June 06, 2009

Carnival of Space 106

This week we are hosting the Carnival of Space.

1. Crowlspace has a feature on the Catalytic Nuclear Fusion Interstellar Ramjet.

How do we make the reaction go faster than a regular interstellar ramjet? Physicist Daniel Whitmire proposed we burn the hydrogen via the well-known CNO Bi-Cycle. Basically a hydrogen fuses to a carbon-12, then another is fused to it to make nitrogen-14, then two more to make oxygen-16, which is then highly ‘excited’ and it spits out a helium nucleus (He-4) to return the nitrogen-14 back to carbon-12. Since the carbon-12 isn’t consumed it’s called a “catalytic” cycle, but it’s not chemical catalysis as we know it. Oxygen-16 releases an alpha particle not the nitrogen-14. Call it “nuclear chemistry”.

2. Centauri Dreams sends "Antimatter Propulsion: A Critical Look"

This is a review of those parts of Frank Close's new book Antimatter that address using the stuff for space propulsion, and the problems the idea creates, including how to store antimatter efficiently (and without massive storage facilities) and how to create sufficient amounts of antimatter in the first place.

3. Nextbigfuture has details on a proposed modified space elevator with rotating space hoops instead of just a tether.

4. There is also an update on the Space elevator games which finally have a set date.

5. there is also a look at alternatives if there are delays launching replacement satellites for the GPS (global positioning system.

6. Supernova Condensate has an article "You are now leaving the Milky Way"

The star SDSS J090745.0+024507 which is also known as "The Outcast Star" is being flung outwards at a blistering speed from our galaxy.

7. Simostronomy contributes an intereview with Dr Andrew Drake.

8. Astronoise discusses some "ask the astronomer" options which you can use to get answers about Astronomy.

9. 21st Century Waves has "10 Spiritual Connections With the Human Exploration of Space"

10. Kentucky Space posted a small piece with a couple of pictures about a solar booth that they will use to test satellite EPS. As with the construction of a clean room, it's another piece in Kentucky Space's ongoing infrastructure development.

11. There are new online lunar maps at the LPI.

USGS Geological Atlas of the Moon 1:5,000,000

I-703 Geologic Map of the Near Side of the Moon
I-948 Geologic Map of the East Side of the Moon
I-1034 Geologic Map of the West Side of the Moon
I-1047 Geologic Map of the Central Far Side of the Moon
I-1062 Geologic Map of the North Side of the Moon
I-1162 Geologic Map of the South Side of the Moon
These maps are also available through the U. S. Geological Survey's Astrogeology website.

USGS Shaded Relief Maps of the Moon 1:5,000,000

I-1089 Shaded Relief Map of the Mare Orientale Area of the Moon
I-1218-A Map Showing Relief and Surface Markings on the Lunar Far Side
I-1218-B Shaded Relief Map of the Lunar Far Side
I-1326A Shaded Relief Map of the Lunar Polar Regions
I-1326-B Map Showing Relief and Surface Markings of the Lunar Polar Regions
I-2276-A Shaded Relief and Surface Markings Map
I-2276-B Shaded Relief Map of the Lunar Near Side

12. Orbital Hub looks at Imaging Space And Time With the Hubble Space Telescope.

The history of astronomic discoveries beginning with Galileo Galilei in 1609 and continued by William Herschel, William Huggins, George Ellery Hale, and Edwin Hubble, is presented in 'Hubble – Imaging Space And Time', a book authored by David DeVorkin and Robert W. Smith. The book is replete with spectacular images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. Images of Carina Nebula, Eagle Nebula, Orion Nebula, and Swan Nebula, just to name a few, are a celebration of color and convey the majestic beauty of the Cosmos.

13. Science blog: Cat Dynamics looks at sunspo cycle 24.

14. Beyond Apollo looks at MODAP (1963) and

15. Robot explorers looks at Asteroid Belt flythroughs and Jupiter flybys (1965)

16. Cheap Astronomy has a collection over a dozen podcasts with topics like the Space Race, neutrino telescopes, gravity wells and much more. Several of the podcasts have links to transcripts. Cheap Astronomy delivered the 3rd of June 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast episode investigating the scientific bonanza that would arise from being able to detect the cosmic neutrino background. Find it in full at the IYA 365 days site or at Cheap Astronomy minus the fab George Hrab intro and end-credits.

17. Music of the Spheres has a Podcast of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's (JPL's) Greatest Hits

18. Chandra's blog discusses an image of the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.

19. Collect Space looks at the unpacking of Hubble artifacts and astronaut mementos from the space shuttle Atlantis.

Space shuttle Atlantis landed on May 24, completing the final mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. As technicians work to prepare the orbiter for its next flight, they will find a variety of Hubble artifacts and astronauts' mementos to unpack first.

20. Out of the Cradle's Ken Murphy has an extensive report with many links of his trip to the International Space Development Conference. Get a rundown of the many goodies available.

21. Alan Boyle's Cosmic Log has a slideshow of pictures of the underbelly of NASA's Spirit rover, and asks "Will the Mars rover roll again?"

22. Starts with a Bang discusses wide angle lens and astronomy. Take a look at some panoramas of the sky.

23. Discovery Blog: Bad Astronomy looks at misidentified meteors by the mainstream media. If a rock that falls from space is a meteorite, then one that’s misidentified is a meteorwrong. And I am sure that’s what we have in Texas.

24. Discovery Blog: Cosmic Variance considers "Did a meteor bring down Air France 447?"

Obviously for any given flight the chances are very, very small that a meteor will bring down an airliner, but as Hailey and Helfand pointed out in a letter to the NYT in 1996, the correct question to ask is this: “What is the probability that, for all flights in history, one or more could have been downed by a meteor?” They concluded that there was a 1-in-10 chance that this could happen.

Helfand, an astronomer, is presumably the one who estimated that “approximately 3,000 meteors a day with the requisite mass strike Earth”. This is a difficult number to get. How much mass? How fast does it need to be moving? But let’s assume that this number is correct; it translates to 125 meteors per hour.

Next we need to know the total number of flight hours at altitude for all commercial planes. In 2000 there were about 18 million flights per year. Clearly in the past 20 years (which we’ll take as our reference, since it spans 1989-2009, with both flights 800 and 447) it was not always so…but let’s take a guess that the 18 million figure is roughly correct for that 20 year period. That would yield 360 million commercial airline flights from 1989-2000. Hailey and Helfand assumed that each flight was two hours in duration. Again, a tough number to find on line, so we’ll take it at face value, giving us 720 million flight hours in our reference period.

They also claim that if there were 3500 planes in the air at any time, this would correspond to covering two-billionths of Earth’s surface.

25. Discovery:Free Space looks at NASA plans for invitation-only launch access for Twittering and blogging members of the media.

26. Spacewriter Ramblings discusses the cosmic dance of the collision of galaxies.

27. At A Babe in the Universe, we get a first peek at a full-scale mockup of the Altair lunar lander the Altair. The current design of the lander will be 4 stories tall. If all goes well, in 10 years people will again walk on the Moon.

28. Astroblogger describes his new toy, an adaptor which clamps over the eye-piece/eye tube of his telescope and allows me to attach my digital camera .

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