Ida and Dactyl 2003
The 2006-07 Spacesim Mission
launched on Tuesday February 27. The Mission "Coronis" visited the comet Borrelly to
determine the general characteristics of comets. Several experiments to determine the
composition of the comet were performed, as well as one to determine the mass of the comet.
Other experiments took advantage of the environment that we placed our astronauts in.
The astronauts for the 2007 Mission were Stefan De Young (Astronaut Commander), Jonathan
Scothorn, Nevin Hotson, Lauren Delrio, Anthony Xing, and James Cooper.
Borrelly was discovered by Alphonse Louis Nicolas Borrelly during a routine search for comets
at Marseilles, France on December 28, 1904. Deep Space 1 flew about 1350 miles from the nucleus
on September 22, 2001. Borrelly is a typical short period comet; it has a period of 6.8 years
(currently; it has approached Jupiter 3 times in the 20th century and had its orbit and period adjusted each time).
At perihelion, it is 1.35AU from the sun (just inside the orbit of Mars) and at aphelion,
it is 5.83 AU from the sun (just outside the orbit of Jupiter); it has an eccentricity of 0.624.
The nucleus is shaped sort of like a bowling pin, 8x4 km. It has three "jets" firing material off
into the coma; the longest (the one on the rotation axis) is ~60 km long. Each jet comes out of a
particularly bright and smooth, but concave part of the comet, and it is believed that the comet
is eroding fastest near them. The nucleus is about the colour of asphalt (3% albedo);
the coma and tail produce much of the light viewed. This makes the nucleus the darkest
known object in the solar system (although Halley is #2 at 4%, and the fact that the only
two comets approached are extraordinarily dark suggests that most comets are this dark).
The crust is believed to be iron or carbon. The fact that the relatively smooth erosion
centres are much brighter has led to suggestions that the albedo comes partly from colour
but also from texture, of which the comet has a great deal (hills, craters, general cragginess).
The comet is not so much a "dirty iceball" as a "icy dirtball". Deep Impact indicated that comets
(or at least Tempel-1) seem to be not very dense; Tempel-1 is maybe 25% by volume ice grains
loosely packed together, covered in a layer a couple of meters deep of very fine silicate dust,
trace hydrocarbons and organics (including clays and calcium carbonates).
- Experiment: The Omnibus Borrelly-surface Analysis Experiment
- Goals: To analyze the surface composition of Borrelly and determine the following:
- Does it contain minerals that could be mined commercially?
- Why does the comet have such a low albedo?
- Does it contain any organic compounds that could lend support to the theories of panspermia and exogenesis?
- Required equipment:
- Whatever you use to test for basic organic compounds compounds (ammonia, ethanol, formaldehyde, and acetylene, among others, have already been detected in space) or amino acids.
- Benedict's reagent (to test for monosaccharides, which might indicate the presence of life)
- Biuret reagent (to test for amino acids)
- A bunsen burner (for flame test) (obviously, must be done outside the Hab)
- Basic lab equipment (hotplate, test tubes, pipettes)
- due to lack of resources, only qualitative analyses will be performed to check for metal ores (magnesium and iron can be expected)
- Astronauts will perform EVAs to collect samples of the comet's surface
- samples will be returned to the Hotbox and analyzed for any potential hazards
- if safe, samples will be removed from the hotbox
- analyses will be performed to test for any of the materials we are looking for
- materials which we should focus our search upon include:
- the aforementioned organic compounds, along with simple amino acids, like glycine and alanine
- iron, nickel, magnesium, and silicon might be expected
- Experiment: The Borrelly-Mass-Determining Experiment
- Goal: to accurately determine Borrelly's mass
- Required equipment: none
- Bring the Habitat to rest relative to the comet, a certain distance away from the comet's centre
- measure the time taken for the Hab to fall a certain distance (10 m, say) toward the comet
- use a = 2d/t2 to determine the Hab's acceleration, F = ma to determine the force of gravity, and m2 = gd2/Gm1 to determine the comet's mass
- Experiment: The Parallax-Enhancing Experiment
- Goal: to perform more-accurate-than-normal parallax calculations using the enhanced baseline which traveling away from the Earth will provide
- Required equipment: a telescope
- an easily-observable body will be selected beforehand
- both groups will observe the body and note the angle to the baseline at which it is seen
- the sine law will provide for calculation of the distance to the body
- due to the increased baseline length, the parallax calculations will be more accurate than usually possible
- Experiment: The Moon-Base-Creation Experiment
- Goal: to alter the comet's orbit so that it is captured into an Earth orbit and can be used as a staging point for large-scale missions
- Required equipment: extra fuel
- calculations will be performed to determine the forces required to send the comet to a point where it can be captured
- in computer simulation, the Hab will be placed at Borrelly's location, at Borrelly's velocity, and the change in velocity required to bring the Hab into a stable Earth orbit will be noted
- these forces will be imparted using the Hab as a pushing device
- This experiment is likely mutually exclusive of the Parallax experiment, since the former would work better with a short distance to cover, while the latter requires a greater distance.
- Experiment: The Machiavellian Stress-Inducing Experiment (Courtesy of BFoo)
- Goal: to determine how confinement and isolation affect astronauts
- Required equipment: sphygmomanometers, a sense of sadism
- Show astronauts what factors can affect stress
- Introduce them to somatic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous system. Tell them to measure parasympathetic nervous system properties such as blood pressure etc, and explain to them how it is connected to stress
- record the results as the mission progresses and various stress-inducing experiments occur.
- Experiment: Day of the Triffids (The Plant Experiment) (Courtesy of BFoo)
- Goal: to determine the effects of spaceflight upon plants
- Required equipment: radish seeds, plant pots, extra water
- Take a bunch of radish seedlings into space with us.
- Measure various characteristics to observe the health of the plants
- A control group of plants