October 2009

‘Paradise Regained’: A Timely Optimism

October 17, 2009

There is welcome news from Greg Matloff. His new book, written with the artist C Bangs and physicist Les Johnson (NASA MSFC) will be published by Springer/Praxis in December. Following on the success of Solar Sails, the latest is Paradise Regained, a look at how we might use the resources of the Solar System to […]

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Reshaping the Solar System

October 16, 2009

Yesterday’s story on IBEX is now complemented by images from the Ion and Neutral Camera, part of the Magnetospheric Imaging Instrument on the Cassini orbiter. The Cassini data confirm the fact that the heliosphere isn’t shaped the way we’ve always thought. The assumption up to now has been that the collision of the solar wind […]

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A Surprise at the Termination Shock

October 15, 2009

Findings that are outside our expectations seem par for the course as we explore the Solar System. From the volcanoes of Io to the geysers of Enceladus, unusual things show up with each new mission. Why should IBEX be any different? The Interstellar Boundary Explorer is the first spacecraft expressly designed to study what happens […]

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Adrift on Ligeia Mare

October 14, 2009

Imagine a boat from Earth drifting across an alien sea. Something like that could happen as early as 2022 if Ellen Stofan (Proxemy Research) can talk the powers that be into the venture. Stofan envisions a new mission to Titan, the only other place in the Solar System known to have bodies of liquid on […]

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TNO Project: Mapping the Unexplored

October 13, 2009

Back when I was a kid I found an old atlas that had been on the family shelves since the early 1900′s. I used to browse through it looking at all the places that had changed. The map of eastern Europe was, as you can imagine, a far cry from what it later became, with […]

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A Test for Exotic Propulsion?

October 12, 2009

Can we calculate the gravitational field of a mass moving close to the speed of light? Franklin Felber (Starmark Inc) believes he can, with implications for propulsion. Back in 2006 we looked briefly at Felber’s work, describing what the physicist believes to be a repulsive gravitational field that emerges from his results. Felber discussed the […]

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Asteroids: A Near Miss, An Informative Hit

October 9, 2009

New observations of asteroid Apophis, reported at the Division for Planetary Sciences meeting in Puerto Rico, indicate that the chances of its striking the Earth in 2036 must be recalculated, diminishing from roughly 1 in 45,000 to 1 in 250,000. There goes one disaster scenario, but enter another: An impact possibility exists for the year […]

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An Oxygen-Rich Europan Ocean?

October 8, 2009

Long-time Centauri Dreams readers already know of my admiration for Richard Greenberg’s work on Europa, admirably summarized in his 2008 title Unmasking Europa: The Search for Life on Jupiter’s Ocean Moon (Copernicus). It’s a lively and challenging book, one which Greenberg used to take sharp issue with many of his colleagues, and although he played […]

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Planetary Habitability Quantified

October 7, 2009

Habitability is always a matter of definition. Is it a measure of suitability for human life? Or do we take the larger astrobiological view that it’s based on suitability for microbial life, in which case we go from a narrowly defined habitable zone here in our Solar System to one that could potentially stretch from […]

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Dark Energy’s Elusive Signature

October 6, 2009

It’s odd to think that there would be a connection between the large-scale structure of the universe and what we hope to achieve with deep space propulsion. But figuring out how things work on the largest scale may offer us valuable clues about what is possible and what is not. If we understand correctly how […]

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