Showing posts with label space. Show all posts
Showing posts with label space. Show all posts

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Link-dump #22 (space edition)

Mystery Space "Ribbon" Found at Solar System's Edge

Nuclear-Powered Robot Ship Could Sail Seas of Titan

Stunning photo: Earth and Jupiter in the same shot

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

This is more like it.

Trips to Mars in 39 Days

Using traditional chemical rockets, a trip to Mars -- at quickest -- lasts 6 months. But a new rocket tested successfully last week could potentially cut down travel time to the Red Planet to just 39 days. The Ad Astra Rocket Company tested a plasma rocket called the VASIMR VX-200 engine, which ran at 201 kilowatts in a vacuum chamber, passing the 200-kilowatt mark for the first time. "It's the most powerful plasma rocket in the world right now," says Franklin Chang-Diaz, former NASA astronaut and CEO of Ad Astra.

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

You've probably already seen it, but . . .

We warned: once you've heard it, you can't get it out of your head.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Drink up!

It's Official: Water Found on the Moon

Since man first touched the moon and brought pieces of it back to Earth, scientists have thought that the lunar surface was bone dry. But new observations from three different spacecraft have put this notion to rest with what has been called "unambiguous evidence" of water across the surface of the moon.

The new findings, detailed in the Sept. 25 issue of the journal Science, come in the wake of further evidence of lunar polar water ice by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and just weeks before the planned lunar impact of NASA's LCROSS satellite, which will hit one of the permanently shadowed craters at the moon's south pole in hope of churning up evidence of water ice deposits in the debris field.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Here's an astonishingly clever Disney animation depicting hypothetical plants and animals on the surface of Mars. (One of my favorites is the organic flying saucer that fries its prey before enveloping the carcass.)

(Thanks to John Shirley for the tip.)

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Link-dump #17 (Fortean edition)

"They" Are Not "Them": A Hybrid View of the UFO Presence

Lost world of fanged frogs and giant rats discovered in Papua New Guinea

Chinese scientists 'filmed UFO for 40 minutes'

Has Jesus Christ been spotted on Mars? (I don't see it.)

A skull that rewrites the history of man

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Friday, September 04, 2009

Baby universes, white holes and parallel worlds

Physicist Michio Kaku expounds on the prospect of parallel universes in this short, insightful discussion.

Could the UFO phenomenon represent visitors from parallel worlds? I find the notion at least as palatable as the more popular Extraterrestrial Hypothesis.

(Thanks to Reality Carnival.)

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Saturday, August 29, 2009


Astrophysicists puzzle over planet that's too close to its sun

The problem is that a planet that close should be consumed by its parent star in less than a million years, say the authors at Keele University in Britain. The star Wasp-18 is believed to be about a billion years old, and because stars and the planets around them are thought to form at the same time, Wasp-18b should have been reduced to cinders ages ago.

"This planet should spiral inwards on such a short time scale that the likelihood of seeing it is very low," said Coel Hellier, an astrophysicist at Keele.

"That's a paradox," said Douglas P. Hamilton, an astronomer at the University of Maryland who wrote a commentary accompanying the report. He said there were a variety of possible explanations, none of them very satisfactory.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Le petit prince

This Little Guy Might Grow Your Tomatoes on Mars

"Le petit prince" (the little prince) is a miniature greenhouse (concept) intended to walk a plant around Mars' surface in search of optimal growing conditions -- elements from light to nutrients. Eventually the robot masters its environment, sharing growing tips with a whole swarm of bots plant-growing robots.

But the prince is not just a growing machine -- the designer and 2009 Electrolux Design Lab finalist considers the bot first and foremost as a "pet" or "silent friend" to keep a colonist company.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fingers crossed

Ares I-X space vehicle stacked for first flight

The experimental launch is called Ares I-X, and there won't be any humans on board yet -- people don't get to ride this horse until 2015. On this first test flight, NASA scientists will be simulating the first two minutes of the mission of the 1.8 million-pound vehicle, observing how well it can be controlled, demonstrating staging and separation, determining how well it holds up under aerodynamic, thermal and vehicle loads, and then testing the reentry dynamics of the first stage.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

This should come as no surprise.

NASA Falling Short of Asteroid Detection Goals

Without more funding, NASA will not meet its goal of tracking 90 percent of all deadly asteroids by 2020, according to a report released today by the National Academy of Sciences.

The agency is on track to soon be able to spot 90 percent of the potentially dangerous objects that are at least a kilometer (.6 miles) wide, a goal previously mandated by Congress.

Asteroids of this size are estimated to strike Earth once every 500,000 years on average and could be capable of causing a global catastrophe if they hit Earth. In 2008, NAS's Near Earth Object Program spotted a total of 11,323 objects of all sizes.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Reality check

When the human species' unnerving arrogance gets you down, I've found you can do worse than consider the unthinkable enormity of the Cosmos. If nothing else, it will clear your head of celebrity gossip, healthcare reform and the ever-pressing Twitter/Facebook debate.

(Thanks to @KateSherrod.)

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Signs of life?

Martian methane mystery deepens

Dr Michael Mumma, director of Nasa's Goddard Center for Astrobiology and lead author on the previous paper, told BBC News it was vital to understand how methane was destroyed on Mars and to explain how so much of the gas is produced and destroyed so quickly on the Red Planet.

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Good news for lunar colonists

New Device Extracts Oxygen from Moon Rocks

To heat the reactor on the Moon would need just a small amount of power, Fray said, and the reactor itself can be thermally insulated to lock heat in. The three reactors would need about 4.5 kilowatts of power, which could be supplied by solar panels or even a small nuclear reactor placed on the Moon.

NASA steps closer to nuclear power for moon base

Three recent tests at different NASA centers and a national lab have successfully demonstrated key technologies required for compact fission-based nuclear power plants for human settlements on other worlds.

"This recent string of technology development successes confirms that the fission surface power project is on the right path," said Don Palac, NASA's fission surface power project manager at the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, in a statement.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It came from beneath.

Like the fist of an angry god (Bad Astronomy)

It's not exactly clear what's going on here, even in this slightly zoomed shot. But it looks for all the world -- or worlds -- like some small object on an inclined orbit has punched through Saturn's narrow F ring, bursting out from underneath, and dragging behind it a wake of particles from the rings. The upward-angled structure is definitely real, as witnessed by the shadow it's casting on the ring material to the lower left. And what's with the bright patch right where this object seems to have slammed in the rings? Did it shatter millions of icy particles, revealing their shinier interior material, making them brighter? Clearly, something awesome and amazing happened here.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Aldrin's "monolith"

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin's recent comment about a "monolith" on one of the moons of Mars has aroused considerable interest. What "monolith"? Is Aldrin implying that Mars' diminutive "potato" moons host a relic of intelligent manufacture?

Frankly, I very much doubt it. Aldrin is almost certainly referring to an anomalous (if most likely geological) feature on the surface of Phobos, the larger of Mars' two moons.

Discovered by independent Mars researcher Efrain Palermo, the "monolith" is an uncharacteristically tall, shadow-casting structure that awaits further exploration. Interestingly, this 2007 space news piece refers to the Phobos Monolith (as it's come to be called) as a target for a future mission. (The Phobos Monolith isn't to be confused with a similar feature photographed on the Martian surface.)

To learn more about Palermo's Mars research, click here. For more on the Aldrin controversy, refer to Cabinet of Wonders.)

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Around the sun

To Octavio Paz from Alexander Trevi on Vimeo.

(Discovered at Beyond the Beyond.)

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Link-dump #9 (Moon edition)

Aim for Mars, says combative moonman Aldrin

New Rover is a Hi-Def TV Studio, Internet Node

Armstrong's face as he walks on the moon

Forty years since Armstrong’s one small step -- where next?

You Knew This Was Coming: ABC "View"'s Whoopi Goldberg is Moon Landing/Apollo 11 Truther

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Friday, July 17, 2009

In case you missed it . . .

LRO Sees Apollo Landing Sites

The spacecraft's current elliptical orbit resulted in image resolutions that were slightly different for each site but were all around four feet per pixel. Because the deck of the descent stage is about 12 feet in diameter, the Apollo relics themselves fill an area of about nine pixels. However, because the sun was low to the horizon when the images were made, even subtle variations in topography create long shadows. Standing slightly more than ten feet above the surface, each Apollo descent stage creates a distinct shadow that fills roughly 20 pixels.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Please return your seats to an upright position.

(Thanks again to @harpersnotes.)

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