Science Fiction – Fantasy – Strange – Books – News – Space

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Arrowhead: Signal (2012)

Arrowhead is a tale of survival set amongst the distant stars. Kye is a prisoner of war caught between two armies that he doesn’t believe in. When offered an opportunity for freedom, Kye sets out on one last rescue mission, only to become stranded on a desert moon when his ship — the Arrowhead — crash lands. Kye has to learn to survive when we discovers a new life form that will challenge his very body and soul.

Written and Directed by Jesse O’Brien

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Watch Free Science fiction Movies: – R’ha (2013)


A member of an alien race is being interrogated and tortured by a machine. Almost all the work was done by 22-year-old German director Kaleb Lechowski. Since debuting a few days ago, this brilliant short brings a lot of attention to young Lechowski and great things will happen to this talented young director. Written – directed – animated by Kaleb Lechowski Hartmut Zeller – Sound Dave Masterson – Voice acting Scott Glassgold / IAM Entertainment – Representation

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Ten lessons modern science fiction films can learn from 2001: A Space Odyssey

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Being a fairly hardcore space nerd it’s my opinion that 2001: A Space Odyssey is the greatest science fiction film ever made. With good science fiction movies rather thin on the ground, I thought I’d look at the lessons2001 can teach modern filmmakers about how to make a great sci-fi film.


1. It doesn’t need to be an action movie

Sure, explosions can be fun to watch, as can mech-suit battles. But it’s always disappointing when a promising plot devolves into a generic action movie.


2. There are visionary sci-fi authors everywhere. Use them

Arthur C. Clarke’s short story ‘The Sentinal’ was the jumping off point for 2001, Clarke worked with Kubrick on the screenplay and wrote an accompanying novel at the same time. Clarke had brilliant ideas about what contact with alien life would be like, and what the future of computers would be. Kubrick took these concepts and wrapped them up in his unique vision. There are so many great authors in the science fiction genre these days that it’s almost criminal how under-utilised they are in science fiction cinema.


3. Special effects aren’t the most exciting part of the movie

George Lucas once said that ‘special effects are a tool’ (many years later he became a special effects tool himself). While the look of the film has to be right, it shouldn’t be the sole reason for the film’s existence. Space effects can be very cheap and easy, and there are some model shots from 2001 that hold up to this day.


4. Think about what our future may be like, don’t just make stuff up

One of the strengths of 2001 was that Kubrick and Clarke thought about and researched the future, rather than just imagining a new society. They thought about what the space program would look like and what life in a space-faring society would resemble. And sure, they may have been off by quite a few years, but their predictions about what a manned mission to Jupiter would look like could still come true.


5. Accurate space scenes are more thrilling than inaccurate space scenes

The scene where Dave Bowman tries to rescue Frank Poole takes places in darkness and silence, and is still 100 times more thrilling than the opening space battle of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.


6. Aliens don’t need to be evil

Too often in Hollywood movies, we meet aliens with a similar desire for resources that we have, and a similar military structure, and war ensues. Or the aliens are horrific monsters that just want to kill everything. But surely a race of beings that have mastered interstellar travel are interested in more than just mining and warfare?

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7. In fact, aliens don’t even need to be understandable

They are aliens, so why can’t their motivations be just as alien as their appearance?


8. The audience doesn’t need everything spelled out for them

2001 has one of the greatest endings of any film, an ending that is still talked about and debated almost half a century after it was initially released. While there is a clearer version of what happened in the 2001novel, the film is hugely ambiguous and leaves it up to the audience to interpret.


9. Space is beautiful 

The opening moment of 2001 is an image of the sun rising over the Earth rising over the Moon. It’s silent, slow, and reveals the beauty and majesty of the universe around us.

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10. Science fiction stories can take a long time to unfold – that’s where the awe kicks in

2001 takes place at the ‘Dawn of Man’ and concludes with an idea about the next phase of evolution. The time span from the discovery of the monolith on the Moon to the conclusion of the Jupiter mission is years. Space is big, and evolution is slow. There’s no magic chamber that speeds things up, no warp drive that makes the distances in space seem negligible. And the result is that you get a sense of the age of the universe, what it means to grow as a species, and just how isolated astronauts can be when things go wrong.

So here’s hoping that Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity and Christopher Nolan’sInterstellar can live up the 2001 legacy.

in Momentum

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Elevating humanity

Space colonization has reached an impasse, for reasons far more fundamental than a lack of money for the Space Shuttle program. There is simply no way humans can travel easily offworld without using massive amounts of rocket fuel to escape the gravity well — and that’s both expensive and environmentally unsustainable. So how will we get off this rock?

To help humanity explore the universe and spread to the stars, we first need to escape the gravity… Read…

That was the subject of a three-day conference I attended at Microsoft’s Redmond campus this weekend, where scientists and enthusiasts talked about plans to build a space elevator. This enormous engineering project would allow us to haul materials, and eventually people, into high orbit without rockets. Some say the project could get started within a decade, and NASA is offering prizes of over $1 million to people who can come up with materials to make it happen. Here’s what needs to happen before you can ride an elevator into space, according to speakers at the Space Elevator Conference.

Physicist and inventor Bryan Laubscher kicked off the conference by giving us a broad overview of the project, and where we are with current science. The working design that the group hopes to realize comes from a concept invented by NASA scientist Bradley Edwards, who wrote a feasibility study of space elevators in the 1990s called The Space Elevator. His design calls for three basic components: A robotic “climber” or elevator car; a ground-based laser beam power source for the climber; and an elevator cable, the “ribbon,” made of ultra-light, ultra-strong carbon nanotubes.

Edwards’ design was inspired, in part, by Arthur C. Clarke’s description of a space elevator in The Fountains of Paradise.

The elevator’s design is fairly simple. It’s attached to the Earth at the equator, probably on a floating platform off the coast of Ecuador in international waters. The ribbon stretches 100,000 kilometers out into space, held taut by a counterweight that could be anything from a captured asteroid to a space station. Along the thread would be way stations where people could get off and transfer to orbiting space stations or to vessels that would carry them to the Moon and beyond.

We have some basic problems to surmount, from weather and space junk wrecking the elevator ribbon to the legal status of such a structure. Who would it belong to? Would it be a kind of Panama Canal to space, where everybody pays a toll to the country who builds it first? Or would it be supervised by the UN space committees? But before we get to the point where we’re dodging micro-meteorites and dealing with elevator tolls, we need to surmount some technological obstacles to building the space elevator.

Here’s where we are in terms of the space elevator’s basic components.

The Robotic Climber, or Elevator Car

It turns out that this is the easiest part of the equation. We already have robotic climbers that can scale ropes and lift incredibly heavy objects. This aspect of the space elevator is so widely understood that the Space Elevator Conference sponsored a “kid’s day” which included lego space elevator climber races. Robots designed by teens and kids competed to see which could climb “ribbons” attached to the ceiling and place a “satellite” at the top.

A company called Orbital Technologies has big plans to put a hotel in space, 217 miles above the… Read…

Of course it will take some effort to get from lego climbers to lifters big enough to haul components of a space hotel up through thousands of kilometers of atmosphere and space. But this is within the capabilities of our current technology. So we’ve got our elevator car.

Power Beaming Propulsion

One of the many arguments in favor of a space elevator is that it will be environmentally sustainable. Without chemical rockets, how will we send our robot lifters scuttling up that cable? The dominant theory at this point is that we’ll have lasers on the space elevator platform, and a dish on the elevator that will capture the beam and convert it to power. This technology is also within our reach.

In 2009, NASA awarded $900,000 to LaserMotive for their successful demonstration of this so-called “wireless power transmission” for space elevators. In 2012, NASA will offer a similar prize for a power-beaming lunar rover. The biggest problem with the power beaming idea currently is that we are still looking at fairly low-power setups, and as the space elevator ascends higher into the atmosphere the beam will scatter and be blocked by clouds. Some conference participants estimated that only 30 percent of the beam would reach the dish.

Still, we have seen successful demonstrations of this technology, and companies are working on refining the technology. We don’t quite have our perfect power beam yet, but it’s on the way.

Carbon Nanotube Ribbon, or Elevator Cable

This was by far the most interesting and contentious topic at the Space Elevator Conference. An entire day was devoted to technical discussions about cutting-edge nanomaterials research and carbon nanotube production. Scientists from nanomaterials labs at Rice University andUniversity of Cincinnati gave presentations on everything from how to spin carbon nanotubes into fiber that looks like soft, black cotton, to how radiation in space could rip the molecular bonds of a carbon nanotube ribbon.

Carbon nanotube material is so light and strong that the elevator cable itself would be thinner than paper. It would literally be a ribbon, possibly several meters across, that the robotic cars would grip all the way up into space. Every year at the Space Elevator Conference, people bring carbon nanotube fibers and compete to see which can withstand the greatest strain before breaking. Winners stand to gain over a million dollars from NASA in its “strong tether” competition; sadly, this year, nobody had fibers that were strong enough to place (but you can always enter next year!).

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Vida alienígena e Exoplanetas



Gliese 667C é uma estrela bem estudada a apenas 22 anos-luz da Terra, na constelação de Scorpius, mas parece ter escondido um segredo muito importante. A estrela tem pelo menos seis exoplanetas em sua órbita, três dos quais se localizam na chamada “zona habitável” – região ao redor de uma estrela que não é nem muito quente, nem muito fria, permitindo a existência de água líquida em uma superfície planetária.

E onde existe água líquida, há possibilidade de vida. Portanto, se você tivesse que apostar em qualquer estrela na galáxia, nesse quesito, a Gliese 667C triplicaria suas chances.


Esta descoberta sem precedentes é ainda mais impressionante porque os três planetas são “super-Terras”: são maiores que o nosso planeta e provavelmente possuem superfícies rochosas.


Para realizar essa descoberta impressionante, os astrônomos analisaram os dados de um instrumento de alta precisão chamado HARPS, instalado no telescópio do Observatório Europeu do Sul (ESO), no Chile. O instrumento analisa a mais leve “oscilação” de uma estrela, ocasionada pela atração gravitacional exercida por um exoplaneta em sua órbita. Outros telescópios, como o Very Large Telescope do ESO, o Magellan e o do Observatório W.M.Keck corroboraram a descoberta.


Os astrônomos já sabiam que o Gliese 667C  possuía três planetas em sua órbita, sendo dois na zona habitável. Mas localizar mais três exoplanetas, sendo dois na mesma zona habitável, é uma descoberta histórica: agora, são três os planetas passíveis de abrigar vida.

“O número de planetas potencialmente habitáveis em nossa galáxia é muito maior se esperarmos encontrar vários deles ao redor de cada estrela de pouca massa. Agora, em vez de observar dez estrelas para localizar um único planeta desse tipo, sabemos que basta observar uma única estrela para encontrar vários deles “, explica o co-autor da pesquisa, Rory Barnes, da Universidade de Washington, em um comunicado do ESO de 25 de junho.

A Gliese 667C é uma das três estrelas que compõem um sistema estelar triplo, orbitando uma ao redor da outra. É menor que o nosso Sol, com apenas um terço de sua massa. Portanto, a energia que ela emite é bem menor, reduzindo a distância da zona habitável. Como consequência, os períodos de translação do trio de estrelas são bem mais curtos.


Mas é preciso analisar descobertas desse tipo com cautela: só porque um exoplaneta orbita na zona habitável de uma estrela não significa que abrigue vida. Sabemos muito pouco sobre habitabilidade do trio de planetas da Gliese 667C, e conhecer suas massas não é o mesmo que conhecer suas dimensões físicas.


“Estima-se que as massas sejam de 2,7 a 3,8 maiores que a da Terra”, destacou à BBC News o co-pesquisador Mikko Tuomi, da Universidade de Hertfordshire. “Como não é possível saber qual é o tamanho exato desses planetas, podemos apenas fazer suposições”.

“Os períodos de translação dos planetas são de 28, 39 e 62 dias, o que significa que todos estão mais próximos da estrela Gliese 667C do que Mercúrio em relação ao nosso Sol. Ainda assim, as temperaturas estimadas permitem a existência de água em estado líquido por causa da baixa luminosidade e da baixa massa da estrela”.


Apesar de o sistema Gliese 667C ser muito diferente do nosso, há uma semelhança bastante importante: nosso sistema solar também tem três planetas na região habitável, Vênus, Terra e Marte, e sabemos que há vida em pelo menos um deles. Vênus e Marte podem estar nos limites da região habitável do Sol, mas cientistas acreditam que Marte já teve condições favoráveis à evolução de formas básicas de vida.

Não há dúvidas de que a estrela Gliese 667C chamará a atenção do mundo e será foco de diversos estudos no futuro. Cientistas especularão sobre sua composição e a presença ou não de atmosfera. Infelizmente, as rotas de translação dos planetas não passam diante da estrela e, portanto, não aparecerão nos dados fornecidos pelo telescópio Kepler. Teremos que esperar por uma nova geração de telescópios ou pela chance de enviar uma sonda para estudar o sistema.


Em distâncias cósmicas, 22 anos-luz não passam de um grão de areia no infinito deserto espacial.



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MESSENGER Finds New Evidence for Water Ice at Mercury’s Poles

Image from Press Conference 11/29/2012

Mercury’s North Polar Region Acquired By The Arecibo Observatory
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Image from Press Conference 11/29/2012

A Mosaic of MESSENGER Images of Mercury’s North Polar Region
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Image from Press Conference 11/29/2012

Permanently Shadowed Polar Craters
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New observations by the MESSENGER spacecraft provide compelling support for the long-held hypothesis that Mercury harbors abundant water ice and other frozen volatile materials in its permanently shadowed polar craters.

Three independent lines of evidence support this conclusion: the first measurements of excess hydrogen at Mercury’s north pole with MESSENGER’s Neutron Spectrometer, the first measurements of the reflectance of Mercury’s polar deposits at near-infrared wavelengths with the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA), and the first detailed models of the surface and near-surface temperatures of Mercury’s north polar regions that utilize the actual topography of Mercury’s surface measured by the MLA. These findings are presented in three papers published online today in Science Express.

Given its proximity to the Sun, Mercury would seem to be an unlikely place to find ice. But the tilt of Mercury’s rotational axis is almost zero — less than one degree — so there are pockets at the planet’s poles that never see sunlight. Scientists suggested decades ago that there might be water ice and other frozen volatiles trapped at Mercury’s poles.

The idea received a boost in 1991, when the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico detected unusually radar-bright patches at Mercury’s poles, spots that reflected radio waves in the way one would expect if there were water ice. Many of these patches corresponded to the location of large impact craters mapped by the Mariner 10 spacecraft in the 1970s. But because Mariner saw less than 50 percent of the planet, planetary scientists lacked a complete diagram of the poles to compare with the images.

MESSENGER’s arrival at Mercury last year changed that. Images from the spacecraft’s Mercury Dual Imaging System taken in 2011 and earlier this year confirmed that radar-bright features at Mercury’s north and south poles are within shadowed regions on Mercury’s surface, findings that are consistent with the water-ice hypothesis.

Now the newest data from MESSENGER strongly indicate that water ice is the major constituent of Mercury’s north polar deposits, that ice is exposed at the surface in the coldest of those deposits, but that the ice is buried beneath an unusually dark material across most of the deposits, areas where temperatures are a bit too warm for ice to be stable at the surface itself.

MESSENGER uses neutron spectroscopy to measure average hydrogen concentrations within Mercury’s radar-bright regions. Water-ice concentrations are derived from the hydrogen measurements. “The neutron data indicate that Mercury’s radar-bright polar deposits contain, on average, a hydrogen-rich layer more than tens of centimeters thick beneath a surficial layer 10 to 20 centimeters thick that is less rich in hydrogen,” writes David Lawrence, a MESSENGER Participating Scientist based at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the lead author of one of the papers. “The buried layer has a hydrogen content consistent with nearly pure water ice.”

Data from MESSENGER’s Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) — which has fired more than 10 million laser pulses at Mercury to make detailed maps of the planet’s topography — corroborate the radar results and Neutron Spectrometer measurements of Mercury’s polar region, writes Gregory Neumann of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. In a second paper, Neumann and his colleagues report that the first MLA measurements of the shadowed north polar regions reveal irregular dark and bright deposits at near-infrared wavelength near Mercury’s north pole.

“These reflectance anomalies are concentrated on poleward-facing slopes and are spatially collocated with areas of high radar backscatter postulated to be the result of near-surface water ice,” Neumann writes. “Correlation of observed reflectance with modeled temperatures indicates that the optically bright regions are consistent with surface water ice.”
The MLA also recorded dark patches with diminished reflectance, consistent with the theory that the ice in those areas is covered by a thermally insulating layer. Neumann suggests that impacts of comets or volatile-rich asteroids could have provided both the dark and bright deposits, a finding corroborated in a third paper led by David Paige of the University of California, Los Angeles.

Paige and his colleagues provided the first detailed models of the surface and near-surface temperatures of Mercury’s north polar regions that utilize the actual topography of Mercury’s surface measured by the MLA. The measurements “show that the spatial distribution of regions of high radar backscatter is well matched by the predicted distribution of thermally stable water ice,” he writes.

According to Paige, the dark material is likely a mix of complex organic compounds delivered to Mercury by the impacts of comets and volatile-rich asteroids, the same objects that likely delivered water to the innermost planet.The organic material may have been darkened further by exposure to the harsh radiation at Mercury’s surface, even in permanently shadowed areas.

This dark insulating material is a new wrinkle to the story, says Sean Solomon of the Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, principal investigator of the MESSENGER mission. “For more than 20 years the jury has been deliberating on whether the planet closest to the Sun hosts abundant water ice in its permanently shadowed polar regions. MESSENGER has now supplied a unanimous affirmative verdict.”

“But the new observations have also raised new questions,” adds Solomon. “Do the dark materials in the polar deposits consist mostly of organic compounds? What kind of chemical reactions has that material experienced? Are there any regions on or within Mercury that might have both liquid water and organic compounds? Only with the continued exploration of Mercury can we hope to make progress on these new questions.”

For more information about the MESSENGER mission, visit: and