Friday, October 12, 2007

Carnival of Space for Thursday, October 11, 2007

Welcome to the Carnival of Space for Thursday, October 11, 2007.

First up is Pamela Gay from Star Stryder with In Search of Alien Air. She links to, and comments on, two papers that discuss the difficult task of finding extra-solar planets.

I'm near-sighted and have trouble seeing past the end of my nose. It's astounding to me that we can find planets around another star.

Ken Murphy sends along his article in The Space Review - The Exploration of, and Conquest of, the Moon!.

In the 1950s, people were beginning to realize, as rockets penetrated further and further past the threshold of space, that perhaps Goddard had been on to something, and perhaps a trip to our Moon was possible. To help popularize this idea in the freest bastions of the free world, the US and UK, two teams of authors and illustrators set out to create books that would be accessible to everyone and explained the most basic principles of what would be involved. The results couldn’t be more different, perhaps reflecting the deeper cultural lessons, but also differing in the scope of their ambitions.

Moving outward from the Moon to Mars and the Asteroid Belt we have Darnell Clayton at Colony Worlds with Colonizing Ceres Before Mars Could Save The Red Planet.

Whether or not our species actually settles the red planet is highly questionable. Unlike Earth's Moon, Mars lacks major resources of any kind that would make colonizing the planet worthwhile. Unless those crimson deserts can provide some return on investment, it may be wiser to turn Mars into a penal colony, than attempting to recreate the world into a second home.But humanity may be able to justify settling Mars by diverting its attention towards the asteroid belt first--and the key towards conquering the asteroid belt, as well as Mars may lie upon the dwarf world Ceres.

The choice of which to settle first is a Cereous matter ...

Stuartatk at Cumbrian Sky talks about one of our happy robot pals who have gone before us and made tire ruts on the surface of Mars in Tracks

A couple of days ago an image flashed up on my screen and I literally froze as I looked at it...

It wasn’t anything anyone else would consider to be “special” or “amazing”; just a grainy, black and white picture of Opportunity’s tracks through the inches-high dust dune running around the edge of Victoria Crater, but it triggered something in me, a reaction, a response, that refused to go away. Just two notches in an undulating, close horizon, but it made my breath catch in my throat, because it occurred to me that that picture was the latest in a long line of images showing nothing less than Mankind’s progress and development – if not Evolution itself.

Come to think of it one of the more interesting memories I have growing up is looking at wagon wheel ruts carved into rock near my grandma's place in Oregon - ruts made by pioneers on the Oregon trail.

TopSpace at RLV and Space Transport News links to and comments on a USA Today article about Eric Anderson and Space Adventures.

These people (ISS tourists) are not part of a market study. They are hard data that prove the appeal of space tourism (sorry, I prefer that term). Furthermore, their "regular folk" backgrounds indicate that a similar percentage of people in lower net worth strata would go if the ticket prices came within their reach.
With respect five of anything doesn't prove much - the sample size is too small. We can be hopeful but ought to be wary of inferring from ratty data.

Speaking of cynics ... it's Shubber from Space Cynics about the ISS in Slim Pickings.

Thomas Pickens III seems to think that the future opportunity for making the ISS that success that we all deep down know it can be is to get the pharmaceutical industry to line up to use it… if only they knew how valuable it was!

I'd be wary of using an expensive one of a kind government facility that costs a bundle to get to as well.

Louise Riofrio at Babe In The Universe links pop culture and Niels Bohr in STARDUST and Niels Bohr.

STARDUST is based on a graphic novel by Neil Gaiman. A star (Claire Danes) falls to Earth in human form and can't return to the sky. Along the way she encounters lovestruck Tristan Thorne (Charlie Cox) and pirate Captain Shakespeare (Robert DeNiro), who captures lightning in his airship. She is pursued by Prince Septemus (Mark Strong) and a wicked witch (Michelle Pfeiffer). The villains wish to cut out the star's glowing heart to gain her secret of eternal life.

The eternal life of stars has been a mystery that life on Earth's surface depends on. According to standard models, life should not have evolved here at all because when the Solar System was forming the Sun was only 75% as bright. Earth's average temperature would have been 15 degrees below zero Celsius, frozen solid. This can't be true, for geology and the fossil record say that Earth had liquid water and life when models say it was frozen solid. This conflict with observations is the Faint Young Sun paradox.

Paul Gilster at Centauri Dreams weighs in with Remembering Robert Bussard. As you are no doubt aware of Robert Bussard passed on last week. His work on fusion may yet bear fruit - and we'll owe him a great deal if it does. But we should also remember him for other work

it’s the ramjet that I return to as I think about him. If you collect classic papers, as I do, here’s one for you: Bussard’s “Galactic Matter and Interstellar Spaceflight” in Acta Astronautica 6 (1960), pp. 179–94. Imagine a scoop created by a magnetic field that sucks in interstellar hydrogen ionized by a forward-firing laser. The result is fed into a fusion reactor. Get the vehicle up to about six percent of light speed and you could light that engine, with presumably amazing results.

There are worse ways to get around the galaxy.

Greg Laden at Evolution (catchy tag line, Greg) opines that Sputnik was The greatest thing that ever happened to America.

If you were raised in a society in which there is an evil enemy that you are convinced intends to arrive some day on your country’s shores, take over your government, impose a new social order, marry your sister, and so on, then when this evil foreign government sends the first warning shot in this war and it is an unprecedented and amazing feat of science, then suddenly you love science. You pay taxes to fund science. Your idolize science. You start demanding that science comes to the rescue. One way to do this is to fund science, fund higher education, build up the universities.

Maybe? What do you think?

Space Files reports that the UFO seen during Apollo mission thing has been resolved.

One of the legends of the space age is that during their flight to the moon, Apollo astronauts saw UFOs, or objects they couldn't identify but which were obviously floating in space somewhere close to them. This is rather a fact than a legend, as Buzz Aldrin confirmed it in numerous interviews.

I mean we know this it never hurts to point this out. Me, I think that it's incredible that we assume there are aliens savvy enough to cross thousands of light years, hide their presence from us but .. dumb enough to pull an oopsie and show themselves to the guys aboard Apollo?

Thanks for reading and thanks for contributing!

Here are instructions for contributing - see you next week.

Personal note - this is posted long after I wanted it to, with apologies. I don't like to make excuses because that sounds (to my ear) like whining and I hate whiners. Let's just say that life has been busy of late and leave it at that.
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