The Moon, the Moon! Mount Marilyn and the Merry Men of Apollo 8

The space race had seemed a bit pointless. The first orbiting satellites were mainly there to demonstrate the capability of the carrying rockets – whose real task was to deliver missiles to whoever was deemed to be the enemy. Jodrell Bank became famous not by detecting the first Sputnik – anyone with a radio could…

New Horizons: News from Pluto

The Judgement of Jupiter is a story written around 1495 in Germany and published under the pen name of Paulus Niavis. It tells of a case in the court of law of Jupiter. The accusation is parricide (destruction of the environment). The accused is a mine worker; the victim is Mother Earth. Mercury is the…

New Horizons: the way to Pluto

The exploration of space has been a two-way battle. Not between the Russians and Americans, but between humans and robots. The race to the Moon was a victory for the humans. But it is notable that the humans have been in retreat since. We no longer go beyond low-Earth orbit: we could not go back…

Pluto: the big-hearted dwarf + Katla Reawakening

Its career as a planet last for less than half its year. Pluto was discovered late, in 1930, as our final planet, completing the Sun’s brood of nine. (In hindsight it had been seen, but not recognized, as early as 1909.) But it was always an odd one, the runt of the litter, banished to…

Terrae Nova: the Eye of Africa

The previous post on Venus described a peculiar type of volcanic construct called a corona, unique to Venus. This blog is read by knowledgeable people with a somewhat critical attitude to authority, while at the same time having a strong respect for experts [For UK readers: see footnote], and this statement was immediately questioned. A…

Volcanoes are from Venus

It is hell up there. No man-made object has ever survived the immense heat and pressure for more than a few hours. Each day lasts 117 earth days, but the Sun never appears. The yellow clouds which hide the Sun contain sulfuric acid, but down at the surface the air is not corrosive, just boiling,…

The Science behind ”Mars 2067, the Olympus Mons Expedition”

Science should be “sexy”. Once we had decided to write an article on Olympus Mons, we began to consider how to present it in a manner that would appeal to our readers. The regular science article is usually a rather monotonous enumeration of facts, figures and equations and thus heavy to digest for the average…

Mars 2067, the Olympus Mons Expedition (Part II)

This far, the expedition had been a highly successful failure. Five weeks into the exploration with three weeks of intense survey had brought a wealth of data, but not what they had come for. Olympus Mons or Nix Olympica, the Olympic Snows as it was formerly known, had stubbornly refused to accede to human wishes.…

Mars 2067, the Olympus Mons Expedition (Part I)

In spite of its incredible height, Olympus Mons was well below the horizon as seen from ‘Olympia’, just like that Earthly committee as shorn of imagination as it was endowed with political acumen which had originally named the colony Mars Base Alpha. The residents had immediately renamed it in honour of the largest volcano in…