September 2009

Heliospheric Crossings (and the Consequences)

September 30, 2009

Below you’ll see that I’m running Mike Brown’s sketch of the ‘new’ Solar System, one I originally ran with our discussion of Joel Poncy’s Haumea orbiter paper, which was presented at Aosta in July. The sketch is germane on a slightly different level today because as we look at how our views of the Solar […]

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Exoplanet Transits: Maxing Out Our Resources

September 29, 2009

I’m a great believer in getting the most out of older systems. The computer I do most of my work on is now eight years old. I have access to newer equipment, but I built this box with an eye toward longevity and I’m still happy with it. With the pace of technological change, it’s […]

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Notes & Queries 09/28/09

September 28, 2009

Modeling a Space-Based Future The submission deadline for the MiniSpaceWorld contest has, according to Tibor Pacher, been extended to November 1. Those with a yen to build scale models with a space theme should be considering the possibilities in the project, an exhibit showcasing everything from current rocket technology to basic principles of physics and […]

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Homing In on Planet Formation

September 25, 2009

Protoplanetary disks may not raise the same level of excitement that the discovery of new planets does, but to me, the idea of watching a planetary system form is awe-inspiring. I can’t help but wonder whether, going back about five billion years or so, astronomers around some distant star weren’t watching the early signs of […]

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Memories of Jupiter Space

September 24, 2009

My first glimpse of Ganymede ran like this: Three dead men walked across the face of hell. Their feet groped past frozen rock, now and then they stumbled in the wan light, and always they heard the thin, bitter mumble of wind and felt the cold gnawing at their flesh. Around them there was death, […]

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Relativistic Effects on Solar Sails

September 23, 2009

It’s a long way from the back of an envelope to a deployed spacecraft, which is one reason why scientists write papers in journals and gather at conferences. Such venues are where ideas get shaken out, problems identified and solutions proposed. We sometimes talk about realistic technologies like solar sails as if all that remained […]

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Regarding METI and SETI Motives

September 22, 2009

by James Benford I first talked to Jim Benford back in 2003, discussing his work (wih brother Gregory) on microwave beam propulsion. He had already run experiments at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory demonstrating acceleration on a lightsail using these techniques, and was then hoping to run an experiment on The Planetary Society’s ill-fated Cosmos 1. […]

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Interstellar Beacons: A Silence in Heaven?

September 21, 2009

by Jon Lomberg It seems fitting that we should be in the midst of a three-part series on SETI and METI issues. As Larry Klaes reminded me in a recent comment, September 19th was the fiftieth anniversary of the paper that began the modern SETI era, Morrison and Cocconi’s “Searching for Interstellar Communications” (available here). […]

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The Why of METI and SETI

September 18, 2009

by Larry Klaes About a decade ago while attending a SETI conference, I was listening to a researcher give a talk about detecting messages from other galaxies such as the giant elliptical galaxy Messier 87 and the immense Virgo galactic cluster it resides in. Since M87 is about 60 million light years from the Milky […]

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Surface Feature Found on Haumea

September 17, 2009

I’m sure there are people who can keep things straight in the shifting world of planetary definitions, but given the fact that I’m still not used to Pluto’s demotion, I have to look twice before I write anything on the subject. After checking, then, I confirm that Haumea, the interesting outer system object recently considered […]

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