Friday, April 5, 2019

Zero-G Blood And The Many Horrors Of Space Surgery

In Expanse Season 3 Episode 11 "Fallen World", a medic described the risks of injury in microgravity. He said, "there is nothing you can do for the wounded in zero G except ease their pain. Without gravity, wounds can't drain. Blood pools and clots, tissue swells, any internal bleeding in a death sentence." I wondered if there were medical studies that supported this theory. Here's what I found.

Source: Vice

no astronaut has ever had a major injury or needed surgery in space. If humans ever again venture past low Earth orbit and outward toward, say, Mars, someone is going to get hurt


In space, blood can splatter even more than it usually does on Earth, unconstrained by gravity. Or it can pool into a kind of dome around a wound or incision, making it hard to see the actual trauma. (Fun fact: If you are bleeding more than 100 milliliters per minute, you are probably doomed.)

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Favorite Movies and TV Series About Space

Below is a list of space themed movies and TV series that I recommend and challenge everyone to watch as many as possible.  Some are excellent and others are terrible, but all are recommended for various reasons.  These documentaries have tremendous educational value, much of this science fiction is based upon a combination of settled science, theoretical concepts, speculation and scientifically impossible events.  As I watch these, over and again, I will share notes with careful warnings about spoiler alerts that should be reviewed after your first viewing.

The next few decades will be paramount in the history of human space travel. Be entertained while educating and preparing yourself mentally for the complex scientific and ethical challenges we will experience in our lifetime.

Movies About Space Exploration:

The Right Stuff (1983) Prime Video - This is the story of the space program from the tie when Chuck Yaeger broke to sound barrier through Project Mercury.

Project Gemini: Bridge to the Moon - Documentary about Gemini.

In the Shadow of the Moon (2007) - This is a Documentary about the Apollo astronauts who landed on the moon.

Apollo 12 (1996) - Documentary about Apollo 12 with interviews of all three crewmembers and top officials.

Apollo 13 - The story of Apollo 13 from the perspective of the astronauts and Mission Control.

Apollo 13 (1994) - Documentary about Apollo 13

13 Factors that Saved Apollo 13 - This is an amazing documentary of the disastrous Apollo 13 mission.

Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo - Great

The Farthest: Voyager in Space - This 2017 documentary tells the 40 year history of the Voyager 1 and 2 probes from design and launch in 1977 to their exploration of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, until they left our solar system and are now in interstellar space. It won Best Feature Documentary at Ireland's 2018 IFTA Film and Drama Awards.

Kingdom of Saturn: Cassini's Epic Quest Prime Video - Documentary about the Cassini spacecraft.

The Martian - An astronaut fights to survive after he is stranded on Mars.

Gravity (2013) Prime Video - A routine spacewalk becomes disastrous when satellites collide and cause a cascade of collisions in low earth orbit.  Debris destroys the shuttle and space stations and astronauts struggle to survive.

Space cowboys (2000) Prime Video - Forty years after their original space mission was scrapped, a retired Air Force "space cowboy" leads a group of former astronauts on a dangerous mission.

2001: A Space Odyssey Prime Video - Director Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece about a space voyage to Jupiter with a misbehaving computer control system.  NOTE: Do some reading about a "Von Neumann Probe" as that's what I think the monoliths are.

2010: The Year We Make Contact Prime Video - An American astronaut is sent on a joint U.S.-Soviet space mission to Jupiter to find out what happened to the missing crew of the original Jupiter mission.

Galaxy Quest Prime Video - The alumni cast of a cult space TV show have to play their roles as the real thing when an alien race needs their help.

Moon (2009) Prime Video - Sam Bell is alone on the Moon, nearing the end of his 3-year-long contract with Lunar Industries, mining Earth's primary source of energy on the dark side of the moon.

Solaris (1972) (Russian with English Subtitles) Prime Video - Ground control has been receiving mysterious transmissions from the three remaining residents of the Solaris space station. A cosmonaut and psychologist are dispatched to investigate.

Solaris (2002) Prime Video - A psychologist investigates mysterious happenings aboard a space station in this remake of the Russian sci-fi classic.

Europa Report - An international crew goes on a privately funded mission to search for life in the sea under the ice on Jupiter's moon Europa.

2013 Origin Unknown (2018) Prime Video - After a deadly crash a mission commander assists an artificial intelligence system to uncover mysterious object under the surface of mars.

The Last Days on Mars - Astronauts discover fossilized evidence of life on Mars.

Love (2011) NetflixPrime Video - An astronaut spends years alone on the space station wondering what happened after loosing radio contact with Earth.

Marooned (1970) - Three astronauts are unable to reenter Earth's atmosphere.

Stranded - The crew of a lunar space station battles a shape-shifting alien life form.

Forbidden Planet (1956) Prime Video - A dutiful robot named Robby speaks 188 languages. An underground lair provides astonishing evidence of a populace a million years more advanced than Earthlings.

Lost in Space (1998) - See also the TV Series in the list below.  The Robinson family After crash-landing on an alien planet, the Robinson family fight against all odds to survive and escape, but they're surrounded by hidden dangers.go to space and struggle to survive as they find a way home.

Serenity - First watch the Firefly TV series listed below and then see Joss Whedon's movie.

Gattaca - A young man who is born naturally aspires to be an astronaut in a world where one must be genetically engineered to qualify for the space program and many other aspects of society.

Wing Commander - Two young space fighter pilots must warn Earth about an attack from an evil empire.

Starship Troopers - Warriors travel to the home world of giant bugs that spit fire, eat brains and attacked Earth.

Alien Arrival - An escaped prisoner crash-landed on a moon where she struggles to survive.

The Beyond (2018) Prime Video - Astronauts are augmented with robotics and sent through a wormhole.

The Titan - Much of the Earth is uninhabitable due to overpopulation, climate change and nuclear fallout. Scientists perform genetic engineering experiments on volunteers from the military in an attempt to evolve the human race for life on Titan.

The Cloverfield Paradox - A multinational crew test a particle accelerator with hopes of solving an energy crisis but the experiment goes terribly wrong.

Exploding Sun - An experimental space shuttle is hit by a solar flare during its maiden voyage and hurtles toward the sun.

Infini - An elite search and rescue team investigate a biological outbreak on an off-world mining-facility.

Cargo Space is Cold (2012) Prime Video - (Deutsch with English Subtitles)

Orbiter 9 (Spanish with English subtitles) - A young girl spent all her life in a space pod after her birth and is traveling from Earth to a distant planet.

Battle for Terra - This is an animation about the peaceful aliens on a planet that face destruction by the surviving humans who want to settle there.

Dark Space - Six young friends go on a leisure spacecraft and try to survive after crash-landing on an alien planet.

The Search For Life: The Drake Equation - This is a good documentary about the Frank Drake's equation and how is is used in our search for life on other worlds.

Lifepod (1993) - This is a futuristic retelling of Hitchcock's classic thriller in which nine passengers escape a luxury space liner that is destroyed.

Solis (2018) - An asteroid mining engineer wakes up in an escape pod that is hurtling toward the Sun.

Incoming - Not very good? I didn't finish it.

Predator and Alien movies - See IMDB for recommended viewing chronological order. Viewing in order of release date jumps around in time and seems very disjointed.

Alien: Covenant (2017) IMDB, Prime Video -

Movies About Topics That Might Be Of Interest If You Like Space Exploration:
This is intended as a section for movies that get an honorable mention from me because they seem related to space but there are very few or no scenes about space.

Starman (1984) - Prime Video Jeff Bridges stars as an alien from a distant planet who accepts the invitation found on the gold record installed on the Voyager 2 space probe and visits Earth.

TV Series About Space Exploration:

Space Race - This BBC documentary miniseries covers the space race from the end of World War II until the Moon Landing.  I strongly suggest this series for exposure to some of the lessor known and more uncomfortable parts of history such as Wernher von Braun's complicity in war crimes.

MARS (2016) - National Geographic channel created this amazing mix of documentary and sci-fi about the first to explore, colonize and mine Mars.

Disasters in Space Prime Video - Documentary about how NASA dealt with many disasters

BattleStar Galactica: The Mini-Series (2003) - This is a reboot of the original series from the 70s.

Battlestar Galactica (2004) - Watch the Mini-Series First, then this series and finally Caprica.

Caprica (2011) - This is a prequel to the Battlestar Galactica reboot series.

Star Trek: Enterprise - This series is a prequel to the original Star Trek series and movies from the 1960s.  The Enterprise pre-dates the United Federation of Planets

Star Trek: Discovery - This series comes chronologically after Enterprise and before the original series.

Star Trek: The Original Series - 

Star Trek: The Next Generation

The 100 - Post-apocalyptic life on space stations and return to Earth

Lost in Space (2018)  See also the 1998 movie in the list above.  Human survival on Earth is at risk and the Robinson family are among the few who pass tests and are selected to make a new life for themselves in a better world.

Extant (2014) Astronaut Molly Woods (Halle Berry) tries to reconnect with her husband, John (Goran Visnjic), and son Ethan (Pierce Gagnon) , after returning home to earth after a 13-month solo mission in outer space. The series integrates memories from missions throughout her career and shared experiences with other astronauts and scientists. Astronaut Harmon Kryger (Brad Beyer), doctor Sam Barton (Camryn Manheim) 

Ascension - This series follows a secret century-long mission that launches in 1963 to colonize a new world.

Farscape - An astronaut accidentally passes through a wormhole and spends the series with alien fugitives on a sentient spaceship.

Firefly - This cult series follows the eclectic crew of a small ship called the Serenity.

Babylon 5 - A giant spaceship serves as a sort of UN in space where ambassadors from many alien races meet and work out their differences.

The New Frontier - Each episode covers a Space Exploration topic.

Dark Matter - The crew of a ship awakens with no memories, suspect each other and have to slowly get to now each other and build trust.  They learn about evil corporations that rule the galaxy as they visit many space stations and worlds.

Terra Nova - Refugees from Earth land and settle on a mysterious planet.

Outcasts - Refugees from a nuclear devastated Earth settle on a planet

Earth 2 - Explorers establish an outpost on a planet where they face hostile natives.

TV Series About Topics That Might Be Of Interest If You Like Space Exploration:

Ancient Aliens - This series discusses theories about why some believe that aliens may have visited Earth in the ancient past.  Ancient alien theories could solve many mysteries on Earth. You'll learn about the similarities in design features that have been discovered at the ruins of the Vijayanagara Empire in India, the Mayan cities in Latin America and the Pyramids in Egypt.  You'll also hear theories about some of the design features that cannot be reproduced with modern technology.

The 4400 - People disappear across multiple decades and are all returned at once.  Everybody thinks it was aliens.  Interesting topics include genetic engineering, special powers, time and/or space travel.

Continuum - A detective from the future travels to present day Vancouver in search of terrorists from the future. Interesting topics include time travel.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

You Bunch Of Idiots, Bill Requiring Encryption Backdoors Will Damage Australia's IT Industry.

Many in the Australian IT industry have signed an open letter to the Australian Labor Party condemning their recent passage of a bill that requires encryption backdoors.


Words cannot describe how angry we feel after your gutless and spineless decision to blindly support the Government's so-called "Assistance and Access Bill" (#aabill). ...

You let us down. You let the entire industry down.

You have shown us what you really are - a bunch of spineless weasels.

Every tech expert agrees that the so-called "Assistance and Access Bill" will do significant damage to Australia's IT industry.

It weakens security for everyone. We do not want to deliberately build backdoors or make our products insecure. This means everyone else's data will be vulnerable. ...

You have made it harder for international companies to hire Australian talent, or have offices in Australia filled with Australian talent. Companies such as Amazon, Apple, Atlassian, Microsoft, Slack, Zendesk and others now have to view their Australian staff and teams as "potentially compromised"This is because law enforcement can force a person to build a backdoor and they cannot tell their bosses. They might sack them and leave Australia because of the law you just passed.

You have also just made it almost impossible to export Australian tech services because no-one wants a potentially vulnerable system that might contain a backdoor. Who in their right mind will buy a product like that? ...

We are against the bill because it is a destructive and shortsighted law. In addition, most of (if not all) the services that law enforcement want to target with this law are based outside of Australia. This law is effectively useless in forcing them to build backdoors or break encryption. ...

Saturday, December 8, 2018

We Urgently Need a Legal Framework for Space Colonisation

Season 2 of National Geographic Channel's MARS TV series prominently features space colonization governance challenges and how those might complicate the exploration and exploitation of other worlds.

So, this article by Marko Kovic comes at a convenient time for those of us who are watching MARS. Kovic discusses four significant challenges that humankind will face in various stages of our settlement and occupation beyond low Earth orbit. Below are a few excerpts. 

Source: Aeon

There is no meaningful space-colonisation governance framework to speak of. As of now, in 2018, space colonisation is a veritable free-for-all.

From a conceptual, birds-eye view, however, possible space-colonisation governance problems fall into one of four general categories.

First, we need to answer a deceptively simple question: who is allowed to engage in colonisation activities? 

when one or several colonies become truly sustainable, a third question emerges: what do we do with colonies that want to secede and become independent? 

Finally, we will need an answer to the fourth question: how exactly should different independent human habitats such as Earth, Mars, Venus or others interact with one another?

In theory, the first question, regarding who is allowed to engage in space colonisation, is addressed in the Outer Space Treaty from 1967

it is more of a symbolic agreement than a detailed governance structure. It does not really solve the problem of who is allowed to engage in space colonisation.

The second challenge, the problem of governance within early colonies, is also touched upon by the Outer Space Treaty. The jurisdiction of any spacecraft and any personnel on that spacecraft, the treaty stipulates, is the jurisdiction of the spacecraft’s and/or the personnel’s country of origin.

Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, has proposed direct democracy as the governance system for a future Mars colony in which all colonists directly exert law-making power instead of appointing representatives in legislative bodies.

should early colonies move in the other direction by adopting some kind of authoritarian framework in order to simply get things done? 

Governance within early colonies should, ideally, find a middle ground between sound democratic decision making and technocratic expertise and analysis

The third challenge of colonisation governance, the problem of secession and independence, could prove to be a crucial juncture in the future of humankind. 

The fourth and quite possibly biggest governance challenge of space colonisation arises: the problem of pan- human governance. 

A good approach might be to continue using the system that we currently have, and try to expand it in order to incorporate the new layer of extraterrestrial expansion. 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Organics on Ceres may be more abundant than originally thought

A new study concluded that organic material on Ceres could be greater in concentration than previously thought. This is important information for scientists to consider as they evaluate data from two sample return missions over the next few years.

The Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 is scheduled for orbital insertion around asteroid Ryugu in July, survey for a year and a half, land at least once, and return to Earth in December 2020.

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is scheduled for orbital insertion around the asteroid Bennu in August with two years of planned survey, landing at least once and returning to Earth in September 2023.

Source: Brown University

“What this paper shows is that you can get really different results depending upon the type of organic material you use to compare with and interpret the Ceres data,” said Hannah Kaplan, a postdoctoral researcher at the Southwest Research Institute who led the research while completing her Ph.D. at Brown. “That’s important not only for Ceres, but also for missions that will soon explore asteroids that may also contain organic material.”

"Organic molecules are the chemical building blocks for life. Their detection on Ceres doesn’t mean life exists there or ever existed there; non-biological processes can give rise to organic molecules as well. But because life as we know it can’t exist without organic material, scientists are interested in how it’s distributed through the solar system."

“What we find is that if we model the Ceres data using extraterrestrial organics, which may be a more appropriate analog than those found on Earth, then we need a lot more organic matter on Ceres to explain the strength of the spectral absorption that we see there,” Kaplan said. “We estimate that as much as 40 to 50 percent of the spectral signal we see on Ceres is explained by organics. That’s a huge difference compared to the six to 10 percent previously reported based on terrestrial organic compounds.”

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Evacuated Airship for Mars Missions

Source: NASA

"We propose ... a vacuum airship. This concept is similar to a standard balloon, whereas a balloon uses helium or hydrogen to displace air and provide lift, a vacuum airship uses a rigid structure to maintain a vacuum to displace air and provide lift. ...
... Mars appears to have an atmosphere in which the operation of a vacuum airship would not only be possible, but beneficial over a conventional balloon or dirigible.
... The Martian atmosphere has a pressure to density ratio that is very beneficial to the operation of a vacuum airship ... need not worry about the vacuum airship getting stuck in a trench or being unable to traverse terrain. The vacuum airship could be used as a communication relay for other vehicular probes ...
...Since the vacuum airship does not use a lifting gas, it can perform a near infinite number of compensation maneuvers to adjust or stabilize its altitude in a temperature variant environment. ...
...Even though the vacuum airship would be aerially base, the vehicle would still be able to touch down and perform tasks on the ground ...
...the large surface area of the vacuum airship would provide plenty of area for solar cells which would allow the vehicle to gather a large amount of solar energy ..."

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Computers, Phones and IoT Devices Have the BlueBorne Vulnerability

Source: Wired

"Once an attacker identifies vulnerable targets, the hack is quick (it can happen in about 10 seconds) and flexible. The impacted devices don't need to connect to anything, and the attack can even work when the Bluetooth on the victim device is already paired to something else."
"As with virtually all Bluetooth remote exploits, attackers would still need to be in range of the device (roughly 33 feet) to pull off a BlueBorne attack. But even with the extensive and productive BlueBorne patching that has already happened, there are still likely plenty of vulnerable devices in any populated area or building."

Source: Armis

"hackers can leverage Bluetooth connections to penetrate and take complete control over targeted devices. BlueBorne affects ordinary computers, mobile phones, and the expanding realm of IoT devices. The attack does not require the targeted device to be paired to the attacker’s device, or even to be set on discoverable mode."

Recommended actions:
1) Install Blueborne Detector on your Android devices.
2) Click "Tap to Check" and heed the warning if your Android device is vulnerable.
3) Set each of your Bluetooth devices to discoverable
4) Click "Check Devices Around Me"

Repeat steps 3 and 4 for every Bluetooth capable device.