April 07, 2012

Carnival of Space 244

1. Rand Simberg has a A Practical Proposal for Securing Property Rights in Space

Many believe that the 1967 Outer Space Treaty implicitly prohibits private property in outer space, but under another conceivable interpretation, it only prohibits declarations of national sovereignty. A proposed law requiring the United States to recognize land claims off planet under specified conditions offers the possibility of legal, tradable land titles, allowing the land to be used as loan collateral or an asset to be sold to raise funds needed to develop it.

Such a law would vitiate the 1979 Moon Treaty, which does outlaw private property claims in space, but to which the U.S. is not a signatory. This should be viewed as a feature, rather than a bug. The law would not impose any new costs on the federal government, and would likely generate significant tax revenue through title transaction fees and economic growth from new space ventures carried out by U.S. individuals and corporations. It would have great potential to kick the development of extraterrestrial resources—and perhaps even the human settlement of space—into high gear.

Popular Science covers the space steading and individual space rights proposal

Simberg proposes that the U.S. government recognize off-planet land claims from people who meet three criteria: Plans to establish permanent human settlements on the Moon, Mars, or other bodies; provide commercial transportation between the settlement and Earth; and offer the land for sale.

Simberg plans to present his study on Capitol Hill this week. We know he has at least one high-ranking presumptive supporter in Newt Gingrich — it remains to be seen whether he can convince any members who still have actual power.


2. Bad Astronomy Discover - HD 10180 is a star that’s nearly the Sun’s twin: it’s very close in mass, temperature, brightness, and even chemical content of our friendly neighborhood star. But in this case of stellar sibling rivalry, HD 10180 may have the upper hand: a new analysis of observations of the star indicate it may have nine planets!

In a new report accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, an astronomer re-analyzed data of the star taken with the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS), an exquisitely high-precision camera mounted on a 3.6 meter telescope in Chile.

The new analysis looks at the old data in a different way, examining it using different statistical methods. Not only are the six planets seen in the new results, but the seventh is confirmed, as well as finding two additional planets in the data.






3. Astrowow - Space-time curvature, magnetic monopoles, and quantum fluctuations...oh my! The astronomy word of the week is "inflation"!




4. Astroswanny road tests the Orion Steadypix telescope camera adapter for the iPhone.




5. TheSpacewriter talks about stargazing at sea and presents this month's night sky viewing video at Astrocast.TV.

6. StarryCritters zooms into the slightly deformed spiral galaxy NGC 4980 in a new image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

7. Sometimes, astronomy can supply that step away from the every day.

Recently, we sent a box of Chandra materials – including posters, lithographs, bookmarks and calendars – to the U.S. Army 428th Engineer Detachment (Survey and Design) unit, which is part of the 368th Engineer Battalion stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan.


8. Universe Today - A paper published in the journal Science in August 1981 made several projections regarding future climate change and anthropogenic global warming based on manmade CO2 emissions. As it turns out, the authors’ projections have proven to be rather accurate — and their future is now our present.


9. Nextbigfuture - Reaction Engines UK is testing the precooler for its Skylon spaceplane engine


10. Nextbigfuture - Photon Sieves will make space telascopes 1000 times lighter, so space telescopes can be made far larger

Solid Works picture of Peregrine, a 0.2m photon sieve deployed from a 3U CubeSat.

11. Nextbigfuture - Ionic propulsion for small satellites

Imagine reaching the Moon using just a tenth of a liter of fuel. With their ionic motor, MicroThrust, EPFL scientists and their European partners are making this a reality and ushering in a new era of low-cost space exploration. The complete thruster weighs just a few hundred grams and is specifically designed to propel small (1-100 kg) satellites, which it enables to change orbit around the Earth and even voyage to more distant destinations – functions typically possible only for large, expensive spacecraft. The just-released prototype is expected to employed on CleanSpace One, a satellite under development at EPFL that is designed to clean up space debris, and on OLFAR, a swarm of Dutch nanosatellites that will record ultra-low radio-frequency signals on the far side of the Moon.

The motor, designed to be mounted on satellites as small as 10x10x10 cm3 (cubesat size) is extremely compact but highly efficient. The prototype weighs only about 200 grams, including the fuel and control electronics.

12. Nextbigfuture - In 1954, Winterberg made the first proposal to test general relativity with atomic clocks in earth satellites and his thermonuclear microexplosion ignition concept was adopted by the British Interplanetary Society for their Project Daedalus Starship Study.

Edward Teller has been quoted as saying Winterberg has perhaps not received the attention he deserves on his work in nuclear fusion.

Winterberg describes generating a very high electron-positron current in the ambiplasma, while leaving the protons-antiprotons with a low energy. This high current generates a magnetic field that constricts rapidly, a so-called pinch discharge, but because it is a matter-antimatter mix it can collapse to a much denser state. Near nuclear densities can be achieved, assuming near-term technical advancements to currents of 170 kA and electron-positron energies of 1 GeV. This causes intensely rapid annihilation that crowds the annihilating particles into one particular reaction pathway, directly into gamma-rays, pushing them to form a gamma-ray laser. By constricting the annihilating particles into this state a very coherent and directional beam of gamma-rays is produced, the back-reaction of which pushes against the annihilation chamber’s magnetic fields, providing thrust.

The proposed solution would not only enable an efficient antimatter rocket propulsion but also a high powered gamma ray laser

* The proposal is also to create an ultra dense deuterium state (deuteron quantum liquid) using nuclear microexplosions to create a material with a 100,000 tesla field and normal temperature superconductors with a critical field of 10^9 Gauss, ideally suited for the storage of antihydrogen

* Winterberg is working with the Bae Institute on Metastable innershell molecular state (MIMS). MIMS exists in matters compressed “suddenly” at pressures in excess of one hundred million atmospheres. This work continues to be funded and there is experimental evidence to support Winterbergs theories.

13. We are all in the Gutter - Rita shares some of the excellent science from BOSS, a survey which is mapping the Universe to crack the secrets of Dark Energy

14. The speed of light is one of the most important cosmic constants. Read in the Venus Transit site how you can measure the speed of light in your kitchen.

15. Curious about the temperatures of objects in our Solar System? Ray Sanders gives an overview at his "Dear Astronomer" blog.

16. Venus does not generate an internal magnetic field. This makes it a rarity amongst the planets. This means that Venus does not have a magnetosphere that protects it but the Venus environment does exhibit a number of similarities with magnetic fields of planets such as Earth. Now there is new evidence for a magnetic reconnection in Venus’s induced magnetotail. (If you don’t know what that tail thing is then read on).


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