Life on Mars by 2024, says entrepreneur
Red Planet rockets will ‘get you anywhere on Earth in hour’
A billionaire tech entrepreneur plans to land at least two cargo ships on Mars by 2022 – using a rocket he claims will also be able to take humans anywhere on Earth within an hour.
Elon Musk unveiled his updated plans for colonising the Red Planet at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide.
“I feel fairly confident we can build the ship and be ready for the launch in five years. Five years seems like a long time for me,” said the SpaceX chief executive, who also revealed plans for a lunar base. Mr Musk wants craft carrying crews to Mars to arrive in 2024, with the cargo ships having placed power, mining and life-support infrastructure on the planet two years earlier.
SpaceX has a fleet of three spacecraft, which the Tesla boss wants to become obsolete. Instead, Mr Musk told the audience his firm will begin stockpiling the Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and Dragon spacecrafts, and put all of its resources into building the Interplanetary Transport System (ITS) – codenamed the BFR.
Mr Musk believes SpaceX can finance its Mars ambitions from its current work launching satellites and servicing the International Space Station (ISS).
The 46-year-old unveiled the combo rocket and spaceship at the same conference last year, but announced a stripping back of the BFR to contain fewer main engines – 31 – while he also released a concept video showing the spacecraft’s potential journey between New York and Shanghai. “BFR will take you anywhere on Earth An in-bound comet 1.5billion miles from the sun has been pictured making the long journey from the edge of the solar system.
The miles-wide lump of frozen water, gas and dust photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope is the most distant active incoming comet ever seen.
Known as C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS) or “K2”, the comet has been travelling for millions of years from its birthplace in the Oort Cloud, a shell of icy objects almost a light year across on the solar system’s outermost fringes.
For the next five years it will continue into the inner solar system before reaching its closest approach to the sun just beyond the orbit of Mars. There is no chance of the comet colliding with Earth.
Because it is being slightly warmed by the sun the comet has started to develop a coma, an 80,000 mile-wide fuzzy halo of dust enveloping its solid nucleus. in less than 60 mins,” Mr Musk wrote on Twitter. The video added “most long-
Lead researcher Dr David Jewitt, from the University of California at Los Angeles, said: “K2 is so far from the sun and so cold, we know for sure that the activity – all the fuzzy stuff making it look like a comet – is not produced, as in other comets, by the evaporation of water ice.
“Instead, we think the activity is due to the sublimation (a solid changing directly into a gas) of supervolatiles as K2 makes its maiden entry into the solar system’s planetary zone.
“That’s why it’s special. This comet is so far away and so incredibly cold that distance trips” would take less than 30 minutes. water ice there is frozen like a rock.”
The Hubble observations suggest that sunlight is heating frozen gases such as oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide that coat the comet’s frigid surface.
As the icy volatiles lift off the comet they release dust, forming the coma.
“Most comets are discovered much closer to the sun, near Jupiter’s orbit, so by the time we see them, these surface volatiles have already been baked off. That’s why I think K2 is the most primitive comet we’ve seen,” added Dr Jewitt.