Science Sunday: Jupiter’s Moon Houses Salty Ocean

Jupiter’s Moon Houses a Salty Ocean?

Using the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists have found that Ganymede, Jupiter’s moon, has a salt ocean with more water than the Earth. Scientists believe the ocean is 60 miles thick, which is about 10 times the depth of Earth’s oceans. If this doesn’t get Jules Verne-ians excited, I don’t know what will. In addition to pictures of the moon from Hubble, scientists have measure the magnetic field of the moon, which provides even stronger evidence of such a body of water underneath the surface potentially caused by Cryo-Volcanoes. What’s more,scientists are looking beyond Ganymede to Europa and Callisto as other icy moons with likely sources of water and, thus, the potential for life whether past or present.

But why, Trevor? Why should I care?

This means that our solar system is a wet place, where oceans and salt water are not confined to Earth, but rather, exist in abundance. If there are oceans on moons as well as Earth here in the Sol System, then it can be extrapolated that there are oceans on planets outside of our solar system. Generally, life as we know it requires water to survive. Going further, this could mean life on other planets or moons outside of our solar system.

In my opinion we would be silly to believe there is not life somewhere else in the universe, whether it exists presently, or at some point in the past or will exist at some time in the future. Astronomers estimate that there are more than 100 billion galaxies in the universe and our own galaxy, The Milky Way, is home to over 300 billion stars. Now, math is not my strong suit, but even I know that the odds are against being alone in the universe. Heck, maybe Jupiter’s moon Ganymede or another candidate within our Solar System will house some microbial life if nothing else.

What do you think? Are we alone? Or are there super-intelligent plant-people out there somewhere? Leave a response in the space below, the wackier the better.

Don’t forget to download a free copy of my Sci-Fi Thriller Symbiote, which deals with one possible form of life arriving on Earth via meteorite.



Science Sunday: Private Companies Seek to Mine the Moon!

Can private companies mine the moon?

I came across this gem of a news article from Sen.com, in which the reporter outlines the aims of multiple private companies in the race to mine elements from the moon. Texas-Based Shackleton Energy Company (SEC) is one of the first to express this interest, and they are creating a plan to separate the ice from the poles of the moon in order to create a propellent for spacecraft. There are an estimated 1.6 Billion tons of Water Ice on the moon, and the Shackleton company will use a combination of human and robotic miners to secure the payload, after which they plan to sell off the propellent as an after-product in a Low-Earth Orbit gas station of sorts. For years, scientists have said that part of the problem with a Mars mission is the return trip. If our spacecraft can refuel after hitting Low-Earth Orbit, they would have plenty for the trip home.

Ideas like this one inspired the premise of my scifi series, The Corsair Uprising, in which an asteroid mining company gains control over the precious metal market and hits the highest valuation of any company in existence. In the story, Vesta Corporation has control over political offices and diplomats and they have their own mafia-style enforcers to do their bidding. In the short term, meaning the next 50 years, I think there are a lot of great benefits to mining the moon as well as asteroids and eventually Mars. However, in the long term, meaning 100+ years, I think there’s cause for concern. Let me explain why.

Here’s an infographic (not the best I acknowledge) but an effective enough representation of when we will run out of certain minerals and metals on the Earth. If these predictions are even semi-accurate, then we will need to find other places to find these minerals and metals or we’ll have to drastically change what and how we produce. It is this kind of situation that leads to desperate acts. In my series, Vesta Corporation was the only company with the technology to deliver these precious metals at first, and so they held a monopoly on the market. Eventually other companies would join in, but they were all, in actuality, arms of the same company. Undoubtedly we will need to search for new sources of metals and minerals someplace other than Earth in the next 100-200 years, and I think we should be hesitant when it comes to the companies involved.

Right now, the Sen.com article mentions a few private companies vying for the same goal of mining on the moon. But who owns the moon? I think we as a world need to come together at some sort of summit and discuss exactly how this is going to pan out. Is it going to be the Wild West where possession is everything? Will different space-faring countries stake claims? Can a company legally sell something that they have no right to have? Does the company own the land on the moon or the country they represent? My head is brimming with questions on the ethics of space travel and of ownership of extraterrestrial bodies of land. The American Flag sits atop the Moon. Does that make it ours? It’s a question for far brighter minds than mine. I wonder what Neil Degrasse Tyson would say?

The good news is, if you want to buy a plot of land on Mars, look no further. (Disclaimer: This is B.S. Do not waste your money on this).

What do you think of mining the moon’s Helium, Oxygen, and other materials? What do you think of claims of ownership by corporations on the Moon, Mars, or anywhere else?

To find my books regarding the subject of extraterrestrial mining, find me on Amazon.

Science Sunday: Tesla to Create Batteries to Power Home

Science Sunday: Tesla to Create Batteries to Power Home

Tesla’s earnings may have disappointed, but what Elon Musk said in passing could change the way our power grid works.  Seriously, the implications of this are huge.  Musk said, “Some will be like the Model S pack: something flat, 5 inches off the wall, wall-mounted, with a beautiful cover, an integrated bi-directionl inverter, and plug and play.” Apparently a fully charged cell could power a typical home for a week.  A week!  Think about that.  If there was a power outage on the grid, almost all of them are fixed within a week.  But that’s not where things get interesting.

This isn’t just some off-the-cuff statement.  This is actually happening.  Musk said that about 30% of the Gigafactory being constructed near Reno, Nevada will be dedicated just to this function and they’re in talks with utility companies to discuss terms (on a side note, it’s possible the Gigafactory will be completed in 2016, rather than 2017).  Anyone familiar with Nikola Tesla‘s headbutting that occurred between him and the utility companies of his day will get a kick out of this.

So, what is Tesla Motors, an electric car company, doing in the utility business?  Musk also started SolarCity, a solar power company.  His cousin is the current CEO and Musk is the Chairman of the Board.  If you have SolarCity’s panels on your roof, they can power your home and store excess electricity in the Tesla battery, which you can use to power your home or charge your Tesla car.  It’s beginning to become one big circle.

Consumers should embrace this advance in technology because it not only makes sense, it will save them money.  Customers lease their roof space out to SolarCity, so there’s no cost to it.  Currently, you only pay a minimal amount to the utility company for power during night hours and some extra fees. Overall you still pay far less for your utilities. As long as you don’t mind the aesthetic of a solar panel on your roof (which I think looks like the future and is awesome), then there’s really no downside. Admittedly, this model works better in the Southwest and places that get more direct sunlight. In the future, we need to harness every bit of power we can as the population of the planet balloons.

I think we’ll get a lot smarter as a collective people and start implementing more ideas such as this. Something I’ve always been fascinated by since I first saw it mentioned is Vertical Farming. I’ve used this concept to some extent in my writing because it not only makes sense, but I think it will become a necessity as an estimated 80% of the world’s population will live in Urban areas by 2050. By that time I expect our abilities to increase crop yields and create these ingenious urban farming practices. Those buildings might just be powered by solar panels by SolarCity or a similar company and store power in batteries created at the Gigafactory.

I’ll leave you with this: if Tesla’s Gigafactory isn’t a flop (which I don’t think it will be), and SolarCity continues to expand, how will our power grids change and who stands to make out? Do you think this news is overstated or do you think it will truly change how we get power in this country and potentially the world? I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts!

UPDATE 5/1/2015: Tesla Energy has been announced. Tesla will create batteries to power homes and businesses at a starting cost of about $3000 for home use and more for the product known as the ‘power wall.’