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Christopher Dreyer
Works at Colorado School of Mines
Attended Drexel University
Lives in Lakewood, Colorado
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Christopher Dreyer

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I've been listening to This Week in Science for years. It was one of the first podcasts l listened to. Back then it was taped at UC Davis and broadcast on UCD radio. I really need to support them financially and you should too. 
 
Good morning plussers!!!

To start off my Saturday, besides coffee, I want to spread the love I've been receiving in SPADES as of late.

So, I'd like to point you towards +This Week in Science (TWIS), who does a phenomenal job bringing science to the masses and has been doing so for YEARS through various means. You can watch +Kiki Sanford, +Blair Bazdarich and +justin jackson record their shows live on Google+ each week, PLUS download the produced podcast from iTunes!

I urge you to consider becoming a patron of TWIS because they're awesome people who create an awesome show and are extremely impassioned about delivering science news and commentary every week to a wide audience!

Oh and go circle their page, while you're at it. I linked it above. 

Have a great weekend!
https://www.patreon.com/thisweekinscience
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Christopher Dreyer

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Great post. And the lead author on the paper is from my university, +Colorado School of Mines.
 
Somewhere Across the Sea

When we look at the Moon, we see a surface pocked with craters, scattered between seas of basalt from ancient lava flows. Since the Moon is not geologically active, it’s easy to imagine that the formation of lunar seas was triggered by large impacts. That’s actually been the dominant theory for some time. Now new research indicates that for at least one of the great seas, Oceanus Procellarum, that isn’t the case.

The results have been recently published in Nature, and shows that the great sea seems to be the result of geological activity. The team looked at data from the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL), which is a pair of satellites that mapped the gravity of the Moon in great detail. When they analyzed the data, the team found rift zones bordering Oceanus Procellarum. These rift zones (seen on the right of the image below) are fairly straight with sharp angles, which is not the type of thing you see with impact zones.

We have observed rift zones on several planets, as well as on Saturn’s moon Enceladus, but finding them on the Moon is rather surprising. The Moon is not massive enough to drive plate tectonic activity on its own, and it isn’t driven by strong tidal effects like some moons of Jupiter and Saturn. So it isn’t clear how such rift zones could have formed on the lunar surface. One idea proposed by the authors is that the Moon’s crust is rather thin, and the under layers of that region were heated by radioactive decay. The Procellarum region is known to have higher concentrations of radioactive elements such as uranium and thorium, and this could have driven rift formation in the past.

Regardless of the cause, it seems clear that the Moon was not simply a Moon battered by ancient impacts. It also had a few geological tricks of its own, and the famous Man in the Moon feature of Oceanus Procellarum is the result of one of them.

Image: NASA/Colorado School of Mines/MIT/JPL/Goddard Space Flight Center

Paper: Andrews-Hanna, J. C. et al. Structure and evolution of the lunar Procellarum region as revealed by GRAIL gravity data. Nature 514, 68–71 (2014)
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Christopher Dreyer

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Additive manufacturing course offered at the +Colorado School of Mines in August. 
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Photo Shoot

Starting Monday, Prove Your World will begin a new video series on a range of topics, starting with gravity.

In the mean time, check out some publicity shots taken by +Kevin Schoonover!
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I'm at the 2014 NASA Robotic Mining Competition with a group I advise from the +Colorado School of Mines. Follow us on twitter @Blasterbotica.
 
We are hosting the 2014 NASA Robotics Mining Competition this week. Practices take place today and tomorrow with the official competition kicking off Wednesday. Guests may view the teams in action through Friday. Learn more http://bit.ly/1gZJtCk

Photo credit: NASA
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Christopher Dreyer

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Brian posts on the Drake equation. Are we alone? Are other intelligent life forms out there but we are all destined to never hear each other? Or is intelligent life common and nearby?
 
Forever Alone

It’s estimated that there are between 8 and 20 billion potentially habitable Earth-like worlds within our galaxy alone.  Those are just the ones that orbit Sun-like stars.  If you add in stars like red dwarfs, the number of potentially habitable planets rises to over 40 billion.  Of course that is just the ones within our galaxy.  There are about 100 billion galaxies within the observable universe.  That’s a lot of potential for other intelligent species, but so far none of them have made contact with us.  Just why is a bit of a mystery.

One solution is that no other intelligent species has contacted us because there are no other intelligent species besides ours.  It is possible that the appearance of intelligent life in the universe is so extraordinarily rare that we are the only such species in the entire universe.  It’s also possible that intelligent life is rather common, and there is some other reason that motivates them to avoid us.  Either way, it would be helpful if we had an idea of just how likely or rare intelligent life actually is.  One way to estimate this is through an equation known as the Drake equation.

The Drake equation was originally proposed at the first SETI conference by Frank Drake in 1961 as a way to stimulate discussion.  Drake did not intend it as a prediction of the correct value, but more as a “what if” to consider.  The equation itself is basically a product of the rate at which stars form in our galaxy, how many stars have planets, how many planets they typically have, what fraction are habitable, what fraction of habitable planets form life, how many form intelligent life, then civilizations, and how long those civilizations last.

When Drake first proposed the equation, most of the values in the equation were largely unknown.  We now have data on several of them.   We know that about 7 new stars form in our galaxy each year, virtually all main sequence stars are likely to have planets, and they likely have more than 1 planet.  There are about 60 billion Sun-like stars in our galaxy, and it’s estimated that about 15% – 30% of those stars have planets in their habitable zone.  From that we get a value of 8 to 20 billion potentially habitable Earth-like planets.

The rest of the Drake equation remains pretty speculative.  If we suppose there are 10 billion potential Earths, how many of them actually have life?  We only have one example of life arising on a planet, and drawing conclusions from a sample size of 1 is iffy at best.  But if we assume Earth is fairly typical, then perhaps 10% of these worlds could have possessed life for at least a billion years.  That would mean there is life on about 100 million planets.

Of these, what fraction will give rise to an intelligent species?  Intelligent life arose on Earth, so it’s possible that most planets with life will give rise to intelligence.  Or it could be that intelligence is just a fluke.  Again, we only have one example.  This is perhaps the most speculative aspect of the Drake equation.  Estimates range from nearly 100% to almost none.  Of those with intelligent life, how many can communicate across the stars?  Again, it’s anybody’s guess.  So there could be as many as 100 million civilizations, or as few as 1.

The last part of the equation is about how robust civilizations are.  When they arise do they last for a million years, or do they collapse within centuries?  Our own civilization is relatively young.  We’ve only had the potential to communicate across stellar distances for a few decades.  How much longer will our civilization last?  That’s a good question.

Carl Sagan saw the lack of communication with other intelligent species as a cautionary tale.  If upwards of 100 million planets have life, and the rise of intelligent life is common, then the reason we haven’t heard from our alien neighbors could be because civilizations are fragile.  Perhaps just as they develop the tools to reach the stars they also develop the tools of their annihilation.  Perhaps we should view the silent stars not as a mystery, but as a warning.

For now it is still largely speculation.  Planets are common, and potentially habitable planets seem to be common, but we just don’t have any hard evidence for more than that.

One thing, however is certain.  Either we are alone in the universe, or we are not.  Either case is deeply profound.

Image: NASA/JPL–Caltech/R Hurt (SSC–Caltech)
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Christopher Dreyer

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That's her LEM landing code threatening to fall over on her. 
This is a great photo I just ran across on the internets. It said it was “Margaret Hamilton, Apollo program”, but it did…
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A group from Hawaii will be hosting an exhibition of space mining robots in a few weeks. They plan for this to become an international competition of university student designed and built robotic space miners. They have a RocketHub campaign where you can donate to help make it happen. It's what I plan to do.
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The ISEE-3 spacecraft is being revived by a group of private of space entrepreneurs. Here is the trajectory.
 
I created an animation of the original ISEE-3 trajectory from back in 1978-1985.  ISEE-3 was originally launched to an Earth-Sun L1 orbit in 1978. The escape trajectory, Lunar swingbys and all the fun cis-lunar stuff was done by Bob Farquhar, David Dunham, Craig Roberts and others working at GSFC back in the early 1980s. Really excellent work.  It's fun to see how it left, and then compare that to how it's coming back.  Note that it leaves to the top, which is the direction of the Earth's velocity around the sun.  This will be important later, because the spacecraft subsequently drifted gradually in front of the Earth in heliocentric space and eventually went 360 degrees and caught up the the Earth from the other direction (which we'll see in the final animation).

 I'll put together another animation later showing the comet flybys that occurred after this, and then the 1987-2014 trajectory and post those.
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The Space Shuttle Atlantis display at +Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is excellent. I visited it yesterday. Here are a few pictures.
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There is a group raising funds via kickstarter to revive a 1970s era spacecraft. It will make a close flyby of earth soon. If they can raise the funds they can send commands to the spacecraft to put it into a new orbit. Lots more to read about if you follow the link.
 
A crowdfunding effort to rescue a 1970s NASA spacecraft as it zooms past the Earth. This is cool. http://buff.ly/Qf9JSr
The countdown is on to rebuild communications with a spacecraft before it drifts past this summer. The craft has functional instruments, but NASA has no budget to reactivate the program. It's up to private donors and dedicated volunteers to recapture the abandoned spacecraft.
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One of the fall outs of the Russian annexation of Crimea will be suspension of cooperation in space projects. NASA will stop working with Russia on everything be the space station. All access to the ISS is via Russian spacecraft. It is time for the US to fully fund the commercial crew program.
 
NASA Suspends Ties With Russia’s Space Agency, Except For ISS

NASA is suspending all contact with the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, citing Russia’s ongoing violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, officials said Wednesday. However, work related to the safe and continued operation of the International Space Station are exempt from the suspension.

In response to media reports, NASA released this statement Wednesday evening via their social media accounts:

"Given Russia’s ongoing violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, NASA is suspending the majority of its ongoing engagements with the Russian Federation. NASA and Roscosmos will, however, continue to work together to maintain safe and continuous operation of the International Space Station. NASA is laser focused on a plan to return human spaceflight launches to American soil, and end our reliance on Russia to get into space. This has been a top priority of the Obama Administration’s for the past five years, and had our plan been fully funded, we would have returned American human spaceflight launches – and the jobs they support – back to the United States next year. With the reduced level of funding approved by Congress, we’re now looking at launching from U.S. soil in 2017. The choice here is between fully funding the plan to bring space launches back to America or continuing to send millions of dollars to the Russians. It’s that simple. The Obama Administration chooses to invest in America – and we are hopeful that Congress will do the same."

Read more here: http://www.penny4nasa.org/2014/04/02/nasa-suspends-ties-with-russias-space-agency-except-for-iss/

Tell Congress that you support fully funding the Commercial Crew Program and that you want to end NASA’s dependence on expensive Soyuz trips: http://www.penny4nasa.org/take-action/

#Penny4NASA #NASABudget #NASA #ISS #Space #Science #Russia #Ukraine
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Introduction
Engineer interested in space exploration, science, energy production, lasers, physics, science fiction and other cool stuff.
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  • Colorado School of Mines
    Assistant Research Professor, present
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Lakewood, Colorado
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Cherry Hill, New Jersey - Boulder, Colorado - Philadelphia, PA - Cleveland, Ohio - Tabernacle, NJ
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It is amazing what they can do with sushi : )
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This is a great little museum. The subject is interesting to just about anyone. The cost is low and well worth the expense.
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