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NASA Scientists Think They Might Be Able to Use Martian Soil as Rocket Fuel

Science Alert – Space, 1 November 2018

A major problem with Mars missions: Bringing enough fuel for a return journey. In a striking new first-person account in IEEE Spectrum, NASA team lead Kurt Leucht writes about how the space agency is hard at work on a potential solution he hopes will let future Mars missions –or even colonists– extract rocket fuel from Martian soil. Leucht’s team calls the system “in situ resource utilization,” or ISRU, but he prefers to call it a “dust-to-thrust factory”.

The idea is that the ISRU will extract water from regolith –that’s a fancy name for Mars’ distinctive red soil, which scientists believe contains trace amounts of water– and use electrolysis to strip it into hydrogen and oxygen. Then it’ll combine the hydrogen with carbon from the Red Planet’s atmosphere to make methane, which can work as a rocket fuel.

NASA plans to send the ISRU system ahead of a human Mars mission, along with robots that’ll gather soil from the planet’s surface. A few years later humans will come along, stay for a while, and eventually use the fuel it produced to fly back home.

“This technology will one day allow humans to live and work on Mars,” he wrote, “and return to Earth to tell the story”.

Sputnik – Tech, 1 November 2018

NASA Develops Method to Make Rocket Fuel Out of Martian Soil


Images of this sort keep coming while we keep reading.

The automated facility, which is currently being developed by NASA, is expected to extract all the components needed to make fuel from the Red Planet’s soil and atmosphere, providing a significant boon to any future missions to Mars.

A team of NASA scientists has apparently come up with a method to turn Martian soil into rocket fuel, possibly saving the need for future missions to the Red Planet to pack the propellant for a return trip.

“Officially, it’s known as an in situ resource utilization (ISRU) system, but we like to call it a dust-to-thrust factory, because it turns simple dust into rocket fuel,” NASA team lead Kurt Leucht writes in IEEE Spectrum magazine.

The new robotic factory is expected to extract water from Martian regolith and then use electrolysis to turn the liquid into hydrogen and oxygen. The extracted oxygen would then be combined with carbon harvested from the planet’s atmosphere in order to produce methane which could be used as fuel.

The scientist noted, however, that “there are numerous technical challenges” his team needs to deal with in order to ensure the success of this undertaking.

“One of the most critical questions is whether each subsystem of our current Mars surface-processing system can scale up to meet the needs and throughput required by a human mission to Mars. Recent NASA studies estimate that a system like this will need to produce about 7 metric tons of liquid methane and about 22 metric tons of liquid oxygen in about 16 months,” Leucht explained.

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How to Fabricate News Without Oxygen, Hydrogen or Anything at All

The article by Leucht which Sputnik and Science Alert refer to originally appeared on Futurism.com, which is not surprising since the author is a senior official at the NASA, a company with countless web pages and other platforms registered to its name and many others without this registration. We deduce that Futurism.com is one of them and the NASA tries, in this way, to cover their backs –it was someone else who gave the news, which appeared, by the way, on numerous other sites, always on the lookout for futuristic news, surprising research and findings, for example:

NASA Wants to Make Rocket Fuel from Martian Soil (Extreme Tech, 1 Nov 2018)
NASA Is Working Out How to Create Rocket Fuel on Mars (www.wired.co.uk, 1 July 2017)

Thus, the first thing that is needed to produce a news story without its own oxygen is sufficient means of diffusion. In this case we have counted 12 on the first page, 3 of them present it as Top Stories.

However, the dissemination network is not enough. You have to know how to spread the information. Here, several aspects need to be analysed:

The headline: For this type of news, it is enough to give a headline that announces something that does not exist; something we know, thanks to the common sense we all have, that cannot exist –announce it, as we said, as a fact. In other words, we need a headline that blurs the border between fantasy and reality. The headline, de facto, is more important than the text since most readers only read the bold print; assuming, erroneously, that there will be a perfect correspondence between the headline and the text itself. Nothing is further from reality.

The text: The language of the text has to be light, easy to digest and pinpointing. Leucht’s report is “striking” and “in the first person”; the system has its own name –ISRU (acronyms are of great importance), taken from the initials of In Situ Resource Utilization, which sounds incredibly scientific yet light. If something has no name, it should be invented through the use of dead languages –a scientific incongruity, but nobody will notice anyway. For example, “regolith” comes from the Greek word regolit, which means “blanket”, “carpet”, but how are we going to call the almost sacred soil of Mars a “blanket” or a “carpet”! Therefore we transform it to “regolith”, which not only sounds English and scientific, but also mysterious. At the same time, however, Leucht adds a hint of common parlance and calls his system –”dust-to-thrust factory”, which is sort of homespun and thus easy to digest. At the same time Leuch implies that in spite of his being a big fish in terms of science and futurism, he is a simple next-door guy.

The conclusion: It has to be strong, straightforward and intense: “This technology will one day allow humans to live and work on Mars to later return to Earth and tell the story.” The story, we imagine, will be the most expensive, most widely sponsored literary work ever, but actually, hasn’t Leucht told it already?

Modesty and self-restraint: Science Alert gets carried away by the Martian fortune telling, but fortunately there is Sputnik’s nuance (more advisable, just in case): “The scientist pointed out, however, that there are numerous technical challenges that his team will have to face in order to ensure the success of the enterprise.” Forget your team Mr Leucht and leave it in the hands of Hollywood. As you know –in Los Angeles reality becomes fantasy and fantasy becomes reality –all it takes is several bags of money.

Repetitiveness: It’s not enough to say something once, obviously. You need to repeat it from time to time so that it gets stuck fast. As far as we could check the craze of making fuel out of Martian soil has been going on for at least two years (see: “Elon Musk wants to collect fuel on Mars to send spaceships back to Earth”, 27 September 2016, theverge.com)

Well, we already have the news without oxygen, without evidence, without content… without reality. Why then has this empty ball been thrown to the public? There is always a reason behind informational ravings. But first things first, let’s analyse the text of the news:

1-The robots will extract water from the Martian regolith. What robots? How can a robot be manufactured to perform an unknown, because unspecified, task? Do we know the true nature of the Martian crust, the depth at which the supposed water is to be found, the exact conditions under which it will have to be extracted? The robots need to be transported to Mars. By whom? How? Three weeks ago the Soyuz MS-10 had to abort its mission just 50 kilometers from Earth; the US cannot go even to the ISS on their own engines. Sending a robot to Mars to extract water seems like a tasteless cosmic joke. Following the Disney fantasy for the sake of argument –what about the container to store this liquid element… tons and tons of water?

2-They will use electrolysis to convert water to hydrogen and oxygen. Where is the electricity for such an operation to come from? You will have to deploy powerful batteries or modern hydrogen generators. Will all this equipment, plus the robots, fit in the module that will descend upon Mars?

3-Later the oxygen will be combined with the carbon collected from the Martian atmosphere to obtain methane. We must point out that this data must have been a chemical slip from the author of the article that appeared in Sputnik, since methane can be produced by mixing carbon (CO2) and hydrogen (H2) molecules, not oxygen, as Science Alert points out. To carry it out one would require an entire processing plant that could hardly be transported, even more impossibly deposited and mounted on Mars –the afore mentioned robots would have gone on strike long before that.

4-In this way methane will be produced and used as fuel. How? Why don’t we do it here on Earth first and see what happens? It sounds such an easy way to produce fuel, which by the way everybody down here desperately needs as we all know.

Robots, Martian earth, water, electrolysis… all this sounds really easy. How come there are no colonies on Mars yet?

However, it would be advisable to review the facts (do fact checking, if you prefer) –to study again the properties of hydrogen, methane, oxygen, water and, above all, obtain a sample (at least a kilogram or two) of the Martian regolith to see if it really contains water, and if that “water” contains the same elements as the terrestrial water.

All this would take us hours, weeks, months… but this is not the problem. The real problem is that all this information, even if it could be obtained (it is hard for us to imagine how samples of Martian soil could be extracted without going there first), would return us to the place of departure –the one of not knowing what is being talked about since what Kurt Leucht proposes are mirages, deceptions, hallucinations, nightmares, fantasies, special effects of someone possessed. It is a fraud –an insult to human reason and even common sense presented as the boldest enterprise ever carried out by man (white and Anglo-Saxon).


We predict that in a moment one of them is going to roll down the cliff and disappear there forever.

But perhaps the most relevant question is: why is this absurd insisted on and presented to the general public as a serious and reliable project? What do they want to achieve with it? It is a well known fact that whenever they shoot it is to kill several birds with one shot.

The first of these is to maintain and strengthen the materialistic view of our existence. The universe expands in a quasi-infinite space populated by trillions of galaxies, solar systems, planets, stars, black holes, dwarf stars… “Hey! What’s wrong with you guys? Why are you so bent on going rusty here on Earth? Are you not curious? Let’s go and settle down on Mars; colonize it, fill it with oxygen and methane; grow cereals and plant fruit trees. No fertilizers, no fast food, everything natural. Let’s start again, avoid making the same mistakes. The first thing will be to create a clean and pure atmosphere, with nice clouds, from which vivifying water will fall and fecundate our fields. The one on Earth is poisoned. Then we move on… organize interstellar trips. Of course there will always be retrograde imbeciles who will try to argue: ‘And why not try to start once again on Earth? Let’s go back to the origin; let’s fine-tune our lives to the vital rhythm of our planet. ‘You know what, you’ve been indoctrinated by those terrorists with their revealed books. Mind you, soon no trace of them will remain.’”

The second bird that falls down is that of morality. “The Earth has been filled with prohibitions, taboos, fears, restrictions … You cannot go back, you have to leave this planet and generate, with the help of methane, a new society on Mars, based on CP (continuous pleasure) electrolysis. Specialized companies will manufacture female robots, much more attractive, pneumatic and submissive than the ruthless and capricious earthlings. A new intergalactic civilization never before imagined is becoming a reality thanks to the sagacity and sacrifice of thousands of scientists from the NASA, of Nasaland, as some have already proposed to call the first colony on Mars.

The third bird to fall down will be that of economy, the only one that never manages to escape. There is no Jewish-Masonic project in which, after emitting some desperate trills, the trembling sparrow does not plummet down from the sky, to be torn apart by their dogs of prey.

Imagine for a moment the trillions of dollars turned over by space fantasies, the thousands of companies partaking of the feast, the scores of top executives enjoying their undeserved, fraudulent and exorbitant salaries. Can that gigantic machinery be stopped to listen to the voice of reason?

The fourth bird, disguised as a scarecrow, could play the role of introducing all and sundry to the idea of applying scientific spatial findings in the military field. The said application would yield arms of perfect mass destruction, absolutely necessary given the fact that the art of producing conventional ones got lost (Saddam took it to the grave with him, apparently).

It’s high time we got out of this matrix or got ready to die, crushed in some black hole lost in the cosmos –just like us.