Thursday, July 12, 2007

Carnival of Space - Week 11

A cacophony of eclectic posts

So what do we have on deck for this week? Archeology in the Shetland Islands. Asteroid mining - it's not going to be for the faint of heart. A liquid telescope on the moon. Why Shubber picks on the drinkers of Kool-Aid.

It's all over the place - there isn't a coherent theme. Or if there is I'm not good enough at the exposition thing to sort it out. Which makes writing an intro and the wrappers just that much harder.

We'll simply have to get into it and leave the fancy stuff for the real writers.

Phil for Humanity has an interesting observation on the speed of light and a constant bearing object . . .
I have been thinking a lot lately about how someone would perceive objects traveling near the speed of light, and I think I stumbled upon something that no one else has realized yet. Specifically, how would an object, such as a spaceship or alien spacecraft, appear to a stationary observer if the object was traveling directly towards the observer at a velocity that is almost the speed of light?
I am not qualified to judge on this one - but do read and judge for yourself.

Why Shubber goes after the Kool-Aid drinkers.
The reason I began this blog is, in part, to help save other people from getting sucked into the latest huckster proposition without at least using their critical faculties to peer behind the smoke and mirrors and see what is really viable. Years ago, after giving a talk at a conference in Melbourne Australia on the space industry value chain and the reason why launchports and launch vehicles were a bad place to be focusing one’s time (regulatory and market issues being the primary), one of the engineering students approached me and said “I just want to go home and cry.”

My response: “I’ve done my job.”
It's a dirty job but someone has to do it.

Archeology in the Shetland islands from Clioaudio.
All that’s certain is that the circle has one alignment and an egg-shaped circle is bound to point somewhere. You could also argue for astronomical significance if it pointed to midwinter sunset or midsummer sunrise/sunset. If the circle pointed to one of the cardinal points that could also be significant. There’s also evidence of lunar alignments in some prehistoric sites in Scotland, which gives you eight further targets for lunar standstills. If you say any given site is aligned +/1° then the odds of randomly aligned sites pointing to something significant is less than one in eight. This doesn’t mean that the circle’s alignment is not significant, simply that proving it becomes difficult.
Did they know what they're doing? Seems likely. Can we know what they were doing at this remove? Probably but ... it would be nice to have the design notes so we knew what they were doing.

Alien radio - how likely? From Dr. Pamela Gay at SIUE.
As we continue to find extra solar planets around increasing numbers of stars and continue to find liquids (water, ammonia, methane…) in increasing places in our own solar system, one has to wonder when will we find life. Answering this question is a complex dance that requires us to first ask, “What is life?” and follow up with the question, “How can we detect it?”
I am going to omit the obvious jokes about Alien Top 40 and 'Coast to Coast. A man has to have some pride in his work.

Galaxies far, far away - and very young from Louise Riofrio.
Using the 10-meter Keck telescope on Mauna Kea, astronomers will shortly report the most distant galaxies yet detected. They were detectable only by gravitational lensing from a foreground galaxy. These 6 galaxies were fully formed only 500 million years after the Big Bang.
The more we look the more interesting the universe is.

Asteroid mining from Darnell Clayton. It's going to be a dangerous job.
With most of these invaluable asteroids tens of millions of miles away from the nearest colony world, asteroid minors will find themselves heavily dependent upon supplies for food and water. Their isolation will also make them prime candidates for space pirates, not to mention feuding powers from Earth, Mars and the Jovian systems.
A possible problem - but an asteroid miner is not going to be helpless. Any drive powerful enough to get them there is also going to be a weapon.

Darnell slipped in a space elevator reference, which always tickles me.

Telescopes on the moon. Liquid mirror telescopes. From Astropixie
the idea behind a liquid mirror telescope is relatively simple and very cool! you start out with a big, shallow cylinder that you fill with some sort of reflective liquid (silver, mercury, gallium-indium-tin alloy...). when the liquid sits in the cylinder, the downward force of gravity resisted by the fluid force of the liquid creates a flat surface.
Insert an obvious pun playing off the liquid and astronomy bits.

A balloon-born Mars probe - designed and built by the Mars Society of Germany. From Space Files.
... a private group of space enthusiast, the Mars Society of Germany has proposed ARCHIMEDES, a short duration, low cost Mars balloon project, that would be launched as a piggy-back payload on AMSAT's P5-A orbiter. (About AMSAT P5A in german) Archimedes was named after the greek philosopher who discovered the floatation principle.

After considering other options, namely balloon deployment in air and balloon deployment after touchdown on the surface, it has been decided that the balloon would be deployed in space, its drag slowing down the probe to slowly sink to its operational altitude. This way, the ARCHIMEDES mission will demonstrate the technology for inflatable atmospheric drag devices on Mars. (This part of the design is novel.) This means it will provide valuable data even if later phases of the mission fail.
Germans and their wacky infatuation with lighter than air craft. Gotta love 'em.

Space Video of the week - 'the most important image ever' - from Robot Guy Ed Minchau.

I don't know if it really is the most important image ever - but that is what the video claims. I do know it has a kickin' guitar solo.

A how-to to make stereo images from the STEREO spacecraft by Ian Musgrave at Astroblog.
I've written before about making stereo images from the STEREO SECCHI beacon images. For the image to the left, all you have to do is cross your eyes, until the images are superimposed, and viola! A 3D image appears. To make this kind of image, you basically just need to copy the ahead and behind images align them and place
I love how-tos.

A funny from WTF. Jupiter has .. issues.

In this post Jeremy writes I’m waiting for some religious fundamentalists to attack this blog with their spite grenades (similar to the holy hand grenade, only filled with pictures of Jerry Falwell). That’s when I’ll know I’ve made it to the big time.

Dude - you're in the Carnival of Space. Welcome to the big time, baby.

Brian Wang
has a review on the current state of space programs.
I personally measure the progress in space by progress in launch costs and capability and the progress toward the ultimate goal of large scale development in space. Science research is a good thing but I differentiate between science that is exclusively from unique technology deployed in space and general science research that happens to be included in a budget that has a space title.
How we doing in space? Meh. Could be better - it could be a great deal worse.

Thanks to everyone for reading and for all of the people who submitted their posts. See you next week!

Weekend Update:

Please participate! Public interest can't do anything in space .. but nothing in space can be done without it. A blog carnival is one way to build awareness that 'space can be for everyone not just a few government employees or scientists.

A blog post isn't much in the grand scheme of things - but it's better than nothing.

Carnival of Space (COS) submissions - here.
COS Archive - here.
COS Schedule - here.

Next Week's COS is hosted at Music of the Spheres. He's thinking about buying an IPhone - someone stop him before he drinks the Apple Kool-Aid and becomes on of us ..
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