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June 18, 2012

Carnival of Space 254

The Carnival of Space 254 is up at Starry Critters.

Centauri Dreams, inspired by thoughts of Ray Bradbury, looks at how science fiction has treated the solar sail, and SF's relationship with the scientific studies that followed.





Vintage Space - During his second walk on the lunar surface, Apollo 12 lunar module pilot Al Bean didn't notice the prank mission support staff left in his write cuff. It might have been due to the pinup girl on the facing page.

Nextbigfuture - ESO (European southern Observatory) is to build the largest optical/infrared telescope in the world. At its meeting in Garching today, the ESO Council approved the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) Programme, pending confirmation of four so-called ad referendum votes. The E-ELT will start operations early in the next decade. The E-ELT will collect 100 million times more light than the human eye and 8 million times more the telescope that Galileo used. It will have one thousand mirror segments that will be 40meters across in total and the project will cost 1.08 billion euros (about US1.35 billion)

Nextbigfuture - NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) launched into the morning skies over the central Pacific Ocean at 9 a.m. PDT (noon EDT) Wednesday, beginning its mission to unveil secrets of buried black holes and other exotic objects.

Nextbigfuture - Recently, NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has been turning up a new crowd of stars close to home: the coldest of the brown dwarf family of "failed" stars. WISE has a surprise in store: there are far fewer brown dwarfs around us than predicted. "This is a really illuminating result," said Davy Kirkpatrick of the WISE science team at NASA's Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "Now that we're finally seeing the solar neighborhood with keener, infrared vision, the little guys aren't as prevalent as we once thought." Previous estimates had predicted as many brown dwarfs as typical stars, but the new initial tally from WISE shows just one brown dwarf for every six stars. It's the cosmic equivalent to finally being able to see down a mysterious, gated block and finding only a few homes.

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