February 2016

Power Beaming Parameters & SETI re KIC 8462852

February 26, 2016

When I first got interested in SETI, I naively assumed that we would get a detection fairly soon, and that we would detect not a directed beacon but simple background traffic in a remote civilization. I had no idea at the time how difficult it would be to pick up the kind of radio traffic […]

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SETI: Power Beaming in Context

February 25, 2016

Thinking that we can understand the motivations of an extraterrestrial civilization seems like a fool’s gambit, but we have to try. The reason is obvious: We have exactly one technological society to work with — we’re all we have — and if we want to look for SETI signals, we have to interpolate as best […]

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Fast Radio Bursts: First Distance Measurement

February 24, 2016

Have we finally traced a Fast Radio Burst to its place of origin? News from the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) radio telescopes in eastern Australia, along with confirming data from the Japanese Subaru instrument in Hawaii, suggests the answer is yes. Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are transient radio pulses that last scant […]

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An Exoplanet Changing Over Time

February 23, 2016

Keep your eye on a program called the Hubble Cloud Atlas. This is a collaboration between fourteen exoplanet researchers around the globe that is intent on creating images of exoplanets using the Hubble Space Telescope. But while we’ve been able to directly image a small number of planets before now, the Cloud Atlas project brings […]

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SETI: Upcoming Talk of Interest

February 22, 2016

Given the interest the unusual star KIC 8462852 has generated here and elsewhere, I want to be sure those of you in California are aware of an upcoming talk that touches on the matter, as well as broader SETI issues. Titled “The Breakthrough Initiative – Listen and Megastructures at KIC 8463,” the talk will be […]

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Charon: Evidence of an Ancient Ocean

February 22, 2016

I will admit to a fascination with Pluto’s moon Charon that began even before it was discovered. Intrigued by the most distant places in the Solar System, I had always imagined what the view would be like from a tiny moon circling Pluto. At the time, we didn’t know about Charon, so my vantage point […]

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WFIRST: Moving Closer to a Mission

February 19, 2016

We learned on Wednesday that the Agency Program Management Council, which works under the aegis of NASA, has made the decision to proceed with the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope. WFIRST is the next step in major astrophysical observatories after the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018, an instrument that will work […]

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Tracking the Chelyabinsk Impactor

February 18, 2016

Yesterday’s post on the distribution of asteroid populations inevitably had me thinking about the Chelyabinsk event on February 15, 2013, and about the concurrent flyby of the asteroid (367943) Duende, which took place on the same day. A scant sixteen hours after the explosion of the Chelyabinsk bolide and the fall of five tons of […]

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A New Look at Asteroid Distribution

February 17, 2016

We know that understanding Near-Earth Objects is vital not only for assessing future asteroid surveys and spacecraft missions, but also for tracking potential impactors on Earth. Projects like the Catalina Sky Survey and its now defunct southern hemisphere counterpart, the Siding Spring Survey, are all about asteroid and comet discovery, with a more specific goal […]

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Light, Dry Atmosphere of a ‘Super-Earth’

February 16, 2016

We’re probing the atmospheres of exoplanets both from the Earth and from space. Transmission spectroscopy allows us to look at the spectra of starlight at various wavelengths as a transiting planet passes first in front of its host star, and then moves behind it. Now we have news of a successful detection of gases in […]

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