Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen, Mesdames et Messieurs, Damen und Herren to this, the 94th Spectacular Carnival of Space!
I’m Ken, the friendly Lunar Librarian here at OotC, and I’ll be your Ringmaster for this week. And what a week it is! We have a full slate of performances from over 20 different space blogs, so let’s waste no time in getting started.
The Carnival of Space tradition here at OotC is start at Earth and work our way outwards to encompass ever vaster realms of the infinite enormity of space.
As most folks know, this is the International Year of Astronomy 2009, and one of the problems is that large amounts of the population that might really benefit from some stargazing live in urban areas that are bathed in light at night, blotting out all but the brightest of stars. Over at The Spacewriter’s Ramblings, CC askes the very relevant question ‘Are Your Skies Dark?‘.
Visitors to the home page here at OotC may notice a long-running PSA over on the right side for NeedLess, which highlights the waste of generating electricity to shine into space. When I was helping with the Moon chapter of Kids to Space, one question was ‘Would we see a city on the Moon from Earth?‘, to which I replied
It’s not likely. Just like we won’t be wasting oxygen or water, we probably won’t see much wasted light from a Moonbase. While here on Earth we can be profligate in shining light up into space at night, light energy on the Moon will be a precious resource. There might be an occasional glint of light from any solar power towers at the Lunar poles, but most of the activity will be underground.
The cost of lighting the sky is huge, just like the sky, and one thing that communities can do is look at how they illuminate themselves. This is a very important topic, and well worth looking into.
One project that’s not affected much by light pollution is an interferometric antenna array working in the 150 MHz range. Nicole at One Astronomer’s Noise gives us some background on a project in just that wavelength in ‘Marking the PAPER Trail‘. PAPER being the Precision Array to Probe the Epoch of Reionization. We make scientists do field work here on Earth to get the best results, why should the same not hold true for space?
The first area of interest beyond the atmosphere is that of cislunar space. From the Latin cis- ‘on the near side of’, and luna, our Moon. Thus cislunar space is that area encompassed by our Moon’s orbit, and is where the bulk of human space efforts occur. This will be true for a while going forward, so this is where the money is to be made.
Getting beyond the atmosphere in a frequent and regular way seems to be going okay for the robots, but crewed systems are lagging behind. Henry over at Why Homeschool? (and originator of the whole Carnival of Space thing) considers his annual trip to the Space Access conference in ‘Space Access 2009‘. It’s quite an impressive list of speakers, and is the one conference that the rocket insiders look forward to and get excited about. We recently looked at some other upcoming space conferences here at OotC.
Just skimming our atmosphere is the International Space Station (ISS), humanity’s sole orbital outpost at this point in time. It’s still under construction, less the fault of the station and more the fault of the transport architecture, and so there are still pieces going up. In a long-running tradition, NASA opened up the naming of a new module to the public (without, of course, any obligation to actually use the results; always read the fine print, folks). At Discovery News’ Free Space blog, Irene looks at what may be the awkward results in ‘International Space Thingamajig‘.
One element that may or may not make it to the ISS is the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, an instrument meant to be used to study high energy partcles from cosmic space. DJ at Orbital Hub gives us some detailed background on the project in ‘One Last Chance For The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer‘.
It appears that the ISS may be getting a neighbor in the not too distant future. Brian at Next Big Future takes a look at some folks who have space ambitions of their own, since no one will let them play at the ISS, in ‘China Launching Tiangong Space Station at the end of 2010‘.
A lot of the science happens in cislunar space as well, often in or near LEO. A Babe…in the Universe takes a look at the cascading effects of a suspended shuttle launch. An extended delay may cause delays that affect a future Hubble mission, which affects the science being done with the instrument. Louise follows the thread to the far ends of the Universe in Dark Heart of Dwarf Galaxies.
Many people regard the development of permanent spacefaring infrastructure capabilities to be more important than specific destinations like our Moon or the asteroids. At the NSS Blog, they take note of a recent manifesto on the importance of developing just such an infrastructure in ‘Can Space Save the American and Global Economy?‘.
A cycle carried into the dimension of time is a wave. Over at 21st Century Waves, Bruce takes a look at the megatrend cycles of society. We’re approaching critical junctures over the next 20 years or so where we will either create a space-faring civilization for humanity, or we will forego space for a while. The Moon is a critical step in learning how to fare in the space environment beyond the cradle that is Earth. One of the critical questions regarding our Moon is the nature of the elevated hydrogen readings found in and near the everdark craters, and India’s Chandrayaan-1 mission is investigating that very question in collaboration with the U.S.’s NASA. This week, Bruce takes us on a quest with India and NASA Search for the Lost Lunar Lakes.
Dr. Spudis dropped me a line from India to let me know that for the younger folks, the Lunar juvenile Moonwake is now available in its entirety online thanks to Anne and Paul. This Moon adventure, rated a Full Moon at perigee in its review here at OotC, is a terrific science fictional introduction to the science facts of Lunar life. There are only a handful of good Lunar juveniles of late (Lunar Pioneers comes to mind), and Moonwake is the cream that rises to the top (in a gravity well, of course. I’m not sure if any studies of cream/milk separation have been done in micro-g).
Looking back in time, ‘Mission to II P 6-1‘ tells of how an inauspiciously named area of our Moon ended up having a date with destiny. David at Beyond Apollo blog follows the thread from early robotic probes and the humans who used their data to touch our celestial neighbour.
One thing you’re definitely going to need for working in space is a good spacesuit. NewScientist takes a look at the evolution of spacesuits, from the Mercury era into the future.
For those considering how to get around on our Moon, Ed serves up an episode of the documentary series Moon Machines that looks at the Lunar Rovers for this week’s Space Video of the Week. Apparently last summer there was a Science Channel series on the machines that took us to the Moon and helped us explore there. No plans for a DVD release, so be glad they’re archived here. CollectSpace has more details on the series.
Beyond cis-lunar space, in the inner Solar system, we have the realm of the rocky planets stretching out to what may or may not have been one at some point in the distant past, what we now refer to as the Asteroid Belt.
Ever wondered what that really bright star that’s not twinkling is? No, not Venus, that went down shortly after the Sun, but that other one, higher up on the celestial equator. If you’ve got an iPhone, you can get Star Walk v1.2. It’s so handy that it is now an Official Product of the International Year of Astronomy 2009.
Speaking of Venus, Starts With a Bang! gives us the lowdown on why Venus seems really really bright sometimes in ‘Why is Venus the Brightest?‘ It’s quite informative, and I think Starts With a Bang! should visit Venus more often.
Ethan does note some orbital mechanics, but one thing to remember is that while both our Earth’s & Venus’ orbits are mostly circular, they are not perfectly so, and their eccentricity means they have an aphelion (farthest distance from the Sun) and a perihelion (least distance from the Sun). The aphelion of Venus is not fixed relative to the perihelion of Earth (both are moving in the Sun-centric frame of reference), and sometimes the closest approach is closer than at other times. Go learn all about it!
On the next planet starward, Mars, the science results continue to accrue. Over at Phoenix Pictures Gallery, Stuart walks us through an MRO image that reveals surprising details in ‘New pictures of Phoenix..!‘. MRO also provides some images of one of the moons of Mars, Deimos. Emily at the Planetary Society blog gives us the 411 on ‘Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter eye candy: HiRISE images Deimos‘.
With the addition of Ceres to the family as a Dwarf Planet, it’s time to consider some of the useful things that can be done with it. At OpenNASA, John looks at an idea for a huge dish to listen in on the extrasolar planets to be found by the Kepler mission in ‘The Benac Orbit, Keplerâ€™s Follow On‘. Paul at the Meridiani Journal gives us a unique view of the launch of the Kepler mission in ‘in search of other earths‘.
Bridging the inner worlds and the outer gas giants is ‘Planetary exploration in the 1970s‘, wherein David at the Robot Explorers blog walks us through the turbulent years of the 1970s, and the enormous amount of science that came about in the aftermath of Apollo. A better understanding of orbital mechanics allowed new kinds of science missions to be designed that could capture multiple objectives, something well-exploited by some foreward looking folks back in the late 1960s.
As computing power advances and we push back the frontiers of physics, Ian over at astroENGINE can’t help but wonder if perhaps one day our space probes will become sophisticated enough to provide for an immersive experience that’s virtually real in ‘Reality, Virtual‘. Me, I’ll take the visceral thrill of reality any day.
Getting humans to the outer Solar system, however, poses some more serious challenges, and over at Centauri Dreams Paul muses on the links between the recently launched Kepler mission and the challenges of getting ‘canned monkeys’ from Earth to the neighborhood of the gas giants, on the way to the stars. Not an easy challenge, as explained in ‘Space Voyaging a Century Out‘.
Looking a little more closely at Jupiter’s moon Io, Jason over at The Gish Bar Times compares a last look by Voyager 1 with what we know post-Galileo. ‘A Final Look Back at Voyager 1 at Io‘ finishes up a series of articles to which he provides convient links, allowing for a much better understanding of an extreme exploration destination of the future.
To celebrate Pi Day on 3.14, Maria at Green Gabbro offers us a recipe for key lime pi, accompanied by a special cocktail, the Kiwi Lime Sponde, a rather obscure Jovian reference indeed.
Chris serves up some goodSchist this week with a podClast, his 8th, that wanders far afield in its consideration of cryptgeology and panspermia. Schist being of course any of a class of crystalline rocks whose constituent minerals have a more or less parallel or foliated arrangement, due mostly to metamorphic action.
From the outer reaches of our Solar system we pass into our local neighbourhood of space, the Milky Way galaxy. Some consider that Earth is really the womb of humanity, and the Solar system is our cradle. In that regard, we won’t be climbing out of the cradle until we strike out for nearby stars.
Over at Astroblog, Ian is putting up a chapter a week from Galileo’s ‘Siderius Nuncius‘ as part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. This week Galileo turns his telescope to the stars, to see what he can see. What he finds are stars beyond number in ‘Blogging the Starry Messenger – The Stars‘.
Speaking of Galileo, part of the activities for International Year of Astronomy 2009 was the creation of a low-cost duplicate of the instrument that Galileo used. At the Discover Blogs, the world-famous Phil at Bad As…tronomy is offering one up to his readers when he receives it in ‘Spread the joy of astronomy with a Galileoscope‘. Phil provides details on how to pick one up for yourself, as well as on how to donate one to a lucky kid somewhere in the world. As someone who participates regularly in space toy donations, I applaud his donation to not only his readers but also someone somewhere. Try it…you’ll like it.
The opposite of bright stars are black holes, and Dynamics of Cats takes a look at ‘lonely black holes of the cosmos‘. Steinn considers some new data which may dash hopes of having found a binary black hole pair. There’s some interesting physics behind this one.
Speaking of black holes, ChandraBlog takes a look at a composite of Chandra X-Ray & Hubble optical wavelength data to create a unique view of the Medusa Galaxy and her fearsome hair. In ‘A Black Hole in Medusa’s Hair‘, Kim considers the forces that may have created what we see now in the appropriately named galaxy.
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 be sure to share this week’s Carnival with friends, neighbours, local teachers, and anyone who has an interest in our space future!
Be sure to check out past Carnivals hosted here at OotC – the ever popular 57th CoS: This One’s for the Ladies, #s 31 and 18. You can find the full archives of past Carnivals at CoS Central at Universe Today. You too can host a Carnival of Space. Just send an e-mail to info -at- universetoday -dot- com. It’s fun, and you get to play a role in the great space adventure!