This Week in Space

Sorry for the much overdue This Week in Space. I just haven't felt like doing one lately, and haven't even followed space news for a month or so.


Satellite proposed to send solar power to Earth

The first time I saw this idea was in Sim City '2000' back in 1993 or 1994 where you could build microwave power stations that would beam solar energy down from space via mirowaves.It's a good idea, just not really been worth it due to cost of solar cells, they are however getting cheaper and electricity is getting more expensive as demand for it increases.

Artemis Innovation Management Solutions has been given some seed money by NASA to look deeper into a project the company first proposed last summer; namely, building a satellite that could collect energy from the sun and beam it back down to Earth to add to the electrical grid. Building such a satellite has been bantered about for several decades by various groups and scientists, but until now, no one had come up with a design that would work given all the constraints of the time. But now, an idea proposed by longtime NASA engineer John Mankins, now with Artemis, has clearly created enough interest within NASA that some money to investigate the idea is being offered.

Read more HERE


New look at HD 10180 shows it might have nine planets

I like how when I was born we knew of a whopping 0 planets outside of our star system, we now know of over 2,000 and confirm more weekly. HD 10180 has as many as we used to (before Pluto lost planethood) and may even have more. The chance that we are the only sentient life in the universe is absurdly low, hell we likely aren't alone in our neighborhood in our galaxy.

Astronomer Mikko Tuomi of the University of Hertfordshire, has found after looking at data regarding the solar system surrounding the star HD 10180, that it likely has nine planets making it the most highly populated solar system known to man (ours has just eight after the demotion of Pluto). He details his findings in a paper pre-published on arXiv (and set for publication in Astronomy and Astrophysics) describing how after studying slight wobbles by the star as it’s tugged by planetary gravitation, he found what he believes is confirmation of a seventh planet, and evidence for two more.

Read more HERE

Newfangled space-propulsion technology could help clean up Earth orbit

I love it! I want to see this used on a small sattelite inside of 5 years. Get to it!

Some of the most valuable “real estate” for humans isn’t on Earth at all but rather above the planet’s atmosphere, where all manner of human-made objects orbit. The problem is that those orbits are too crowded with dead satellites and debris, making new launches riskier. Robert Winglee has spent years developing a magnetized ion plasma system to propel a spacecraft at ultra-high speeds, making it possible to travel to Mars and return to Earth in as little time as 90 days. The problem is that cost and other issues have dampened the desire to send astronauts to Mars or any other planet.

Read more HERE


Will Russia rescue ExoMars?

I hope this mission gets salvaged, although we have a nice one on it's way... Curiosity which is set to land between August 6 and August 20, 2012.

After NASA was forced to back out the joint ExoMars mission with the European Space Agency due to budget constraints, ESA went looking for help with the planned multi-vehicle Mars mission. Now, reportedly the Head of Roscosmos Vladimir Popovkin met with Director General of the ESA, Jean-Jacques Dordain last week, and the two signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to make ExoMars a reality.

Read more HERE


Hubble spies a spiral galaxy edge-on

There is your beautiful image for this installment of This Week in Space.

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has spotted the "UFO Galaxy." NGC 2683 is a spiral galaxy seen almost edge-on, giving it the shape of a classic science fiction spaceship. This is why the astronomers at the Astronaut Memorial Planetarium and Observatory, Cocoa, Fla., gave it this attention-grabbing nickname.

Read more HERE

This week in space

Discovery of two types of neutron stars points to two different classes of supernovae

See I love when stuff like this happens as it just proves we know very little about how things work. The great thing is when we do discover new things it betters are understanding and makes the universe a more interesting place.

Astronomers at the universities of Southampton and Oxford have found evidence that neutron stars, which are produced when massive stars explode as supernovae, actually come in two distinct varieties. Their finding also suggests that each variety is produced by a different kind of supernova event.

Read more HERE


Stellar extremophiles

Not only is it curious that these stars exist where they do, but the composite image is quite beautiful.

Back in the 1970s, biologists were amazed to discover a form of life they never expected.  Tiny microorganisms with ancient DNA were living in the hot springs of Yellowstone National Park.  Instead of dissolving in the boiling waters, the microbes were thriving, ringing the springs with vibrant color.

Read more HERE


Forget exoplanets. Let's talk exomoons

While the current technology isn't even able to detect Ganymede in our own solar system via the methods proposed, future missions could do it. In fact, I remember not too long ago when we weren't even sure of exoplanets and last I looked (November 7th, 2011) we've discovered 697 extrasolar planets in 573 systems and 81 multiple-planet systems so in the next 50 years we could easily have discovered that many exomoons!

It wasn’t that long ago that astronomers began discovering the first planets around other stars. But as the field of exoplanetary astronomy explodes, astronomers have begun looking to the future and considering the possibility of detecting moons around these planets. Surprisingly, the potential for doing so may not be that far off.

Read more HERE


NASA ready for November launch of car-size Mars rover

This mars rover really had me excited a while ago when it was supposed to be carrying a 3-D camera provided for and funded by James Cameron, until NASA nixed the camera... which they had no real reason to do other than to cover up something.

NASA's most advanced mobile robotic laboratory, which will examine one of the most intriguing areas on Mars, is in final preparations for a launch from Florida's Space Coast at 10:25 a.m. EST (7:25 a.m. PST) on Nov. 25.

Read more HERE


Does the Pluto system pose a threat to New Horizons?

It would suck if this thing gets all the way out there, then smashes into some body around Pluto's orbit. Lousy thing is, it's quite possible.

With nearly two-thirds of its journey complete, the New Horizons spacecraft is still alive and well. It recently experienced a “hibernation wakeup” which started on November 5th and will last until November 15th… and it will sleep again until a month-long call in January. However, the real “wakeup call” may be when it reaches the complicated Pluto system. Watch out for that rock!

Read more HERE


Russia's attempts to save Mars probe unsuccessful

Alright, so after NASA cancelled Curiosity's 3D camera provided by Cameron I was suspicious they were trying to hide something. Now this Russian mission to Mars is stuck in EARTH orbit... what are the powers that be trying to hide that they had to sabotage this Russian craft? What are they hiding from the Russians? What are they hiding from the general population?

As Russia's space agency struggled Thursday to fix a probe bound for a moon of Mars that instead got stuck in Earth's orbit, some experts said the chances of saving the $170 million craft looked slim.

Read more HERE