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About Codraroll

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    Sr. Spacecraft Engineer

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  1. The closest comparison here would probably be airships of the 1920s and 30s. They had compartment walls made of fabric and all the furniture was made from balsa wood to reduce weight. It was a good attempt at luxury - though far from that afforded on an ocean liner - given the tight constraints.
  2. Uhh... this doesn't quite make sense to me. Its density is 22.59 g/cm3, or 22 590 kg/m3. A five meter sphere of osmium would have a volume of 65.4 m3 and weigh almost 1500 tons. Assuming you input that wrong number in your calculations, your already pretty spectacular estimates are too low by a factor of almost 150.
  3. At that speed there wouldn't be any Earth to hit at all. Go faster than light and physics break down. Heck, with that number of zeroes there would barely have been time for physics to happen even in the frame of physics as we know them. It may be that a ball of such "super-matter" capable of moving at such high speeds wouldn't have time to even interact with physical matter because it would instantly travel the width of the universe, passing through all of it without leaving a mark. Time itself is a very iffy concept when high relativistic velocities are involved. From the ball's perspective, the universe would go straight from the Big Bang to heat death the instant the ball appeared in it. From the universe's perspective, the ball wouldn't exist for long enough for its existence to even be registered.
  4. In theory, this is possible, though. Cutting off a part of the ship and throwing it away to reduce mass. Air balloons do it all the time. Doing so in a spaceship might be a little more perilous, though.
  5. Then my vote goes for some sort of relay satellite with a giant receiver that can happily and quickly suck up any data transmitted from the probe the moment it is generated, store it temporarily, and then send it back to Earth at a more leisurely pace. Just put something out there that can make pictures more convenient. Even if it may require an extra launch per mission.
  6. I might as well chime in with this little bit of math trivia, which makes a ton of sense when you think about it, but which still is very under-communicated in math curricula out there: X% of Y = Y% of X. Handy if you need to find, for instance, 4% of 75. It's a bit tricky. 75% of 4, however, is fairly simple. And the answer is the same. "X% of Y" really only means "Multiply X by Y and divide by 100", and it doesn't matter which order you do things in.
  7. -100 degrees, but also a near vacuum, so there wouldn't be much of a heat exchange with the atmosphere. The limiting factor for insulation on Earth is the air it contains, which means its thermal conductivity can't fall much below ~22 mW/meter*Kelvin. Imagine the insulation being soaked in water so it's wet and poorly insulating, only that it isn't water but air. Advanced thermal insulation materials exist, which achieve a lower thermal conductivity by filling the insulation pores with gas, or even better, gas is pumped out entirely (vacuum insulation - great insulation value, a major chore to build with since you're effectively building with balloons, that have the pressure on the outside as opposed to the inside - poke a hole anywhere in a panel and it's useless). It should actually be fairly simple to insulate a building on Mars for this reason. You have so little convection that steals heat from the building. I think heat losses to the ground would be high, but it would also be simple to insulate - no ground water to mess things up, so as long as you can space the structure apart from the ground, you'd be good there too. I think even a polystyrene block would suffice. Also, I wouldn't worry much about heat per se. All the other life support systems you'd need would presumably generate plenty of waste heat. Cooling the colony down might actually be more tricky. Using some sort of heat exchanger with the ground should suffice, though.
  8. Which is exactly why we should strive for it. If we can get a whole colony's worth of stuff to Mars and make it survive there, we can, in practice, build a colony anywhere. At least anywhere within a reasonable distance from the Sun, if our chosen technology depends on solar energy in one form or another. The level of self-sustainability needed to achieve this milestone will be greatly appreciated by other industries on Earth as well. The solutions found for the relatively unconventional problems in space travel (say, waste recycling, radiation shielding, photovoltaics, spacesuits, etc.) can have direct application in taking care of Earth as well.
  9. Quick question: The capsule was apparently loaded with supplies for the ISS and even Christmas presents for the astronauts. Does anybody know what happens to supplies that don't make it to space? I presume the Christmas gifts could be presented at a later occasion, but what about the rest? Will some of it potentially be re-used, or is it all just dumped into a container and trucked off to the garbage dump?
  10. I'd say, go for Mercury. It's a big ball of metal with as much solar energy as we would ever want, and statistically it's the closest planet to all the others because of the way orbits work. Practically infinite metals, practically infinite energy, and a relatively short hop to everywhere else. If we become advanced enough to colonize Mars, Mercury would be a good place to set up the next shop.
  11. I think it's unlikely that they decided to store the test results for posterity solely by relying on the memory of the people who saw it. Then again, considering that this was, more or less, how the know-how required to build the Saturn V was stored, one can never be sure.
  12. "January 4, 2020" sounds so far off. But it's in less than four weeks. Strange to think that by the end of this month, we'll be closer to the 2050s than the 1980s...
  13. Nah, he's obviously interested in sending the President of France away at really high speeds. (I didn't read much beyond the title either)
  14. Presumably, by making the rocket shorter.
  15. Or alternatively, use a helicopter. You didn't specify how far above a planet you should hover?