November 2014

Astrobiology and Sustainability

November 26, 2014

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches here in the US, I’m looking at a new paper in the journal Anthropocene that calls the attention of those studying sustainability to the discipline of astrobiology. At work here is a long-term perspective on planetary life that takes into account what a robust technological society can do to affect […]

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Our Best View of Europa

November 25, 2014

Apropos of yesterday’s post questioning what missions would follow up the current wave of planetary exploration, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory has released a new view of NASA’s intriguing moon Europa. The image, shown below, looks familiar because it was published in 2001, though at lower-resolution and with considerable color enhancement. The new mosaic gives us […]

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Rosetta: Building Momentum for Deep Space?

November 24, 2014

Even though its arrival on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko did not go as planned, the accomplishment of the Rosetta probe is immense. We have a probe on the surface that was able to collect 57 hours worth of data before going into hibernation, and a mother ship that will stay with the comet as […]

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Slingshot to the Stars

November 21, 2014

Back in the 1970s, Peter Glaser patented a solar power satellite that would supply energy from space to the Earth, one involving space platforms whose cost was one of many issues that put the brakes on the idea, although NASA did revisit the concept in the 1980’s and 90’s. But changing technologies may help us […]

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TVIW: From Wormholes to Orion

November 20, 2014

People keep asking what I think about Christopher Nolan’s new film ‘Interstellar.’ The answer is that I haven’t seen it yet, but plan to early next week. Some of the attendees of the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop were planning to see the film on the event’s third day, but I couldn’t stick around long enough […]

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Building Large Structures in Space

November 19, 2014

One thing the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop did not offer was a lot of spare time. Les Johnson told attendees at the beginning that we would be working straight through. Between presentations and workshop sessions, that was pretty much the case, with no break at all between an 8:00 start and lunch, and afternoon sessions […]

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TVIW: Caveats for Long-Duration Missions

November 18, 2014

When he opened the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop in Oak Ridge last week, Les Johnson told the audience that sessions would begin and end on time. Punctuality is a trait that I assume works well in Johnson’s day job at Marshall Space Flight Center, and it certainly was appreciated in Oak Ridge, where the delays […]

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Going Interstellar at Oak Ridge

November 17, 2014

When I was last in Oak Ridge, TN for the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop in 2011, I arrived late in the evening and the fog was so thick that, although I had a map, I decided against trying to find Robert Kennedy’s house, where the pre-conference reception was being held. This year the fog held […]

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The Transition from Rocky to Non-Rocky Planets

November 14, 2014

As I decompress from the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop (and review my notes for next week’s report), I have the pleasure of bringing you Andrew LePage’s incisive essay into a key exoplanet question. Are some of the planets now considered potentially habitable actually unlikely to support life? Recent work gives us some hard numbers on […]

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Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop

November 10, 2014

I’m at the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop in Oak Ridge for the next few days. As I’ve done at past conferences, I’ll need to spend my time taking the notes that will be turned into next week’s entries here. That means no further posts until Friday, though I’ll try to keep the comment moderation going, […]

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