Trips to Mars may be OFF: The SUN has changed in a way we've NEVER SEEN

Only nuke power can save us from radiation


It would seem that travel by living humans to and from the red planet may never be very practical using the current methods: feeble chemical rockets can propel only very lightweight spacecraft that offer little or no protection against radiation, and mean that they must coast unpowered most of the way, taking a long time.

Concept dated 1960 of a nuclear-thermal ship in orbit above Mars. Credit: NASA

How they thought we'd be doing it, 54 years ago

If human beings ever aspire to travel much beyond Earth orbit, we're going to need something better: something most likely nuclear powered, certainly for manned spaceflight purposes. That would cut journey times and allow for more shielding. The great science-fiction writers of the past almost unanimously assumed that nuclear space propulsion and/or power generation would have to appear for any serious space travel to take place.

Former NASA astronaut Dr Franklin Chang Díaz has suggested that nuclear plants of the type used in submarines could power his VaSIMR plasma rockets to take a crewed ship to Mars in a month. SpaceX, the rocket firm run by famous tech tycoon Elon Musk - well-known to be keen to get people to Mars - has expressed the opinion that NASA should work on nuclear-thermal rockets for manned flight to the red world.

Many decades into the "space age" there's no sign that NASA is seriously moving to produce anything like that, however, and the general fear, distrust and intensive regulation surrounding anything nuclear means that only a powerful national space agency has much prospect of success. ®

Similar topics

Other stories you might like

  • Talos names eight deadly sins in widely used industrial software
    Entire swaths of gear relies on vulnerability-laden Open Automation Software (OAS)

    A researcher at Cisco's Talos threat intelligence team found eight vulnerabilities in the Open Automation Software (OAS) platform that, if exploited, could enable a bad actor to access a device and run code on a targeted system.

    The OAS platform is widely used by a range of industrial enterprises, essentially facilitating the transfer of data within an IT environment between hardware and software and playing a central role in organizations' industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) efforts. It touches a range of devices, including PLCs and OPCs and IoT devices, as well as custom applications and APIs, databases and edge systems.

    Companies like Volvo, General Dynamics, JBT Aerotech and wind-turbine maker AES are among the users of the OAS platform.

    Continue reading
  • Despite global uncertainty, $500m hit doesn't rattle Nvidia execs
    CEO acknowledges impact of war, pandemic but says fundamentals ‘are really good’

    Nvidia is expecting a $500 million hit to its global datacenter and consumer business in the second quarter due to COVID lockdowns in China and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Despite those and other macroeconomic concerns, executives are still optimistic about future prospects.

    "The full impact and duration of the war in Ukraine and COVID lockdowns in China is difficult to predict. However, the impact of our technology and our market opportunities remain unchanged," said Jensen Huang, Nvidia's CEO and co-founder, during the company's first-quarter earnings call.

    Those two statements might sound a little contradictory, including to some investors, particularly following the stock selloff yesterday after concerns over Russia and China prompted Nvidia to issue lower-than-expected guidance for second-quarter revenue.

    Continue reading
  • Another AI supercomputer from HPE: Champollion lands in France
    That's the second in a week following similar system in Munich also aimed at researchers

    HPE is lifting the lid on a new AI supercomputer – the second this week – aimed at building and training larger machine learning models to underpin research.

    Based at HPE's Center of Excellence in Grenoble, France, the new supercomputer is to be named Champollion after the French scholar who made advances in deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs in the 19th century. It was built in partnership with Nvidia using AMD-based Apollo computer nodes fitted with Nvidia's A100 GPUs.

    Champollion brings together HPC and purpose-built AI technologies to train machine learning models at scale and unlock results faster, HPE said. HPE already provides HPC and AI resources from its Grenoble facilities for customers, and the broader research community to access, and said it plans to provide access to Champollion for scientists and engineers globally to accelerate testing of their AI models and research.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022