October 2011

Widening the Red Dwarf Habitable Zone

October 31, 2011

Long-time Centauri Dreams readers will be familiar with the work of Manoj Joshi and Robert Haberle. Back in the 1990s when both were at NASA Ames (Joshi is now at the University of Reading), the scientists went to work on the question of whether planets around red dwarf stars could be habitable, given the problem […]

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A Surprise at Lutetia

October 28, 2011

Sometimes our spacecraft take us past an asteroid, and other times the asteroid comes to us. Asteroid 2005 YU55 pays Earth a visit soon, closing to a bit less than the distance of the Moon on November 8. The Deep Space Network dish at Goldstone (CA) and the Arecibo facility in Puerto Rico will track […]

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New Findings on Eris

October 27, 2011

Back when I was writing my Centauri Dreams book in 2004, I remember talking to JPL’s James Lesh about various aspects of communicating with distant spacecraft. Lesh had written an interesting paper on how we might communicate with an Alpha Centauri probe, and we went on to discuss laser communications in the context of today’s […]

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JWST: The Starshade Option

October 26, 2011

Imaging an Earth-like planet in the habitable zone may happen some time in the next decade if the James Webb Space Telescope can make its way through its budgetary hurdles and achieve a 2018 liftoff. But the word ‘imaging’ is a bit deceptive when you consider that we won’t be getting anything remotely like the […]

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The Next NASA Sail

October 25, 2011

Back in August I mentioned NASA’s solar sail plans beyond NanoSail-D in the context of a larger survey of sail designs and experimentation. It’s great to see multiple sail projects in motion, and before I return to NASA I should mention not only the Planetary Society’s ongoing sail effort but the CubeSat sail being built […]

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Water Found in Planet-Forming Disc

October 24, 2011

An orange dwarf star a bit smaller than our Sun is giving us valuable clues about how water-covered planets like Earth may evolve. TW Hydrae is 176 light years away, so young (5 to 10 million years) that it is still in the early stages of forming a planetary system. Working with data from ESA’s […]

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Project Icarus: Extreme Aerospace Engineering

October 21, 2011

by K.F.Long, co-founder Project Icarus Kelvin Long is well known to Centauri Dreams readers. The physicist and aerospace engineer is, in addition to being one of the most energetic voices in the service of interstellar propulsion studies, the co-founder of Project Icarus, the successor to the 1970s-era Project Daedalus starship design study. Here Kelvin looks […]

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Comet Storm Around η Corvi?

October 20, 2011

Planetary migration can play a huge role in the evolution of a solar system, as witness the thinking that it was a migration of the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn that brought about the Late Heavy Bombardment, a time four billion years ago when impacts from space pock-marked the Moon and inner planets. The migration […]

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The Joy of Extreme Possibility

October 19, 2011

Nuclear rocket designs are hardly new. In fact, it was clear as early as the 1950s that conventional chemical rocketry was inefficient, and programs like Project Rover, set up to study the use of nuclear reactors to heat liquid hydrogen for propulsion, aimed at the kind of rockets that could get us beyond the Moon […]

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Habitable, Not Earth-like

October 18, 2011

I’ve put off writing about Wesley Traub’s paper on the frequency of planets in the habitable zone because I knew Adam Crowl had reservations about Traub’s method. We talked about this at the 100 Year Starship Symposium, which led to Adam’s agreeing to writing this piece for Centauri Dreams. How you define a habitable zone […]

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