Welcome to the Carnival of Space! Thanks, Fraser, for allowing Kentucky Space to host again. Before moving on to all the great submissions this week, let me provide a very brief update on Kentucky Space:
We conducted one very successful high-altitude balloon launch to test some equipment and to shoot video and pictures. The event was open and heavily attended by kids. See the Flickr badge in the sidebar for more.
All of our CubeSat hardware has been baked out, thermal cycled and conformal coated.
Conformal coating is a thin layer of coating applied to all the electronic printed circuit boards to help with reliability. We are currently in the process of re-assembling the cube for further bake outs and vibration testing, as well as doing all of the software black-box testing to test the satellite software in flight configuration so that any bugs can be squashed.
On Saturday, 10/11/08, from the Mojave desert, a Garvey Space launch vehicle will be carrying a Kentucky Space payload aboard a sub-orbital mission. Watch Kentucky Space for details and photos.
Kentucky Space is pursuing an aggressive high-altitude, sub-orbital and orbital launch agenda. Our grassroots-space motto: fly stuff.
Now on to the rest of the carnival for this week!
Using astro photos taken last week from his backyard, Alberta sky watcher Alan Dyer takes readers on a scenic tour of the Orion Spur and the Perseus Arm in the Milky Way Galaxy. I Iove these images and only wish I had more time to spend with my 4 inch reflector where I live.
Showing two pictures taken a century apart, Catholic Sensibility points out that "for the past 105 years" our view of Saturn's moon Phoebe "had pretty much been a point of light on a photographic plate" and describes how far space imaging has come since 1898.
A Babe in the Universe reports that according to one idea, Earth is within an abnormal bubble in space, which is theorised to be unusually devoid of matter, and objects within our bubble would appear to decelerate at a slower rate, making the Universe appear to accelerate from our point of view. It's all in her post "Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble." She also points out that the Nobel for physics went to Youchiro Nambu, Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa for mathematically describing "spontaneous broken symmetry." I'm currently reading Brian Greene's Fabric of the Cosmos and his description of symmetry as a signpost for cosmologists is lovely.
Meanwhile, on a subject a lot of us are following very closely, Irene Klotz reports that Neel Kashkari, a former contractor with NASA, has a new title on his resume: Interim Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Stability!
More stability, please.
Nancy Atkinson at from Universe Today contributed a touching post about the on-orbit diary of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, parts of which survived the Columbia accident. I can only image the thoughts of the crew on descent, knowing at some point that something was going horribly wrong.
In a detailed post, David S. F. Portree at Altair VI notes that four proposed Mars sample return missions dating from the late 1980s have impacted - and not in a good way - the development of The Space Exploration Initiative.
At The Planetary Society, one of my favorite space sites, Emily Lakdawalla reports the exciting 20-hour story of the discovery and tracking of asteroid 2008 TC3 before it hit Earth, and includes some terrific images of TC3 crossing space, concluding with an observation by the crew of a KLM airliner of a fireball! Now that's drama.
A favorite blogger of mine, Paul Gilster, describes a laser-solar sail proposal at "Laser Beamed Interstellar Mission":
At OrbitalHub, The Indian Space Research Organization has high hopes for lunar exploration and is currently Scouting the Moon. A mission, called Chandrayaan-1, is scheduled for the end of this month. Total cost: $83 million in U.S. dollars. Wow.
Laser-beamed propulsion has a long history in interstellar studies, particularly in the hands of Robert Forward, who envisioned building a huge lens in the outer Solar System to keep the beam tightly focused on the receding starship. New proposals do away with the lens, and instead of imagining a power source close to the Sun, envision using tethers in Jupiter's magnetosphere for the needed energy. This article looks at the description of such methods in a new book on solar sails.
In the meantime, Ethan Siegel posts on the recently discovered exoplanet that just set a new mass record, as well as a writing little editorial on what we ought to do with all that mass.
Ryan Anderson contributed a couple of posts from his blog, Martian Chronicles, Planets as Art, as well as a description of a unique collaboration between the Spitzer space telescope team and the Pasadena Art Center College of Design.
Nextbigfuture reports that NASA made news with a proposed 10-40KWe Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG) for moon power. Quoting from the blog:
The Hyperion power generation nuclear reactor would have 1000 times more power, which would enable real industrialization of the moon. There is nuclear material on the moon, so if transporting a functional nuclear reactor is an issue, then a unit could be delivered which had everything with refined nuclear material sent in separate rocket deliveries. After industrialization of the moon, mining, processing and refinement of nuclear materials can be set up on the moon.
Last and certainly not least, the Bad Astronomer himself, Phil Plait, submitted an article straight from the second MESSENGER Mercury flyby. He dubs the innermost planet the "watermelon planet" for the bright streaks, or rays, of ejected material from recent impacts on the planet's surface. Because the craft flew to within 120 miles of the surface, the data and images it's returning are truly astonishing.
Since one of the mandates of the Kentucky Space is to get kids interested in space and space technologies, I, too, tend to feature images quite a bit on the Kentucky Space blog. The Cassini, MESSENGER and the Mars Orbiter all have provided fantastic pictures - just the thing to create enthusiasm in young minds.
Images top to bottom: Mercury images: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington. "Mars Frost:" ASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Texas A&M University. "Many Colors, Many Moons" - Saturn - NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute. "Youthful wrinkles" - Enceladus - NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute