Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

March 31, 2017

Is there something about human beings that ensures we will always explore? I think so, even while acknowledging that there are many who have chosen throughout history not to examine potential frontiers. The choices we make on Earth will be reflected in our future beyond the Solar System, assuming there is to be one. Nick […]

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Martian Civilization

February 17, 2017

What kind of civilization might eventually emerge on Mars? Colonies of various kinds have been examined in science fiction for decades, but as we close in on the possibility of actual human arrival on the planet, perhaps in the 2030s, we can wonder how living on a different world will change the people who eventually […]

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John Glenn: An Arc of Fire

December 9, 2016

John Glenn was 95 when he died, but I have to admit I didn’t think he’d make it to 41. The first American to orbit the Earth was 40 years old when he rode an Atlas rocket into the sky on February 20, 1962. I was a gawky kid, space-crazed, who had read absolutely everything […]

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Antimatter Sail: Focus on Storage

October 18, 2016

An antimatter sail, as described yesterday in the work of Gerald Jackson and Steve Howe, is an exciting idea particularly because it relies on only small amounts of antimatter, tapping its energies to create fission in a uranium-enriched sail. Thus the uranium is the fuel and the antimatter, as Jackson says, is the ‘spark plug.’ […]

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Spiral Density Waves: Clue to Planet Formation?

October 7, 2016

Have a look at the spiral of pinwheeling dust that can be seen around the young star Elias 2-27. We’re looking at gravitational perturbations in a protoplanetary disk that, as this National Radio Astronomy Observatory news release says, mimic the vast arms we expect in a spiral galaxy. But here we’re looking at a process […]

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Spacecoach: Toward a Deep Space Infrastructure

June 28, 2016

With manned missions to Mars in our thinking, both in government space agencies and the commercial sector, the challenge of providing adequate life support emerges as a key factor. We’re talking about a mission lasting about two years, as opposed to the relatively swift Apollo missions to the Moon (about two weeks). Discussing the matter […]

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Stéphane Dumas (1970 – 2016)

June 17, 2016

The interstellar community is a small one, and reporting the loss of one of our number is not easy. SETI researcher Stéphane Dumas, who had been working with Claudio Maccone on the application of the Karhunen–Loève transform (KLT) for SETI observations, has died unexpectedly at his home in Quebec. I remember a wonderful conversation with […]

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KIC 8462852: Where Are We After Eight Months?

May 10, 2016

The unusual star designated KIC 8462852, and now widely known as ‘Tabby’s Star,’ continues to be an enigma. As discussed in numerous articles in these pages, KIC 8462852 shows anomalous lightcurves that remain a mystery. Recently Michael Hippke explored a related question: Was the star dimming over time, as postulated by Louisiana State’s Bradley Schaefer? […]

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Beamed Sail Concepts Over Time

May 9, 2016

If you’ve been following the Breakthrough Starshot concept in these pages and elsewhere, you’ll know that it’s small at one end and big on the other. A beamed sail mission, it would use sails four meters to the side — quite small by reference to earlier beamed sail designs — driven by a massive phased […]

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C/2014 S3: ‘Manx Object’ from the Oort Cloud

May 4, 2016

When you don’t have the technology to get to an interesting place like the Oort Cloud, it’s more than a little helpful when nature brings an Oort Cloud object to you. At least we think that the object known as C/2014 S3 (Pan-STARRS) has moved into the warmer regions of the Solar System from the […]

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