February 2011

British Interplanetary Society: Then and Now

February 25, 2011

by Kelvin Long Physicist and aerospace engineer Kelvin Long is the co-founder of Project Icarus, the interstellar design study that is a successor to Project Daedalus. Here he gives us a look at the history of the British Interplanetary Society, whose accomplishments and continuing efforts in the area of interstellar propulsion have energized the entire […]

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Ongoing Planet Formation in the Chamaeleon?

February 24, 2011

We recently looked at protoplanetary disks around the stars AB Aur and LkCa 15, new studies using adaptive optics at the Subaru telescope on Mauna Kea. Today we learn about another interesting disk, this one around the young star T Chamaeleontis (T Cha), about 350 light years from Earth in the southern constellation called the […]

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An Internet Designed for Space

February 23, 2011

You would think that Internet pioneer Vint Cerf would be too busy with the upcoming transition from Internet Protocol version 4 to IPv6 — not to mention his other duties as Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist — to keep an eye on space communications. But the man behind the Net’s TCP/IP protocols never lets the human […]

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Hitting the Exoplanet Jackpot

February 22, 2011

If by any chance you missed Lee Billings’ recent work on BoingBoing, let me direct you to Cosmic Commodities: How Much is a New Planet Worth? Lee has been talking to planet hunter Greg Laughlin (UC-Santa Cruz) about the latter’s equation that quantifies the worth of a given planet. It’s an ingenious concept, one that […]

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A Gas Giant in the Oort Cloud?

February 21, 2011

Of all the interesting targets the WISE (Wide-Field Infrared Explorer) mission might find, I’ve focused primarily on two in Centauri Dreams: A small star, doubtless a brown dwarf, that might be found closer to us than the Alpha Centauri trio, and a large planet out in the Oort Cloud that might be disturbing cometary orbits. […]

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Water, Water, Everywhere

February 18, 2011

Our view of the Solar System has changed utterly in the last fifty years. Mention that at a cocktail party and your listener will assume you’re talking about Pluto, the demotion of which has stirred more response than any other recent planetary news. But in addition to all we’ve learned through our spacecraft, our view […]

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New Images of Planet-Forming Disks

February 17, 2011

Protoplanetary disks present huge challenges, but we need to learn more about them to make sense of our exoplanet catalog. We’re interested in learning about the two primary theories of planet formation — core accretion from colliding bodies of rock or ice and gravitational instability in the disks themselves. But protoplanetary disks are dim compared […]

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A Dialogue on SETI

February 16, 2011

Last October, a conference at the Royal Society looked into “the detection of life, the communication with potential extra-terrestrial civilizations, the implications for the future of humanity, and the political processes that are required.” It was a fascinating gathering, one whose results I’ve been able to study ever since thanks to Keith Cooper, who forwarded […]

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Tempel 1: Close Pass, Delayed Images

February 15, 2011

We’re starting to get a look at imagery from the Stardust spacecraft’s close approach to comet Tempel 1, which occurred this morning at about 0439 UTC (2339 EST). The mission is an extension for the comet-chasing spacecraft, which flew past comet Wild 2 in 2004 and collected samples from the cometary coma that were subsequently […]

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Space Technology Research Fellowships

February 15, 2011

Students interested in getting involved in space research should be aware of NASA’s Space Technology Research Fellowships. The agency is currently seeking applications from graduate students at accredited US universities for the fellowships, with a deadline for submitting fellowship proposals of 23 February. The fellowships, which are sponsored by NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist, […]

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