UFO Conjecture(s)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

NASA's going to Venus? (Say "hello" to Orthon for us)

NASA plans to put a rover on Venus. Why?

Sure Venus may show us what could have happened to Earth or may yet (with climate warming) but aren't there better places to explore, like some of the interesting moons of Jupiter and Saturn?




  • A fine case could be made using this example for Ouspensky's observation that humankind is organically mired in cross purposes.

    Venus does not seem to be a burning intellectual issue here on the ground, except in the hermetically sealed bubble of NASA, who still have orbiting folks in a tin can around the Earth in the vacuum of space, allegedly to study the long term physical effects as a prelude to missions that they now have decided are best done robotically.

    How about more focused and pragmatic goals?

    I don't see industry exactly leaping to make ball bearings in space, or growing bananas. Remember the prediction of mining the moon?

    Nevermind, our infrastructure falling apart, the climate destabilising, or the dead end search for "affordibilium"

    Yes, Venus is the priority of the week. The goal should be keeping squirrels out of bird feeders...

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Tuesday, August 27, 2013  

  • Rich:

    Now you're getting on to my home turf. My day job is as a space mission designer--designing missions of exactly the sort described in the article you pointed to. Geoff Landis--one of the individuals quoted in the article--is a friendly competititor of mine, working at a different NASA Center.

    I think the short answer to your question is yes. See for example,


    for a mission to explore Saturn's moon, Titan.

    I have been a proponent for quite some time of conducting planetary exploration with heavier-than-air craft in those locations where it is possible.

    The normal sequence of events with regard to a celestial body such as a moon or planet, is to first send a spacecraft flying by it to take a quick look. Then send a spacecraft to go into orbit around it to take a longer look. Then send short-lived probes to touch the surface, then send long-lived stations to the surface. Then send mobility platforms. Finally, bring a sample back (if possible).

    Different moons and planets are at different locations on that main sequence, depending mostly on how difficult it is to get to the body.

    With Venus, we've done flybys, orbiters, probes, and even short lived stations, and rudimentary mobility (in the form of very high altitude balloons). I think it is time for the next mission to Venus to introduce directed mobility near the surface in order to increase knowledge of the surface properties. (The total amount of existing high-resolution imagery of Venus' surface covers an area about the size of a house). A low level airplane on Venus could cover easily 1000 times more area than a surface rover in the same amount of time.

    Every location in the Solar System that can be explored has its own advocacy group of scientists, which finds that location interesting, regardless of public perception. I suppose this lends truth to Bruce's observation (attributed to Ouspensky) that humankind is mired in cross purposes.

    Personally, while I find it exasperating that humankind can't see the obvious truth that MY purposes are so much superior to theirs (sarcasm), it is nevertheless probably an indicator of the overall health of the system. We have a planet of more than 6 Billion souls; we can afford to have some fraction of them working on all sorts of different problems, from keeping squirrels out of bird feeders, to exploring other planets. The idea that we have to choose one or the other, is a false dichotomy.

    By Blogger Larry, at Tuesday, August 27, 2013  

  • Yes, Larry...

    We have the resources, we really do, to do lots of things, which we should.

    For me, the moons with possibilities of life or favorable conditions for life seem better to pursue.

    But if Orthon is hiding out somewhere on Venus, a cool spot, I'd like to know that too.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, August 27, 2013  

  • Orthon sounds like Dacron, maybe Nylon..he could have been the namesake inventor of bendable structural I beams, or something similarly useful. I have been trying to find those wobbling support beams at Lowes or Home Depot..great for a tree house. I could take the battle with squirrels to new heights.Maybe NASA could work on this back engineering project...

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Tuesday, August 27, 2013  

  • Bruce,

    To keep squirrels out of bird feeders: secure a plastic garbage can cover over the feeder separated, say, by about 6-12 inches. To the lid of the cover, secure clothes pins every 3 inches or so pointed downward. My "squirrel guard" has not been breached in months (although they show up once and a while to study the stysem). Grease the top of the lid for extra squirrel frustration.

    By Blogger Dominick, at Tuesday, August 27, 2013  

  • I couldn't disagree with Bruce more. Until and unless we know that life exists elsewhere, we must treat the life here on Earth extra-carefully. The sooner we move some eggs to another basket, the better. We need to populate other rocks in space. The Sun is expanding, and will eventually overcome all of the terrestrial planets in our solar system. It's a noble project -- far more so than warfare.

    By Blogger Parakletos, at Wednesday, August 28, 2013  

  • To counter the idea of planting a human flag on another planet as a noble act. If we could demonstrate that we can take care of each other and our habitat here, then I would agree. To put it simply, this utopian ideal is the wearing of rose colored glasses. Again, crossed purposes.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Wednesday, August 28, 2013  

  • I am in complete agreement with Parakletos here. If the human race means anything to us, we should want to ensure our survival. Best to do that by making this planet work as well as possible, but there's nothing we can do if something truly cataclysmic should strike through no fault of ours. Hence it is imperative to have colonies on other planets at some point so that humanity can continue its adventure, even if the homeworld is no longer habitable.

    Assuming, of course, that Earth is our homeworld. ;-)


    By Blogger Paul Kimball, at Wednesday, August 28, 2013  

  • I am somewhat surprised inasmuch as within the next century, it certainly seems like available water, food, desertification are being predicted as well as the rise of sea levels. Spend money on a theoretical escape hatch while bypassing the misery of future generations?

    What we have experienced to date is the trailer for what is to come for our children. It's as if one's house is on fire and you are looking at travel brochures for a journey that is both unaffordable and is technically simply not feasible.

    Do you folks know the distance to the next habitable planet?

    To each his own.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Wednesday, August 28, 2013  

  • Oh, come on Bruce... it's not like we're talking about spending the entire treasury on getting off planet, or doing it tomorrow. But your view is incredibly short-sighted - if your kind of thinking was to prevail, we would all still be squatting in caves somewhere.


    By Blogger Paul Kimball, at Wednesday, August 28, 2013  

  • Meanwhile, to keep Rich happy and keep us on topic, let me just say that Venus is my favourite goddess, and that I prefer the kinkier Roman version to her Greek counterpart.

    By Blogger Paul Kimball, at Wednesday, August 28, 2013  

  • Those Romans were always kinkier than the Greeks.

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, August 28, 2013  

  • We might be going back to them. Thats short sided.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Wednesday, August 28, 2013  

  • Bruce,

    You demonstrate a black and white thinking that ignores all shades of gray. We don't need to conquer all of space in order to secure a foothold for intelligent life which isn't susceptible to a single extinction level event.

    Furthermore, you act as though this must be done at the expense of feeding people, or god knows what else. I disagree. If we can put iPhones into the hands of all these teenagers, we surely have some R&D to spare. Moderation, my friend....in all things.

    By Blogger Parakletos, at Thursday, August 29, 2013  

  • "Do you folks know the distance to the next habitable planet?" --Bruce

    Mars counts for my purposes. And we have hundreds of thousands of volunteers already for the one-way mission. It will be a life much different from here on Earth, certainly. But it's a good start.

    Furthermore, 10+ generations of life in space to go outside our own solar system might seem like a horrible trip to you, but some of us think the result to be worth the effort. Human beings have always been explorers, and I agree with Paul that such a homely attitude would have kept us in caves.

    By Blogger Parakletos, at Thursday, August 29, 2013  

  • I'm reminded of the theme for "Battle Star Galactica."

    By Blogger Tim Hebert, at Thursday, August 29, 2013  

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