Howdy Everyone! Welcome back to The Carnival of Space, which stops again here at Out of the Cradle with an all new show, its 31st ever!
[Update: Thanks to Alan Boyle at Cosmic Log for the heads-up on the broken links. They should all work now]
I’m Ken Murphy, the Lunar Librarian here at Out of the Cradle and your guest Ringmaster for this week. We’ve got an exciting show lined up, so let’s get started and blast off to Cislunar Space.
Cislunar Space is the area bounded by the Moon’s orbit, and encompasses the bulk of our space efforts to date. We’ve expanded our economic sphere to geosynchronous orbit, and some talk of expanding our realm of economic activity to the Moon.
One way to try to tap into more spirit for space activities is to associate your product with a vastly more popular one commercially. In this case we have NASA associating itself with NASCAR. Robert over at collectSpace tells us “NASA to launch NASCAR Daytona flags”
“When the green flag drops at the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on February 17, 2008, it will travel just a few inches. But for the first car crossing the finish line 500 miles later, a different green flag awaits the winner, one with a few million miles to its history. In fact, to even come close to matching the distance traveled by that green flag, the driver would need to climb back in his car and repeat the race another 9,000 times”.
In other transport news, Clark over at Space Transport News notes that “NASA may contract for the operational phase of its COTS ISS commercial resupply program in 2008, before any Phase 1 demonstration flights have been made. This gives SpaceX a big advantage since Rocketplane Kistler had been dropped from the program and the replacement(s), yet to be chosen, will be far behind.” Would you like to know more?
A significant number of assets in cislunar space are used for Earth observation, and not just commercial folks like DigitalGlobe or GeoEye [NASDAQ: GEOY]. Some are sort-of-private/ sort-of-government supported,and some are government assets, particularly on the international stage.
A Babe…in the Universe, who evidently gets to play with some of the coolest machines humanity has yet created, brings us details of how NASA has compiled Landsat 7 satellite data to create the most detailed view yet of Antarctica: “Antarctica in Hi-def”:
“Many mysteries remain about our Southern continent, including subglacial lakes. The lakes hint at a subsurface source of heat, and could also be homes to life. Similiar lakes may exist in worlds like Europa. Antarctica is also a future site of astronomical telescopes.”
Alan Boyle over at the Cosmic Log also speaks to the work of Landsat 7, and rounds up links to a number of Earth-observation satellites, as well as a number of good articles. He also has a few comments on Senator Obama’s recent education proposals.
Down under in Australia, Astroblogger Ian is witness to a cultural event that evokes musings on the importance of the Moon in bygone days…before good streetlighting in “A different world by Moonlight”.
Close by to Australia is China, which has joined the small number of nations who have orbited a spacecraft around the Moon. This week they unveiled the first picture returned by the probe. More details on the Chinese space program can be found here. For those who read Chinese, a number of books on the Chinese Lunar program were recently added to the stacks over at the Lunar Library.
For the best of cislunar space, be sure to tune in on December 1st, when Out of the Cradle posts its “Best of the Moon 2007″, honoring the best additions of the year to our pool of Lunar knowledge, both in fact and fiction, that have been added to the Lunar Library.
Beyond cislunar space is the domain encompassed by the Asteroid Belt. We’re learning more about these wanderers all the time, but there remains much yet to be learned. What is needed is a comprehensive, four dimensional map of all of the small objects between the Asteroid Belt and the Sun. Mars is also an important player in this theatre of space activity.
advancednano gives us a heads up on a potential way to shorten considerably the trip to Mars in “Vasimr engines plus 200 MW of nuclear “batteries” = 39 days to Mars”. I was lucky enough to see a prototype of the Vasimr motor during a NASA Academy visit to NASA JSC back in 2002. This post is as close to being there as you can get, with links, schematics, charts, and more. It also illustrates the beauty of constant acceleration, which is possible on a practicable scale with a portable nuclear power source. Folks may not like nuclear much here on Earth, but it is great for space applications and a solution to a lot of problems. Brian Wang, a big-thinking futurist, tells us that:
“a proposed portable nuclear reactor (simplified solid core) is the size of a hot tub and will be able to generate 27MW. It is in funded development. A 200 KW version of the Vasimr engine is being ground tested in 2008 and a flight version is being readied for 2010. Seven of the nuclear generators would provide 200 MW of power to enable 39 day one way trips to Mars. Two technologies that are both in funded development and with no major feasibility questions.”
The outer planets are where we find a much greater store of resources, for energy and minerals. We will also find great adventure, and much drama will be played out here by generations yet unborn. There will also be enormous prosperity, as well as danger
[Sorry, no outer Solar system submissions this week]
Beyond the heliospehere and the Oort cloud lies our local galactic neighborhood. The nearest stars and, as we’re discovering, planets. Barring some miracle of transportation, these will be our next realm of human exploration as we carry the seed of Earth to bring life to an unknown future.
[Sorry, no local galactic neighbourhood submissions this week]
This grand exploration is but a whisper of nothing in the suburbs of the 400 billion stars of the Milky Way galaxy. Which is but one of hundreds of billions of galaxies in an expanding universe. Is there any limit of time or distance to where the life of Earth can go?
Well, some seem to think so, and Star Stryder brings us a tale of over-hype on a universal scale in “I see you, now you must die”. In a hyped game of “let’s panic people”, a New Scientist story claims we could be shortening the universe’s life by observing it. In reality, this really isn’t some game of “I spy, the Universe dies.” Find out why here.
And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, brings us to this end of this week’s Carnival of Space. You can stop by and visit bygone weeks at the archives over at Universe Today. If you have a blog and you have a post about space, be sure to get yourself featured in a future Carnival by dropping a line to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to host an upcoming Carnival, be sure to drop a line to Fraser at email@example.com and he’ll add you to the list.
I hope you’ve enjoyed your visit to this week’s Carnival of Space!