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Open Lines, Sunday, 1-25-15 January 26, 2015

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Open Lines, Sunday, 1-25-15


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Guest:  Open Lines with Dr. David Livingston.  Topics:  We discussed a wide range of space topics from Mars colonization to radiation issues, UFO files, the SpaceX-AF litigation, the Nixon space policy and much more.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com.  Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See http://www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.  For those listening to archives using live365.com and rating the programs, please email me as to why you assign a specific rating to the show. This will help me bring better programming to the audience.

Welcome to our Open Lines program.  During the first segment of our two hour seven minute program, we took several calls starting with John in Florida who wanted to talk about early Mars colonization, one way Mars trips and similar topics.  He wondered about buried Martian ruins deep under the ground and I drew an analogy to archaeological digs here on Earth in finding towns and early civilizations buried on top of one another far below the surface of the Earth.  John from Ft. Worth called in to talk about the Al Worden interview in which Al did not think there was any reason for returning to the Moon. You can read the Worden interview at http://www.dw.de/apollo-15-command-module-pilot-alfred-m-worden-nasa-took-a-step-backwards/a-18211468.  I also asked John about the release of thousands of UFO documents, http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2015/01/19/air-force-ufo-files/21985651.  John and I then returned to discuss more about the Worden interview, his comments on the shuttle, the ISS, Saturn V and more.

In the second segment, Michael Listner called to update us on the settlement of the SpaceX Air Force litigation.  Michael summarized the mediation and the settlement details for us.  Dr. Doug from S. California called to talk about a variety of topics including radiation.  He referred to an Al Globus article regarding his view on shielding requirements. You can read Al’s article here:  http://space.alglobus.net/papers/RadiationPaper2014.pdf.  Doug also talked about a permanent base on the Moon and his Mars Return Option.  Dwayne was the next caller and he spoke of John Logsdon’s upcoming book on Apollo and the Nixon space policy.  He talked about all the budget cuts and slashes back then and how they negatively impacted the program. Dwayne also talked about the nuclear thermal rocket and the fact that it can’t go active until it out of Earth orbit.  Adrian sent in an email about radiation debris putting satellites at risk.  Here is the older NY Times article he sent me:  http://www.nytimes.com/1995/02/26/world/radioactive-debris-in-space-threatens-satellites-in-use.html.  Tim called to debunk the Mars crew living in a tuna can analogy and instead wanted to compare it to submarines.  He got some pushback on his submarine analogy.  Earlier, Jon from NJ had sent in a note about the SpaceX satellite plans & what this may mean for SpaceX.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog.  You can reach any of the participants through me.


1. Kirk - January 27, 2015

An article at this week’s Space Review, “Mars One, the “Third Quarter Effect”, and our human journey into deep space” by John Putman
made me wonder if it was written by our “John from Florida”, but it appears as if Putman is based out of California. (Or is that you, John?)

In any case, John, Tim, and anyone else interested in psychological arguments against Mars missions without possibility of return may wish to take a look.

Matt - January 29, 2015

Hello Kirk,

thank you for linking Putman’s article, which exhibit interesting issues. For example, I found support in this text that a manned Mars (or Venus) flyby mission is a very important, high value step towards Mars landing, because such interplanetary missions cannot simulated in LEO or Earth in respect to that psychological effects, which are described by Putman.

I believe that there is special kind of explorers (with a very strong personality), whose are able to give up all links to home planet Earth and may face final death on Mars and no return, but whose will stay mental health and do their work. However, there are a very few of them. It is difficult to find them and sort the real crazy people out in advance.

2. John Hunt - January 26, 2015

I don’t see any real problem with nuclear thermal rockets leaving Earth orbit rather than being launched into interplanetary space with chemical rockets. There could be a case for requiring a higher departure orbit than a minimal LEO orbit. The current policy could be changed and likely would be any an administration that chose to pursue nuclear thermal propulsion. This is the standard “chicken and egg” question.

One other issue is that nuclear thermal rockets don’t create as severe a set of radioactive isotopes in their rather short run cycle and a nuclear power reactor that has been in orbit for year would. Also if a NTR operated for any significant time it should be leaving Earth orbit by that time.

DDAY - January 27, 2015

There’s several decades of policy behind this. It’s easy to wave these issues aside as unimportant if you’re not steeped in the policy issues.

3. J Fincannon - January 26, 2015

Note the links did not transfer correctly. The line with the http can be pasted into the browser to get the ADS data.

4. J Fincannon - January 26, 2015

These papers list some potential people to discuss the search for artifacts on the Moon and Mars. A. Arkhipov sounds like he would be a real interesting guest, but his colleague F. Graham from Kent State may be more accessible.

J. Haqq-Misra and R. Kopparapu of Penn State University may be accessible.

P. Davies and R.Wagner of Arizona State University may be accessible.

Title: Lunar SETI: a justification
Authors: Arkhipov, Alexey V.; Graham, Francis G.
Affiliation: AA(Institute of Radio Astronomy), AB(Kent State University)
Publication: Proc. SPIE Vol. 2704, p. 150-154, The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) in the Optical Spectrum II, Stuart A. Kingsley; Guillermo A. Lemarchand; Eds. (SPIE Homepage)
Publication Date:06/1996
The problem of alien artifacts on the Earth’s Moon has been re-examined. There are many reasons why the Moon is one of the best places to possess evidences of past visitations to the inner solar system by technological alien life, and the reasons are elaborated. The Moon has not been yet examined closely enough to rule out alien artifacts. We must not be too exclusionary of candidates for more in-depth examination if aliens have deliberately camouflaged or simply discarded artifacts without intending for them to noticed. In light of this, search strategies which involve statistical examination of anomalous pixels or searches near unusual resource-bearing places on the Moon (such as the lunar poles, where there may be ice) may prove fruitful, especially if we carefully distinguish between anomalous candidates and actual discoveries of alien artifacts.

Title: Archaeological aspect of lunar explorations
Authors: Arkhipov, A. V.
Publication: Astronomicheskij Vestnik (ISSN 0320-930X), vol. 28, no. 4-5, p. 211-214
Publication Date:00/1994
The evolution of small (1-10 cm) artifacts and optical surfaces on the Moon is considered. For the first time the theory of chaotic motions of small objects by weak meteoroids’ shocks is formed. The results obtained could be used for lunar archaeological and ecological studies, as well as for resolution of some geological problems.

Title: On the likelihood of non-terrestrial artifacts in the Solar System
Authors: Haqq-Misra, Jacob; Kopparapu, Ravi Kumar
Affiliation: AA(Blue Marble Space Institute of Science, PO Box 85561, Seattle, WA 98145, USA; Rock Ethics Institute, Pennsylvania State University, 201 Willard Building, University Park, PA 16802, USA), AB(Department of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University, 443 Deike Building, University Park, PA 16802, USA)
Publication: Acta Astronautica, Volume 72, p. 15-20.
Publication Date:03/2012
Extraterrestrial technology may exist in the Solar System without our knowledge. This is because the vastness of space, combined with our limited searches to date, implies that any remote unpiloted exploratory probes of extraterrestrial origin would likely remain unnoticed. Here we develop a probabilistic approach to quantify our certainty (or uncertainty) of the existence of such technology in the Solar System. We discuss some possible strategies for improving this uncertainty that include analysis of moon- and Mars-orbiting satellite data as well as continued exploration of the Solar System.

Title: Searching for alien artifacts on the moon
Authors: Davies, P. C. W.; Wagner, R. V.
Affiliation: AA(Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science at Arizona State University, PO Box 871504 Tempe, AZ 85287, USA), AB(School of Earth and Space Exploration Lunar Recon Oribiter Sci Ops Cn, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, 85287, USA)
Publication: Acta Astronautica, Volume 89, p. 261-265.
Publication Date:08/2013
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has a low probability of success, but it would have a high impact if successful. Therefore it makes sense to widen the search as much as possible within the confines of the modest budget and limited resources currently available. To date, SETI has been dominated by the paradigm of seeking deliberately beamed radio messages. However, indirect evidence for extraterrestrial intelligence could come from any incontrovertible signatures of non-human technology. Existing searchable databases from astronomy, biology, earth and planetary sciences all offer low-cost opportunities to seek a footprint of extraterrestrial technology. In this paper we take as a case study one particular new and rapidly-expanding database: the photographic mapping of the Moon’s surface by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) to 0.5 m resolution. Although there is only a tiny probability that alien technology would have left traces on the moon in the form of an artifact or surface modification of lunar features, this location has the virtue of being close, and of preserving traces for an immense duration. Systematic scrutiny of the LRO photographic images is being routinely conducted anyway for planetary science purposes, and this program could readily be expanded and outsourced at little extra cost to accommodate SETI goals, after the fashion of the SETI@home and Galaxy Zoo projects.

5. Kirk - January 26, 2015

Dwayne, suppose a private Mars settlement group wanted a micro nuclear reactor (or two, for redundancy) such as the Toshiba 4S (a 10 MW, sodium cooled, low maintenance reactor). Do you have any sense of how the cost of overcoming the political and public opposition to launching a non-activated reactor would compare to the development and production cost of such a reactor?

DDAY - January 27, 2015

How does one compare “the cost of overcoming the political and public opposition” to a dollar cost?

Kirk - January 27, 2015

I assume that it is a dollar cost, to be paid for studies, lobbying, advertising, and campaign contributions. I suspect that there are specialists in the nuclear power industry who could quantify it.

DDAY - January 27, 2015

A space-qualified nuclear reactor is going to cost billions of dollars. A lobbyist group is going to cost a few millions, and may not succeed. It’s still a goofy comparison.

It’s also goofy because I was referring to a policy that forbids activating a reactor in Earth orbit. There’s no policy against _launching_ a reactor to Mars or anywhere else. You’d have to get a launch license, but it’s not illegal or anything. However, I can imagine that any non-government entity that intends to launch a reactor into space from the U.S. is going to have regulators all up in their business big time (and should have–reactors are serious shit, they’re not marshmallows).

And what “private Mars settlement group” are we talking about buying and flying nuclear reactors in space? Is it Duck Dogers? I bet it’s Duck Dogers.

Kirk - January 29, 2015

I was reading an archived thread elsewhere which discussed technical issues of an initial Mars settlement along the lines of what Musk has hinted at. While it was concerned with cost, it did not address funding, so yes, Duck Dogers if you wish. However, it was not pure fantasy from the technical side, as it was trying to limit itself to engineering solutions which could be achievable in a ten to twenty year time frame. When considering power sources, fusion and even thorium cycle reactors were excluded for that reason. A PWR naval type reactor is just too heavy due to its pressure vessel, but a molten salt reactor or a sodium cooled reactor such as the Toshiba 4S would weigh considerably less, and shouldn’t take too long to develop, so they were comparing the pros and cons of such a reactor to solar. Development of such a reactor could even be considered space scalable, as there are recent startups, such as the Canadian Terrestrial Energy Inc., which are working on MSR for purely earth-based use, and there would be fewer engineering changes to adapt such a reactor for use in .38 g than for use in micro-gravity where convective flow is not an issue. The greater engineering challenge would likely be weight reduction.

I just wondered if the political and regulatory concerns were tractable, prompting my question since you were already mentioning the issue of needing to get them out of orbit unactivated. I know that you are well read Dwayne, and I just wondered if you had run across something. For all I know the lunar resource exploitation people have discussed this. I apologize for wording the question as I did (I was just trying to be succinct), but I just wondered if, off the top of your head, you had heard of such a discussion.

6. DDAY - January 26, 2015

I had a minor brain failure during the show (which I blame on alcohol) and forgot the acronym RORSAT. It stood for Radar Ocean Reconnaissance Satellite. They were nuclear powered radar satellites used to search for American ships, particularly aircraft carriers. The Soviets suffered a number of accidents with them and radioactive debris entered the atmosphere and some fell to Earth.

The satellites had relatively short lifetimes, which presented a problem because at the end of life something had to be done with their hot reactors. I believe that the final solution was to boost the reactors into higher orbits and a bunch of them are still up there. They have suffered coolant leaks, which I think has resulted in radioactive coolant in orbit. I’m sure that Wikipedia has a lot of info on this.

I do not think that international treaty bans active reactors in Earth orbit (somebody can correct me if I’m wrong). However, it is U.S. policy to not activate a reactor in Earth orbit. Although dated (the last time the U.S. had a space nuclear reactor program was about a decade ago), I’m sure that policy remains in effect and would be standard policy for any new space nuclear program.

Doug asked about EMP, and that can only be generated by a nuclear explosion in near space or the upper atmosphere. A reactor does not explode, and hot debris (like enriched uranium pellets) falling to Earth would not produce EMP. It’s simply a case that hot uranium is nasty stuff and so we don’t want it falling in our backyards or daycare centers.

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