November 2015

No Catastrophic Collision at KIC 8462852

November 30, 2015

Last week I mentioned that I wanted to get into Massimo Marengo’s new paper on KIC 8462852, the interesting star that, when studied by the Kepler instrument, revealed an intriguing light curve. I’ve written this object up numerous times now, so if you’re coming into the discussion for the first time, plug KIC 8462852 into […]

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Will We Stop at Mars?

November 27, 2015

In the heady days of Apollo, Mars by 2000 looked entirely feasible. Now we’re talking about the 2030s for manned exploration, and even that target seems to keep receding. In the review that follows, Michael Michaud looks at Louis Friedman’s new book on human spaceflight, which advocates Mars landings but cedes more distant targets to […]

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A Cometary Solution for KIC 8462852?

November 25, 2015

KIC 8462852 is back in the news. And despite a new paper dealing with the unusual star, I suspect it will be in the news for some time to come, for we’re a long way from finding out what is causing the unusual light curves the Planet Hunters group found in Kepler data. KIC 8462, […]

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Huge Flares from a Tiny Star

November 24, 2015

Just a few days ago we looked at evidence that Kepler-438b, thought in some circles to be a possibly habitable world, is likely kept out of that category by flare activity and coronal mass ejections from the parent star. These may well have stripped the planet’s atmosphere entirely (see A Kepler-438b Caveat – and a […]

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The 3 Most Futuristic Talks at IAC 2015

November 23, 2015

Justin Atchison’s name started appearing in these pages all the way back in 2007 when, in a post called Deep Space Propulsion via Magnetic Fields, I described his work at Cornell on micro-satellites the size of a single wafer of silicon. Working with Mason Peck, Justin did his graduate work on chip-scale spacecraft dynamics, solar […]

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The Cereal Box

November 20, 2015

“No matter how these issues are ultimately resolved, Centauri Dreams opts for the notion that even the back of a cereal box may contain its share of mysteries.” I wrote that line in 2005, and if it sounds cryptic, read on to discover its origins, ably described by Christopher Phoenix. I first encountered Christopher in […]

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Directly Imaging a Young ‘Jupiter’

November 19, 2015

Centauri Dreams continues to follow the fortunes of the Gemini Planet Imager with great interest, and I thank Horatio Trobinson for a recent note reminding me of the latest news from researchers at the Gemini South installation in Chile. The project organized as the Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey is a three-year effort designed to […]

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A Kepler-438b Caveat (and a Digression)

November 18, 2015

Before we go interstellar, a digression with reference to yesterday’s post, which looked at how we manipulate image data to draw out the maximum amount of information. I had mentioned the image widely regarded as the first photograph, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce’s ‘View from the Window at Le Gras.’ Centauri Dreams regular William Alschuler pointed out […]

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Pluto and How We See It

November 17, 2015

As I did after yesterday’s post, I occasionally get requests for pictures of objects in natural color, as opposed to significantly enhanced images (at various wavelengths) designed to tease out structure or detail. Here are Pluto and Charon as seen by New Horizons’ LORRI (Long Range Reconnaissance Imager), with color data supplied by the Ralph […]

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Pluto’s Unexpected Complexities

November 16, 2015

Keeping up with a site like this can be a daunting task, especially when intriguing papers can pop up at any time and announcements of new finds by our spacecraft come in clusters. But site maintenance itself can be tricky. Recently Centauri Dreams regular Tom Mazanec wrote in with a project to be added to […]

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