Carnival of Space #242
Welcome to another installment of The Carnival of Space! Here’s some highlights of space and astronomy news from the past week. We’ve got great stories on SpaceX, Mars, “Steamy” exoplanets, test pilots, “warp speed” planets, and more!
NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) reached 1000 days in orbit. To celebrate, two new videos have been released. Weirdwarp has full coverage at: http://www.weirdwarp.com/2012/03/two-new-videos-of-the-moon-from-the-lunar-reconnaissance-orbiter/
Explore the oldest relics in our galaxy. The astronomy word of the week at AstroWow is “globular”! Read more at: http://astrowow.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/globular/
At Links Through Space follow an Astronomy Club as they travel through Spain. As they travel the south of Spain they visited beautiful sites and astronomical landmarks to bring you very cool astrophotos and stories about the history of Spanish Astronomy. You can read the full article at: http://linksthroughspace.blogspot.com.es/2012/03/spain-astronomy-club-hercules-cadiz.html
Here’s a trio of stories from Next Big Future. For starters, Elon Musk has a plan for inexpensive trips to Mars. A fully reusable Spacex system would have roundtrip costs to Mars of half a million dollars. He conceded the figure was unlikely to be the opening price – rather, the cost of a ticket on a mature system that had been operating for about a decade.
Next up, A recent DOD report suggests that the U.S. military is willing to pay $1/kwh for power beamed to forward bases in Asia. Trucks transporting diesel can be ambushed, IR power beams cannot, and football-field sized receivers could fit on the larger bases. A 5MW system at this price would provide up to $46 million per year revenue, enough to pay for the launch in a little over a year. Read more at: http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/03/ways-to-make-space-solar-power-work.html
Last but not least, more SpaceX news: Elon Musk claims that, using fully reusable hardware, the cost of launching payloads to space could eventually go as low as $10 per pound. In an interview with Sander Olson for Next Big Future, Kothari argues that vertically launched scramjet vehicles may be the best way in the short run to inexpensively launch payloads into space. Kothari believes that scramjet or fully reusable rockets could eventually bring the cost to Low Earth Orbit down to $100 per pound. Read the interview at: http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/03/how-low-can-costs-go-using-chemical.html
Cheap Astronomy corrects some other people’s science podcasts and then admits that it completely bollocksed something up too. Listen to the full podcast at: http://www.cheapastro.com/podcasts/CA138_Corrections.mp3Mars is dominating the night sky these days. Learn about Mars and observe its retrograde motion at The Venus Transit.
How to decelerate a starship? It’s not easy, but Centauri Dreams points to some interesting possibilities using the properties of the interstellar medium itself. Check it out at: http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=22163
NASA’s Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle will serve as an exploration vehicle that will carry crews into space beyond low Earth orbit. What lies ahead for Orion? The answer to that question and more can be found at the Astronotes blog.
Nearly ten years ago, astronomers were stunned to discover a star that had been apparently flung from its own system and travelling at over a million kilometers per hour. Over the years, a question was brought up: If stars can be ejected at a high velocity, what about planets? Read more about these “warp speed” planets at: http://www.universetoday.com/94300/can-warp-speed-planets-zoom-through-interstellar-space/
Vintage Space offers a short biography of North American Aviation test pilot Don McCusker, one of the few men to fly the full scale Gemini paraglider to a runway landing. Learn all about Don at: http://vintagespace.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/the-life-and-times-of-don-mccusker/Yesterday, March 18th marked the two year anniversary of the Dear Astronomer website. To celebrate the start of the site’s third year, blogger Ray Sanders is giving away an Orion 100MM reflector telescope. Learn how you can qualify for the giveaway at: http://www.dearastronomer.com/2012/03/19/happy-2nd-birthday-dear-astronomer/
Speaking of telescopes, The Hubble Space Telescope has made new observations of a “waterworld” exoplanet which has a thick, steamy atmosphere. Read more about this steamy water world at: http://themeridianijournal.com/2012/03/hot-steamy-waterworld-exoplanet-observed-by-hubble/
Lastly, enjoy this “bonus” article from Next Big Future: A constellation of 12 or more mirror satellites is proposed in a polar sun synchronous orbit at an altitude of approximately 1000 km above the earth. The mirrors would theoretically extend daytime hours by about 2 hours at dawn and 2 hours at dusk each day. Learn more at: http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/03/mirrors-in-space-for-low-cost.html
That’s it for this week’s Carnival of Space! Stay tuned for the next weekly showcase of articles written on the topic of space.
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