Hear ye! Hear ye!
Step right up ladies and gentlemen and prepare to be shocked and amazed at the wonders of the universe that await you here at the Carnival of Space. I’m Ken Murphy, custodian of the Lunar Library here at Out of the Cradle, and I’ll be your Ringmaster for this week. We have a full slate of submissions, so let’s dive right into the action. Our first attraction – Cislunar Space!
Cislunar space is defined as that area bounded by the Moon’s orbit. This is our closest destination in terms of both time and distance. It includes our Moon itself, the Earth-Moon Lagrange points, geosynchronous orbit (GEO), all of the stuff we’re not allowed to talk about in high (HEO) and medium (MEO) orbits, and the abundance of hardware in low Earth orbit (LEO). This is the area of greatest scientific, security, and commercial activity, and so this is where the money is right now.
The 62 Mile Club will be holding an event on October 4th in Bel Air, CA to celebrate commercial space enterprise, and has secured funding from Wyle Labs and XCOR as sponsors. This will be their kick-off event, so be sure to get in on the ground floor.
An example of the commercial activity is the many satellites found in Geosynchronous Earth Orbit, or GEO. SatelliteTVGuru talks about the concept of Free-to-Air television broadcasts from various satellites. Many channels are unscrambled, meaning that they can be received by a tuner and shown on TV. To get a better sense of the hardware that is found in GEO, Ricardo’s GEO-Orbit Quick-Look provides a handy database. There used to be a database online of Two-Line Elements (TLEs) of objects in GEO, but I can’t easily find it and I’m not going to look too closely for it. (a primer on how to read TLEs can be found here)
Cislunar Space Souvenirs:
For more about the commercial aspects, give SatMagazine a go.
If you’re more financially inclined, try From the Ground Up from Near Earth LLC.
If you want to know more about the debris threat to orbital assets, check out the Orbital Debris Quarterly Newsletter from the Orbital Debris Program Office at JSC.
If you’re interested in technologies that NASA helps cultivate, check out Spinoff Magazine from NASA’s Technology Transfer Office.
If you’re in industry and are looking for a competitive edge, check out NASA Tech Briefs
On the goofier side of things, the non-kool-aid-drinking and rather sober and stern fellows over at The Space Cynics take a dim view of a recent attempt to create a link between the space program and popular culture (“Oh No, Not Again!”) by flying a genuine fake lightsaber from the imaginary (but vastly profitable) universe that exists in George Lucas’ mind to the International Space Station in the real universe we all inhabit. I have a feeling that flying Princess Leia to the station in that slave bikini outfit, now that would generate some web traffic.
More folks are looking at how to deal with spacesuit bulkiness issues, such as the recently publicized work at MIT (which Princess Leia would also look good in). Other advances are being made as well, and FitBuff.com notes that there’s a “Real Life Spiderman Suit in the Works”, which might help in maneuvering and working inside of space stations.
Looking forward to the Moon, Astroblogger brings us one man’s account of a magnificent Lunar Eclipse, as aided by a mobile Phone and a cast of thousands (well, it FELT like thousands anyway, he says).
A popular item in the Lunar Library seems to be the Lunar Art Contest being sponsored by NASA Langley and open to college level design and art students. Of more interest to the folks who will be living and working on the Moon might be the Lunar Plant-Growth Chamber Contest sponsored by NASA for K-12 students.
If someone asks you why you why we should go to the Moon, you might want to drop a few of the “25 Good Reasons to Go To the Moon” on them, and if they ask what we’ll do there, try a few of the “181 Things to Do on the Moon”. (The pdf list is here)
Finally, if you’re interested in picking up some space program memorabilia, be sure to check out the auction “Out of This World” at Heritage Auction Galleries on September 20th here in Dallas. All manner of goodies are to be had, including what looks to be a space flown slide-rule. Get the details here.
Further afield is the area around the Sun encompassed by the Asteroid Belt. This includes our current scientific focus, Mars, as well as our upside-down near-twin Venus and well-scarred Mercury, loaded with metals. It also includes the Asteroid Belt, a huge reservoir of material riches waiting to be tapped so that we can stop tearing up our own planet. (I heart my planet)
When we get to Mars, Cumbrian Sky calls for an artist to be amongst the ranks of those going, to capture not just the images of the landscape, but also its power and beauty in ways that only art can, in “Turner’s Mars”
Beyond lies the realm of the promethean planets, the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn, and their ‘smaller’ siblings. Theirs is a realm of enormous wonder but also great peril. Those brave children of ours who venture out there to explore will see things unconceived by the imaginations of those trapped deep in the gravity well of Earth. Even this wonder won’t slow down humans, because beyond the gas giants lies a cold dark realm of large, but not really large enough to be planets, planetoids. This is the next round of resources to harvest after the Asteroid Belt,and as we work our way through the Kuiper Belt to the Oort Cloud, we will also be providing an ability to respond to the threat of incoming comets at the source, before they become dangerous.
Colony Worlds invites us to consider the possibility of living on Saturn’s moon Titan in the future by posing the question “With a world requiring little, if any technology for human habitation [Earth], why would any one consider moving towards a moon shrouded in clouds that is over a billion kilometers from the Sun?”in “Would You Want To Live On Saturn’s Titan?”
Passing even further afield, beyond the domain of our star the Sun, we get into interstellar, galactic space. The Milky Way is an average galaxy of about 100 billion stars that is still incorporating some past collisions. The Sun takes roughly about somewhere around in the neighborhood of 250 million years to make one revolution about the galactic core. There is a current theory that in addition to doing the regular ellipse around the core that we all know about from orbital mechanics, apparently the Sun also bobs up and down through the galactic plane every 30-35 million years or so, thereabouts, sort of like a sine wave on edge to the galactic plane. This makes it very important for us to know what our near-Sun neighborhood looks like, so we don’t miss that dust cloud the Sun might be headed towards in a couple thousand years.
Google is starting to help with that with the release of a sky feature for Google Earth 4.2. The blogsite Falando pelos Cotovelos (‘speaking too much’ in Portuguese) offers us a video tour with a virtual telescope.
Beyond our meagre galaxy lies the vast infinity of the rest of space. We think we’re figuring things out, but really we’ve only just begun to try to understand the cosmology of things. How does the quantum foam behave at the scale of infinity? Just how much exactly of the missing mass in the universe might be locked up in black holes? How much dust is out there that our instruments can’t resolve? Is the universe really only about 14.5 billion years old or are we just kidding ourselves and it’s way more than that? Big questions, requiring big brain thinkers. Here’s a few for this week.
A Babe…in the Universe brings us news of recent analysis of WMAP results (that would be Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, a precise thermometer to take the temperature of the universe. Anisotropy means basically ‘not-same’ or ‘not-aligned’, more technically ‘of unequal physical properties along different axes’) that has shown an anomolously large cold space that appears to be empty, at least to our primitive instruments. The purpose of WMAP was to provide an all-sky survey of teensy-tiny differences in the overall background heat left over from the Big Bang. It would look for miniscule differences in temperature, such as 2.7251 Kelvin versus 2.7249 K. Universal Babe Louise Riofrio brings us the hottest news on this cold part of space that is calling into question our understanding of cosmology.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, brings us to the end of this week’s Carnival of Space. I hope you’ve enjoyed your visit, and invite you to stick around to peruse the archives and browse the different sections of the Lunar Library. Be sure to also stop by the archives of the Carnival of Space for much, much more space fun.