Fun Facts of the day

By JulesLC
sketches from apollo 17 astronauts on the moon seeing NA desorbtion rays



FUN FACTS of the day

(encountered while art-researching at NOKIA-Bell Labs)


Sometimes artistic questions can lead to an open-ended arena for interdisciplinary research. Today was that kind of art-research day for me at Nokia-Bell Labs. Here are a few fun facts I found along the way. You may be able to tell that I’ve been broadly thinking about the evolutionary implications of networked communication and space travel.


1. The Moon is physically shaped by the gravitational pull of earth: These marks are called “Lobate Fault Scarps” (great words)


 Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera images (LROC) revealed thousands of lobate fault scarps on the moon, including this prominent one in the Vitello Cluster. Image released Sept. 15, 2015.

2. Cosmic Radiation effects is one of the biggest challenges for the function of technological devices in outer space.

3. Evolutionary Morphology is very difficult to predict: ecological adaptation is still more complex than we can fully model. This is problematic, as global climate change increases conservation scientists run into problems with relocation of species and the further chaotic effects that human intervention.


4. The moon has an anomalous pocket in it’s magnetosphere.  The substrate of particles that earth moves through is as unique and variable as the earth itself; the vacuum of space isn’t empty, especially not around earth. This is the shape of particles around the earth, high energy particles that get accreted from solar winds. The moon also has “a miniature version of a magnetosphere covering a small pocket in the northeastern region of the side of the moon that faces away from Earth.” 


Moon Magnetosphere anomaly


swirling arrows a visualization of Jupiter’s Moon Ganymede magnetosphere


5. Radio waves are a form of light, this is why they can propagate in space, whereas sound cannot.


6. The moon has a trail of salt! It is called Sodium Desorption (which is the opposite of absorption). It was discovered visually by astronauts on the moon who noticed an effect before sunrise.


NA desorbtion diagram of the moon

7. Human’s who endure space travel have biological effects on their vision and hearing among other things (genetic changes, muscular atrophy, immune system changes). This is referred to as “Space Travel Adaptation Syndrome.”


8. The study of mineral modules near volcanoes contain information about the magma underneath, and people have beautiful models of the estimation of the temperatures of magma under the earth. 


9. Recent research suggests deploying silica aerogel onto mars as a way to passively reform the temperature and generate an atmosphere that filters light for photosynthesis. I find this problematic.  It’s odd that research jumps to manipulation of planetary environments for human habitation before a lot of other important scientific questions have been answered. (See #10).


10. Everything we do on other planets potentially contaminates that space of research. There is someone whose job it is to oversee the risks of contaminating the “environments” of other plants. There are principles around this called Planetary protection. 

The issue is that we might leave bacteria elsewhere (called “forward contamination”) and then not be able to disambiguate extraterrestrial extremophiles from ones that we ourselves left behind.