01 May 2012


A 22-mile wide asteroid, 433 Erros could contain trillions of dollars of precious metals, but its ownership debatable. CREDIT: NASA

We haven't even begun to work on the big task of getting to the asteroids to mine them for their precious metals.  There is a topic that you may be wondering.  Who owns rights to the asteroids?

According to Planetary Resources co-founder Eric Anderson, a US company has the right to an asteroid and its resources.  He also says that its a goal of the US government to enable and promote such commercial activities in space.

This is the United States view on asteroids, but there is a 1967 United Nations Outer Space Treaty that may say otherwise.

27 Apr 2012

Tech-Stew Podcast Episode 14:  Why Microsoft Why, was recorded on Thursday April 26th, 2012

Summary:  Intel's Ivy Bridge launch, SkyDrive updates, Windows 8 versions, Windows RT, mining metals on asteroids, chips to see through clothes, Cutting the ice on Europa and more

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26 Apr 2012


There is a BOLD new plan for detecting signs of microbial life on Mars.  The nickname is BOLD, which stands for Biological Oxidant and Life Detection Initiative, would be a follow-up to the 1976 Mars Viking life-detection experiments.  This comes after recent headlines that suggested the possibility, at least mathematically, that the Viking crafts had discovered life contrary to the original conclusion.

The general consensus was that the Viking experiments only discovered geological activity with the samples, rather than biology. 

"We have much better technology that we could use," says BOLD lead scientist Dirk Schulze-Makuch, with Washington State University.  He elaborates, "Our idea is to make a relatively cheap mission and go more directly to characterize and solve the big question about the soil properties on Mars and life detection."

25 Apr 2012

A movie called "Outer Space" takes images from NASA of Saturn and Jupiter and turns them into jaw-dropping footage of rings, moons and storms on the planets.  The video uses photos that were taken by Voyager and Cassini spacecraft and made by a Netherlands-based freelance editor Sander van den Berg.

The film starts out with close-ups of the dazzling rings of Saturn and then zooms out to show them spinning like a space record.  You are often shown glimpses of some of Saturn's moons as you progress around Saturn, as well as objects penetrating the rings..  Particular focus is on that of Enceladus, which is the moon that features icy plumes of water vapor and salts and carbonates that flow into space.  Many scientists think there is a liquid ocean under the ice and possibly life forms. 

24 Apr 2012


Credit: Stone Aerospace

Future extraterrestrial robots may use high-powered laser beams to penetrate the thick layers of ice on Jupiter's moon Europa and search for life.  This is what inventor and explorer Bill Stone has in mind and told attendees at NASA's Astrobiology Science Conference in Atlanta.  His company, Stone Aerospace, has been at work on a six-foot by ten inch robotic cylinder called Valkyrie.

The idea is that the power plant is left on the surface of the moon, with the high-powered laser traveling down miles of fiber-optic cable.

24 Apr 2012


Planetary Resources craft captures small water-rich asteroids for extraction of resources
Planetary Resources' craft captures small water-rich asteroids for extraction of resources. Credit: Planetary Resources

"There be gold in them hills" or so the saying goes.  In this case it's platinum and other precious metals on asteroids and the moon.  Two start-up companies are attempting to enter the science realm and make a business and entertainment out of the idea that these sources in space can be mined and brought back to Earth. Such metals can be used in cell phones and other electronics. Water that can be extracted also can be used for space missions.

Mining Asteroids

Planetary Resources, backed by such names as James Cameron and Google executives Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, will hold a press conference today at 1:30 p.m. ET to announce what it calls a "new space venture with a mission to help ensure humanity's prosperity." 

"The company will overlay two critical sectors - space exploration and natural resources – to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP. This innovative start-up will create a new industry and a new definition of natural resources," the press conference details states. 

23 Apr 2012

Credit:  NASA/STScl/Ann Feild

Scientists differ on how the universe will end, some aren't even certain it will ever end.  What is generally accepted is that the universe is expanding and that the likely scenario is that of the Big Freeze.  While the Big Freeze may be the leading theory supported by many, other more radical theories take a different approach and show a different outcome.  Although for many scientists its comes down to either Dark Flow or Dark Energy.   

13 Apr 2012


Did the NASA HiRISE camera photograph an alien monolith or simply a rock?  (Credit:  NASA/HiRISE)

An interesting object, found by amateurs, has been spotted sticking out of the surface of Mars.  In the image the object appears perfectly rectangular and upright.  It can be found in NASA images of Mars and looks strikingly similar to the monoliths placed by aliens in the classic Stanley Kubrick/Arthur C. Clarke film "2001:  A Space Odyssey."  (Queue the music)

The object was photographed several years ago by the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter but has made for fun commentary on the Internet recently.  

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