February 28, 2010

Carnival of Space 143 - Mars, Neptune, Uranus and More

1. Universe Today presents stunning new looks at the Mars Avalanche


2 . Ian O'Neill at Discovery space talks about bad science at the movies.

The Core and 2012 have some of the worst science. Apollo 13 and Contact had some of the best. Ian's article has a good discussion about the benefits of scientific accuracy in movies and makes a case that there should be more scientific accuracy. I would also add that sloppiness with scientific facts also tends to show sloppiness in other aspects of plot and characterization.

Gattaca was listed as one of the better ones for its science. I have no problem with the science in that movie, but I have to comment about the plot.

I, Brian Wang, found the Gattaca plot to be an attempt to play a Seinfeld episode without humor. The Gattaca hero is George Castanza, who is genetically inferior but will go to extraordinary lengths to get and keep a job for which he is not qualified. George has variously been described as a 'short, stocky, slow-witted, bald man', Lord of the Idiots, and as the greatest sitcom character of all time

wikipedia - Gattaca presents a biopunk vision of a society driven by liberal eugenics. The hero lies and presents fake DNA to get a better job.




3. Some answers for student questions at Chandra Blog

How do you feel the telescope has changed the scientific view on our universe?
Do you feel that America would be behind technologically if we had not pursued the research of the heavens the ways we did?
What do you predict further research with newer, better telescopes will reveal to us?

4. Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, talks about a friend of his who is an umbraphile. An Umbraphile is a shadow lover (an eclipse chaser).


On July 11, 2010 you can join a flight that will chase and watch and eclipse for 9.5 minutes.

5. Simostronomy looks at the closest star - our sun

In February NASA launched the most advanced solar observatory ever built, the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). SDO will record IMAX-quality images of the sun every 10 seconds using a bank of multi-wavelength telescopes called the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA). SDO will also observe the sun at wavelengths where the sun is most variable, the extreme ultraviolet (EVE). The satellite’s Helioseismic Magnetic Imager (HMI) can actually look inside the sun at the solar dynamo itself.


6. Gish Bar Times focuses on two studies that simulated the emission of Io's atmosphere during an eclipse. The LPSC abstract discussions emissions in the mid-ultraviolet as the result of SO2 and S2, while the Icarus paper talks about emissions in the red portion of the visible spectrum from oxygen (from decomposed SO2)


7. Astroblog looks at Mars

There are problems looking at Mars through the atmosphere on warm days for amateur astronomers.

8. Dr. Heidi Hammel of the Space Science Institute in Boulder Colorado and her work are profiled at Steve's Astrocorner
Hammel primarily studies outer planets and their satellites, with a focus on observational techniques.An expert on the planet Neptune, she was a member of the Imaging Science Team for the Voyager 2 encounter with the gas giant in 1989. Her latest research involves studies of Neptune and Uranus with Hubble and other Earth-based observatories like the Keck 2 Telescope and the NASA infrared Telescope located on Mauna Loa in Hawaii

The Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck Telescope with its new adaptive optics changed how we look at Uranus and Neptune. For Uranus, the surface came alive with dark spots, clouds and even subtle banding showed up. The rings of Uranus came alive showing more detail than one would even have hoped for.

9. Weird Warps takes a trip to Titan with Cassini Huygens
There are many satellites in the solar system. Over 140 and still counting. Earth has one, Mars has two, Jupiter has 63, Saturn has 33, Uranus has 27, Neptune 13 and Pluto three.

Cassini is the spacecraft and Huygens is the probe that actually landed on Titan. Cassini is still flying around Saturn taking lots of pictures and looking at its moons. Huygens landed on Titan on January 14, 2005 transmitting information from the planet’s surface for over three hours. The actual information recovered was only about 30 minutes as it was not expected for Huygens to last for three hours.

10. Collectspace writes on the final firing for space shuttle solid rocket ground tests

11. Nextbigfuture looks at how to re-architect to counter the radiation problem and problem of small objects hitting your spaceship when you are moving near lightspeed. Have a fleet of components in formation instead of one solid block for a starship. Give yourself time to react if you have people in a section behind some robotic smart dust.

12. Russia started funding its nuclear space projects
Russia will allocate 500 million rubles ($16.7 million) for nuclear space projects this year. Over the next nine years Russia plans to invest at least 17 billion rubles (over $580 million).

Energia is also ready to design a space-based nuclear power station with a capacity of 150 to 500 KW with a service life of 10-15 years, to be initially placed on the moon or Mars.

Another prospective project, Lopota said, is a heavy space platform that would replace several telecommunication satellites, complete with a standalone nuclear power plant, rocket engines and advanced communication antennas. Such a platform would have a mass of around 20 tons, a service life of 10-15 years and could be built by 2018.

13. Cheap Astro has a podcast -Ceres - dwarf planet or very big asteroid? A 365 days of astronomy podcast.

14. Stuart Atkinson at Road to Endeavor has written some poetry on Martian Geology Check out Rover in Wonderland.

15. Out of the Cradle has the International Space University 14th Symposium Debrief: Reaching out or reaching in?

[Ken Murphy] was the second speaker on the first day, with a talk entitled “Give the Public What They Want”. In my talk I tried to convey some of the lessons learned and challenges faced in working through a space organization, in my case the National Space Society via its North Texas chapter.

16. Centauri Dreams has Enceladus Hotspots, and Memories of Orion

Saturn’s moon Enceladus

Freeman Dyson and Ted Taylor worked on Project Orion and considered going to Enceladus.

Project Orion, back in the crazy days before the Test Ban Treaty of 1963 closed down the nuclear option. The prospect of taking a huge vessel with a crew of 100 all the way to Saturn as early as 1968 was much in the air at Los Alamos, and Enceladus was to have been the ultimate destination, chosen because observations of the distant moon seemed to show plenty of ice on the surface. So gleefully did the Orion team ponder its propulsive capabilities that project leader Ted Taylor wanted to install a two-ton barber’s chair on the ship, a poke in the eye to chemical rocketry and all its limitations. The atomic spaceship was going to be big.

Project Orion external pulsed propulsion. (wikipedia link)

Nuclear Cannon Project Orion Variant

There are over 20,000 nuclear bombs in US inventory and similar numbers with the Russians.

Those could be repurposed for space craft propulsion.

I will again review the underground nuclear propulsion into space design that I had (along with detailed work with Joseph Friedlander)

I have a variant of Project Orion which would be permitted under the Partial Test Ban Treaty. (wikipedia) and the Threshhold Test Ban Treaty

Partial Test Ban Treaty banning Nuclear Weapon Tests In The Atmosphere, In Outer Space And Under Water.

The Treaty on the Limitation of Underground Nuclear Weapon Tests, also known as the Threshold Test Ban Treaty (or TTBT), was signed in July 1974 by the USA and the USSR. It establishes a nuclear "threshold," by prohibiting nuclear tests of devices having a yield exceeding 150 kilotons (equivalent to 150,000 tons of TNT).

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty has not yet entered into force

Underground nuclear explosions are permitted up to 150 kilotons.

Dig a deep 2 mile hole (like the deeper oilwells but a bit wider). Cost about $10 million. Conservatively round up to $40 million.

Then place the 150 kt nuke at the bottom. Pack it with boron and other elements that will be converted into plasma.

Place the launch projectile on top - solid refined metal and solidified liquids (pykrete - ice mixed with newspaper).

3500 ton projectile. Set it off and launch it at 5000Gs into orbit or towards the moon.

Set off a chemical charge to cover the hole as the projectile clears to contain the nuclear material from the bomb.
(similar to the hundreds of underground tests)

$10 million for the projectile and the propellant.
$20 million for the work of setting it up.
Launch costs for supplies and refined metals would become $10/lb. (assuming the nuclear bombs in stockpile are donated)
Launch people and delicates the regular way. The supplies and refined metals would allow for industrialization of space.

Use this system to get a lot of supplies and refined metals into space to enable industrialization and only launch about 1-5% of the payload that is fragile using more expensive launch systems.

Detailed work and experiments on Quicklaunch and other chemical and gas guns show that cannon launch into space will work


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