Universe Today – The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope Could Find More of Earth’s Transient Moons.
Earth also has a population of what are known as “transient Moons”. These are a subset of Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) that are temporarily scooped up by Earth’s gravity and assume orbits around our planet.
According to a new study by a team of Finish and American astronomers, these temporarily-captured orbiters (TCOs) could be studied with the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) in Chile – which is expected to become operational by 2020. By examining these objects with the next-generation telescope, the study’s authors argue that we stand to learn a great deal about NEOs and even begin conducting missions to them.
Earth’s temporarily-captured orbiters (TCOs) are a sub-population of near-Earth objects (NEOs). TCOs can provide constraints for NEO population models in the 1–10-metre-diameter range, and they are outstanding targets for in situ exploration of asteroids due to a low requirement on . So far there has only been a single serendipitous discovery of a TCO. Researchers assessed in detail the possibility of their discovery with the upcoming Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), previously identified as the primary facility for such discoveries. They simulated observations of TCOs by combining a synthetic TCO population with an LSST survey simulation. They then assessed the detection rates, detection linking and orbit computation, and sources for confusion.
TCOs are challenging objects even for an advanced system such as LSST.
These objects are an appealing target for research and rendezvous with spacecraft – either in the form of CubeSat-sized missions or larger spacecraft that could conduct sample-return missions.
They expect to find a TCO on average once every two or three months, resulting in the order of 75 objects during the nominal ten-year operation period of LSST.
Universe Today – If Astronauts Hibernated on Long Journeys, They’d Need Smaller Spacecraft.
The ESA says they’ve “identified the controlled use of torpor & hibernation as a game-changing technology for human spaceflight.” They also speculate that lowering the metabolic rate of astronauts on long space journeys could not only conserve air, water, and food, but also lower their susceptibility to radiation damage.
The preliminary study showed that the mass of the spacecraft could be reduced by one third. The crew would hibernate in small pods that would double as cabins for the crew while awake. The removal of consumables would help by eliminating several tons of mass.
If we were able to reduce an astronaut’s basic metabolic rate by 75% – similar to what we can observe in nature with large hibernating animals such as certain bears – we could end up with substantial mass and cost savings, making long-duration exploration missions more feasible.