Tag Archives: Space Exploration

Alien Life, But Not As We Know It

Common refrains I hear from sci-fi fans are both “I want the aliens to be more alien” (often when referring to certain film or TV aliens) and “You have to check this out: the aliens were really alien” (often when referring to certain books). The latter sentiment makes sense, because when you start considering how evolution might have taken place on other words, the bilaterally symmetrical humanoids that dominate much of cinematic science fiction seem less likely. In fact, there might be a whole host of unstated assumptions about anatomy and body chemistry that are very Earth-centric.

These are some of the trains of thought astrobiologists are busily boarding, as detailed in an article by Sarah Scoles for Scientific American.

Credit: William Hand

This is the sort of thought experiment that I’ll always find exciting, because one day, we’ll find out just how right or wrong we are. In the meantime, I might try and find a copy of the entirely fictional, but enormously enjoyable Barlowe’s Guide to Extraterrestrials.

A Moon Landing, You Say?

You probably already knew that I enjoy debunking a conspiracy theory as much as the next secret member of the Illuminati, but today seems especially appropriate, being the date back in 1969, when humans walked, @#$ing walked, on the moon.

Spaceguard is On the Case

When I watched the recent film Don’t Look Up — as a great deal of other Netflix subscribers appeared to– they mentioned the very real Planetary Defense Coordination Office which made me think instantly of Spaceguard, which isn’t an official overall terms, but dangit, I’m not alone in thinking of it. In fact, overall efforts appear to be inspired by that vision of science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, visions that have born fruit over the past few decades.

Knowing that, it is perhaps not surprising –but still reassuring– to know that NASA and others take their planetary defense duties seriously as Brian Resnick details in this recent article in Vox.

“What If?” by Tobias Roetsch/Future Publishing

And speaking of Clarke, if you’d like to read a hard SF novel of his that deals directly with an asteroid headed towards Earth, The Hammer of God is a fun read, and one I don’t hear mentioned as much as the novel where he first mentions Spaceguard, Rendevous with Rama.


Where’s Alien Waldo?

Some days, do you ever wonder, what with all the exoplanets being discovered and concerted studying of the skies, where all the aliens are? And why haven’t we found any evidence of them? And do they make their spacecraft entirely out of the black box?

Well, Jill Tarter is here to clear some of that up. And by “clear up,” I mean “tell you how much we don’t know.”

Mind you, it might be good to go back and check with her on the UFO question, since this is from 2019, but I’m pretty sure most of her answers are, for better or for worse, still quite accurate and frustratingly open-ended.

Wanna Get Away from it All? NASA Edition

With the prospect of pandemic restrictions being lifted, thoughts of vacationing further afield have come to mind… but am I thinking far enough?

Thanks NASA.

Space Race, ISS-Sequel Edition

I could say it’s the recent big-screen adaptation of Dune, but really any time is a good time to muse about the state of space exploration.

The Russian Zarya module approaches Space Shuttle Endeavour and NASA’s Unity module in 1998. (Photo via the article and NASA)

And the space race is evidently heating up in Earth’s orbit, as per Eric Berger’s article for Ars Technica. Several groups, both national and commercial, are looking to have a permanent station in orbit. Well permanent for a while, since nothing gold can stay, due to wear and tear and cosmic radiation. So the ISS will be gone soon.

And it seems to be not so much “what will replace it?” but “how many stations will replace it?”

Keep watching the skies!

Send in the Drones: Mars Edition

I’m bumping the post I planned for today because yesterday, we had some cool goings-on with space exploration, a topic some readers will know I follow (not the least because I enjoy science fiction and write science fiction — and who doesn’t like science fiction rooted in at least some science fact?).

Fly my pretty! Fly!

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has made the first powered flight on another planet, more than 117 years after the Wright brothers’ historic flight on this planet.

NASA itself gave a lowdown about this flight last month, which included a cool animation.

There has been much excitement on the Interwebs, as you might expect, from NASA fans to Science Geeks, and –perhaps one of my favorites– Arnold Schwarzenegger.

International Legal Frameworks… IN SPAAACE!

Star Trek has influenced a lot of scientists and futurists, but recently, NASA namechecked the veteran sci-fi franchise when they talked about the Artemis Accords, a series of principles that they hope all spacefaring nations agree to, as covered by Ryan Britt for Inverse.

Good stuff.

(By the way, I was rather gratified to know that I already had the tag ‘Space Law‘ and also that there’s a novel called Space Lawyer, which I shall have to track down on principle).

Raise the Fungal Radiation Shields!

I’d heard earlier that a particular radiation-loving fungus had been observed near Chernobyl, but this article by Stephen Johnson in Big Think explains how they’ve been testing it for SPAAACE TRAVEL.

Specifically, they’ve been testing it on the International Space Station with the idea that some form of this radiotrophic fungus could help shield astronauts bound for Mars.

So, in other words: really, really cool.

And will I work this into some future episode of Rogue Tyger? Yes. Yes, I will.


That Planet that’s a Large, Gaseous Cloud

No, not Neptune. No, not Jupiter. Don’t make me say it. Okay, fine.