March 2010

Transiting Gas Giant a ‘Rosetta Stone’

March 17, 2010

Claire Moutou, one of an international team of astronomers behind the discovery of the planet CoRoT-9b, says the distant world will become a ‘Rosetta stone in exoplanet research.’ And perhaps it will, for this is a transiting gas giant, but not a ‘hot Jupiter.’ In an orbit not dissimilar to that of Mercury, CoRoT-9b transits […]

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Finding the Real Planet X

March 16, 2010

One of the things we need to learn about the Alpha Centauri stars is whether Proxima Centauri is gravitationally bound to Centauri A and B. Much hinges on the issue, for if Proxima is merely passing in the night, then whatever disruptive effect it may have upon an outer halo of comets around the Centauri […]

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OSIRIS-REx: Mission to an Asteroid

March 15, 2010

Why mount a mission to an asteroid? For one thing, some of them cross the Earth’s orbit, and that makes gathering knowledge about their composition essential to any future trajectory-altering operation. For another, the science return could be immense. These are unprepossessing objects, no more than chunks of rock and dust, but they can tell […]

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General Relativity Holds Up Under Galactic Test

March 12, 2010

Yesterday’s trip to the dark side involved the so-called ‘dark flow,’ the apparent motion of galactic clusters along a path in the direction of the constellations Centaurus and Hydra. Today we look at two other dark conjectures — dark matter and dark energy. Are both a part of the universe we observe, or can we […]

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‘Dark Flow’ Pushes Deeper into the Cosmos

March 11, 2010

When you’re studying galaxy clusters, it doesn’t pay to be in a hurry. Harald Ebeling (University of Hawaii) is an expert on the matter, working with a catalog of over a thousand such clusters in a new study of the so-called ‘dark flow,’ the apparent motion of galaxy clusters along a path centered on the […]

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Habitable Planets: Working the Odds

March 10, 2010

Want to play around with some numbers? The process is irresistible, and we do it all the time when plugging values into the Drake equation, trying to find ways to estimate how many other civilizations might be out there. But a question that is a bit less complicated is how many terrestrial planets exist in […]

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Piecing Together Titan’s Landscape

March 9, 2010

Titan’s Sikun Labyrinthus is a an area of connected valleys and ridges that bears a certain similarity to features on Earth. The area appears analogous to what we call ‘karst topography,’ created on our planet when layers of bedrock are dissolved by water, to leave rock outcroppings and sinkholes. The Darai Hills of Papua New […]

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Novel Technologies Aboard the IKAROS Sail

March 8, 2010

Not long ago we looked at IKAROS, an interesting solar sail concept out of JAXA, the Japanese space agency. Osamu Mori, project leader for the sail mission, offers up further background in an interview available at the JAXA site. IKAROS is notable because rather than relying solely on photons for propulsion, it would use solar […]

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Notes & Queries 3/5/10

March 5, 2010

Nuclear Cannon A Descendant of Orion The new Carnival of Space is now out, from which I’ll focus on Brian Wang’s interesting notions on nuclear propulsion. The power behind the indispensable Next Big Future site, Brian has been writing about an Orion variant for some time now, one that should be able to get around […]

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Targeting Nearby M Dwarfs

March 4, 2010

We’ve been talking for the last six years (since Centauri Dreams‘ inception) about finding a terrestrial world in the habitable zone of another star. It’s an exciting prospect, but the reality about space missions like Terrestrial Planet Finder and Darwin, each designed to make such identifications, is that the budget ax has fallen and we […]

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