Carnival of Space #215

Firstly, here is: Carnival of Space #215—the Podcast! (go right click—Save As... to download)

 

Or just go with the usual text version below:

 

The Carnival of Space was created in 2007 by Henry Cate of the Homeschooling Blog and who then gave it to Fraser Cain of Universe Today and now it is continued by Brian Wang of Next Big Future. If you'd like to be a host for the carnival—or contribute to it, why not send Brian an email at blwang@gmail.com.

 

Mars Rover tribute to the 9/11 victims

Vintage Space reports how the Rock Abrasion Tools on both Spirit and Opportunity, launched in 2003, both had aluminium casings built from recovered wreckage of the World Trade Centre Twin Towers collapse in 2001. Opportunity, which is still going strong, published a self-portrait of its own RAT on September 11 2011. Ad astra—all 50 of them.

 

Harping on about exoplanets

Next Big Future reviews the recent finding of HARPS (the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher) which incorporate analyses of over 376 Sun-like stars, finding that around 40% of the these stars have at least one planet smaller than Saturn—and any of these stars with a planet smaller than Neptune always seems to  be a multi-planet system. At least—this is what we find from the data so far.

 

Exo-hurricane

Weird Warp reports how scientists have deduced that a distant brown dwarf (actually JMASS J2139) must be experiencing extreme weather conditions. Fluctuations in its light output are assumed to be the result of the surface being obscured by clouds. Now, deducing a brown stellar hurricane from this scant data, might seem a bit of a stretch—but heck, who’s going to prove you wrong.

 

More extreme exo-stuff

Chandra Blog reports on a potentially short-lived planet orbiting at 3% of an astronomical unit from its star, which is hence being blasted by about 100,000 times the amount of ionizing X-ray radiation that the Earth normally receives. As a consequence, it is estimated that about 5 million tons of matter is being evaporated from this exoplanet every second. Oh for a magnetosphere.

 

Not quite warp drive

Next Big Future showcases the latest in theoretical space drive technology with a laser-injected fusion engine. The engine works by plasma-ising its Boron-11 fuel producing alpha particles—which are then magnetically accelerated and channeled out the back of spacecraft as thrust. It’s all works much more efficiently than existing ion drives, since the spacecraft’s electrical power is largely generated from the fusion process. Sound great—in theory.

 

Not quite Tatooine

The big news this week is that the Kepler space observatory hunting for exoplanets has found a planet orbiting twin stars—so it’s a bit like the fictional Tatooine apart from the stars being an orange class K star and a red class M star and the planet being about the mass of Saturn and it is outside the habitable zone with an estimated surface temperature of –100 Celsius. But apart from that…. Doc Manhattan supplies some good graphics and Astroblog even created a Celestia file for it.

 

More Kepler stuff

The Meridiani Journal reports on recent (unconfirmed) findings of six Earth-sized exoplanets by the Kepler space observatory—and each of these planets appear to be in their stars’ habitable zone. But we've got to hang on for the confirmation though—so stay tuned.

 

Mapping the Moon

Next Big Future outlines the innovative approach of some Hong Kong researchers to effectively map the lunar surface despite them having only fourteen survey points—being the various Lunar Retro Reflectors that the human race has landed there). Their new mapping technique was achieved by integrating digital imagery data from the ChangE-1 spacecraft, along with data from its laser altimeter data—now that's rocket science.

 

Space policy

The Space Show interviewed Drs Jurist and Benaroya on developing a new US space policy—including taking questions from the audience and a good deal of flexibility about the correct pronunciation of the Drs names.

 

SkyNet is online

Nicole Gugliucci from Discovery News reports how you can now join a new distributed computer system (think SETI@home etc) to help analyse interferometry data from the Expanded Very Large Array in New Mexico, the Atacama Large Millimetre Array in Chile and eventually data from the Square Kilometre Array when it’s built. You can just set and forget that SkyNet is quietly taking over computers across the world—well, that is if you can load up the darn software.

 

And speaking of world robot domination

To close this week’s Carnival of Space, Cheap Astronomy offers an excerpt (with permission) from the 1 September edition of This Week in Science which showcased an experiment by Cornell’s Creative Machines Lab to get two Chatbots to talk to each other—go here for the audio.

 

It’s never really all that bad

Opaque Thoughts goes all philosophical about how life in the future—when there’s routine space travel and stuff—will be no better or worse than life is today or at any time in the past. Well, apart from having holodecks anyway.

 

And that’s it. It’s been my privilege to host yet another Carnival of Space.

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Ask us a question: cheapastro@gmail.com | Home | About us

Home

Naked eye astronomy

Fun with binoculars

Cheap telescopes

Too cold outside

Cheap cosmology

Reader contributions

Cheap podcasts

What's up with Chris

Send an email

About us

Explore the universe on a shoestring

Cheap Astronomy