Monday Morning Salvage: December 26, 2016

Welcome back! We missed a week while I was traveling across the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands and Guam, so dig in and enjoy!

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

  • The Mariana Trench!

The Mariana Trench Monument

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Gliding on starlight: Celestial Navigation for Martian Explorers

On January 1, 2016, the Southern Fried Science central server began uploading blog posts apparently circa 2041. Due to a related corruption of the contemporary database, we are, at this time, unable to remove these Field Notes from the Future or prevent the uploading of additional posts. Please enjoy this glimpse into the ocean future while we attempt to rectify the situation.

Thousands of years ago, merchants on the Arabian Peninsula would cross vast, featureless desert as they traveled from settlement to settlement, selling their goods. They had no roads, no maps, no GPS, yet still they managed to find their mark. They accomplished this tremendous feat of navigation with the help of the stars and a tiny instrument called a kamal.

The kamal was a piece of wood, bone, or ivory, with a piece of string threaded through it at a precise point and measured out to a precise distance. By sighting the kamal against the horizon and the north star, these merchants could maintain a constant latitude as they marchd across the desert, and find their way home. For millennia, this basic principal–that the celestial pole could, with the right instrument, reveal latitude–was the driving force for exploration, trade, and travel. Polynesian sailors used latitude hooks to mark their journey. Portuguese explorers used quadrants to find their way across the Atlantic and around Africa. The age of discovery was already entering its twilight by the time we had figured out longitude–the great scientific puzzle of an generation. For most, simply knowing latitude and cardinal direction was enough to circle the world and return home.

The Martian Circumtropical Expedition kicks off net month, with teams from 17 nations racing to see who will be first to circumnavigate the red planet. Their sandgliders will be outfitted with the most sophisticated expedition gear that their sponsors can afford, costing, at the low end, hundreds of millions of dollars. The budget for China’s team surpasses the GDP of most countries. These will be the best outfitted and most connected explorers in history.

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Fun Science Friday – Mars One

Theoretical schematic of the Mars One habitat,  Photo Credit: Mars One

Theoretical schematic of the Mars One habitat,
Photo Credit: Mars One

Maybe you have heard about it, or maybe you haven’t, but Man… Man is headed to Mars! …. or at least Man is going to try!

In recent years space expeditions have shifted focus towards reaching the red planet. Of the different campaigns to travel to Mars, Mars One has probably gotten the most press recently. As stated on their site, Mars One’s goal is to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars. Crews of four will depart every two years, starting in 2024, with a first unmanned mission in 2018.

For good or bad, Mars One is taking the Colonialism Era approach. Send out explorers without the guarantee of return and see what happens. And despite the obvious one-way ticket approach of their endeavor, there are an abundant source of participants ready to step up for this, literally and figuratively, ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity.  Mars One had over 200,000 applicants, and recently whittled  that field down to a little over a thousand. Over the next few years these individuals will undergo training that should in theory prepare them for one of the most daunting missions mankind has ever undertaken.

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