August 2016

A Closer Look at Proxima b

August 31, 2016

I have much more to say about the Breakthrough Starshot meetings, but last evening I decided to slow the pace a bit. I mentioned in my first report that the discovery of a planet around Proxima Centauri had woven through our San Francisco meetings, creating a bright thread of discussion that continued through all three […]

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Breakthrough Starshot Report 2: Drilling Down to the Basics

August 30, 2016

A lot of things can go wrong when you’re working on a thirty-year project. Consider the charter of the systems subcommittee of Breakthrough Starshot, whose mission is to “…ensure that Starshot engineering activities can and will result in a 0.2c mission to Alpha Centauri.” In the hands of the capable Kevin Parkin, the subcommittee has […]

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At the Breakthrough Starshot Meetings

August 29, 2016

An interesting typo — I had started to write ‘On the plane back from Proxima b,’ still a bit groggy from lack of morning coffee. Let’s correct that to ‘On the plane back from San Francisco.’ I was coming back from the Breakthrough Starshot meetings, most of which took place at Moffett Field, a former […]

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An Interesting SETI Candidate in Hercules

August 27, 2016

A candidate signal for SETI is a welcome sign that our efforts in that direction may one day pay off. An international team of researchers has announced the detection of “a strong signal in the direction of HD164595” in a document now being circulated through contact person Alexander Panov. The detection was made with the […]

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Proxima Centauri Planet

August 24, 2016

A planet in the habitable zone around Proxima Centauri? The prospect dazzles the imagination, but then, I’ve been thinking about just that kind of planet for most of my life. Proxima Centauri is, after all, the closest star to our own, about 15000 AU from the primary Alpha Centauri stars (though thought to be moving […]

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Breakthrough Starshot Meetings

August 23, 2016

I’m at the Breakthrough Starshot meetings in San Francisco, with a full schedule indeed. As I did last time in Palo Alto, I won’t try to post daily because there just won’t be time, and in any case, I will need to go over my notes and consolidate my impressions. Even so, I plan to […]

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The Blue Spectres of Abyssal Europa

August 19, 2016

Claudio Flores Martinez has just finished an MSc at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany and is now enroute to a PhD in theoretical biology. He currently serves as a research assistant at the Developmental Biology Unit of EMBL and the University of Heidelberg’s Centre for Organismal Studies. With three papers in […]

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Getting Ready for OSIRIS-REx

August 18, 2016

Back in the 1930s, the German astronomer Karl Reinmuth discovered a near-Earth asteroid now called 1862 Apollo, which gave its name to the Apollo asteroids, all of them Earth-crossing and of high interest to those looking to plan asteroid missions. The number of known Apollo asteroids totals close to 7000. The one that gains our […]

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A Near-Term Commercial Asteroid Mining Mission

August 17, 2016

Most readers will recall the Spacecoach, developed by Brian McConnell and Alex Tolley and widely discussed in these pages. A workhorse spacecraft designed to shuttle crew and cargo between Earth and nearby planets, the Spacecoach was presented as a way to open up regular commercial use of the Solar System, on the pattern of the […]

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Brown Dwarf Analysis Offers Exoplanet Implications

August 16, 2016

Brown dwarfs offer exciting prospects for exoplanet work. Not only are we learning that they can have planets of their own, but brown dwarfs themselves are a useful bridge between planets and stars. We also know that there are a lot of them out there. According to data from the WISE (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer) […]

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