SETI Institute Weekly Colloquium - Upcoming Speakers
Thanks to recent technological advancement of astronomical observatories, fainer, more distant Jupiter Trojan asteroids have been detected and studied statistically or/and physically in detail than ever while planetary migration hypotheses have made them one of the most crucial witnesses to prove or disprove such competing concepts among the solar system formation theories.
In the past two decades or so, round trip capability has been one of the strategic targets for deep space exploration of Japan and the original Hayabusa pioneered that path. The Hayabusa-2 will follow it but they are limited within the inner planetary region.
Another strategic target of Japan's exploration technology has been to go to outer planetary region, i.e., the Jovian system and beyond, without using "nuclear" energy sources. Thus the solar power sail technology has been invested and tested from high altitude balloons, sounding rockets, an earth orbiting satellite and a deep space probe (i.e., IKAROS) by aiming to Jupiter Trojans as a final destination, since early 2000's.
This lecture outlines both scientific premises and technological challenges of reaching first and then attempting a round trip exploration to Jupiter Trojans in 2020's and an even more distant target in 2030's-40's. Also potential areas of international collaboration will be discussed through a personal view of the presenter.
When pondering the number of extraterrestrial civilizations, it is worth noting that even after it got started, the success of life on Earth was not a foregone conclusion. We recount some thrilling episodes from the history of our planet, some well-documented but others merely theorized: our collision with the planet Theia, the oxygen catastrophe, the snowball Earth events, the Permian-Triassic mass extinction event, the asteroid that hit Chicxulub, and more, including the global warming episode we are causing now. All of these hold lessons for what may happen on other planets.
The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 315 parts per million by volume (ppm) when Charles Keeling started his measurement at the Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii, in 1958. It surpassed 400 ppm on May 9, 2013 for the first time in the 55-year continuous record of measurements. The so-called ‘Keeling curve’ that shows the rapidly increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration since 1958 is one of the most famous and important scientific findings of our time – yet a full and detailed understanding of the curve and its variations is still to be achieved. For instance, the year-to-year variability that appears as the ‘wiggles’ on the Keeling curve have long been linked to variations of the natural climate-carbon system. But questions remain about what (ocean versus land), where (tropics versus mid-high latitudes) and how (e.g., temperature versus precipitation) different drivers affect the observed variability. This presentation reviews the scientific literature on these questions and presents a simple yet robust analysis that points toward the most likely answer.
Large Synoptic Survey Telescope: Entering the Era of Petascale Optical
The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST;http://lsst.org) is a
planned, large-aperture, wide-field, ground-based telescope that will
survey half the sky every few nights in six optical bands from 320 to
1050 nm. It will explore a wide range of astrophysical questions,
ranging from discovering “killer” asteroids, to examining the nature of
The LSST will produce on average 15 terabytes of data per night,
yielding an (uncompressed) data set of over 100 petabytes at the end of
its 10-year mission. Dedicated HPC facilities will process the image
data in near real time, with full-dataset reprocessings on annual scale.
A sophisticated data management system will enable database queries from
individual users, as well as computationally intensive scientific
investigations that utilize the entire data set.
In this talk, I will give an overview of what LSST will deliver once
operational, review implications of LSST-sized data sets on astronomy in
the 2020s, and discuss how we as a community will need to prepare for
the upcoming age of petascale datasets.
the upcoming age of petascale datasets.https://plus.google.com/events/cv86uhequnkiotj8hp9dg4cqkqk
We once thought planets formed peacefully in situ in their natal disks and subsequently followed their orbits like clockwork. However, there is growing evidence that the typical planetary system forms with "some assembly required" and undergoes a dynamical rearrangement through planetary migration processes. The nature of this migration remains debated, in particular whether the migration is caused by smooth planet-disk interactions or violent multi-body interactions. Here I present work toward understanding Nature's instruction booklet for planetary migration in extra-solar planetary systems and our own solar system.
Dr. Lubin will discuss how his team has proposed an orbital planetary defense system that is capable of beamed power allowing a number of directed energy (DE) possibilities including planetary defense, propulsion allowing relativistic probes and interstellar communications using existing technologies. Recent developments in photonics allow such a system whereas even a decade ago it would have been simply science fiction.
While designed primarily for DE planetary defense to heat the surface of potentially hazardous objects to the evaporation point to mitigate asteroid threats the system is inherently multi functional with a number of additional applications including relativistic beamed spacecraft propulsion and interstellar and even intergalactic scale communications (modulo time of flight of course).
The main objective of DE-STAR would be to use the focused directed energy to raise the surface spot temperature of an asteroid to >3000K, allowing direct evaporation of all known substances. The same system is also capable of propelling spacecraft to relativistic speeds to allow rapid interplanetary travel and relativistic interstellar probes. The baseline system for full planetary defense against any known threat is a DE-STAR 4 (10km sized array) system which allows for asteroid engagement starting beyond 1AU (mean Earth-Sun distance) with a spot of 30 m at 1 AU. This is an extremely conservative approach and a smaller DE-STAR 3 (1 km array) allows for reasonable planetary defense. The baseline system is also capable of propelling a 102, 103, 104 kg spacecraft to 1 AU in 3,10,30 days with speeds of about 0.4% the speed of light when used in a “photon rail gun mode”.
The same system can also be used for communications out to extremely large distance. For example all the known Kepler planets would see the DE-STAR beacon as the brightest star in the sky (assuming their sky is like ours). The system is also visible at intergalactic distances (Andromeda for example). This brings up the question of a visible/ IR SETI search that we will discuss and their implications. Smaller systems are also extremely useful and can be built now.While decidedly futuristic in its outlook many of the core technologies now exist and small systems can be built to test the basic concepts as the technology improves. In this talk we will review the potential for standoff protection, relativistic propulsion, long range interstellar communications and SETIsearches as well as the key technologies.
One of the greatest accomplishments in recent astrophysics is the
creation of a model for the complete inventory of the Universe. All
the observational data tells us with extremely high certainty that
ordinary matter (every particle ever detected by every person who ever
lived) makes up only one fifth of all the matter there is. The rest
goes by the popular name of dark matter. Because it is dark, dark
matter has been notoriously hard to detect; it doesn't emit or reflect
radiation such as light or heat, and it can have only the feeblest of
interactions with itself and ordinary matter. So how do we know it is
there? In this talk, I will discuss how astronomers observe the invisible
matter in one of the true gems on the sky: a giant cluster of galaxies also called the Bullet Cluster.
To understand how we control motion, we need to understand the physical
mechanism being moved. Emerging theories of vertebrate physiology are
overturning the traditional bone-centric model of the body in favor of a
"tensegrity" model, in which the primary load paths are in the continuous
tension network of the soft tissues. In this talk, I will discuss research
and development at NASA Ames into dynamic tensegrity robots and how these
"soft machines" may be controlled through biologically inspired methods.
Along the way, I will talk about how the unique properties of tensegrity
robots may enable new methods of planetary landing and exploration.
Exoplanets discovered to date show a wide range of orbital eccentricities; the angles between their spin equators and orbital planes are still quite unknown, but these "obliquities'' may range widely as well. Both eccentricity and obliquity can have profound effects on a planet's seasons, as well as on its cycle of night and day. Remarkable patterns of insolation occur on synchronously-rotating planets, and on those in other spin-orbit states, with implications for their climates, detectability, and habitability.
The International Space Station is a US taxpayers investment estimated at about $70 billion spent over 30 years (with an overall price tag of $100 billion by all member nations), thus it is natural to ask about the ISS’s Return on Investment to justify its continuous operation and existence its scientific payoff. While this is not a trivial financial question, a more appropriate measure for the ISS would be the Return on Innovation phrased from the perspective of: “What is the cost of NOT innovating and NOT exploring in microgravity?” This simply correlates with the otherwise-not-accessible-knowledge, the number of unique “lessons learned” and discoveries, especially those that enable humanity to pursue solutions for global critical problems and open up new avenues in areas at big impasse. To add to it, maybe space is the necessary step that humanity will have to undertake to progress, to change consciousness and awareness and to encourage creative cooperation coupled with a communitarian view of Earths future.
ISS is a top engineering achievement in space harboring a myriad of outstanding fundamental scientific investigations. There is a growing interest in highlighting the ISS achievements especially from the perspective of their impact on terrestrial technologies and by being the source of a cascade of accomplishments and developments ranging from the seed scientific discoveries to direct applications, many of them serendipitous in nature. The ultimate goal is to build upon these successes to increase the potential of commercialization and to create a stable, self-sustainable space based market. An overview of already identified microgravity benefits to material and life sciences will be given as well as examples highlighting the breadth of these scientific investigations and the aforementioned serendipitous effects. The value of a space-based novel initiatives will be explored with specific examples in the works.
The talk will also touch upon the need for a customized on-demand payload return from the ISS to augment the current payload downmass to Earth and increase the ISS commercialization potential. The existing transportation infrastructure is correlated with the current ISS utilization demands in terms of bulk downmass and schedule frequency and it is operated by the SpaceX Dragon Capsule and the Russian Soyuz with a combined frequency of about three to seven times per year. Based on previous experience with commercial partners it appears that a customized on-demand payload return system better meets the customers' needs and directly encourages potential emerging markets of ISS users. The talk will briefly step through the rationale behind defining a metric (requirements and design functions) that identifies/assigns quantifiable system level parameters to capture the various aspects of the need for a customized on-demand payload return from the ISS.
ISS is the first platform of its kind that enabled long term human presence in space, long term exploration of skills needed to survive the extreme environment, long terms exposure of basic scientific experiments to the microgravity environment. No matter what angle we look at it, the ISS is first and foremost a learning platform. As such its primary role is to help answer fundamental questions about living and working in space and help figure out the capabilities we need that we don’t have to ensure a future sustainable human exploration: one facet oriented towards the depths of space, the other towards Earth.