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Things are getting interesting at NASA. Former astronaut Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) confirmed that NASA is seeking $100 million to grab a Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) and bring it closer to Earth for study. The plan calls for using a robotic spacecraft to capture a NEA and bring it into stable lunar orbit. In 2021 astronauts will visit it using the then operational Orion spacecraft. The plan is based on a feasibility study conducted by the Keck Institute for Space Studies in California.

This is very exciting, not only for asteroid defense, but for the nascent asteroid mining industry. Unlike much government spending, NASA spending actually does incubate technologies that aid the development of private enterprise and benefit us all. These technologies are legion and include light-emitting diodes (LEDs), temper foam, artificial limbs, portable cordless vacuums, and solar cells (complete list). For asteroid mining it will not be a single technology but an entire industry.

Some may wonder why asteroid mining is so important. One major reason is to lower the cost of and increasing access to the rare earth metals. Our technological civilization relies on them and they are difficult to find in significant concentrations to mine economically. They are mixed into the dirt all around us. Indeed, some more abundant than gold. Significant quantities are so rare though that China currently supplies approximately 97% of humanities needs.

So what? Well, China has a cut off supplies when they feel its in there interests to do so. They did so to Japan during a diplomatic spat in 2010. Cynics think this was merely an attempt by China to drive up prices. Either way it is not in our long term interest to rely on a single national supplier. Anyone who has bought a diamond (ahem, DeBeers) can understand the power China wields over the market.

A main economic case for asteroid mining is the likelihood that rare earth elements are concentrated in NEAs. The reasons for this goes back to formation of the solar system, the NEAs were never pulverized into planets. NASA’s budget request and plan is a major step towards a more abundant supply. In an age of dysfunctional politics it is encouraging to see the government used in a way that it can be effective. The asteroid mining start-ups, leveraging the lower cost launch infrastructure developed by SpaceX, will benefit from this NASA plan. When the next asteroid explodes over Russia and Congress asks NASA what can be done about it Charles Bolden’s successor will have a better answer than ‘pray’.

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Finally got a Space Update posted, Elon Musk ball-washing, Jews x 32, Rick Flair, Dr Phil Metzer and his authority, Tasman cometh, overspending on furniture, graduate school, two buck chuck, sexual confusion, identity crisis, Castro and North Korea, NASA’s asteroid plans, International Space Station, black holes and thermodynamics, Google glass with prescription lenses, Russian flamethrower tank, sports suck, freaknik, Million Man march, Fight Club, SpaceX again, thruster holes, The Machine is a pussy, sense of smell equals less sex, Dr Steve, and stinky holes.


E16 – Tazzman #fails

E40 – Tazzman Healeth

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Mars terraformed


The recent hubbub about the ‘Siding Spring’ comet (aka WORMWOOD) heading for Mars got me thinking about terraforming. Should the comet actually hit the Red Planet the impact would be immense. The nucleus of the comet is estimated to be from 15 km to 50 km wide traveling at a velocity 56 km/second. An impact would generate an energy force measured in the billions of megatons generating immense heat energy. Millions of megatons of crust would be ejected creating a crater hundreds of miles wide. It is estimated that the impact could be seen from Earth with the naked eye during the daytime.

Mars is cold and dry and could help it sustain life. The relatively small size of Mars compared to Earth caused significant volcanic activity to cease and the iron core to solidify billions of years ago. The solidification of the iron core caused the magnetosphere to diminish significantly. This subjected the atmosphere billions of years of buffeting by solar wind gradually blowing much of it off the planet. Thus the planet dried out and much of the water receded into aquifers and the average temperature dropped to its current average of −55 °C. An impact would cause the average temperature to increase significantly and water would be released from aquifers. Underground water combined with the vaporized remains of comet would thicken the atmosphere and fill a boreal sea.

A single comet may not ultimately be enough to completely terraform the planet. In Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy comets where dropped from the Kuiper Belt to thicken the atmosphere introducing more water vapor. Multiple direct impacts could prove counter productive by introducing too much heat energy. Maneuvering robots could adjust the trajectory of the comet intersecting the planet at a shallow angle thus allowing the comet to disintegrate in the atmosphere without impacting the surface. Robots could introduce algae and plants generating oxygen and nitrogen could be dropped in from Titan. The thickened atmosphere will reduced the amount of normal solar radiation that reaches the surface. Coronal mass ejections and solar flares will continue to be a threat to life though because of a lack of significant magnetosphere.

Unfortunately a direct impact by WORMWOOD is becoming less and less likely by the day with the latest odds at 1 in 8000. The above may be possible though with technology currently being researched and developed by NASA and several private space mining start-ups. Dr. Philip Metzger, a NASA physicist/planetary scientist, has recently posted about recent space mining activity on his blog. Perhaps if these technologies were more mature WORMWOOD could be redirected after all.


Update – Soon after Tweeting this post I received these replies from Dr. Metzger:


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Marie Osmand’s inflated lips, GSK’s Reversitol, quit bitching bitches, Canadian proojects, double Musk and NO BLEEPS, graduate school, not moving to Roswell or Decatur, “The Jew” returns, Rick Flair’s clot and tragedy, fan-dang-go, Wormwood update, cosmic tits, prayer, Soyuz fast track, feeling guilty, spending money to get out Egypt, leaps of faith, Easter with the shixa and the shixlets, bunnies and eggs, Jews perhaps want Christmas, gelt, Passover Coke, a German Jew in a Box, identifying a Jew, Richard Patrick of Filter is a hyperbolic douche, rounding errors, 9/11 comparisons, and round errors.


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Missing special guest, new “bleep count” record, alien visitations, gauntlets at work, shit talking, Jeff Bezos and Apollo rockets, found treasure transferred to China, military tech spin offs, Korean communist unicorns, red wine is #happening, cheaper air travel, comic hackery, dumped bits, ideas for Mr. Musk, energon cubes, Falcon Heavy (or Voltron), and upcoming special guests.


Quick Bits



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Regarding #MrHospitality, SimCity DRM, a free sh!t game from EA, Wicked musical, “bleep count”, the proposed “offensive meter”, NASA’s space miner Dr Phil Metzger (@Philtill777), naming WORMWOOD and Curiosity Rover, rats in the sewer lair, UFO flies in a volcano, ancient aliens, Iron Man flying in a circle, Elon Musk in Iron Man, Christopher Nolan and DC movies, spider-sense, Mr Obama and the Irish, doing the Superman in the early morning, and caffeine gum.