Welcome everyone to this, the Dodransbicentiquasihebdomadibus Carnival of Space. Dodransbicentiquasihebdomadibus is my bad linguistics and butchered Latin for “175th sort-of-weekly”, and it sets the quasi-silly tone for this week’s Carnival.
We’re always happy to host the Carnival of Space here at Out of the Cradle. I’m Ken, the Lunar Librarian here at OotC,and I’m proud to be hosting the CoS for a seventh time in its ongoing saga, in which OotC has participated since its inception so many Moons ago. Your friendly Lunar Librarian is actively engaged in promoting space exploration and development, both locally in my community, as well as worldwide through the internet.
The Boy Scouts are in the process of doing a periodic update to their Space Exploration merit badge pamphlet. The last major revision was in 2003, and quite a bit has happened since then. The Boy Scouts reach out to organizations relevant to a particular merit badge to help with the updates. Since BSA is headquartered in Irving, TX, plumb in the middle of the D/FW metroplex, they reached out to the North Texas chapter of the National Space Society. This is a particularly delicate update, as it corresponds with the end of the Space Shuttle era, and no one is really sure what is going to come next. How to address that in the merit badge pamphlet falls squarely on the shoulders of yours truly, who is the project lead for the chapter on this one. Our first draft of updates and changes for the next edition was due this last Wednesday, and was delivered on time, which elicited a nice thank you from the Scouts:
“Ken, et al., thank you so much for your detailed review. I think the format you provided is just fantastic. I can see what the proposed changes to requirements are, and you have already provided the information necessary to see those changes through, as well as general updates to the text. This is wonderful!
I am so thankful for your input, everyone. I donâ€™t want to say you all went overboard, but you certainly went above and beyond the call of duty!”
While basking in the afterglow of project well done, the weekend approached, and that meant the Fall UT Arlington Planetarium Astronomy Day. NSS of NT got to co-host this time around (Texas Astronomical Society usually takes the honor), and we had a great time. We set up a play area over in one corner with some toys including our Rocket Ship Adventure playset, which proved to be a big hit. One mother commented that something she likes about space toys is that they’re equally appealing to both boys and girls. Which was proved out throughout the day as both boys and girls engaged their imaginations in creating rocket ship adventures.
We also held another raffle for our Science Fair Scholarship, and had our best single day ever, raising our total for the year to over $250. Several chapter members will go to the Dallas Regional Science & Engineering Fair in February and award a cash scholarship to the best space exploration project. Unfortunately, yours truly doesn’t get to be one of the chapter judges, as I’m already a regular judge in Physics & Astronomy (coming up on my 5th year). I can tell you first hand that people are more than happy to buy lots of raffle tickets when they find out that the money is going to a science fair prize.
And we handed out a lot of space information. Several chapter members had such a good time that they’re going to try to arrange a display at the upcoming Sally Ride Science Festival on October 30th at UT Arlington, which will feature Barbara Morgan. Too bad UTA doesn’t have a SEDS chapter, as then we could really have some fun. One student did approach me at Astronomy Day and asked about student space organizations, so I made sure to point him to the SEDS website. Maybe he’ll be interested enough to go to the annual conference, SpaceVision 2010, coming up November 5th at the Univ. of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Your Lunar Librarian can’t make it this year, as he’s going to be heading to NASA Ames this next weekend for the Space Studies Institute’s Space Manufacturing 14: Critical Technologies for Space Settlement conference on October 30th & 31st. Loaded with top names in the field, it comes at a time when the space industry is trying to define a path forward in building our space capabilities. It’s nice to talk about mining Lunar volatiles, but the fact is that no one has yet written the “Engineering Handbook for the Lunar Environment”, although Peter Eckart’s “Lunar Base Handbook” comes closer than most. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of direction for the next steps forward comes from the conference.
Another exciting conference was this last week’s International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight in Las Cruces, NM, which looked at things from suborbital to orbital, and featured a keynote from NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver, who is notable in part for having been the Executive Director of the National Space Society in the past, an organization working towards people living and working in space. The NewSpace Journal has the roundup of both days. They also have coverage from the Spaceport America dedication that was just up the road.
Further exploring the developments occurrring in the space industry, D Minus Zero shares his experience working on a video for the USAF on “Everyday Sci-Fi” that features XCOR Aerospace and Masten Space Systems.
On the audio side of things, Dr. Livingston over at The Space Show featured this last week an interview with Jason Andrews of Andrews Space, who spoke about brokering secondary payload capacity as a means of getting more science work to orbit. Also touched upon was work on the Google Lunar X Prize.
An example of getting more science payloads to orbit comes to us from Wayne at Kentucky Space, where they are checking over an elegant plant growth two-unit CubeLab designed by students at Valley Christian High in California that should fly early next year to the ISS. Plants in space is something that has fascinated scientists, and kids, for a long time. Plants on the Moon has been an intriguing idea since the tantalizing studies by Dr. Walkinshaw with Lunar regolith back in the 70s.
Speaking of the Google Lunar X Prize, Amanda’s posted a video update of their team summit earlier in the month on the Isle of Man
In the Isle of Man, there are specifically no corporate taxes for space related activities, and as a consequence it has a developing international space industry domiciled there.
Next year the NSS is going to be hosting their 2011 International Space Development Conference (ISDC) in Huntsville, AL in conjunction with the local HAL-5 chapter. Also in Huntsville is a Google Lunar X Prize team, and the local Huntsville Times has a nice look at the Rocket City Space Pioneers and their efforts.
Space art is almost always a part of the ISDC. Fellow NSS member Jim over at ArtsNova gives us a roundup of various current art contests with space-related themes in Space Art Contests Galore, including NASA Langley’s annual art contest (this year on “The Future of Flight”) and the (now) short-deadline ETSY contest.
This last summer has amply demonstrated that NASA is as much about politics as it is about space, unfortunately. David over at Beyond Apollo shows us that this has pretty much always been the case with his post on “Apollo 15 and Apollo 19 cancellations (1970)“. I don’t have anything good to say about politics, so let’s just leave it at that.
Down in Houston, Louise of A Babe…in the Universe brings us a tale of the sad end of the Outpost Tavern near JSC. It was long the watering hole of astronauts and others from NASA, and it became part of the mythology and folklore of the Shuttle program. The walls were decorated with astronaut photos, memorabilia and a Navy tailhook. It was location for movies including Space Cowboys. It even hosted a few Yuri’s Night celebrations over the years. Its passing serves to further highlight, in the views of some, the nexus of change that we’re currently experiencing in space endeavours, and how the “old ways” have to make way for the new, although the fewer conflagrations that involves the better.
A good kind of conflagration is the fire of a rocket motor. To help spur development of rockets to take crew to orbit once the Shuttle has retired, NASA recently released details for the 2nd round of CCDEV, or Commercial Crew Development. Details can be found here.
Brian over at Next Big Future looks at a project between Darpa and NASA to examine some near term beamed-energy space propulsion (i.e. microwave thermal and electric propulsion). The comments note that the visionary Konstantin Tsiolkovsky considered such a thing, but the technology just wasn’t there…
Leaving Earth, we travel first to the single most important element for human life – the Sun. It fuels our food and we use both current and stored Solar energy to power our civilization. There’s a new Sunwatcher at work to replace the venerable SOHO. While SOHO was stationed at the Sun-Earth L-1 to have a nice unimpeded view of the Sun for continuous coverage, its replacement, SDO, or Solar Dynamics Observatory, collects so much data that they had to park it in GEO to handle the downlink bandwidth. It is already returning stunning imagery, and Alan over at Cosmic Log provides an example in “Stunner from the [S]un“.
The Sun gets all kinds of visitors from space, as SOHO has shown us over the years. A recent example is Bo Zhou’s comet, which did not survive its close encounter with Sol. From down under, Ian of Astroblog tells us of the sundiving Kruetz comet meeting its end in “…And the Comet goes Crash!“.
Another comet of interest is Hartley 2, which had a (relatively) close approach to Earth recently, although that’s not the end of the story as Alan details in the Cosmic Log: “Comet’s tale isn’t over yet“.
Turning our gaze to a more constant, if inconstant companion, our sister Moon. Long neglected since Apollo days, she has been slowly unveiling delicious secrets under the gaze of many spacecraft from many nations. Anyone who goes to the LEAG and LPSC meetings already knew about stuff like volatilized mercury a year ago. However, it seems to take a bit longer for the news to reach a wider audience, and now that it has it is catching attention all over the place.
Brian over at Next Big Future provides links to various science journal abstracts on the lunar water and other material discoveries in “Science Journal Articles on the detailed detection of Lunar Water, Calcium, Magnesium, Mercury and Silver“. Bottom Line: We need to send robotic rovers to dig around and analyze, assay, and prospect directly.
Dr. Spudis from the Lunar & Planetary Institute has his own blog, The Once & Future Moon” over at the Air & Space Magazine website. He’s in the trenches of current Lunar scientific research, and he gives his personal perspective on the results in “Strange Lunar Brew“.
Speaking of Sally Ride Science, they’re offering an Educator’s Conference in December on the topic of “Explore our Moon” (pdf). I’m thinking about checking this one out to see if it’s any good.
The news has even hit the financial press, where the considerations tend to be focused more on things like capital investments and project implementation, as well as the legal ramifications. The Wall Street Journal addresses the former (sort of, in the comments) in “Moon Not Only Has Water, but Lots of It “, and the latter in “On the Moon, Water, Water Everywhere, But Not a Drop to Own“. Here at OotC we looked at the subject of Lunar ownership a while back in our review of Virgiliu Pop’s “Who Owns the Moon?“. Even Bloomberg got in on the action.
Your host and Lunar Librarian is very much in favor of the development of Lunar resources. Working in the financial industry, I can see how much of finance is geared towards speculation and value-extraction, and how little of it is geared towards investment and value creation. The microgravity of cislunar space, coupled with the resources available in relative abundance on the vacuum and radiation-bathed lifeless surface of the Moon, offers enormous opportunity for the creation of value. While I know many people personally in the scientific community who are appalled and repelled at the idea of “turning the Moon into a strip mine”, I would rather have the strip mines There instead of Here, and the pragmatic fact is that there are many, many companies that employ scientists for things like resource identification, analysis and extraction. The more commercial activities there are on the Moon, the more opportunities will there be for scientists to go there to conduct research. Or you can wait for Congress to get their act together. I’m just saying…
Tranquility Base Memorial Center by Bill Wright
Still on the scientific frontier of space, Mars continues to be one of the most intensely studied features in the Solar system. While the 2nd-Gen rovers Spirit and Opportunity continue their long trek across the Arean landscape (or not), the 3rd-Gen Mars rover is being assembled as we speak. Over at Cumbrian Sky, Stuart tells us how to watch the Curiosity rover being assembled in real time in “Watch â€œCuriosityâ€ being built â€“ LIVE!“.
Moving farther afield in our Solar system, Jupiter offers an interesting lesson in moon-making and planetary geology in “Meteorite tea, and the failures of genius“. Chuck, hanging out in the Lounge of the Lab Lemming, relates how tea-time served to solve the mystery of Io’s formation.
Saturn is the hot spot for scientific activity beyond the Belt right now with the ongoing Cassini mission. Emily over at The Planetary Society blog offers us some pretty Cassini pics in “A Rhea flyby and a cloudy Titan with Tethys in color“. The Urban Astronomer, meanwhile, gives us some background about who this Saturn fellow was and why he got the smaller gas giant in “Saturn“.
Looking beyond our Solar system, one of the potential dangers lurking in the uncharted void may be Brown Dwarfs. Dim and not-so-hot, they’re hard but not impossible to find. Steve over at Cheap Astronomy discovers that even brown dwarfs are magnetic and podcasts thusly:
(Just push the play button to listen)
Once we’ve braved the dangers of uncharted inter-stellar space we will discover incredible wonders and new beauties heretofore unimagined. One such vision is a double sunset, and Ian over at the Discovery News blogs discusses how researchers may have found just that, as well as theories of planetary formation (from which to watch said sunsets) in “The Rare Exoplanet with a Double Sunset“.
Bruce over at Weird Sciences takes a detailed look at the current darling of the astrobiology clique, the exoplanet Gliese 581g. Scientists can use the limited data gathered so far to extrapolate things like potential thermal zones and other characteristics that might shape the environment for any potential xenoforms extant on the surface.
Speaking of Xenoforms, there are folks out there that want to actively send messages into the void in the hope that alien life might stumble across it in the background noise and decide to return the call, a Message to Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, or METI. Bruce looks at some doom and gloom hype associated therewith.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, brings us to the end of this week’s amazing Carnival of Space here at Out of the Cradle. Each week brings exciting new developments of all kinds in the space field, and the Carnival of Space contributors are always there to bring them to you.
The Carnival is always looking for new hosts! If you have a space-themed blog and want to host your own Carnival of Space and put your own spin on it, then drop a line to Fraser over at Universe Today and let him know when you can do it.
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