November 06, 2011

Carnival of Space 222

1. Discovery Space News by Ian O'Neill - Those pesky physicists are at it again; they want to build a laser so powerful that it will literally rip spacetime apart.

The lasers planned by the Extreme Light Infrastructure Ultra-High Field Facility, known as "ELI," would concentrate 200 petawatts of power -- that's 100,000 times the world's power production -- and fire it at a single point for less than a trillionth of a second.

The combined power of 10 separate lasers would be focused down to a very small volume, creating conditions more extreme than in the center of our sun. It is hoped (yes, hoped) that this immense energy will punch a hole through the fabric of spacetime itself, heralding a new era of exotic physics discovery.
Left One schematic setup to probe collective and dynamical nonlinear and [Right] The Generation of higher harmonics from the quantum vacuum

The European Union website for the Extreme Light Infrastructure project

The ELI will have applications for studying the Quantum Vacuum and Quantum Dynamics

2. Florida Today - Some leading space experts are worried a lack of money and vision in Washington threatens the future of the U.S. space exploration program to the advantage of other countries.

3. Aviation Week - NASA is striving to advance orbiting fuel depot technology through a project called Cryogenic Propellant Storage and Transfer

NASA is striving to advance orbiting fuel depot technology through a project called Cryogenic Propellant Storage and Transfer (CPST), which hopes to launch an 1,800-kg (4,000-lb.) demonstration mission in 2016.

CPST spacecraft will take about 260 kg of liquid hydrogen to orbit and evaluate techniques for keeping it cold, moving it around in microgravity and measuring its condition.

4. Fora TV - The Compass Summit looks at Why Space Matters

5. IO9 - As grueling as the Mars500 simulation conditions have been, the fact remains that they don't hold a candle to the challenges — both physical and psychological — that will be faced by crew members on an actual Martian mission.

6. PolicyMic - OP-ED: Space Exploration Is Best In Hands of NASA, Not Private Sector

Ian Ferguson is a recent graduate of Boston College's department of Arts and Sciences' political science graduate program, where he received his M.A. He makes the case that private companies will be driven by quarterly profits that the government can handle inevitable cost overruns better.

NBF - Ian ignores Spacex and Bigelow Aerospace, who are developing radically lower cost space launch and low cost inflatable space stations.

7. The Big Think - Should America Be Jealous of China's "Space Kiss"?

With the successful docking of its Tiangong space module and the Shenzhou-8 space craft this week - the so-called "Space Kiss" - China has shown the world that it is ready to take over the driver’s seat in the international space race that, until now, had been dominated by the U.S. and Russia. Next year, China plans to have a manned docking process in place. By 2020, China plans to have a fully-operational manned space station in orbit. By 2030, China’s plans are even grander – not just to fly a manned mission to the moon, but to have a lunar base on the moon as well. As China puts more spacecraft into orbit and prepares its manned space station to replace the aging International Space Station – the big question is whether the Chinese "Space Kiss" will draw the U.S. and China closer together - or push them further apart.

8. Vega00 - This post presents the coordinates of asteroid 2005YU55 next 8th November. [In spanish]

9. TheSpacewriter - TheSpacewriter talks about another way to look for life on distant planets.

10. Starcritters - StarryCritters explores the glowing core, del­i­cate swirls and dark dust lanes of off-center galaxy Messier 96 from the Euro­pean South­ern Obser­va­tory.

11. Scientific American - Yesterday's Tomorrow: A Look at Space Stations That Never Were [Slide Show]

12. Vintage Space - A brief history of Pluto: It's discovery, it's properties, and why it's not a "proper" planet anymore.

13. Discovery Space News by Nicole Gugliucci - Pulsar news from the Fermi Gamma-Ray Observatory, with a shameless zombie reference.

14. Dear Astronomer - Brief discussion of a newly released multi-wavelength image of supernova remnant RCW 86, the oldest recorded supernova.

15. Astroblogger - Asteroid 2005 YU55, why it's not a threat, observing hints and a celestia file

16. Nextbigfuture - NASA has identified three possible options to capture and gather up sample material either in future orbiting spacecraft or on planetary rover.

One is an adaptation of a well-known effect called "optical tweezers" in which objects can be trapped in an area where two laser beams cross. However, this version of the approach would require an atmosphere in which to operate.

The other two methods rely on specially shaped laser beams - instead of a beam whose intensity peaks at its centre and tails off gradually, the team is investigating two alternatives: solenoid beams and Bessel beams.

The intensity peaks within a solenoid beam are found in a spiral around the line of the beam itself, while a Bessel beam's intensity rises and falls in peaks and troughs at higher distances from the beam's line.

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