SETI: A New Kind of ‘Water Hole’

April 5, 2016

Some of you may recall an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in which the inhabitants of a planet called Aldea use a planetary defense system that includes a cloaking device. The episode, “When the Bough Breaks,” at one point shows the view from the Enterprise’s screens as the entire planet swims into view. […]

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Thirteen to Centaurus

March 25, 2016

J. G. Ballard (1930-2009) emerged as one of the leading figures in 20th Century science fiction. His fascination with inner as opposed to ‘outer’ space infused his characters and landscapes with a touch of the surreal, taking the fiction of the space age into deeply psychological realms. Christopher Phoenix here looks at the question of […]

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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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First Post-Flyby Pluto Imagery

July 15, 2015

I’m on the road and don’t have a lot of time for writing, but I want to go ahead and get these new Pluto images up. They’re now available on the NASA site, and were introduced at the news conference at JHU/APL that just concluded. I’ll also quote just a bit of the news release […]

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End of an Era in Planetary Exploration?

July 7, 2015

While both Alan Stern and Glen Fountain admitted to having anxious moments over the weekend when New Horizons went silent, it became clear at yesterday’s news conference that those moments were short and quickly subsumed with ongoing duties. Stern is principal investigator for New Horizons, and the man most closely identified with making the mission […]

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Yarkovsky and YORP Effect Propulsion for Long-life Starprobes

June 22, 2015

Centauri Dreams regular James Jason Wentworth wrote recently with some musings about Bracewell probes, proposed by Ronald Bracewell in a 1960 paper. Bracewell conceived the idea of autonomous craft that could monitor developments in a distant solar system, perhaps communicating with any local species that developed technology. Pondering how such a craft might manage station-keeping […]

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Of an Archive on the Moon

December 12, 2014

Lunar Mission One is an interesting private attempt to put a payload on the lunar surface, a crowdsourced project aimed at doing good science and deepening public participation in spaceflight. Remembering the Apollo days, I’m always interested in seeing what can be done to renew interest in space, and having the chance to make a […]

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Interstellar Arrival: Slowing the Sail

November 7, 2014

Some final thoughts on hybrid propulsion will wrap up this series on solar sails, which grew out of ideas I encountered in the new edition of the Matloff, Johnson and Vulpetti book Solar Sails: A Novel Approach to Interplanetary Travel (Copernicus, 2014). The chance to preview the book (publication is slated for later this month) […]

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A Dramatic Upgrade for Interferometry

August 15, 2014

What can we do to make telescopes better both on Earth and in space? Ashley Baldwin has some thoughts on the matter, with reference to a new paper that explores interferometry and advocates an approach that can drastically improve its uses at optical wavelengths. Baldwin, a regular Centauri Dreams commenter, is a consultant psychiatrist at […]

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101 Geysers on Enceladus (and What They Imply)

July 31, 2014

I’ve mentioned before the irony that we may discover signs of robust extraterrestrial life sooner around a distant exoplanet than right here in our own Solar System. The scenario isn’t terribly implausible: Perhaps we come up empty on Mars, or find ourselves bogged down with ambiguous results. As our rovers dig, we still have Europa, […]

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