What A Tragic Waste!!! — Filosofa’s Word

I’ve made no secret of my feelings about millionaires and billionaires who hoard their wealth rather than using it to help people in need.  I’ve also made no secret of my feelings about space travel in this, the 21st century, but in case you missed it, I think it is a complete and total waste […]

What A Tragic Waste!!! — Filosofa’s Word

There is a part of me that still hopes, perhaps in some very far-off future humanity as a whole may have access to space. We’ll be able to fix the planet we live on and then (peacefully) take what we learned and head off to see what’s out there.

Jeff Bezos et al have alas disqualified themselves many times over from the phrase “humanity as a whole.”

Nasa’s rover makes breathable oxygen on Mars

Nasa’s rover makes breathable oxygen on Mars


An instrument on Nasa’s Perseverance rover on Mars has made oxygen from the planet’s carbon dioxide atmosphere.

It’s the second successful technology demonstration on the mission, which flew a mini-helicopter on Monday.

The oxygen generation was performed by a toaster-sized unit in the rover called Moxie – the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment.

It made 5 grams of the gas – equivalent to what an astronaut at Mars would need to breathe for roughly 10 minutes.

Nasa’s thinking is that future human missions would take scaled-up versions of Moxie with them to the Red Planet rather than try to carry from Earth all the oxygen needed to sustain them.

Oxygen (O₂) is also an integral part of the chemistry that propels a rocket. Thrust is achieved by burning a fuel in the presence of an oxidiser, which could be simple oxygen.


Mars’ atmosphere is dominated by carbon dioxide (CO₂) at a concentration of 96%. Oxygen is only 0.13%, compared with 21% in Earth’s atmosphere.

Moxie is able to strip oxygen atoms from CO₂ molecules, which are made up of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms. The waste product is carbon monoxide, which is vented to the Martian atmosphere.

The Nasa team behind Moxie is running the unit in different modes to discover how well it works.

The expectation is that it can produce up to 10 grams of O₂ per hour.

“Moxie isn’t just the first instrument to produce oxygen on another world, it’s the first technology of its kind that will help future missions ‘live off the land’, using elements of another world’s environment, also known as in-situ resource utilisation,” said Trudy Kortes, director of technology demonstrations within Nasa’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.

“It’s taking regolith, the substance you find on the ground, and putting it through a processing plant, making it into a large structure, or taking carbon dioxide – the bulk of the atmosphere – and converting it into oxygen. This process allows us to convert these abundant materials into useable things: propellant, breathable air, or, combined with hydrogen, water.”


Five thoughts on “Arrival”

So I watched Arrival on Saturday and then today (Monday) NASA flew a helicopter on Mars! Good time to talk about this particular film, right?

….I LOVED it and I really wish I’d seen it when it first came out. I think it would’ve been a great one to actually see in a cinema, alongside a whole crowd of people, too. Still.

After the poster comes five thoughts: most of them spoilery:

1. My god I hate the poster for this movie! One of the most visually stunning films I’ve ever seen and the poster is a five-minute Photoshop job with floating heads? I get not wanting to show the aliens but COME ON!

2. The twist in this film is one of the best I’ve seen, ever. When I realised that Louise’s daughter hadn’t been born yet, that it was the future rather than the past, I think I yelled “HOLY SHIT” or something alongline those lines just because of how invested I was. And when I write down the twist like that it sounds like something obvious and gimmicky but it really, really isn’t I promise you.

3. Amy Adams should’ve been Oscar nominated for this movie. This isn’t remotely an unpopular opinion but my god, why wasn’t she?!

4. So Hannah in some sense isn’t even dead? I mean… okay, she is dead, but since Louise no longer perceives time in a linear fashion she may still get some well, time with her, right? Flashes here and there. Maybe? Looking back over the beginning of the film knowing what the ending was, I sort of assumed that what was meant by Louise saying “Come back to me,” after Hannah died. Maybe I’m wrong but I guess that thought makes the ending less sad?

5. This movie is all about communication and how VERY important it is. So it sort of struck me as interesting that Louise loses something (her relationship with Ian) because she cannot or will not communicate something (the fact that their daughter will die) to him.

Also on a much lighter note man I really wanted to start learning languages after seeing this movie! I don’t think I have the brainspace for it, but I WANTED to?


Better images of last night’s conjunction, now with annotations!

This is about half an hour before the absolute closest point, but the clouds rolled in and I couldn’t get the shot. Still cool.

Everything except the last photo is a real image taken through a telescope, you can clearly see Jupiter and Saturn (including the rings!), and if you look carefully you can see all four Galilean Moons (those being Io, Ganymede, Europa and Callisto).

If you can’t see them, I’ve provided an annotated diagram and a shot from inside Stellarium showing where everything is. Saturn’s moons are much too dim to see with a small telescope like mine, so while they appear in the simulation you won’t see them on the photo. If you see any weird bright red/blue/green spots in the image, those are probably dead pixels on my camera’s sensors. It is nine years old, it is doing its best.

Contrary to what some people may have told you, at no point during this conjunction will Jupiter and Saturn appear to cross over each other. This is about as close as they get, which is closer than it’s been for over 600 years. If you want to get closer than this, you have to go back to 1226, or wait until 2080. Some of you may actually see that one! Wild. If you happen to be in the Southern hemisphere early in the morning of the Ides of March in 2080, try looking up!