August 2008

Preserving Future History

August 29, 2008

With our eyes on a proposed interstellar future, we don’t want to neglect the real challenges of preserving the steps taken along the way. I’m thinking about this because of a post on an astronomy list (thanks to Larry Klaes for the pointer) by Richard Sanderson, who is curator of physical science at the Springfield […]

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Dark Matter and Its Interactions

August 28, 2008

Keeping our eyes open over a whole range of wavelengths makes priceless science possible. Thus the new data on dark matter, culled from observations of the galactic cluster known as MACSJ0025.4-1222. The Hubble Space Telescope offered up images in the visual light range, sufficient to provide astronomers (thanks to the effects of gravitational lensing) with […]

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Fermi’s Whole-Sky Portrait

August 27, 2008

I like the logo for the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope, shown at the right. It’s appropriately stylish and, with that ‘beamed’ F emerging out of a galactic core, reminds us that the instrument will be opening a data window on the supermassive black holes found in such places. Fermi was until yesterday known as GLAST […]

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Advanced Propulsion: The Next Steps

August 26, 2008

by Kimberly Trent Here we depart briefly from the norm by looking at the work of Kimberly Trent, a graduate student in the Applied Physics Program at the University of Michigan. Working as an intern with Marc Millis at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, Trent examined the broad issues of advanced propulsion and focused on a […]

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Twisting the Copernican Tail

August 25, 2008

The latest Carnival of Space offers several posts with an interstellar bent in addition to our own discussion, linked to from the Carnival, about antimatter rocketry and the recent thinking of JPL’s Robert Frisbee. I notice that Gerald Cleaver and Richard Obousy’s ideas about warp drive continue to get play, with particular reference to the […]

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Rosetta and the Language of Hope

August 22, 2008

There are several reasons to keep an eye on Rosetta, the European Space Agency’s mission to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. In 2014, the spacecraft will go into orbit around the comet before deploying a lander to the nucleus. Watching changes as the comet heads toward the Sun should prove interesting indeed, but these short term effects take […]

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Star Formation Near Black Holes

August 21, 2008

Simulations showing how giant gas clouds evolve — clouds as large as 100,000 times the mass of the Sun — have demonstrated that stars can form in the neighborhood of supermassive black holes, the kind of black holes found at the center of galaxies. As you would expect, the clouds are disrupted when they move […]

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The Interstellar Conundrum Reconsidered

August 20, 2008

Just how hard would it be to build a true interstellar craft? I’m not talking about a spacecraft that might, in tens of thousands of years, drift past a star by happenstance, but about a true, dedicated interstellar mission. Those of you who’ve been following my bet with Tibor Pacher on Long Bets (now active, […]

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NanoSail-D: Duplicate Exists, Needs to Fly

August 19, 2008

Remember the great scene in Contact, when the fabulously rich S. R. Hadden (John Hurt), who funded the stargate device that has been destroyed by sabotage, says “Why build one when you can build two for twice the price?” He then reveals the existence of a second facility off the coast of Japan, which is […]

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An Icy Wanderer from the Oort Cloud

August 18, 2008

A symposium called Sloan Digital Sky Survey:Asteroids to Cosmology, held in Chicago this past weekend, is producing interesting news, not the least of which is the discovery of a ‘minor planet’ that is currently inside the orbit of Neptune. 2006 SQ372 is only in the neighborhood briefly, already setting out on a journey that will […]

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