Who Is SpaceX's Mystery Moon Passenger? - Canadanewsmedia
Connect with us

Science

Who Is SpaceX's Mystery Moon Passenger?

Published

on


“The moon is essentially grey, no color. Looks like plaster of Paris or sort of a grayish beach sand.”

This was how Jim Lovell described the lunar surface in 1968 from his perch about 60 miles above the moon. Lovell and his fellow NASA astronauts never touched down, but they returned to Earth with memories of what was, at the time, the closest view a human being had ever experienced of the planet’s rocky companion.  

Nearly 60 years after the Apollo 8 mission, SpaceX wants to give someone that view again.

Elon Musk’s spaceflight company announced Thursday that it will send a private passenger to fly around the moon on its next launch system, the Big Falcon Rocket. The voyage is “an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of traveling to space,” SpaceX said on Twitter.

SpaceX did not give a potential launch date or other details, but those may come Monday night, when the company said it would reveal the identity of the passenger. This gives us a full weekend to speculate, and speculate we will. Because this trip, if it indeed moves forward—SpaceX previously announced and scrapped a similar plan—would make history. And not because the voyage would be developed, funded, and operated by a commercial company, rather than NASA, but because the passenger is probably unlike anyone who has made the journey before.

Only 24 people have been to the moon. They were all American, male, and white.

So, who could this mystery moon traveler be?

In February of last year, SpaceX announced it would send two paying customers on a trip around the moon aboard the company’s Falcon Heavy rocket sometime in 2018. The plan never materialized, likely because Musk eventually decided not to certify the Heavy for human spaceflight and focus on the development of the BFR instead. The identity of these private citizens was never revealed, though Musk did say that “it’s nobody from Hollywood.” The passenger SpaceX plans to fly on the BFR may be one of them.

The passenger doesn’t have to be a U.S. citizen. SpaceX will someday fly Americans, yes, but these will be the astronauts that NASA has chosen to test the company’s crew transportation system, which the space agency wants to use to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Unlike that project, the BFR is not affiliated with or funding by NASA. After the announcement Thursday, when a Twitter user mused whether the lucky passenger may be Musk himself, Musk responded with the emoji for the Japanese flag, prompting some to throw out names of wealthy Japanese individuals with an interest in tech. Russia, China, and India have all said they hope to put their astronauts on the moon, with India aiming to do so as early as 2022. SpaceX may beat them, and give another country the historic first.

Perhaps the voyage will record another first, for women. The Soviet Union sent the first woman to space, Valentina Tereshkova, in 1963. Twenty years later, the United States sent Sally Ride. As of March of this year, 60 women from nine countries have gone to space, and several of them have made multiple trips, according to NASA. But none have been to the moon.

The bottom line, of course, comes down to money. The BFR passenger is a paying customer, which means they are certainly very, very rich. SpaceX is quite secretive about the cost of flights on Falcon 9, its workhorse rocket, but even that may not be the best comparison. The BFR will be much bigger than a Falcon 9, and in spaceflight, the heavier something is, the more expensive it is to launch. Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson’s spaceflight company, will charge $250,000 per ticket on its winged space plane, which is undergoing testing. Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’s company, will reportedly charge between $200,000 and $300,000 per ticket for flights on its New Shepard vehicle, also still being tested. But both of these will provide suborbital spaceflights, which means passengers will not leave low-Earth orbit. The farther you travel in space, the more expense it gets.

The BFR, which Musk first described in 2016 as part of his long-term goals for a Mars mission, is still under development. The launch system will have include two reusable stages, a booster, and a spaceship that can hold dozens of passengers. Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s chief operating officer, has said that the company will begin testing small, suborbital “hops” of the launch system late next year and predicts the BFR will be orbital “in 2020 or so.”

If this concept becomes reality, the mystery passenger—and the flight engineers picked to accompany them—will have plenty of leg room. Their experience will be very unlike that of Jim Lovell and his fellow astronauts, who were packed like spacefaring sardines in the lunar module. The view, however, will be the same. The window will fill up with the slate gray of the moon, with the texture of the ridges and craters of its surface. And then, as the spaceship circles the moon, the Earth will slink into view from behind it. “Oh, my God! Look at that picture over there! Here’s the Earth coming up. Wow, is that pretty!” exclaimed one of the NASA astronauts 60 years ago when he snapped a photograph of that view, the now iconic “Earthrise” shot. Whoever the mystery SpaceX passenger is, let’s hope they don’t forget to pack a camera.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.

Marina Koren is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

Dandelion seeds reveal newly discovered form of natural flight

Published

on

By


A ring-shaped air bubble forms as air moves through the bristles, enhancing the drag that slows their descent, according to new research from the University of Edinburgh. Credit: Naomi Nakayami

The extraordinary flying ability of dandelion seeds is possible thanks to a form of flight that has not been seen before in nature, research has revealed.

The discovery, which confirms the common plant among the natural world’s best fliers, shows that movement of air around and within its parachute-shaped bundle of enables seeds to travel great distances—often a kilometre or more, kept afloat entirely by wind power.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh carried out experiments to better understand why dandelion seeds fly so well, despite their parachute structure being largely made up of empty space.

Their study revealed that a ring-shaped air bubble forms as air moves through the bristles, enhancing the drag that slows each ‘s descent to the ground.

This newly found form of air bubble—which the scientists have named the separated vortex ring—is physically detached from the bristles and is stabilised by air flowing through it.

The amount of air flowing through, which is critical for keeping the bubble stable and directly above the seed in flight, is precisely controlled by the spacing of the bristles.

This flight mechanism of the bristly parachute underpins the seeds’ steady flight. It is four times more efficient than what is possible with conventional parachute design, according to the research.

Dandelion seeds reveal newly discovered form of natural flight
When dandelion seeds fly, a ring-shaped air bubble forms as air moves through the bristles, enhancing the drag that slows their descent. Credit: Cathal Cummins

Researchers suggest that the dandelion’s porous parachute might inspire the development of small-scale drones that require little or no power consumption. Such drones could be useful for remote sensing or air pollution monitoring.

The study, published in Nature, was funded by the Leverhulme Trust and the Royal Society.

Dr. Cathal Cummins, of the University of Edinburgh’s Schools of Biological Sciences and Engineering, who led the study, said: “Taking a closer look at the ingenious structures in nature—like the dandelion’s —can reveal novel insights. We found a natural solution for flight that minimises the material and energy costs, which can be applied to engineering of sustainable technology.”

A form of flight that has not been seen before has been revealed in a study of dandelions. A ring-shaped air bubble forms as air moves through the bristles, enhancing the drag that slows their descent, according to new research from the University of Edinburgh. Credit: Cathal Cummins


Explore further:
NASA to test parachute system for landing spacecraft on Mars

More information:
Cathal Cummins et al, A separated vortex ring underlies the flight of the dandelion, Nature (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0604-2

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

A separated vortex ring underlies the flight of the dandelion

Published

on

By


  • 1.

    Lentink, D., Dickson, W. B., van Leeuwen, J. L. & Dickinson, M. H. Leading-edge vortices elevate lift of autorotating plant seeds. Science 324, 1438–1440 (2009).

  • 2.

    Greene, D. F. & Johnson, E. A. The aerodynamics of plumed seeds. Funct. Ecol. 4, 117–125 (1990).

  • 3.

    Ridley, H. N. On the dispersal of seeds by wind. Ann. Bot. os-19, 351–364 (1905).

  • 4.

    Small, J. The origin and development of the Compositæ. New Phytol. 17, 200–230 (1918).

  • 5.

    Holm, L. G. World Weeds: Natural Histories and Distribution (John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1997).

  • 6.

    Tackenberg, O., Poschlod, P. & Kahmen, S. Dandelion seed dispersal: the horizontal wind speed does not matter for long-distance dispersal—it is updraft! Plant Biol. 5, 451–454 (2003).

  • 7.

    Sheldon, J. & Burrows, F. The dispersal effectiveness of the achene–pappus units of selected Compositae in steady winds with convection. New Phytol. 72, 665–675 (1973).

  • 8.

    Nathan, R. et al. Mechanisms of long-distance seed dispersal. Trends Ecol. Evol. 23, 638–647 (2008).

  • 9.

    Soons, M. B. & Ozinga, W. A. How important is long-distance seed dispersal for the regional survival of plant species? Divers. Distrib. 11, 165–172 (2005).

  • 10.

    Greene, D. F. The role of abscission in long-distance seed dispersal by the wind. Ecology 86, 3105–3110 (2005).

  • 11.

    Andersen, M. C. An analysis of variability in seed settling velocities of several wind-dispersed Asteraceae. Am. J. Bot. 79, 1087–1091 (1992).

  • 12.

    Burrows, F. Calculation of the primary trajectories of plumed seeds in steady winds with variable convection. New Phytol. 72, 647–664 (1973).

  • 13.

    Andersen, M. C. Diaspore morphology and seed dispersal in several wind-dispersed Asteraceae. Am. J. Bot. 80, 487–492 (1993).

  • 14.

    Minami, S. & Azuma, A. Various flying modes of wind-dispersal seeds. J. Theor. Biol. 225, 1–14 (2003).

  • 15.

    Sudo, S., Matsui, N., Tsuyuki, K. & Yano, T. Morphological design of dandelion. In Proc. 11th International Congress and Exposition (Society for Experimental Mechanics, 2008).

  • 16.

    Tackenberg, O., Poschlod, P. & Bonn, S. Assessment of wind dispersal potential in plant species. Ecol. Monogr. 73, 191–205 (2003).

  • 17.

    Stevenson, R. A., Evangelista, D. & Looy, C. V. When conifers took flight: a biomechanical evaluation of an imperfect evolutionary takeoff. Paleobiology 41, 205–225 (2015).

  • 18.

    Délery, J. Three-Dimensional Separated Flows Topology: Singular Points, Beam Splitters and Vortex Structures (John Wiley & Sons, 2013).

  • 19.

    Vogel, S. Life in Moving Fluids: The Physical Biology of Flow (Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, 1981).

  • 20.

    Barta, E. & Weihs, D. Creeping flow around a finite row of slender bodies in close proximity. J. Fluid Mech. 551, 1–17 (2006).

  • 21.

    Casseau, V., De Croon, G., Izzo, D. & Pandolfi, C. Morphologic and aerodynamic considerations regarding the plumed seeds of Tragopogon pratensis and their implications for seed dispersal. PLoS ONE 10, e0125040 (2015).

  • 22.

    Roos, F. W. & Willmarth, W. W. Some experimental results on sphere and disk drag. AIAA J. 9, 285–291 (1971).

  • 23.

    Shenoy, A. & Kleinstreuer, C. Flow over a thin circular disk at low to moderate Reynolds numbers. J. Fluid Mech. 605, 253–262 (2008).

  • 24.

    Fernandes, P. C., Risso, F., Ern, P. & Magnaudet, J. Oscillatory motion and wake instability of freely rising axisymmetric bodies. J. Fluid Mech. 573, 479–502 (2007).

  • 25.

    Cummins, C., Viola, I. M., Mastropaolo, E. & Nakayama, N. The effect of permeability on the flow past permeable disks at low Reynolds numbers. Phys. Fluids 29, 097103 (2017).

  • 26.

    Vincent, L., Shambaugh, W. S. & Kanso, E. Holes stabilize freely falling coins. J. Fluid Mech. 801, 250–259 (2016).

  • 27.

    Davidi, G. & Weihs, D. Flow around a comb wing in low-Reynolds-number flow. AIAA J. 50, 249–253 (2012).

  • 28.

    Jones, S. K., Yun, Y. J. J., Hedrick, T. L., Griffith, B. E. & Miller, L. A. Bristles reduce the force required to ‘fling’ wings apart in the smallest insects. J. Exp. Biol. 219, 3759–3772 (2016).

  • 29.

    Lee, S. H. & Kim, D. Aerodynamics of a translating comb-like plate inspired by a fairyfly wing. Phys. Fluids 29, 081902 (2017).

  • 30.

    Santhanakrishnan, A. et al. Clap and fling mechanism with interacting porous wings in tiny insect flight. J. Exp. Biol. 217, 3898–3909 (2014).

  • 31.

    Cheer, A. & Koehl, M. Paddles and rakes: fluid flow through bristled appendages of small organisms. J. Theor. Biol. 129, 17–39 (1987).

  • 32.

    Ross, D. H. & Craig, D. A. Mechanisms of fine particle capture by larval black flies (Diptera: Simuliidae). Can. J. Zool. 58, 1186–1192 (1980).

  • 33.

    van Duren, L. A. & Videler, J. J. Escape from viscosity: the kinematics and hydrodynamics of copepod foraging and escape swimming. J. Exp. Biol. 206, 269–279 (2003).

  • 34.

    Seale, M., Cummins, C., Viola, I. M., Mastropaolo, E. & Nakayama, N. Design principles of hair-like structures as biological machines. J. R. Soc. Interface 15, 20180206 (2018).

  • 35.

    Cummins, C., Nakayama, N., Viola, I. M. & Mastropaolo, E. MATLAB scripts for analysis of vortex shedding. https://doi.org/10.7488/ds/2362 (2018).

  • 36.

    Viola, I. M., Nakayama, N., Mastropaolo, E. & Cummins, C. Vortex shedding in the wake of a 75% porous disk. https://doi.org/10.7488/ds/2363 (2018).

  • 37.

    Dierick, M., Masschaele, B. & Hoorebeke, L. V. Octopus, a fast and user-friendly tomographic reconstruction package developed in LabView®. Meas. Sci. Technol. 15, 1366–1370 (2004).

  • 38.

    R Core Team. R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing http://www.R-project.org/ (R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria, 2013).

  • 39.

    Sato, M., Bitter, I., Bender, M. A., Kaufman, A. E. & Nakajima, M. TEASAR: tree-structure extraction algorithm for accurate and robust skeletons. In Proc. 8th Pacific Conference on Computer Graphics and Applications (eds Barsky, B. A. et al.) 281–449 (IEEE, 2000).

  • 40.

    Schneider, C. A., Rasband, W. S. & Eliceiri, K. W. NIH image to ImageJ: 25 years of image analysis. Nat. Methods 9, 671–675 (2012).

  • 41.

    Forster, B., Van De Ville, D., Berent, J., Sage, D. & Unser, M. Complex wavelets for extended depth-of-field: a new method for the fusion of multichannel microscopy images. Microsc. Res. Tech. 65, 33–42 (2004).

  • 42.

    Preibisch, S., Saalfeld, S. & Tomancak, P. Globally optimal stitching of tiled 3D microscopic image acquisitions. Bioinformatics 25, 1463–1465 (2009).

  • 43.

    White, C. M. The drag of cylinders in fluids at slow speeds. Proc. R. Soc. A 186, 472–479 (1946).

  • 44.

    Chwang, A. T. & Wu, T. Y.-T. Hydromechanics of low-Reynolds-number flow. Part 2. Singularity method for Stokes flows. J. Fluid Mech. 67, 787–815 (1975).

  • 45.

    Viola, I. M., Bot, P. & Riotte, M. On the uncertainty of CFD in sail aerodynamics. Int. J. Numer. Methods Fluids 72, 1146–1164 (2013).

  • Let’s block ads! (Why?)



    Source link

    Continue Reading

    Science

    Debris from Halley's Comet to spark Orionid meteor shower this weekend

    Published

    on

    By


    [unable to retrieve full-text content]

    1. Debris from Halley’s Comet to spark Orionid meteor shower this weekend  AccuWeather.com
    2. Halley’s Comet viewing: Orionid meteor shower peaks THIS WEEK but when is Halley back?  Express.co.uk
    3. Orionid Meteor Shower: See Them Before They Peak In Ohio  Patch.com
    4. The Best Meteor Showers in 2018  Sky & Telescope
    5. Full coverage



    Source link

    Continue Reading

    Trending

    Copyright © 2018 Canada News Media

    %d bloggers like this: