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Sci-Fi NASA Space Science

Mission Could Seek Out Spock's Home Planet 173

An anonymous reader wrote with a link to the official Planet Quest site. Planet Quest has the goal of exploring the galaxy via sophisticated instrumentation for another habitable planet. NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab is working to plan out missions for the project, and researchers are now theorizing that the instruments may be able to explore the system of 40 Eridani. Hardcore Trek fans may know 40 Eridani as the star associated with the planet Vulcan. "The SIM PlanetQuest instrument will be so accurate, it could measure the thickness of a nickel at a distance from Earth to the moon. Using a set of mathematical models based on Newton's Laws, Tanner was able to conclude that SIM would be able to definitively determine whether there is an Earth-mass planet orbiting in the habitable zone around 40 Eridani A, and could also determine its orbit. This is quite an exciting prospect, since NASA's Terrestrial Planet Finder mission, planned for launch after SIM, would not only be able to take a rudimentary 'picture' of the planet, but also could search for signatures of life such as methane and ozone."
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Mission Could Seek Out Spock's Home Planet

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  • Wonder how long before the marketing boys start calling it that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2007 @06:04PM (#19090971)
  • by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @06:06PM (#19090991) Homepage Journal
    Space. The final frontier.
    These are the voyages of the starship Doogan.
    Her five year mission, to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilisation.
    To boldly go where no man has gone before.

    You can just picture the comm message as Scotty tells the captain they won't leave earth orbit and will have to search for spock in New Mexico.
  • by eln ( 21727 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @06:07PM (#19090999)
    but also could search for signatures of life such as methane and ozone

    So we're only interested in flatulent life, then.
  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @06:10PM (#19091055)
    You would think that Borg technology on the other side of the galaxy would be a lot more interesting than a group of alien philosophers contemplating lint in their belly buttons. :P
    • Fans of the old Star Trek would probably prefer one of those many planets where kirk fought for some hot alien woman.
      Purists would want to maintain the storyline and have Vulcans be our first contact.
    • Except I'd hate to be the guy looking through the telescope that spots the Borg cube and notices them looking back at us. First of all, it would be awkward that they caught us staring at them, and second of all, they'd have to come assimilate us after that.
    • Yeah, I would prefer that resources be allocated to only investigate Spock's mother's planet... which we have good data to suggest that it exists.
  • Peace and long life.
  • c'mon. logic says this is so unprobable that it will probably happen ;o)
  • ...if they can measure the thickness of the steps at Mount Seleya.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2007 @06:12PM (#19091081)
    If we discover the Vulcans before the warp drive then our timeline will be wrong.
    • by Blob Pet ( 86206 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @06:44PM (#19091383) Homepage
      Not to worry, we'll just label this mission as non-canon. Obviously Rick Berman had some hand in its creation.
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by rubycodez ( 864176 )
      we're already on a wrong timeline, the Borg took over the Republican party and now they're infecting the whole planet. Instead of an intelligent Borg Queen we have the Dumbass Borg King George, so fortunately for the universe we're doomed.
  • by dcray2000 ( 969850 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @06:16PM (#19091135)

    We'll probably see a Vulcan in a skyscraper with a telescope looking back at us.
  • Outpost? (Score:3, Informative)

    by crabpeople ( 720852 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @06:20PM (#19091167) Journal
    Wasn't that also one of the many stars you could fly to in outpost, the buggiest game of all time?

    • No. No matter what planet you picked it just sent you to Mars anyway. Your planet has a theme song [wikipedia.org], and it repeats over and over and over again.
  • Slashunits! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The SIM PlanetQuest instrument will be so accurate, it could measure the thickness of a nickel at a distance from Earth to the moon.

    Yes, but how many football fields away can it measure the width of the Library of Congress from?

    • The article writer is indeed an idiot. If he is an American idiot, his "nickel" is (according to Wikipedia) 1.95mm thick. If he is a Canadian idiot, his "nickel" is 1.76mm thick.

      I have never seen either of these coins and probably never will. Why can't these morons just say "about 2mm"? Oh, I forgot: if we use the metric system, the terrorists have won.

      • No, they are talking about a Vulcan nickel of course, which is EXACTLY 1/8 inch thick, because that is the only logical measure of length.
  • by Castar ( 67188 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @06:26PM (#19091217)
    I'm a Star Trek fan (although not so much of the original series, I have to admit), but I'm totally confused by this constant recent desire to tie every space mission to popular sci-fi. In a mainstream news article, I can understand it. But here on Slashdot? Do we really need Vulcans to be involved before we get excited about a *mission to explore another solar system*? That's incredibly cool on its own. By hyping it up as somehow Star Trek-related, you really minimize the plain awesomeness there is in space exploration.
    • by mrhifibanjostrings ( 664709 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @06:48PM (#19091425)
      You obviously underestimate the number of people who flip open their Razr phones like tricorders and make the "shhhhh" sound when they automatic doors open for them. Anything is cooler when you integrate Star Trek into it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nschubach ( 922175 )
        ...or is anything cooler when you integrate it into Star Trek? Think about it. ;)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Miseph ( 979059 )
        I'm not sure that even qualifies as debatable...
      • by bit01 ( 644603 )

        Anything is cooler when you integrate Star Trek into it.

        Not really. Anybody who confuses the coolness of real accomplishment with a childish fantasy like startrek really needs to get out more.


        Don't be a programmer-bureaucrat; someone who substitutes marketing buzzwords and software bloat for verifiable improvements.

      • by slyborg ( 524607 )
        Open their Razr phones like communicators, not tricorders. Instead they hold up their iPods and and do the "whirmrmrmr" sound while they "scan" the backside of some hottie on the subway, and say "Fascinating" with an upraised eyebrow.

        Also dawns on me that only people 35+ years old would have any association between a flip-phone and Star Trek's original communicators. Defines the generation that designed these phones as well as (apparently) Slashdot's demographic.

        Is it just me, or is it getting OLD in here??
    • by dircha ( 893383 )
      "Do we really need Vulcans to be involved before we get excited about a *mission to explore another solar system*?"

      Maybe not, but it helps! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T'Pol [wikipedia.org]
    • by History's Coming To ( 1059484 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @07:08PM (#19091581) Journal
      Absolutely, yup, you're right.


      ....remember that to do stuff that we know is cool you have to convince the general public, who:
      1: Are a bit dim at times (average IQ of 100 apparently! ;)
      2: Are going to be paying for it either through taxes or by buying the products that have adverts plastered across the side of the spaceship.

      You've got to get the money from somewhere, and "cool" gets money these days.
      For the REAL future of space missions, see this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TN3JjUUdjWU [youtube.com] - a bunch of British TV presenters decide to make a rocket...out of a 3 wheeled car. And it ends up being the largest non-commercial European space launch ever...now that's cool.
      • The Ariane 5 [esa.int] is the largest non-commercial (since it is operated by the European Space Agency or ESA) European launch vehicle and it first successfully launched in 1997. It can throw 16 metric tons into LEO.
        • by cooley ( 261024 )
          Ya throw 16 metric tons, and whad'ya get?

          Another pay-load and a trillion in debt

          Say Vulcan don't ya call me 'cause I can't go,

          Until I can build me a warp drive core....

          neeer, neeer, neeer, neeer, nee-ne-neer neeeeeeer
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Lotana ( 842533 )

          Just 16 metric tons and it is currently the largest we can do?!

          What the hell happened to Energia's blueprints? That baby could place 100 metric tons [wikipedia.org] into LEO!

          • by khallow ( 566160 )
            Is there some need for Europe to put more into space? You don't use an semi-trailer truck to pick up snacks at the local store. And seven launches of the Ariane 5 puts up more than 100 tons.
    • Of course your post is very insightful. But there's a very good reason to involve Spock: It's fun. Where I am it's Friday. You might want to consider opening one of your favorite beverages and just observing the Friday-ness of it all.
      • Too true. We could randomly choose any known trinary star system within range to resolve adequately, but you get a free 'nifty' factor when you can tie it in to some pop culture. I have absolutely no problem with this - we'll very likely learn something interesting even without finding the boring super strong, long lived, mating-on-a-seven-year-cycle, emotionally repressed green blooded aliens with arching eyebrows and condescending attitudes.
    • by 1u3hr ( 530656 )
      And the recent bullshit "kryptonite" story about a newly found ore that happened to be similar to the label on a movie prop in a Superman sequel.

      Though the mainstream media lapped that one up too.

      It seems "Star Trek/Wars" is the Paris Hilton of Slashdot. Any story that can be linked to the phrase gets a headline. The sad thing is when, like this one, the story is inherently important. Still 95% of the comments are going to be lame Trek jokes.

    • by bit01 ( 644603 )

      ut I'm totally confused by this constant recent desire to tie every space mission to popular sci-fi.

      Some of these story submissions and associated comments are likely to be SF marketing parasites. It gives them mindshare and by associating their fiction with real world accomplishment they give themselves legitimacy. /. is likely to be an primary SF demographic.


      Marketing talk is not just cheap, it has negative value. Free speech can be compromised just as much by too much noise as too little sign

    • by khallow ( 566160 )
      Why? It's a clever way to tie in real science with something that many people understand.
    • Interestingly, the old quote quote probably never uttered by Spock was, "it's life, Jim, but not as we know it". By searching for methane & ozone etc, and by making assumptions when they conduct an analysis, they are simply looking for life as we know it.
  • Or is more and more of our science funds going to PR stunts. It is sad to say, but I believe that NASA has outlived its usefulness.
  • that sounds great. SIM Earth was fun!
  • We can get there in time for pon farr! Wacky giant Q-tip/axe weapons optional.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pon_farr [wikipedia.org]
  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @06:59PM (#19091511)
    it could measure the thickness of a nickel at a distance from Earth to the moon.

    Is that a hot nickel, or a cold nickel?

    • by sconeu ( 64226 )
      No, hot and cold are out. However, they haven't decided between a wooden nickel or a plugged nickel.
    • by Dunbal ( 464142 )
      More importantly, how does that translate to students per volkswagen or football field lengths stadiums^2?
  • Of course, TPF and SIM were cancelled, sorry, "deferred." Got to keep the Hubble, ISS, and manned program going.
  • eh (Score:3, Funny)

    by djupedal ( 584558 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @07:25PM (#19091727)
    "The SIM PlanetQuest instrument will be so accurate, it could measure the thickness of a nickel at a distance from Earth to the moon."

    Last I heard the boys still had issues dealing w/simple math. It might be best to hold off on such parlor triks as this until the tutors come back with a reasonable report...
  • Fictional (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by dangitman ( 862676 )
    Uh, guys... Spock is a fictional character. That means he doesn't really exist. He is played by an actor named Leonard Nimoy, whose home planet is Earth.
  • Epsilon Eridani (Score:5, Informative)

    by spaceyhackerlady ( 462530 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @07:45PM (#19091901)

    I must admit that I'm old enough to remember when Vulcan was supposed to be a planet of Epsilon Eridani, not 40 Eridani. Epsilon is much more Sun-like.

    Of course, the Vulcans would have to argue with the Comporellon folks, who also live in the Epsilon Eridani system. :-)


  • Does this mean that we can finally line up all the Neanderthals who still think the moon landing is a hoax, let them look through the shiny new "telescope" and see the lunar landers still parked where they landed about 38 years ago?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by skoaldipper ( 752281 )
      If it's not a hoax, then tell me why after all those moon missions not one single astronaut brought back one single slice of cheese?
  • ...Spock's home planet is Earth. His mother was a human and his father an ambassador to Earth named Sarek.

  • by Dirtside ( 91468 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @11:53PM (#19093355) Journal

    it could measure the thickness of a nickel at a distance from Earth to the moon

    Oh, great, another metric unit we have to memorize: Moon-Earth distance nickel thicknesses. How many Libraries of Congress is that?

Exceptions prove the rule, and wreck the budget. -- Miller