Posts Tagged ‘Spirit’

7 March

Online Sun Is The Future Stores Are Officially Opened!

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Dear Friends, Viewers/Visitors/Readers,

(Please click on red links below)

It’s official !  We now have two stores that will help to create and maintain projects for  www.sunisthefuture.net , www.youtube.com/user/sunisthefuture , and help entrepreneurs in USA and various corners of our planet earth to establish and maintain businesses and projects in solar energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and recycling via microfinance through www.kiva.org/team/sunisthefuture .  So, if you are a solar enthusiast, looking for a gift for yourself or for some one special, wanting to take part in helping to move our world toward the solar/renewable energy age, or simply because you like one of the designs below and would like to have the design on t-shirt, sweatshirt, pants, IPad case, bag, wall decore,  pet tag, keychains, etc.,then click for our Online Sun Is The Future stores at: http://www.cafepress.com/sunisthefuture or  http://sunisthefuture.logosportswear.com . Let’s spread more sunshine across our planet earth ! (These two stores will also be listed in the right hand margin of the Homepage in the future under Information.)

~have a bright and sunny day~

Writtten, designed, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

Any of your comments and suggestions will be welcomed at sunisthefuture@gmail.com

Homepage: http://www.sunisthefuture.net

Sunisthefuture design E (Such Splendor of Life)

Sunisthefuture design I (Mars Rover Solar Spirit)

Sunisthefuture design M (Solar Cell Efficiencies)

Sunisthefuture design L (PV Solar Resource Map Comparing USA-Spain-Germany)

Sunisthefuture design G (Sun Is The Future in Rosewood)

Sunisthefuture design NNN (of Gemasolar Solar Plant of Spain)

Homepage:  http://www.sunisthefuture.net


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18 August

Mars Rover-Plutonium/Sun-and You (II)

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Dear Friends & Visitors/Readers/Viewers,

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As you’ve seen what I’ve posted on Aug. 16 & 17, 2012, regarding the Mars Rovers (Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity) for both sides of the arguments: using nuclear energy (plutonium) or solar energy (Sun) to power Mars Rovers.  The main reason why nuclear (plutonium 238) energy source was selected over the solar energy source for the latest MSL Mission for Curiosity Rover lies in the fact that there are more power intensive experiments (<–click  on link), video clip below, conducted on Curiosity than Spirit or Opportunity.  But in light of the progress made this past decade in solar energy and the potential risk involved in using nuclear/plutonium source, it seems to me that perhaps we should consider several other alternatives:

  • 1. Dramatically increase our funding for R & D for solar energy and battery technology
  • 2. Using a hybrid system combining nuclear and solar energy so to minimize the amount of plutonium carried on board of any MSL Mission and to minimize the chance of wasting tax payers’ dollars when we’re running out of plutonium
  • 3. Delaying the more power intensive experiments until solar energy or any other less dangerous alternative energy will become available and sufficient/proficient in completing the project

Since I don’t have access to all information involved in determining how urgent these power intensive experiments need to be completed, I wouldn’t know how feasible it would be to delay this mission.  In that case, perhaps one should only request that all scientists and engineers involved in the project to be present during the launch of  the mission from Cape Canaveral  (Orlando, FL) (or wherever the launch site may be) rather than from JPL (Pasadena, CA).


Good news is that U.S. has stopped producing plutonium -238 in 1988; and since 1993, all of the plutonium-238 used in American spacecraft has been purchased from Russia. Please refer to discussion on plutonium-238 in wikipedia –> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plutonium-238.
~have a bright and sunny day~

written & posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker, sunisthefuture@gmail.com
Homepage: http://www.sunisthefuture.net


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17 August

Mars Rover-Plutonium/Sun-and You (I)

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Dear Friends & Visitors/Readers/Viewers,

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As I’ve mentioned in our last post (Aug. 16, 2012), previous Mars missions (Spirit & Opportunity) have relied on solar panels to power the rovers, but exploration was slowed down by dust on the solar panels or little available sunlight during short winter days.  Curiosity Rover is significantly larger and about ten times heavier than previous Martian rovers;

Mars Science Laboratory mockup comparison Curiosity (R)vs. Spirit & Opportunity (L)

it is essentially a robotic science lab, equipped with sophisticated instruments to take ground samples to analyze their chemical make-up in search for signs of life.  A lot of power is needed to operate the testing and communications equipment and to maintain a certain temperature to effectively operate on Mars (where temperature often go far below freezing).  These are the reasons that NASA chose an energy source that relies on the heat generated by decaying plutonium dioxide (fueled with 10.6 pounds of plutonium), the Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) by Hamilton Sundstrand Rocketdyne engineers in Canoga Park and the DOE, to run Curiosity.

As the mainstream media applauded the success of Curiosity Rover’s Mars Landing, there was no mention or discussion about the potential serious danger Curiosity has posed for people/life on earth  prior to arriving on Mars.  If you’d refer to our previous post/video (Aug. 16, 2012 of http://sunisthefuture.net), there are definite risks involved during the launch and 7 minutes of terror.

Even in NASA’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Mars Science Laboratory Mission, it is indicated that there is about 1-in-220 chances ( http://science.nasa.gov/media/medialibrary/2010/11/05/MSL-FEIS_Vol1.pdf )of deadly plutonium being released “overall” on the mission.  This level of risk seems too high for my comfort level.

The question also involves when and how ( if any mishaps involving this plutonium powered space vehicle should occur) the incident should/would occur.   The 1-in-220 chance/likelihood of plutonium being released could impact a good portion of Earth.  In NASA’s Final EIS for the Mars Science Laboratory Mission, it is indicated that: a launch

Atlas V carrying NASA's MSL launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

accident discharging plutonium has a 1-in-420 chance of happening and could “release material into the regional area defined to be within 62 miles of the launch pad,”…an area including well populated Orlando; an accident releasing plutonium in the troposphere, the atmosphere five to nine miles high, is “assumed to potentially affect persons living within a latitude band from approximately 23-degrees north to 30-degrees north.” That would include the Caribbean, across North Africa and the Middle East, parts of India and China, Hawaii, and other Pacific Islands, Mexico, and south Texas;an accident from plutonium fallout occurring above that and before the rocket breaks through Earth’s gravitational field, affected area could cover “anywhere between 28-degrees north and 28-degrees south latitude.”  That involves a band around the mid-section of the Earth including South America, Africa,and Australia.  According to EIS, the cost of decontamination of areas affected by the plutonium would be $267 million for each square mile of farmland, $478 million for each square mile of forests and $1.5 billion for each square mile of “mixed-use urban areas.”  This is in addition to the cost of mission itself of $2.5 billion.

“NASA is planning a mission that could endanger not only its future but the state of Florida and beyond,” declares John Stewart of Pax Christi Tampa Bay, a leader in Florida in challenging the launch. “The absurd—and maddening—aspect of this risk is that it is unnecessary,” says Stewart, “The locomotion for NASA’s Sojourner Mars rover, launched in 1996, and the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers, both launched in 2003, were solar powered, with the latter two rovers performing well beyond what their engineers expected. Curiosity’s locomotion could also be solar-powered. NASA admits this in its EIS, but decided to put us all at risk because plutonium-powered batteries last longer and they want to have the ‘flexibility to select the most scientifically interesting location on the surface’ of Mars.” So, I did my home work and found that the solar powered Spirit rover

Spirit Rover on Mars (artist concept:wikimedia)

was active from 2004-2010 when the mission was only for 90-sol (term sol is used by planetary astronomers to refer to the duration of a solar day on Mars).   Definitely, solar powered Mars rover did last a lot longer than it was designed/intended. Let’s take a look at the footage of Spirit & Curiosity, the two rovers powered by solar energy with far more spirit and curiosity than what NASA engineers expected, below:

Of the 26 U.S. space missions listed in EIS that were powered by plutonium since the 1950s, three had accidents. The worst of these three accidents (occurred in 1964) involved the SNAP-9A plutonium system aboard a satellite that failed to achieve orbit and dropped to earth, dispersed 2.1 pounds of plutonium fuel widely over the Earth.  The late medical physics professor Dr. John Gofman of University of CA at Berkeley linked this accident to an increase in global lung cancer.  After the SNAP-9A accident, NASA switched to solar energy on satellites.  Now all satellites and the International Space Station are powered by solar energy.

NASA apparently insisted on using plutonium as the power source on space probes, claiming that solar energy cannot be utilized beyond the orbit of Mars.  But in Aug., 2011, NASA reversed itself with the launch of the solar powered Juno space probe to Jupiter, stating that when the probe gets to Jupiter, “nearly 500 million miles from the Sun,” its panels will be providing electricity.   Upon further investigation, one finds that Scott Bolton, the principal investigator for the Juno mission for the Southwest Research Institute (a NASA contractor) indicated that “the choice of solar was a practical one…No plutonium-powered generators were available to him and his San Antonio-based team nearly a decade ago so they opted for solar panels rather than develop a new nuclear source.”  It makes perfect sense!  If I were designing/working on project that may use either plutonium or solar energy, my natural inclination for self preservation and preservation of human race would be to maximize the chance of solar energy being used in the project, especially if the cost of solar energy continues to drop and efficiency level continues to increase so dramatically.    More discussion will continue in the next post.  Until then….

~have a bright and sunny day~

gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker, sunisthefuture@gmail.com
Homepage: http://www.sunisthefuture.net


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16 August

Curiosity Rover’s Mars Landing, With 7 Minutes of Terror

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Dear Friends & Visitors/Readers/Viewers,

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You should have heard the raucous and standing ovation last Sunday night (Aug. 5, 2012) at the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL)!

NASA engineers & scientists of Mars Science Lab (MSL) team at Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) celebrating Curiosity Rover's successful landing

During a post-landing press conference for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Team of engineers and scientists, celebrating  the daring and nerve-wrecking touchdown of Curiosity Rover on the Red Planet, the cheers and applause for this $2.5 billion Mars mission were well deserved. According to Wikipedia, the Curiosity Rover

Mars Science Laboratory Drawing

Curiosity Rover

is a robotic, car-sized rover exploring Gale Crater on Mars. The Curiosity Mars Rover carries a radioisotope-powered mobile scientific laboratory and is part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission with four main scientific goals: investigation of the Martian climate, geology, and whether Mars could have ever supported life, including investigation of the role of water and its planetary habitability. Curiosity carries the most advanced payload of scientific equipment ever used on the surface of Mars. It is the fourth NASA unmanned surface rover sent to Mars since 1996. Previous successful Mars rovers include the SpiritOpportunity, and the Sojourner rover from the Mars Pathfinder mission.  Curiosity was launched from Cape Canaveral on November 26, 2011 at 10:02 EST aboard the MSL spacecraft and successfully landed on Aeolis Palus in Gale Crater on Mars on August 6, 2012, 05:17:57.3 UTC. The final landing place for the rover was less than 2.4 km (1.5 mi) from its target after a 563,000,000 km (350,000,000 mi) journey.

You’ve got to see the footage of the 1-ton Curiosity Rover‘s spacecraft barreling into the Red Planet’s atmosphere at 13,000 mph, followed by a huge supersonic parachute deploying about 7 miles (11 kilometers) above the ground to slow down the vehicle to about 200 mph.  Then, the rocket engines will fire, reducing the spacecraft’s descent speed to less than 2 mph. But the coolest and most unprecedented part occurs after the $2.5 billion rover is lowered to the surface on cables, as Curiosity‘s six wheels hit the red dirt inside Mars’ huge Gale Crater, its sky crane descent stage flies off and crash land intentionally at a safe distance away.  This very maneuver is dubbed “7 minutes of terror” by NASA.  You will observe this unprecedented maneuver in the video clip below:

“It looks a little bit crazy.  I promise you, it is the least crazy of the methods you could use to land a rover the size of Curiosity on Mars,”  said Adam Steltzner (entry, descent, and landing-EDL phase lead for Curiosity’s mission, otherwise known as the Mars Science Laboratory or MSL), of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, told reporters.

Curiosity Rover is significantly larger and about ten times heavier than previous Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity;this is partly why Curiosity is the first Mars rover fueled with/by plutonium rather than solar panels of Spirit and Opportunity.  More discussion regarding its energy/power source will follow in our next post.

~have a bright and sunny day~

gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker, sunisthefuture@gmail.com

Homepage: http://www.sunisthefuture.net


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