May 17, 2011

Carnival of Space 197

NiliFossae cracks on Mars and the search for life on Mars

The Carnival of Space 197 is up at Steve's Astrocorner

Weird Warp looks at deep fractures that have been found around the giant Isidis impact basin on Mars.

This area called NiliFossae is of interest to scientists because telescopes on Earth measured an increase in methane in Mars’s atmosphere over this area. This could mean life or it could be geological. Some of these incisions are up to 500 meters deep and probably formed at the same time as the basin formed.

Crowlspace looks the recent research papers on Blackholes older than time. He relates the research of advanced civilizations in black holes to span cosmic cycles and relates it the Lovecraftian Elder Gods story.

Nextbigfuture provided

NASA mission to Saturns moon Titan to explore a Methane ocean

Roger Longstaff, engineer at Reaction Engines Ltd (REL), said that the company intends to test its amazing "pre-cooler" technology in June, 2011. An REL spokesperson announced that they had secured $350 million of further funding, contingent on successful completion of the full-sized precooled jet engine test in June 2011. In paper studies, the costs per kilogram of payload are hoped to be lowered to £650/kg (US$1000/kg as of 2011), including the costs of research and development (R&D), with costs expected to fall much more over time after the initial expenditures have amortized. Eventually prices would fall to $100-200/kg.

Two of the robotic missions NASA selected for further study last week would be powered by experimental nuclear generators. NASA picked robotic missions to Mars, a comet and Saturn's moon Titan as finalists last week for a launch opportunity in 2016, and two of the probes would employ a cutting edge nuclear power source never tested in space. Probes to Titan and comet Wirtanen, a small object composed of a mix of rock and ice, would be powered by Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generators on their journeys into the outer solar system. The nuclear power units, called ASRGs, use less plutonium than existing generators.

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