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Aren't we clever?

Scientific discovery and discussion
kiloran
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Aren't we clever?

#167946

Postby kiloran » September 21st, 2018, 3:11 pm

'We', meaning mankind.

There's a wee asteroid just 1km across, hurtling through space at a zillion miles an hour, about 180 million miles from earth, and the japanese sent a spacecraft to meet up with it, put it into orbit around the asteroid, then reduced the orbit to a height of around 60m, and then dropped a couple of rovers onto the surface. And later they plan on gathering up samples and returning them to earth.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/09/2 ... d_landing/

How the hell do they do it? My whole life has been steeped in electronics and technology, but I just boggle at the skills required to pull off a stunt like this.

--kiloran

Meatyfool
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Re: Aren't we clever?

#167948

Postby Meatyfool » September 21st, 2018, 3:26 pm

It is a wonder of our age.

However, it isn't all smoke and mirrors! Best to say right here I am a layman!

Celestial mechanics (if that is the correct term) is far easier to work in than meteorology. Whilst we still can't fathom the interactions of our weather, the rules that relate to planets and their like are very well known - it pretty much all rides on just one thing - gravity.

If you can locate an object one day and then locate it the next, you should be able to fairly accurately calculate its traverse across the solar system. We know where all the Sun and planets etc are and so we know where the gravitational pull of an object is likely to "perturb" the path of the object.

As to placing a satellite on a path to intersect said object, its again just a question of maths. Fire a rocket engine of a know design power for a known period of time at a known trajectory and it will arrive at a given point at a given time.

With todays precision engineering, we certainly can achieve greater skill in piloting these satellites. But let's not forget we achieved some pretty amazing things with 1960/1970s tech. I daren't call placing Voyager on a trajectory that intersected 3 or 4 planets as "course" (as in rough), but that probably was the limit back in the day.

Meatyfool..

Meatyfool
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Re: Aren't we clever?

#167949

Postby Meatyfool » September 21st, 2018, 3:30 pm

As an aside:

I am truly awestruck by the Space X Falcon 9 rockets - I keep track of launches and watch them live. Well not the launches as such (yawn!), but watching a rocket come down to land vertically truly is (still) jaw-dropping.

There is a you tube video which discusses the benefits of a "suicide burn" - when that is explained to you, you begin to realise just how remarkable it is.

Meatyfool..

kiloran
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Re: Aren't we clever?

#167955

Postby kiloran » September 21st, 2018, 3:48 pm

I agree it's just(!) simply applying Newton's laws of motion, but even so, navigating to a small (and moving) point in space 180m miles away and then going into orbit is pretty clever.

--kiloran

madhatter
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Re: Aren't we clever?

#167994

Postby madhatter » September 21st, 2018, 5:52 pm

navigating to a small (and moving) point in space 180m miles away and then going into orbit is pretty clever.


Not least because it’s gravitational field must be sod all.

In addition, the delay involved with getting signals to and from it must require a high degree of autonomy.

Itsallaguess
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Re: Aren't we clever?

#168198

Postby Itsallaguess » September 22nd, 2018, 6:39 pm

Well, they've only gone and done it!

Pictures from the asteroid, and a BBC article on the event here -

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-45598156

Cheers,

Itsallaguess

midnightcatprowl
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Re: Aren't we clever?

#168232

Postby midnightcatprowl » September 22nd, 2018, 9:10 pm

Well yes sort of we are clever... Believe me since early in life I've been fascinated by this sort of science stuff but as I get older I do query a bit why it is that we can do this sort of stuff yet not deal effectively with many day to day problems. For example this week I had a very sick cat who had to be pilled three times a day. It is no easier than it was decades ago yet her life depended on it. The sea, streets and rivers are choked with plastic and rubbish and the main solution still seems to be that volunteers like me go out and collect and sort it. Kids and adults are dying from air pollution and it seems that older people are more likely to develop dementia because of it with the most devastating consequences not only for themselves but for family carers and the cost to the state. How can we do such amazing things on the one hand yet fail to solve the issues which affect us most on a day to day basic?

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Re: Aren't we clever?

#168234

Postby Lootman » September 22nd, 2018, 9:19 pm

midnightcatprowl wrote:Well yes sort of we are clever... Believe me since early in life I've been fascinated by this sort of science stuff but as I get older I do query a bit why it is that we can do this sort of stuff yet not deal effectively with many day to day problems. For example this week I had a very sick cat who had to be pilled three times a day. It is no easier than it was decades ago yet her life depended on it. The sea, streets and rivers are choked with plastic and rubbish and the main solution still seems to be that volunteers like me go out and collect and sort it. Kids and adults are dying from air pollution and it seems that older people are more likely to develop dementia because of it with the most devastating consequences not only for themselves but for family carers and the cost to the state. How can we do such amazing things on the one hand yet fail to solve the issues which affect us most on a day to day basic?

That question rapidly becomes political rather than scientific.

So yes, if we got rid of NASA and used those funds to fight poverty and famine we might ease some suffering. But we would also lose all our sense of adventure and ambition. We would be dumbed down to expect nothing brilliant or outstanding just so we can lift up a few folks at the bottom. How boring.

So I love all this space exploration because it shows us having a focus on excellence and expansion, rather than being mired in suffering and negativity.

There is also the trickle-down aspect to it all. Exploring space now is a modern day equivalent to exploring the rest of the world a few hundred years ago. Was that not ultimately far more beneficial to everyone than just staying home and doing nothing?

CryptoPlankton
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Re: Aren't we clever?

#168379

Postby CryptoPlankton » September 23rd, 2018, 1:57 pm

Lootman wrote:
midnightcatprowl wrote:Well yes sort of we are clever... Believe me since early in life I've been fascinated by this sort of science stuff but as I get older I do query a bit why it is that we can do this sort of stuff yet not deal effectively with many day to day problems. For example this week I had a very sick cat who had to be pilled three times a day. It is no easier than it was decades ago yet her life depended on it. The sea, streets and rivers are choked with plastic and rubbish and the main solution still seems to be that volunteers like me go out and collect and sort it. Kids and adults are dying from air pollution and it seems that older people are more likely to develop dementia because of it with the most devastating consequences not only for themselves but for family carers and the cost to the state. How can we do such amazing things on the one hand yet fail to solve the issues which affect us most on a day to day basic?

That question rapidly becomes political rather than scientific.

So yes, if we got rid of NASA and used those funds to fight poverty and famine we might ease some suffering. But we would also lose all our sense of adventure and ambition. We would be dumbed down to expect nothing brilliant or outstanding just so we can lift up a few folks at the bottom. How boring.

So I love all this space exploration because it shows us having a focus on excellence and expansion, rather than being mired in suffering and negativity.

There is also the trickle-down aspect to it all. Exploring space now is a modern day equivalent to exploring the rest of the world a few hundred years ago. Was that not ultimately far more beneficial to everyone than just staying home and doing nothing?

An interesting illustration of the contrasting traits of compassion and ruthlessness that can be found within our species. Apparently "everyone" doesn't apply to the vast numbers of indigenous peoples who suffered/perished as a result of that exploration or, nowadays, to those unfortunate enough to have been born into a life where they are regarded as "folks at the bottom".

As for "ultimately", I think it's a bit too soon to make that claim. The privileged ""everyone" might have done pretty well so far, but are we clever enough to avoid going the same way as the 99.9% of all other species that have been (and gone) on this planet, possibly even by our own hand? I'd say the jury is still out...

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Re: Aren't we clever?

#168386

Postby Watis » September 23rd, 2018, 2:52 pm

Without that sense of exploration, or inquisitiveness, we would still be living in caves. And presumably carving our LF postings into granite tablets . . .

And whilst I acknowledge the problems of poverty and famine that still blight us today, I would suggest that, rather than divert budgets for science and exploration to address these issues, it is defence budgets that should take the hit - if only we, as a race, could stop threatening and killing each other!

Watis

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Re: Aren't we clever?

#168428

Postby Slarti » September 23rd, 2018, 6:15 pm

Lootman wrote:So yes, if we got rid of NASA and used those funds to fight poverty and famine we might ease some suffering.


It has been argued that the returns from the space programmes, in materials, medicine, communications, weather forecasting, etc have more than returned the cost by improving everybody's lives, including "those at the bottom".

Mind you, by stopping so many dying in childhood, from horrible diseases, it may also have made the situation worse.

Slarti

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Re: Aren't we clever?

#168433

Postby Lootman » September 23rd, 2018, 6:21 pm

Slarti wrote:
Lootman wrote:So yes, if we got rid of NASA and used those funds to fight poverty and famine we might ease some suffering.

It has been argued that the returns from the space programmes, in materials, medicine, communications, weather forecasting, etc have more than returned the cost by improving everybody's lives, including "those at the bottom".

Mind you, by stopping so many dying in childhood, from horrible diseases, it may also have made the situation worse.

A focus on those "at the bottom" leads to a passive and unambitious society. The space programme is an example, literally, of reaching to the stars and the heavens in order to inspire and grow. I'd hate to live in a world where a faux equality were deemed more important than science, discovery and enterprise.

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Re: Aren't we clever?

#168439

Postby Slarti » September 23rd, 2018, 6:30 pm

Lootman wrote:
Slarti wrote:
Lootman wrote:So yes, if we got rid of NASA and used those funds to fight poverty and famine we might ease some suffering.

It has been argued that the returns from the space programmes, in materials, medicine, communications, weather forecasting, etc have more than returned the cost by improving everybody's lives, including "those at the bottom".

Mind you, by stopping so many dying in childhood, from horrible diseases, it may also have made the situation worse.

A focus on those "at the bottom" leads to a passive and unambitious society. The space programme is an example, literally, of reaching to the stars and the heavens in order to inspire and grow. I'd hate to live in a world where a faux equality were deemed more important than science, discovery and enterprise.


I wasn't suggesting focussing on "those at the bottom" just saying that scientific research makes everybody better off, top to bottom. Even when portions of the population misuse it, like throwing plastics down the loo.

Slarti

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Re: Aren't we clever?

#168448

Postby Lootman » September 23rd, 2018, 6:42 pm

Slarti wrote:
Lootman wrote:
Slarti wrote:It has been argued that the returns from the space programmes, in materials, medicine, communications, weather forecasting, etc have more than returned the cost by improving everybody's lives, including "those at the bottom".

Mind you, by stopping so many dying in childhood, from horrible diseases, it may also have made the situation worse.

A focus on those "at the bottom" leads to a passive and unambitious society. The space programme is an example, literally, of reaching to the stars and the heavens in order to inspire and grow. I'd hate to live in a world where a faux equality were deemed more important than science, discovery and enterprise.


I wasn't suggesting focussing on "those at the bottom" just saying that scientific research makes everybody better off, top to bottom. Even when portions of the population misuse it, like throwing plastics down the loo.

Yes, I agree, there is a trickle down effect from such ventures and investments.

XFool
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Re: Aren't we clever?

#168495

Postby XFool » September 23rd, 2018, 11:36 pm

midnightcatprowl wrote:Well yes sort of we are clever... Believe me since early in life I've been fascinated by this sort of science stuff but as I get older I do query a bit why it is that we can do this sort of stuff yet not deal effectively with many day to day problems. For example this week I had a very sick cat who had to be pilled three times a day. It is no easier than it was decades ago yet her life depended on it. The sea, streets and rivers are choked with plastic and rubbish and the main solution still seems to be that volunteers like me go out and collect and sort it. Kids and adults are dying from air pollution and it seems that older people are more likely to develop dementia because of it with the most devastating consequences not only for themselves but for family carers and the cost to the state. How can we do such amazing things on the one hand yet fail to solve the issues which affect us most on a day to day basic?

Probably for many different reasons. However, I'd like to suggest one.

For all the striking brilliance of their achievements these space missions are in some ways 'simple'. I don't mean they are easy or they can be done without a long history of successful technical accomplishments, but they are focussed single issue technical targets. The celestial mechanics was known centuries ago, it required the developments from many other fields over many decades - computing, electronics, rocketry, telecommunications - to be brought together and focussed on a defined, finite, targeted mission. This is doable, provided the organisation, the will (and money!) is available.

Many everyday issues, while familiar and easy to describe, many not be simple. They may still not be fully understood (how do you cure cancer?). They may be not a single simple issue (cancer?). They may be very widely distributed geographically or over a population or society, or through time. They may be intertwined with people's lifestyles, attitudes, and politics. The demand may not be there. The money may not be there.

Contrast a simple issue, such as the Millennium Bug, with a complex one, such as Climate Change.

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Re: Aren't we clever?

#169695

Postby Itsallaguess » September 28th, 2018, 4:52 am

Some new, much improved, pictures from the rovers let loose from Hayabusa 2 -

Japan's space agency (Jaxa) has released new images from the robot rovers it has deployed to the surface of an asteroid.

The photos reveal new details of the surface of the space rock, which is known as Ryugu. On 21 September, the rovers were released on to the surface by the "mothership", Hayabusa 2.

Hayabusa 2 reached Ryugu in June after a three-and-a-half-year journey. The pictures show in clear relief the rugged, boulder-strewn landscape of this striking Solar System body.

The robots, known as Rover 1A and Rover 1B, are now both confirmed to be working on the surface of the space rock. The 1kg autonomous rovers move about by hopping, using the asteroid's low gravity. Each one contains a motor-powered internal mass that rotates to generate force, propelling the robot across the surface.


https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-45667350

Cheers,

Itsallaguess

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Re: Aren't we clever?

#170121

Postby colin » September 29th, 2018, 5:33 pm

it is defence budgets that should take the hit - if only we, as a race, could stop threatening and killing each other!


Sounds gloomy i know but unfortunately history shows that the technologically more advanced societies just eliminate those using simpler technologies.

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Re: Aren't we clever?

#171363

Postby gryffron » October 4th, 2018, 10:52 am

colin wrote:
it is defence budgets that should take the hit - if only we, as a race, could stop threatening and killing each other!

Sounds gloomy i know but unfortunately history shows that the technologically more advanced societies just eliminate those using simpler technologies.

And of course, since the earliest days of science, and despite its obvious drawbacks, war has been a huge driver of technological advances.

Gryff

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Re: Aren't we clever?

#171506

Postby colin » October 4th, 2018, 9:30 pm

gryfrron:
war has been a huge driver of technological advances.

Yes hand in hand with the development of more efficient forms of social organization and control.
Perhaps without war most of us would never have been born? funny thought.


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