November 2013

Is Energy a Key to Interstellar Communication?

November 27, 2013

I first ran across David Messerschmitt’s work in his paper “Interstellar Communication: The Case for Spread Spectrum,” and was delighted to meet him in person at Starship Congress in Dallas last summer. Dr. Messerschmitt has been working on communications methods designed for interstellar distances for some time now, with results that are changing the paradigm […]

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Moving Stars: The Shkadov Thruster

November 26, 2013

Although I didn’t write about the so-called ‘Shkadov thruster’ yesterday, it has been on my mind as one mega-engineering project that an advanced civilization might attempt. The most recent post was all about moving entire stars to travel the galaxy, with reference to Gregory Benford and Larry Niven’s Bowl of Heaven (Tor, 2012), where humans […]

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The Star as Starship

November 25, 2013

Moving entire stars rather than building spaceships would have certain benefits as a way of traveling through the galaxy. After all, it would mean taking your local environment with you on a millennial journey. Some have suggested it might therefore be an observable sign of highly advanced civilizations at work. But how would you move […]

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Leafing Through Early Interstellar Ideas

November 22, 2013

Although John Jacob Astor IV did many things in his life — as a businessman, builder, Spanish American War veteran and financier — his place in history was secured with his death on the Titanic in 1912. His was actually one of the three hundred or so bodies that were later recovered out of over […]

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Ancient Brown Dwarfs Discovered

November 21, 2013

How many brown dwarfs should we expect in the Milky Way? I can recall estimates that there could be as many brown dwarfs as main sequence stars back when people started speculating about this, but we have to go by the data, and what we have so far tells another tale. The WISE (Wide-field Infrared […]

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Hacking Humanity to the Stars: The DIY Space Program

November 20, 2013

Among the numerous groups now emerging with an eye toward space exploration, SpaceGAMBIT has been the one I knew the least about. It was a pleasure, then, to hear from Alex Cureton-Griffiths, who is UK Project Lead for SpaceGAMBIT. Alex was more than happy to offer this description of SpaceGAMBIT and its plans for the […]

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Space Weathering: The Mars Connection

November 19, 2013

I don’t usually have much to say about Mars, for this site’s focus is on deep space — the outer Solar System and beyond. But with both the Mangalyaan and MAVEN Mars missions in progress, I’ll take this opportunity to mention new work out of MIT that deals with the effect of Mars on asteroids. […]

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Two Ways to the Stars

November 18, 2013

I often cite Robert Forward’s various statements to the effect that “Travel to the stars is difficult but not impossible.” Forward’s numerous papers drove the point home by examining star travel through the lens of known physics, conceiving of ways that an advanced civilization capable of the engineering could build an interstellar infrastructure. But while […]

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The Inner System Viewed from Saturn

November 15, 2013

With the Cassini mission continuing through 2017, we’ll doubtless have many fine views of Saturn to come, but the images below merit special attention, enough so that I decided to close the week with them. We’re looking at an annotated, panoramic mosaic made by processing 141 wide-angle images, sweeping across 651,591 kilometers. That covers the […]

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What a Strange Asteroid Can Tell Us

November 14, 2013

The Pan-STARRS survey telescope in Hawaii has reminded us how much we still have to learn about asteroids. We saw yesterday that the Chelyabinsk impactor could be studied through physical evidence as well as the ample photographic records made by witnesses on the ground. But P/2013 P5, discovered by Pan-STARRS and then the object of […]

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