Carl Sagan’s Message to Mars

A few months before he died, Carl Sagan recorded a message which he dedicated to future explorers to Mars. Since early Monday morning, in the wake of the Curiosity Lander arriving on the surface of Mars it has begun to do the rounds throughout the internet. Sagan’s passion for the future of space travel is clear in this piece, which is heavily truncated in most of the common versions available online. Happily, hunted down the extended version of it and what is revealed is a thoughtful and emotional message from an inspirational man, passing a message he hopes will be heard by those that will fulfil his dreams.

Whatever you might think of Sagan, or of the Mars landing and little Curosity making it’s lonely way across it’s surface – he speaks for most of us on some level. Sagan’s passion for the breaking down of environmental boundaries and conquering of new worlds is more profound than most of us but millions huddled around TV sets to watch the first Moon landing, and quietly or not – without the fanfare affording Apollo Astronauts, Curiosity carries a little bit of Sagan across that distant, desolate landscape – and fills it with the potential of dreams. That is the border between science fiction and fact, where wheel or foot fall on previously imagined earth and spark a new generation of Sagan’s to wonder ‘what next?’


Dropping Science: Compilation of Real Space Footage


This week’s video falls into the inspirational category. I’ve posted quite a few vids that combine music with incredible CGI images of the solar system and those kind of films still stir something in me. That said there is, as they say, no substitute for the real thing and that’s exactly what Sander van den Berg  has done here.

By taking images from the Casini space mission and painstakingly editing them together he has created a haunting vision of our own solar system. To look at these images and know that you are looking through the lens of something that was actually there, that this is exactly what our planets look like and not what they imagine them to be, is simply breathtaking.


Pack your bags!! First Habitable Planet discovered

Given that our main flagship title involves a man with a Moon for a head we here at Beyond the Bunker have inevitably started (as we pretty much always have) looking skywards. Every Saturday Dan posts up an interesting article about something space or science related. When ever I might feel like it I will post up something space or science related.

For some time now the space agencies have been scouring the skies to locate an exoplanet that has the right ingredients to harbour life. The rocky ‘Exoplanet’ Gliese 581d meets key requirements for sustaining Earth-like life, including rainfall and possibly even watery oceans. The planet orbits a Red Dwarf star similarly called Gliese 581, on its outer fringes called the ‘Goldilocks Zone’, the part of a solar system where the bears are out – and also, perhaps less pivotally- where the temperature is not so hot that water boils away, nor so cold that water is perpetually frozen. Though, even though it might be technically habitable, don’t start looking at timeshares just yet as it Gliese 581d would not make comfortable dwelling for humans.

Gravity is twice what it is on Earth, doubling the weight of anyone standing on the surface, and the atmosphere is dense with carbon dioxide. It’s big though; with a mass 5.6 times that of the Earth, Gliese 581d is classified as a ‘Super-Earth’.

It took scientist by surprise as it had already been dismissed as being uninhabitable. But new computer models with the capacity to simulate extraterrestrial climates have revealed it and confirmed its status, rather unceremoniously to ‘alive’. Like Homer Simpson when he was moved to the better hospital.

“This discovery is important because it’s the first time climate modellers have proved that the planet is potentially habitable, and all observers agree that the exoplanet exists,” said Dr Robin Wordsworth, a member of the French team from the Institut Pierre Simon Laplace in Paris. “If you look at the history of the search for habitable planets, there’s been at least two instances so far when scientists have announced that a habitable world has been discovered, only to have the claim contradicted later, either by climate experts or by other observers.”

Gliese 581g by Strivera-d320slx on Deviantart

Don’t pack your trunks and bikini bottoms just yet though as Gliese 581d receives about 30% of the sunlight Earth does from its local star. While the temperature seems to be too cold to support liquid water, the atmosphere’s high production of greenhouse gases significantly heats the planet. It looks like its ‘tidally locked’ too, meaning that one side always faces the sun, which’d give it a permanent dayside and nightside. One for Nomadic Greenlanders then.

Battle for (uh) Gliese 581 d

This is far from an exact science, effectively going on sine 1995 and relies on miniscule objects ‘wobbling’ stellar light. From this wobble- scientists start making best informed guess attempts. Its far from accurate though. Gliese 581 has already been associated with another ‘habitable’ planet known as ‘Zarmina’s World’ (Gliese 581g), after its observers announced it had roughly the same mass as Earth’s and was also close to the ‘Goldilock’s Zone’. This was deflated somewhat as it has since been discounted by many, with some experts suspecting that Gliese 581g may not even exist. Huh?