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NAW 2013 Abstracts of Lectures on February 20

Posted on October 22, 2015 at 9:35 AM

* This is a backup post from the main page

Solar Sails

Dr. Perry Esguerra

National Institute of Physics, UP Diliman

Solar sails are spacecraft propelled by the Sun's radiation pressure. A typical solar sail consists a thin, low density, and highly reflective fabric and additional material to provide structural support. In spacecrafts that rely purely on the gravitational force exerted by the Sun, only Keplerian orbits (radial-linear, circular, elliptical, parabolic, and hyperbolic orbits) can be expected. In contrast when the force due to radiation pressure acts in combination with gravity, modified Keplerian orbits, displaced circular orbits and spiral orbits are possible. This talk will provide a brief overview of the physics of solar sails and of their potential applications in space exploration.

Life, The Universe, and Everything

Pecier Decierdo, Mind Museum

Two scientific disciplines are very important in the search for life elsewhere in the universe, both of them still in their founding stages. One is exobiology, the study of the effects of extraterrestrial environments on living things. The other is xenobiology, the study of life with a different biochemistry. Exobiology includes the study of extremophiles and other organisms that thrive in environments that were once considered inclement to life. Recent researches in exobiology suggest that some microbes might be able to survive in artificial environments that simulate the conditions in other celestial bodies. Meanwhile, the most recent breaking news in xenobiology is the production of XNA, a molecule that can replicate and store information similar to DNA.

Because we have only studied carbon-based life that uses DNA as its genetic material, we actually do not know exactly how to search for life elsewhere. Our failed attempts to test for life on Mars are good illustrations of how ignorant we are on the subject of life. However, we suspect that life might require water for reasons that will be discussed. This is why our top candidates in the search for life are places with potentially considerable amounts of water: Europa, Encaladus, and Titan. This is also the reason why we are looking for traces of water in Mars. The feasibility of searching for life in these celestial bodies will be discussed.

The reasons for searching for life elsewhere will also be discussed.

Our Cosmic Connections: "Life in the Universe As We Know It"

Engr. Camilo Dacanay, PAS BOD Chairman

Observations and results of experiments show that Earth is in constant interaction with outer space via supernova through the elements and cosmic rays produced which indirectly but continuously drive the engine of life evolution in a gradual or rapid processes affecting variation and other environmental changes.


Investigations of Dwarf Planets and TNOs by Occultation Astronomy

Dr. Wolfgang Beisker, International Occultation Timing Association - European Section


Generating knowledge about Trans Neptunian Objects (TNOs) or Dwarf Planets using stellar occultations is a very demanding issue. Besides sending space missions. it is nearly the only technique, which can provide precise information about the shape and about a possible atmosphere of these objects. As has been successfully proved in case of Pluto, Eris, Makemake and other bodies, distributed stations, either fixed site observatories or mobile (smaller) stations have to be set up on earth to observe occultations. This kind of research is not only open to large instruments on big observatories but even medium- and small-sized instruments can contribute very successfully.


An overview of the technology of observations as well as about scientific results will be given in this talk. Special interest is focused on results of the last few years, which give first insights in these far distant worlds and show, how worldwide observation campaigns can be used to form a real “whole world” observatory. In case of Pluto the changes of the thin atmosphere with increasing distance of the sun have been detected.

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