Real Star Trek Impulse Engine: Using conventional fuel rockets, it would take 16,000 years to reach the nearest star. Interstellar travel cannot be achieved with conventional rockets. While space may be the final frontier, rocket fuel won’t get us very far. The “impulse engine” from Star Trek might one day become a reality thanks to two scientists who are working on a device.
How does the Star Trek impulse engine work?
The impulse engine is a fictional type of thruster in the Star Trek universe. It is used by shuttles and spaceships for limited movement or in situations where more powerful warp engines cannot be used or are not available.
As with rocket engines today, the impulse engines of Star Trek are based on Newton’s third law (for every action there is an equally powerful and opposite reaction).
There is an impulse reaction chamber, a generator/accelerator, a vectored exhaust jet director, and a motor coil assembly in each engine. In addition to the impulse engine, a fusion space-time compaction motor coil is required to accelerate larger starships. It wouldn’t work with just a Newtonian reaction motor.
In the pulse reaction chamber (a sphere with a diameter of 6 meters), deuterium is introduced and a standard fusion reaction occurs. Following a velocity increase, the plasma passes from the pulse reaction chamber into the drive coil assembly. Through the vectorized exhaust jet controller, exhaust gas is ejected from the drive coil assembly. Through this, the impulse engines can be controlled in which direction to propel the ship.
The impulse drive consists of three main components: a fuel tank, a nuclear reactor, and a space-time coil. The fuel tank contains the reagents used by the engine. Starfleet uses Deuterium as fuel. Although it is less efficient than a mixture of Deuterium and Tritium, it is easier to produce. Especially if using only one type of fuel, there is no need to build additional tanks for the other type of fuel.
After the fuel leaves the tank, it undergoes cooling. During this process, the Deuterium turns into ice balls of varying diameters. These balls are sent to the reactor, where the nuclear reaction begins and continues as long as the fuel is in the reactor. The deuterium atoms join together. In the process, part of the fuel is converted into energy. The maximum efficiency of such an engine is 0.08533%. The efficiency may be different for different types of pulse engines.
The GALAXY class starships use the standard impulse engine reactor. It is a sphere with a diameter of 6 meters. A pulse engine typically uses multiple reactors that transfer energy and fuel to each other in a chain. Each of the eight impulse engines of a GALAXY-class starship has three nuclear reactors.
Take a trip through time and space, from Earth to the center of the Milky Way galaxy. A supermassive black hole, a cosmic giant, awaits you in the galactic core. You will travel faster than light out of the solar system and past the billions of stars that make up the Milky Way galaxy. From here, you can observe the cosmic chaos that drives the universe.
From Earth to the Center of the Milky Way Galaxy
Milky Way appears from Earth as a band because of its disk-shaped structure. Galileo Galilei first reconstructed the band of light into individual stars using his telescope in 1610.
Until the early 1920s, many astronomers believed that the Milky Way contained all the stars in the universe. Then, Edwin Hubble proved that the Milky Way is only one in many other galaxies.
Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy with a diameter estimated to be 100,000 to 200,000 light-years. Recent simulations indicate that some visible stars may extend up to a diameter of almost 2 million light-years in a dark matter area.
Imagine Seeing the Milky Way’s Center Like Never Before
This is where our Galaxy rotates during its orbit. It is located close to the solar system in the direction of Sagittarius, 24,000 light-years away. Still, optical light is inaccessible due to interstellar dust grains along its lines of sight.
However, it can be observed at wavelengths that are not affected by dust, including infrared, radio, and X-ray wavelengths.
A complex radio source has been detected near the Galactic center. Sagittarius A (SgrA*), which is a radio and X-ray source, has long been thought to be the location of a supermassive black hole at the center of our Galaxy.
Recent infrared observations have given this idea strength. This enabled us to plot the orbits of stars within the Galactic center’s light hours. These stars have very tight and fast Keplerian orbits around an object of about 3 million solar masses located at SgrA*.
The compact radio source Sagittarius A* is located in the center of the Milky Way and is part of the radio source Sagittarius A. It also emits in the infrared and X-ray range and other frequency bands. It is a high-density object – a supermassive black hole surrounded by a hot, radio-emitting gas cloud about 1.8 km in diameter.
Just as fossils hold clues to the history of life, asteroids hold clues to the history of the solar system. Rare samples collected from the surface of an asteroid by NASA and its international partners are helping to decipher these clues.
JAXA is sharing a portion of these samples with NASA, and in exchange, NASA will provide JAXA a percentage of a sample of asteroid Bennu, when the agency’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft returns to Earth from the space rock in 2023.
NASA received 23 millimeter-sized grains and 4 containers of even finer material from Ryugu — 10 percent of the total collected – from JAXA on Nov. 30. A JAXA official and a JAXA scientist delivered the asteroid fragments to Johnson, meeting with agency team members to complete the sample transfer and receiving training on safe handling procedures for their portion of the OSIRIS-REx samples.
“This is an exciting opportunity to amplify science return through international cooperation,” said Lori Glaze, Planetary Science Division director at NASA Headquarters. “The collaboration will help both countries get the most out of their returns and share the responsibility of sample curation independently cross-check results. JAXA’s contribution is a welcomed addition to the ARES collection of extraterrestrial materials and will provide researchers important new samples wealth of information to examine for generations to come.”
The JAXA sample was placed in a cleanroom dedicated to Ryugu research. The ARES facility includes a unique, state-of-the-art laboratory suite for the study of extraterrestrial materials. The team first documented the regolith using high-resolution photography and then stored the samples in a glovebox filled with dry nitrogen gas. This gas protects the piece from breaking down in Earth’s naturally humid and subtly acidic atmosphere. It also protects the pores of gas within the sample for future study.
The ARES facility at Johnson houses the world’s most extensive collection of astromaterials from the solar system under one roof, including samples from asteroids, comets, Mars, the Moon, Sun, and dust from our solar system and beyond.
Scientists use world-class laboratories to perform research on planetary materials and the space environment to investigate the origin and evolution of our solar system, the universe, and the possibilities of how life might form on other planets. Additionally, researchers participate in robotic planetary missions, support human spaceflight activities on board the International Space Station, and assist in designing next-generation exploration spacecraft.
Asteroids are debris leftover from the dawn of the solar system. The Sun and its planets formed from a cloud of dust and gas about 4.6 billion years ago. Asteroids are thought to date to the first few million years of solar system history. More data are needed to understand how the solar system’s evolution exactly unfolded. Sample returns from asteroids help provide some of that data.
“Sample returns are the gifts that keep on giving,” said Keiko Nakamura-Messenger, ARES planetary scientist and sample curator. “Advancements in technology and methodology will continue to help scientists gather data from sample returns in ways once thought impossible. We’re still studying Apollo samples.”
Ryugu belongs to a class of asteroids called carbonaceous, or C-type, asteroids. C-type asteroids are rich in water, carbon, and organic compounds from when the solar system formed. Researchers suspect that bits of C-type asteroids that crashed into Earth as meteorites delivered the raw ingredients of life to Earth in the early solar system.
Scientists have surveyed thousands of meteorites that have been found on Earth, many of which also likely came from C-type asteroids. However, analyzing these rocks is challenging due to Earth-based contaminants, and determining which meteorites came from which asteroids is a challenge. Although missions like Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx are difficult to collect in space and get back to Earth, samples retrieved directly from an asteroid-like Ryugu are uncontaminated and tell us about known locations in the solar system.
“More science can be conducted with directly collected asteroid samples because we know where they came from. Plus, we’re directly analyzing the sample rather than scanning the asteroid from afar,” explained Nakamura-Messenger. “This allows us to use extremely sensitive techniques to reveal the tiniest concentrations of organic compounds potentially present in the samples. The results may shed light on how the solar system evolved and life originated.”
The delivery marks the end of a long journey for the Ryugu sample. JAXA launched Hayabusa2 in December 2014 to collect samples from Ryugu. After arriving at the asteroid, Hayabusa2 deployed two rovers and a small lander on the surface. Then, in February 2019, Hayabusa2 fired an impactor into the asteroid to create an artificial crater. This allowed the spacecraft to retrieve a sample beneath Ryugu’s surface.
“Exposure to galactic and solar cosmic rays takes away water and alters the surface of asteroids,” Nakamura-Messenger. “We believe fresh material resides beneath Ryugu’s surface that will be key to understanding its true nature.”
Hayabusa2 returned to Earth with the Ryugu sample in December 2020. Scientists at Johnson analyzed a microscopic sample from Hayabusa2 in June of this year before receiving the entire allotment from JAXA last week.
The spacecraft itself is now on an extended mission to a smaller asteroid, called 1998 KY26. Meanwhile, NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft is on track to return the sample from the carbonaceous asteroid Bennu to Earth in 2023. Ryugu, Bennu, and 1998 KY26 are considered “near-Earth asteroids,” meaning they likely formed within the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter but have since drifted closer to Earth.
The exchange of the Ryugu and Bennu samples is part of a larger initiative by NASA to partner with JAXA and other countries to push the frontiers of space exploration.
“The future of space exploration will require collaboration among nations,” said Grossman. “The sample exchange between NASA and JAXA marks a step toward achieving this goal.”
The Ryugu fragments provided by JAXA will be available to scientists across the world upon request. Analysis of the samples is ongoing. ARES researchers and other scientists not involved in the exchange will be able to submit requests to study asteroid fragments to the sample curator at Johnson.
Currently, ARES is upgrading and expanding facilities to support new capabilities required to investigate inbound collections (most notably asteroid samples from Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx). A new annex to Johnson’s Building 31 complex will be complete in 2023 in time to host the OSIRIS-REx science team for preliminary examination and initial sample analysis when these samples return to Earth.
NASA also plans to work with JAXA on the Martian Moons Exploration, or MMX, spacecraft. JAXA intends to send the spacecraft to the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos, retrieve a sample from the surface of one of them, and return it to Earth around 2029. Insights gained from the mission are expected to clarify how the Red Planet and Martian moons formed and evolved.
JAXA will also play a role in supporting future missions to the Moon under NASA’s Artemis program. NASA formalized an agreement this year to work with the Japanese government to help develop an outpost orbiting the Moon, called Gateway. The outpost will house commercial and international partners during Artemis missions, and enable crews to bring back samples from the lunar surface to Earth.
Learn more about how NASA studies asteroids and other celestial bodies at:
Planet 9: There are 8 official planets in our Solar System. Is it possible that beyond Neptune there is still one more planet? The size of planet Nine is estimated to be about as big as Mars. Read on for some exciting facts about planet Nine! Including how many planets have been discovered outside our Solar System: some of them are dense as iron, but others are light and airy.
Percival Lowell was wrong many times
Planet nine: This 19th century travel writer and businessman, famous for his fortune and mustache had a book about Mars. On that basis, he decided to become an astronomer.
Over the years he would make some enthusiastic claims. First, he was convinced of the existence of Martians and believed (erroneously) that he had found them. Other scientists had detected strange lines running across the red planet.
Lowell posited that these were canals, built by a civilization in crisis in its attempt to obtain water from the ice of polar masses. He spent all his money to erect an observatory, just to get a better view.
It turned out that they were actually an optical illusion produced by the mountains and craters of Mars when viewed with poor quality telescopes. Lowell also believed that the planet Venus had spokes on its sphere, which he drew in his notes as lines on a spider’s web. (Venus has no spokes).
Even though his assistants tried, it seems that only he was able to see this unexpected detail. They were probably the shadows cast by his iris when he looked at the sky through his telescope.
But above all else, Lowell was determined to find the ninth planet of the Solar System. A hypothetical planet to which the erratic orbits of the known planets farthest from the Sun, like Uranus and Neptune, were then attributed.
Although he was never able to capture a glimpse of that phantom mass, he spent his last 10 years working on the project.
How did Planet 9 get its name?
Who named it? “Planet Nine” is a nickname Batygin and Brown gave to their predicted object, but it is the discoverer who gets the proper naming rights. Previous searches for the long-suspected giant object beyond Neptune called it “Planet X.”
What is the location of Planet 9 in our solar system?
According to some astronomers, there’s a mysterious planet six times the size of Earth in the outer solar system.
Planet Nine should be about 56 billion miles away from the Sun on average. When viewed from that distance, the Sun would appear as another star in the perpetually dark sky.
One study published in September 2021 suggests Planet Nine is closer to the Sun than originally predicted. Though it’s still way out at 10 times the distance of the Sun to Neptune. Also, as 380 times the distance from the Sun to the Earth.
What is the distance to Planet 9? It’s likely Planet Nine is out in the cold, dark reaches of the Solar System. According to Batygin and Brown’s models, Planet Nine should be about 20 times further away from the Sun than Neptune.
A preliminary name has been given to it, “Planet Nine”, because there were nine planets discovered. Pluto was added to the dwarf planets in 2006 when more objects of its size and orbital characteristics were discovered. Hence, we have eight planets in our solar system, following the adoption of scientific astronomy.
Although it could fulfill the criteria for a regular planet, proving that it has cleared its orbit of small bodies would require more effort to confirm its existence. It could also represent a distinct class of solar system bodies. This may require further adjustment of the current planet criterion. Soon after Pluto’s reclassification, Brown himself said the planet should be regular.
In summer 2016 a number of scholars pointed out that the existence of the postulated planet with its claimed high inclination for the axis of the ekliptic of 7.2° or 8.3°. 7.2° or 8.3°. 8.3° or 7.2° could account for the variation in the solar equator level by 5.9°. In addition to the inclination of the axis, the planet must also possess a sufficient mass. Scientists at the California Institute of Technology in October said it could affect the whole solar system.
From nuclear pasta to ghost galaxies, to the most peculiar star and moon, the universe is full of what for many are still secrets.
The universe is strange and largely unknown to the average person at the moment. However, scientists have been fortunate enough to discover a long list of strange and seemingly unbelievable phenomena throughout the galaxy through their research and experiments.
They are one of the strangest phenomena in the universe. Each ultra-bright burst lasts only a few thousandths of a second and appears to come from a place far beyond our own galaxy, the Milky Way.
Since their initial discovery in 2007, their cause has been a mystery. Based on calculations of known frequency bands and an understanding of the activity of the universe, scientists believe that nearly a thousand are produced each day.
This is the hardest and most resistant material in the universe and is formed from the material left over when a neutron star explodes. To give you an idea, according to scientists’ calculations, to break this compound you would need to apply 10 billion times the force you use to break steel.
Haumea and its rings
This planet is curious in its own right. It is “dwarf,” has a strange elongated shape, two moons, and a day that lasts only 4 hours, making Haumea the fastest spinning planet in the solar system. In 2017, scientists discovered extremely thin rings orbiting it to complete the picture.
Does dark matter exist
It is scientifically accepted that dark matter, an unknown substance that accounts for 85% of the matter in the universe, exists and is everywhere. However, the discovery in 2018 of a galaxy that barely seemed to contain dark matter has spurred those who, paradoxically, argue that dark matter doesn’t exist at all.
The star KIC 846285, or Tabby’s star, has a striking peculiarity: it flickers and fades for a few days before returning to its usual brightness in a completely unpredictable pattern. Theories include comet swarms, fragments of destroyed planets, dust clouds, or even an “alien megastructure” engulfing the star to drain its resources.
The title of strangest moon goes to Hyperion, Saturn’s satellite, an irregular, spongy rock full of craters. NASA’s Cassini space probe, which visited the Saturn system between 2004 and 2017, also discovered that Hyperion was charged with a “particle beam” of static electricity flowing through space.
The first neutrino
The high-energy neutrino that hit Earth on Sept. 22, 2017, was not, in and of itself, all that extraordinary. Physicists at the IceCube Neutrino Observatory in Antarctica see neutrinos of similar energy levels at least once a month.
Astronomers found that it had been hurled at Earth 4 billion years ago by a flaming blazar, a supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy that was consuming the surrounding material.
DGSAT I is an ultra diffuse galaxy (UDG), which means that it is as large as a conventional galaxy, but its stars are scattered so thinly that it is nearly invisible.
DGSAT I disproves the theories that all previously studied ultra diffuse galaxies were found in galaxy clusters, which were thought to have been “normal” galaxies in the past but over time became a spongy mess due to violent phenomena within the cluster.
But DGSAT I is a rare exception, because it is an ultra-diffuse galaxy found far from a cluster, so it may give a clearer picture of its past.
Expansion of the universe
Massive objects bend light enough that they can distort the image of things behind them. When researchers used the Hubble Space Telescope to detect a quasar from the early universe, they used it to estimate the rate of expansion of the universe and found that it is expanding faster today than it was then.
Infrared flux from space
Neutron stars are extremely dense objects that form after the death of a star. Normally, they emit radio waves or high-energy radiation such as X-rays. However, in September 2018, astronomers discovered a long stream of infrared light from a neutron star 800 light-years from Earth, something never before observed.
The researchers concluded that a disk of dust surrounding the neutron star could be generating the signal, but the final explanation has yet to be found.
Brown Dwarf Planet
Throughout the galaxy there are planets that have been flung away from their parent star by gravitational forces. One particular one in this section is SIMP J01365663+0933473 or “brown dwarf”, a planet 200 light years away whose magnetic field is 200 times stronger than that of Jupiter. This is strong enough to generate intermittent auroras in its atmosphere, which can be seen with radio telescopes.
According to a statement from Blue Origin, the facility will have a capacity for ten people and its occupants will be able to carry out scientific experiments or fly through space for pleasure.
Blue Origin, the space company owned by Amazon mogul Jeff Bezos, has unveiled a project to build a private space station in low-Earth orbit.
Named Orbital Reef, it is designed “to open up multiple new markets in space, and will give anyone the opportunity to establish their own location in orbit,” the company said in a statement. The orbital platform is scheduled to start operating in the second half of this decade.
The space company of billionaire Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon), together with Sierra Space, has announced the construction of the so-called Orbital Reef, a space station that will host tourists as well as researchers and other experts.
The commercial space station should be ready by the end of this decade, the company said in a press release. Its plans call for it to be operational in the second half of this decade, perhaps in 2026 or 2027 (2030 at the latest).
The new plans come to light at a time when NASA is planning for life after the International Space Station, as its contracts expire in 2024. It is not known what the future holds for the current ISS. NASA and the European Space Agency want to put Lunar Gateway on the moon.
Orbital Reef is “designed to open up multiple new markets in space” and “will offer anyone the opportunity to establish their own address in orbit,” he says.
The space station will have a maximum crew capacity of 10 people and will act as a “mixed-use business park.” Aside from research, the space complex will include a hotel, a facility for filming microgravity movies and even manufacturing facilities for devices.
Blue Origin and Sierra Space will work with:
Genesis Engineering Solutions.
Arizona State University.
to build and maintain the station, as well as transport crew, visitors and material from Earth to orbit and back.
A new race to space has begun
The exact specifications of the station have understandably not been released at this early stage, but the basic concepts of the program have been described.
What we do know is that the station will be:
Modular, allowing other private companies, space agencies and nations to connect and expand it as needed.
Large Integrated Flexible Environment (LIFE) module.
Node module and the Dream Chaser spacecraft to transport crew, supplies and payloads to and from Earth.
Redwire Space will work in the areas of:
Development and manufacturing.
Genesis Engineering Solutions is building a 2001: A Space Odyssey-style space capsule called Single Person Spacecraft for outdoor work and sightseeing without a spacesuit, and Arizona State University will lead a worldwide consortium of universities for research consulting and outreach.
“For more than sixty years, NASA and other space agencies have been developing orbital spaceflight and space colonization, preparing to launch commercial operations this decade,” said Brent Sherwood, senior vice president of advanced development programs at Blue Origin.
“We will expand access, reduce costs and provide all the services and amenities needed to normalize spaceflight. Low Earth orbit will create a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem that will:
While researchers are working on thrusters, possibilities for space colonization, and ways to provide water and power in space, other scientists are trying to understand how space affects the human body. Much of their knowledge has now been compiled in a collection of 29 articles that is the result of what is known as The Twins Study, which followed two astronauts.
The study reveled what Happens to the Human Body in Space:
Bones lose density at a rate of 1.5% per month
Space travel shrink the muscles by up to 25%
Body fluids accumulate in the upper body
and the amount of circulating blood decreases, resulting in decreased oxygen supply to the brain
The data collected came from:
Conducted by 84 researchers from 12 universities
NASA’s Human Research Program
After the Twin study, 56 additional astronauts were monitored to document the effects on them.
NASA Details How Space Affects the Human Body
The external factors affecting humans in space have been studied through an approach referred to as Multiomics.
Multiomics is a biological analysis in which the dataset is drawn from the:
Determining how they interact and influence each other.
In summary, the scientists have identified six key factors that determine what happens to a person’s body in space:
1. Mitochondrial dysregulation
Mitochondria (responsible for generating most of the chemical energy in a cell) work differently.
2. Oxidative stress
The space environment causes an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body, probably caused by the radiation to which astronauts are exposed.
3. DNA damage
Space radiation can also affect human genes.
4. The length of telomeres
These structures serve to protect the genetic material that the chromosome carries. Over the course of life and up to billions of cell divisions, telomeres shorten until they are so small that they can no longer protect the DNA – the cell then stops reproducing. In space, telomeres lengthen, but they return to their original size when the astronaut returns to Earth.
5. Variations in microbiomes
The genetic material of the microbes that inhabit the human body is altered by the spatial environment.
6. Epigenetic changes
The mechanisms that regulate our DNA (ie, “turn on” and “turn off” sets of genes) react to microgravity.
Scientists using this data to develop:
Understanding How Space Affects the Human Body
As space travel becomes more advanced and humanity gets closer to sending astronauts to Mars – we need to know how our bodies will cope with long-term space travel. And thanks to the largest study ever published on the subject, the picture is now emerging.
Did We Contaminate Mars? – Since the early days of Red Planet exploration, humanity has hoped to find life there. NASA reduce the risk that what we discover are creatures we brought with us from Earth.
Imagine the day when astronauts will reach the planet Mars. They will take samples from the ground and from the air and search for what fascinates mankind the most – life. But even if they find signs of life there, such as remnants of genetic material, there is a pretty good chance that it’s not from Mars, but from the spacecraft and landings we sent there from Earth.
In 1971, a man-made object landed on Mars for the first time – the Russian Mars 3 lander. Later, several other landers and robotic spacecraft successfully landed on Mars. They probably brought bacteria from Earth, and perhaps some of the bacteria survived the long journey in the hostile conditions of space.
Many studies by the U.S. space agency NASA address this very problem, as it has multiple and dangerous consequences. Every spacecraft that NASA launches undergoes a rigorous cleaning process as much as possible in disinfected and cleaned spaces. But this is not enough, and even this clean environment can be invaded by other tiny bacteria and organisms (microorganisms).
Two Directions for Infection on Mars
This phenomenon, of bringing living things and other forms of pollution from Earth to other planet is called forward contamination. In fact, the phenomenon is also known on Earth itself, from expeditions that have traveled to Antarctica and other remote locations. Such infection could seriously harm local populations. Moreover, contamination on Mars could skew the results of future studies.
The problem is not limited to forward contamination: at least theoretically, backward contamination could also occur. In that case, astronauts returning to Earth could bring with them an infection unknown in our world. As we saw with the COVID-19 Pandemic. A new bacterium or virus that appears unexpectedly can cause serious problems, especially if it is able to adapt to the human body or to other biological systems in Earth’s ecology.
We have probably “contaminated” Mars with life
The car-sized rover Perseverance landed safely on the surface of Mars on Feb. 18. It can only travel at a top speed of 152 meters per hour, but it has a suite of instruments with which it has conducted innovative experiments.
On board the three-meter-long robot is a machine that converted the thin, carbon dioxide-laden Martian air into oxygen and a helicopter that completed the first powered flight on another planet.
But is it possible that something else made it to Mars with all this equipment?
Could a trail of bacteria or spores have been accidentally transported from Earth to space. Maybe the Genetic material survived the trip to make the red planet its new home?
NASA and its engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have precise and comprehensive protocols in place to ensure that their spacecraft are free of any organisms that might accidentally sneak into a space mission.
What would happen then if the robot finds traces of life on Mars?
The issue is very complex. We are looking for organisms that have the ability to survive in extreme conditions. That’s why we look for bacterial fossils. This type of research has to go through multiple angles of analysis.
What is the easiest galaxy to see? – The galaxies closest to the Milky Way, our neighbors, are those belonging to the so-called Local Group.
They are easily seen with an amateur telescope. Some, such as Andromeda and the Magellanic Clouds, can even be seen with the naked eye.
There are several dwarf galaxies orbiting around the Milky Way. In 1994 the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy (SagDEG) was discovered 70,000 light years away, and in 2003 the Canis Major Galaxy was discovered 25,000 light years away. These are the two closest galaxies discovered so far.
Most important nearby galaxies
Andromeda: 2.5 million light-years from Earth. Andromeda is a giant spiral galaxy, twice the size of the Milky Way. It is the largest galaxy in the Local Group. It contains hundreds of billions of stars and a large number of nebulae. At its center is a supermassive black hole. It is very bright and is the farthest object that can be seen with the naked eye. It is estimated that in about 6 billion years, the Milky Way and Andromeda will collide.
Small and Large Magellanic Clouds: these are two satellite galaxies of the Milky Way. This means that the Milky Way is pulling them with its gravity, and in the future they will be part of it. They are named after Magellan, who was the first European explorer to observe them in the 16th century. The Large Cloud is 170,000 light-years away, and the Small Cloud is 210,000 light-years away. They are dwarf and irregular galaxies, with many nebulae and young stars. In the southern hemisphere they are seen with the naked eye, as two white clouds isolated from the Milky Way across the sky.
Triangulum: it is the third largest galaxy in the Local Group, behind Andromeda and the Milky Way. It is 3 million light years away. Triangulum can only be seen with a telescope. It has a spiral shape, similar to our galaxy. It is believed that It is pulled in by Andromeda’s gravity, and may even orbit around the galaxy. The Triangulum galaxy contains the largest known emission nebula: NGC 604.
Terraform Venus: Leaving the Earth and Moving Into Space Has Been a Romantic Idea Since Ancient Times. Sooner or later, it will be necessary for the survival of the human race.
What if we turned one of the harshest and most dangerous places in the solar system into a colony? Not a city in the clouds, but a veritable second Earth?
That might be easier than you think. Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system. Its surface temperature is 460 degrees Celsius. That’s enough to melt lead. This is due to the strongest greenhouse effect in the solar system. CO2 captures heat easily. Just an increase from 0.03% to 0.04% in the Earth’s atmosphere, and we’re experiencing global warming right now.
The Venusian atmosphere is 97% CO2. Atmospheric density is 93 times that of Earth. Standing on the surface of Venus would be like diving to a depth of 900 meters. The pressure would kill you instantly. It’s a terrifying place.
Why Should We Bother Visiting Venus?
Gravity is a serious issue when migrating to the solar system, and prolonged low gravity is bad for your health.
Size wise, Venus could be the second largest habitable planet in our solar system. It will be a new home for billions of humans and trillions of animals. It has oceans, lush forests, and beautiful skies. Now, that’s a tall order. But with the ambition of future humans, it can be done.
It will take several generations to complete, and it will be a great challenge. Just as our ancestors did with the Great Pyramid.
Let’s just cool Venus down and remove the gas from its extremely heavy atmosphere. The volume is enormous, about 46.5 kilotons.
How do we remove it? There are several options.
We could use lasers from a giant solar thermal collector to heat the atmosphere and release it into space.
But that would require thousands of times the energy production capacity of the current human race, and it would take thousands of years to remove the atmosphere.
The other way is to sequester the atmosphere, to chemically react the CO2 into different compounds.
We’ll mine the Ca and Mg on Mercury and launch them via mass driver to Venus. It’s a motorized acceleration path that eliminates the need for rockets. The delivered elements would combine with the CO2 and be fixed as carbonates.
But not on a practical scale.
This method would require hundreds of billions of tons of material. It seems like a waste of material, and it would take too long.
An equally crazy idea is to put Venus in the shade.
Build a giant mirror to block out the sun and freeze the atmosphere. The mirror doesn’t have to be complex or huge.
If we make a huge flat surface near the sun, it will act as a solar sail and shift our position. It should be made of many parts, not just one circular object.
Multiple circular, angled mirrors can be placed to reflect sunlight back at each other. The mirrors are angled so that they reflect one after another until they send the light out the back. This balances the forces of front and back and holds them in position.
After a few years of setting up, things start slowly and then accelerate. For the first few decades, the atmosphere cools slowly, but remains too dense to be viable.
Then, after about 60 years, it reaches a critical temperature of 31 degrees Celsius.
Suddenly, the floodgates open. The CO2 liquefies under pressure and begins to rain down. The storm continues throughout Venus for 30 years. Suddenly, the pressure and temperature begin to drop simultaneously.
For about a century, the puddles became lakes and oceans. The surface temperature drops to -56 degrees Celsius, and the atmospheric pressure drops to seven times that on Earth.
When the temperature reaches -81 degrees Celsius, the ocean of CO2 begins to freeze and rain turns to snow.
Thus, Venus freezes and is covered with rocky oceans and huge CO2 glaciers. What’s left of the atmosphere is mostly nitrogen, at about three times the pressure of Earth.
Can Venus be Habitable?
But there’s a bit of a problem with frozen CO2.
Eventually, when Venus heats up, the CO2 ice will melt and fill the atmosphere again.
So we need a workaround to Terraform Venus.
One way is to cover the CO2 ocean with cheap plastic insulation and then cover it with Venusian rocks and water.
But some planetary scientists would be very opposed to building a planet with a ticking time bomb. A few ill-advised eruptions and all the CO2 would leach out at once, and everything would be ruined.
The other obvious solution is to eject all the frozen CO2 and stockpile it on a small moon. Mass drivers, not rockets, would be more efficient. Still, moving all that mass is a pretty tough challenge, and one that will take some time to solve.
In addition to handling the atmosphere, to terraform Venus we’ll need water, which we can get from the icy moons.
Jupiter’s moon, Europa, has twice as much water as Earth’s oceans.
Now, capturing a moon and moving it through the solar system is not easy.
It might be easier to cut through the ice on Europa with a formation of construction drones and shoot it into Venus with a mass driver.
Almost the entire process of getting the ice to Venus takes place on Europa.
When the ice hits the Venusian tether, it’s gently dropped into the atmosphere and falls as snow.
Instead, the Venusian tether catches the launched CO2 ice and accelerates it into orbit.
Likewise, the extra nitrogen could be removed, further reducing the atmospheric pressure.
In a few decades to a few hundred years, Venus will be covered by a shallow frozen sea, several hundred meters deep.
Several continents and countless islands will have formed, and it will look a little like Earth.
Now the final and most spectacular phase begins.
The atmosphere will be breathable, and life will begin. First, we need to reheat Venus with light.
A Venusian day is 2,802 hours, which is 116 days longer than Earth’s. So if we just remove the giant mirror, half of Venus will burn up.
Even if we clear the atmospheric pressure, the temperature alone is unsustainable.
The easiest way to create a day/night cycle on Venus
The easiest way to bring in energy is to use another mirror to illuminate the continents and melt the oceans.
This would give us complete control over the amount of energy and where it goes.
At this point, the atmosphere is mostly nitrogen, basically no oxygen. So the first inhabitants would be a large number of cyanobacteria.
Because they can release oxygen through photosynthesis. We can expect rapid changes in the atmosphere.
They’re thought to have brought oxygen to the Earth’s toxic atmosphere billions of years ago, helping animals to thrive.
In addition, cyanobacteria can fix atmospheric nitrogen and convert it into nutrients that organisms can use. Thus, the oceans become nutrient rich and ready for more complex life.
On land, we need to grind down the surface to create soil for nitrogen-fixing plants.
Eventually, billions of trees will form a great forest that will cover most of the continent.
Venus will Turn Green
To pick up the pace, CO2 will be strategically released to feed plants and cyanobacteria.
Plant-covered areas will receive additional sunlight from orbital mirrors, and plants will spend their days actively growing.
It may not have to be existing plants and animals.
As genetic engineering matures, our understanding of heredity and life increases. We may be able to create life as we need it to Terraform Venus.
It will take thousands of years in total to create an atmosphere in which humans can breathe.
The colonists will enjoy a new planet that is vast, resourceful, and sun-kissed.
They might even come up with new uses for the massive amounts of CO2 ice and nitrogen they’ve sequestered in space:
terraforming of small planets like Mars
Billions of settlers and their descendants will call this planet home.
They will see images of the past. They’ll see images of the past, of Venus as the harshest of planets.
Terraforming Venus is Not Going to be Easy.
It’ll take a lot of success for this future to become a reality. But it’s possible.
It’s a technology that’s within the reach of a slightly more advanced, space-faring human race.