Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Short Takes – 3-13-24 – Space Geek Edition

Lumen Orbit emerges from stealth and raises $2.4M to put data centers in space. article. Pull quote: “Lumen Space’s founders aren’t the only ones aiming to put data centers in orbit: ASCEND, a project funded by the European Union, has been looking into the feasibility of creating a fleet of space-based data centers, with Thales Alenia Space taking a leading role. And Texas-based Axiom Space says it’s partnering with Kepler Space and Skyloom to set up an orbital data center on Axiom’s first space module, which is due for launch in the 2026-2027 time frame.” It will be interesting to see how they plan on dealing with data center cooling in space.

Shields up: New ideas might make active shielding viable. article. Pull quote: “The two options are to add more mass—which gets expensive quickly—or to shorten the length of the mission, which isn’t always possible. So solving radiation with passive mass won't cut it for longer missions, even using the best shielding materials like polyethylene or water. This is why making a miniaturized, portable version of the Earth’s magnetic field was on the table from the first days of space exploration. Unfortunately, we discovered it was far easier said than done.”

Japan’s Lunar Landing Was Lopsided—And Transformative. article. Pull quote: “But that doesn’t mean precision landings wouldn’t benefit sample return missions, too. Such efforts tend to be roverless to reduce mission complexity and cost, as most recently seen with China’s Chang’e 5 mission from 2020, which brought home 1.7 kilograms of geologically young volcanic lunar material. A precision touchdown can ensure high-fidelity science results for immobile landers by allowing them to reach and collect exactly what they came for.”

Act now to prevent a ‘gold rush’ in outer space. article. Pull quote: “India’s mission, for instance, was squarely aimed at exploring the Moon’s southern pole — a probable storehouse of frozen water, which could be converted into oxygen and rocket fuel. Grayling warns that human greed and national rivalries could set off a lunar ‘gold rush’ once the investment and engineering barriers to extracting extraterrestrial materials are surmounted. He calls for an urgent re-examination of the laws that govern space exploration.”

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