links

Our latest coverage

Joe Minihane and Julia Buckley contributed to this report

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Traveling to Greece during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go - CNN

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What astronomy can teach us about the wonder of vicarious travel –

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The home of robotic space exploration is the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, which oversees all of Nasas interplanetary missions. JPL also tracks asteroids that pose a threat to Earth, operates satellites that monitor our climate and oceans, and measures the thickness of ice at the poles.

It was through one of these missions that a JPL engineer named Gael Squibb travelled to England in the 1980s. He stayed at my parents B&B in Windsor, after escaping a terrible hotel in Slough, and he quickly became a firm friend of the family.

His later visits came with mission stickers, posters, and stories of remarkable technical feats. Once while I was on assignment in California, Gael arranged for me to visit JPL in Pasadena. JPL does not have a glitzy visitor centre, but it does host full-sized replicas of the two Voyager space probes, which were launched in 1977 to study the outer planets.

The Voyager spacecraft captured my imagination: my favourite childhood book was full of photographs from their fly-by of the ringed planet Saturn; and, aged six, I was allowed to stay up late to watch a programme about Voyager 2 reaching Neptune. In 2012, Voyager became the first man-made object to enter interstellar space, and it is now 14billion miles from Earth.

By following those formidable spacecraft, I felt like I travelled alongside them. My inability to visit Jupiter or Neptune in person did not matter, because the images and stories were so vivid and compelling. Astronomy developed my sense of adventure, and I share that passion with anyone who will listen.

On a recent Army Reserve training exercise, I used a pair of binoculars to show the Galilean moons to the training warrant officer. He could not believe what he saw a mere point of light, revealed to be a whole system of worlds and, the next evening, he borrowed my binoculars to show the same thing to one of the colour sergeants. Inspiration is infectious, and wonder never gets old.

Whenever theres a clear night, youll find me looking up at the ever-changing sky. This week, Ive been captivated by the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, as a trick of orbital mechanics made them appear to touch in the firmament.

I may never visit those planets in person, but Ill never get bored of enjoying them from afar. This year, I have had to do the same thing for my own world. Instead of jumping on planes and trains, I have buried myself in travel books and documentaries. I will not pretend that I prefer it, but vicarious travel provides something unique because it forces me to see the world through another persons eyes.

Of course, I will return to travel when I can, but Im loving my rediscovered passion for remote observation. Over the past few months, Ive been saving up to buy myself a telescope. That way, I can pull those planets just a little bit closer, and be transported to those worlds of wonder and possibility.

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Star Trek actor James Doohan has his ashes at the ISS – Redshirts Always Die

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The ISS (International Space Station) is home to many wonderful astronauts, but now its also home to James Doohan of Star Trek fame.

James Doohan is most known for playing Montgomery Scotty Scott in the original Star Trek series from the 1960s. Now, however, the former real-life World War II vet hes also going to be known as the first Star Trek cast member ever on the ISS. Even though Doohan passed away in 2005, his legacy is still persisting in a way thats taken him to the stars, because his ashes are now onboard the ISS (International Space Station).

The Times of London (via the Verge) reported this nugget and revealed that while most are just finding out about Doohans post-mortem trip, even though it happened 12 years ago. How did it happen though? Well, Richard Garriott was a private citizen who traveled to space and wanted to bring the ashes of Doohan with him but was denied. So he instead brought some of them, along with a lamented picture, and smuggled Doohan on board, hiding him under the floor of the USS Columbus, the ISSs module. No one knew until the article came out.

It was completely clandestine, Garriott told the Times. His family were very pleased that the ashes made it up there but we were all disappointed we didnt get to talk about it publicly for so long. Now enough time has passed that we can,

This isnt Doohans first trip in space either. His ashes were taken up in 2012 aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch. According to the Times, his ashes have traveled an estimated 1.7 billion miles across space, and have orbited the Earth more than 70,000 times.

A touching tribute to a man who inspired so many to reach for the stars. The original cast of Star Trek came around right as the United States was starting to test the dream of space travel, and landing on the moon. For an entire generation of astronauts, it was the crew of the Enterprise who inspired them to travel to the stars. So its only fitting that they return the favor.

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Bristol’s Missy Holland offers a picture of the pandemic we can relate to (video) – Addison County Independent

Posted: at 4:58 pm

Missy Holland, like most Vermonters, has been spending time at home in Bristol during the COVID-19 pandemic, navigating the world of virtual interaction over Zoom and finding time to walk with friends (physically distanced and masked, of course).

A retired higher education administrator and a trustee of the Rokeby Museum in Ferrisburgh, Holland has called Vermont her home for the past 10 years, although she still travels to New York City, where she also has a home. Her interest in being interviewed for this project on the COVID-19 pandemic stems from wanting to help students complete projects, and I want to thank Holland for taking time to discuss her experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watch the full interview online with this COVID Science package clicking on the video below.

We began by talking about changes in her daily life, of which the biggest impact for Holland has been the loss of spontaneity. She notes how you cant just go do something without considering where you are going, and that everything has to be plotted out, such as having a mask with you. She has also had to navigate virtual board meetings over Zoom, which has been a change, as well as travel between New York and Vermont. She recalled that on a recent trip back from New York, she took back roads, and it was nice being in places (she) had never been before at a time when new experiences are exceedingly limited.

Overall, Holland pointed to how quality of life has changed as a result of the pandemic.

Perhaps one of the biggest impacts in her life has been not being able to spend time with family, Holland said. She told me how the closing of the Canadian border serves as a physical barrier in that she is not able to visit her son and his wife in Toronto. She usually travels in the spring to visit them but was unable to do so this year. Fortunately, her son was able to visit her this summer as he maintains dual citizenship.

Yet it still has been difficult, and family time is different. The large family gatherings, which Holland told me happen over long weekends such as Fourth of July during the summer, were not possible. Despite not being able to see loved ones, she is thankful that her family has maintained good health through the pandemic.

We also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of living in Addison County during a global pandemic. Holland points to Vermonts strong leadership directed by science that has offered clarity and guidance throughout the pandemic as the main advantage. She also emphasizes that having a smaller population, there is more space for people to spread out, which is certainly the case in Addison County. This space has allowed Holland to go on walks with her friends and feel safe, contrary to her experience in New York City.

At the same time, having space and living amongst a small population does have its disadvantages, and is particularly isolating. In New York, Holland described how she has gone to museums and that there is generally more to do there than in Vermont.

One of the more contested debates during the summer was that of reopening local schools and colleges, and Holland shared her perspective. She said she has great admiration for the work the private and public institutions have done. She also shared how important it was to bring students back into elementary schools, as in-person education is critical for child development. It was not as critical for high school and college students to return given that they could learn virtually, she added.

Hollands biggest concern was regarding colleges, especially the travel of students coming back and forth from potential high-risk areas with many COVID-19 cases. Despite all that has been done in education this fall to continue teaching students, Holland acknowledges that there probably have been compromises in the quality of education.

In the video conversation, we also discussed the COVID-19 vaccine and the vaccine development process. Holland told me that if Dr. Fauci takes it, I will take it, and that the possibility of former presidents receiving the vaccine publicly may help in convincing those on the fence to get the vaccine. Despite her plan to get vaccinated, Holland said she is concerned about the process of developing the vaccine, especially with regard to the expedited process and monetary conflicts of interest of pharmaceutical companies. When we talked she wanted to make sure that all the protocols for getting the vaccine approved are strictly followed before vaccinations begin.

At the end of the interview, Holland shifted gears to talk about her involvement at the Rokeby Museum in Ferrisburgh, which was a stop on the Underground Railroad during the 19th century. Holland describes how the museum has incorporated advocacy into its platform in recent years in order to highlight social injustice. Although Rokeby had to close down briefly during the pandemic, one board member who is a doctor wrote an essay that was published on the on how COVID-19 disproportionately has been affecting people of color. The essay, among other work at Rokeby, has been about connecting history with the present as a way to emphasize racial injustice and the ramifications of history. Upon reflecting on the last nine months, Holland has come to the idea that this world belongs to the (younger generation) now, especially considering how young people have been involved in social movements such as fighting for racial justice.

Holland also looks toward the future in thinking about her grandchildren, and what they will remember of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite all that has transpired since March, she is fortunate to be in good health, and looks forward to getting back to the spontaneous aspect to life in the near future.

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Breaking down the one joke Stanley Kubrick hid within 2001: A Space Odyssey – Far Out Magazine

Posted: at 4:58 pm

More than half a century ago, director Stanley Kubrick, alongside futuristic writer Arthur C. Clark set out to make, a good science fiction cinematic experience. The resulting film,2001: A Space Odyssey,premiered in spring 1968 (nearly a year before Neil Armstrong landed on the moon) is a landmark moment in the history fo cinema and one that has influenced sci-fi filmmakers for generations including the likes of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Christopher Nolan.Nolan, in an interview with the Stanley Kubrick Appreciation Society, said, [2001] is in dialogue with our ideas of the future.

The influence of2001: A Space Odysseyon subsequent sci-fi technology and special effects has been pervasive. The film won an Oscar for its pioneering special effects and has been called a quantum leap in technological advancements by film criticJames Verneire. However the concurrent artistic and philosophical bravura of the film is unparalleled. Never before or after has a film on space engaged in such immersive visual dialogues on the philosophy of humanitys evolution and the philosophy of technological advancement. Unlike Kubricks 1964 nuclear satireDr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb,2001:A Space Odysseyrestrained its use of humour to one hidden intentional joke which stopped the comic element of an otherwise ambiguous film from flushing down the toilet.

The virtuosity of Kubrick is indeed in infusing the scientific with the enigmatic. The subliminal transcendence of the trajectory of 2001 can be akin to a psychedelic hallucinogen ingestion induced epiphany or Scientological epiphany depending on the viewers biases. At the time of its premiere in 1968, Renata Adler in the Times described the movie as somewhere between hypnotic and immensely boring.

Indeed one of the biggest philosophical easter eggs hidden within2001:A Space Odysseyis the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. The film opens to Richard Strausss evocative tone poem, Also Sprach Zarathustra based on Nietzsches, Thus spoke Zarathustra, with the visual the sun, moon and earth aligning in the symbolism of Zoroastrianism, based in the teaching of Zoroaster (also known as Zarathustra).

2001s divergence from quintessential sci-fi music is reiterated with Johann Strauss The Blue Danube playing to the docking of the space shuttle. The films divergence from the staple is future exacerbated by exiguous verbal sound in the film. While most cinematic pictures rely on dialogues to reveal plotlines, Kubrick intended 2001 to be a visual experience, mostly devoid of verbiage. In 1970, Kubrick explained that the movie was basically a visual, non-verbal experience. It avoids intellectual verbalisation and reaches the viewers subconscious in a way that is essentially poetic and philosophical.

Kubrick further added, I think that 2001, like music, succeeds in short-circuiting the rigid surface cultural blocks that shackle our consciousness to narrowly limited areas of experience and is able to cut directly through to areas of emotional comprehension.

2001 exemplifies Hitchcocks dictum not to tell what you can show. The narrative of the film unfolds in four movements:

The Dawn Of Man

The initial Dawn of Man segment opens with the eponymous landscape shots of dawn in prehistoric earth. A tribe of apes in a Darwinian struggle for survival engage in territorial battle over a watering hole with another tribe of apes only to be defeated. The former tribe of humanoid primates encounter a mysterious black monolith. The monolith accelerates their enlightenment, as one of the Apes figures out the use of bones as weapons and kills a tapir, turning the pirates into carnivores. The tribe deploys their newfound weapon in a battle against the opposing tribe and kills the leader of the opposing tribe.

In triumphant jubilation akin to a footballers celebratory high five, the ape-man flings the bone in the air. In one of most iconic jump-cuts in cinematic history, the bone in the air transforms into what is presumably a space satellite, propelling the timeline of the narrative forward by four million years. According to Clark, the Space Satellite is supposed to be an orbiting space bomb, a weapon in space. Thus the transition from the Pleistocene era to space-age is tethered by the notion that human evolution is concurrent with the evolution of bigger and better ways of destruction.

The Floyd Segment

This segment introduces Dr Heywood Floyd (William Sylvester) en-route to a space station and onwards to Clavius, a lunar settlement. Replete with technological advancements such as artificial gravity, zero-gravity toilets, voiceprint recognition, video payphones, corporatisation of space travel (did someone say Elon Musk?) Clarke and Kubricks futuristic predictions are of near Nostradamus proportions of accuracy if not wholly infallible and a tad over-optimistic.

The banality of dialogues between Floyd and his Russian counterparts is interspersed with the parody of a full page of instructions to use a zero-gravity toilet. The narrative progresses with the revelation of the discovery of a monolith, now identified as TMA-1 or Tycho Magnetic Anomaly, buried under the lunar surface which emits a signal to Jupiter.

The fearful reverence of the apes is replaced by the arrogance of man as the astronauts try to take a picture in front of the monolith. Under instructions from the National Council of Astronautics, Floyd prohibits his colleagues from disclosing the news of the TMA-1.

The Jupiter Mission

Fast forward 18 months Dr Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood)) and Dr David Bowman (Keir Dullea) are aboard a spacecraft, Discovery 1, on an expedition to Jupiter along with three other astronauts in hibernation and a H.A.L 9000 (voiced by Douglas Rain) supercomputer that talks in a Canadian accent.

In a fastidious sub-plot, the question of the sentience of the machine is evoked when H.A.L who proclaimed to be foolproof and incapable of error misdiagnoses a fault in AE-35 unit and Poole and Bowman discuss disconnecting HALs primary brain functions. HAL goes ape-shit crazy (Remember the primate with bone?) and kills the entire crew except for Dave, who manages to disconnect HAL. The supercomputer is acutely humane in his last moments as it says, I am afraid Dave, my mind is going, I can feel it.

Jupiter and Beyond the infinite

Perhaps the most baffling part of the movie is its ending, which is more evocative than instructive. A third monolith suspended in Jupiters atmosphere propels Dave in a space pod through a kaleidoscopic, psychedelic plethora of colours and shapes, popularly known as the Stargate sequence.

Kubricks special effects supervisor Douglas Trumbull used a pioneering slit-scan technique to achieve the impressionistic psychedelic effect, a feat which will be replicated decades later by CGI. Dave is transported into a neo-classical French style room, and in an anachronistic time wrap the film rapidly shifts perspective from young Dave to an older Dave and finally, a bedridden Dave, who reaches towards the monolith in action oddly reminiscent of Adam reaching out to God in Michaelangelos fresco in the Sistine chapel, only to be transformed into a foetal Star child.

The film ends in a shroud of ambiguity with the star child floating in space near earth. However, Kubrick, unperturbed by the annals of audience restlessness to the pervasiveness of ambiguity in 2001 said in aninterview with Joseph Gelmis: Once youre dealing on a nonverbal level, ambiguity is unavoidable. But its the ambiguity of all art, of a fine piece of music or a paintingyou dont need written instructions by the composer or painter accompanying such works to explain them.

Perhaps, thus the zero-gravity toilet instructionis the only intentional joke in the film. In a scene aboard the space station, Floyd is seen peering at a detailed and convoluted instruction manual on the use of the zero-gravity toilet. Kubricks disdain of instructions for the understanding of the film highlights the irony of a page long instructions from the zero-gravity toilets. In an interview, Kubricks explained the zero-gravity toilet was the only intentional joke in the film. That evolution and technological advancement would lead to convoluting of tending to basic human needs is well worth a snigger. Despite its ambiguity, Kubrick doesnt want to spell out a verbal roadmap for 2001. Kubricks film doesnt come with an instruction manual, but the zero-gravity toilet does.

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