January 06, 2014

Carnival of Space 335

1. Universe Today - This was very likely the last trip around the Sun for the Earth-crossing asteroid 2014 AA, according to calculations by several teams of astronomers and published online earlier today on the IAU’s Minor Planet Center. Discovered just yesterday by the Catalina Sky Survey, the estimated 3-meter-wide Apollo asteroid was supposed to clear Earth today by a razor-thin margin of about 611 km (380 miles)… but it’s now looking like it didn’t quite make it.

This is only the second time an asteroid has been spotted before it hit the earth.

2. We enjoy the movie GRAVITY and its alternate universe where the Space Shuttle is still flying. Exploring the details of GRAVITY's universe explains many of the puzzles of the movie.

The movie GRAVITY shows a future where both private entities and other nations are in Space. It shows the capabilities of the Space Shuttle for repairing and moving the Hubble Space Telescope. The movie shows cooperation among nations in exploring Space. Finally it gives us young women a role model in Shuttle Astronaut Ryan Stone. Leaving the movie, we wish to live in her Universe.

3. Vega00 - This article explains how to calculate the power magnification of a telescope, and includes an example of it with different eyepieces. The article is written in spanish.

4. Winterberg reinvents the project orion nuclear pulse propulsion rocket with pure fusion bombs without the fission bomb trigger which means no fallout. Also he devises a thin magnetic mirror instead of the massive pusher plate. A lighter rocket that can be smaller and more efficient. The system scales down. The actual first proposed configuration is ten propulsion units in a cluster of pulse rockets that would have eight times the propulsion of the Saturn V.

5. Compact Composite Objects (CCOs), nuggets of dense Color-Flavor-Locked Superconducting quark matter created before or during the Quantum Chromo- Dynamics phase transition in the early universe, could provide a natural explanation for both Dark Matter (DM) and the observed cosmological baryon asymmetry, without requiring modifications to fundamental physics. This hypothesis implies a relic CCO population in the Solar System, captured during its formation, which would lead to a population of “strange asteroids,” bodies with mm-radii quark matter cores and ordinary matter (rock or ice) mantles. This hypothesis is supported by the observed population of small Very Fast Rotating (VFR) asteroids (bodies with rotation periods as short as 25 sec); the VFR data are consistent with a population of strange asteroids with core masses of order 10^10 – 10^11 kg. If the VFR asteroids are indeed strange asteroids their CCO cores could be mined using the techniques being developed for asteroid mining. Besides being intrinsically of great scientific interest, CCO cores could also serve as very powerful sources of energy, releasing a substantial fraction of the mass energy of incident particles as their quarks are absorbed into the QCD superfluid. Through a process analogous to Andreev reflection in superconductors, even normal matter CCOs could be used as antimatter factories, potentially providing as much as 10^9 kg of antimatter per CCO. While of course speculative, this energy source, if realized, would be suitable for propelling starships to a substantial fraction of the speed of light, and could be found, extracted and exploited in our Solar System with existing and near-term developments in technology

6. Lawrenceville plasma physics could prove out net power gain for their dense plasma focus fusion system over the next year or two. If successul they could produce a 5 MW generator, that would be mass produced for capital cost of $0.08-$0.20/W ($400,000 to $1 million for the 5 MWe generator). This would mean electric costs that are 20 times less than today. Less than 0.3 cents/kwH Vs best today of 6 cents/kwH (20 times cheaper than energy today). The 5 MWe device would produce 6705 horsepower. It would transform space propulsion and access in many ways

7. Benjamin Longmier, Michigan University, is developing the CubeSat Ambipolar Thruster (CAT), a new rocket propulsion system powered by the Sun and propelled by water, which will push small spacecraft like CubeSats around and far beyond the Earth. They received a $200,000 private donation and have raised over $96,000 on Kickstarter.

What can be enabled with successful cubesat ion drive

* interplanetary missions to Mars and Europa for about $1 million
* Ten interplanetary cubsats for a solar system wide internet
* Cheaper satellite wi-fi around the earth
* Future combination with Spacex reusable rockets, Planetary resources cheap space telescopes, Googlex low cost space robotics for radical lowcost space exploration

A private donor will pay for the Xenon ion technology and a launch in 2014 aboard a NASA rocket. They hope their propelled CubeSats will one day fly to Saturn's moon Enceladus and Jupiter's moon Europa, both of which hold water – and perhaps life. A fleet of CubeSats with propulsion in orbit around a planet or moon can do a lot of things that big expensive satellites cannot, such as monitoring several locations in the atmosphere at once.

Propelled CubeSats could even be useful back here on Earth. Creating a universal "satellite Wi-Fi", like existing satellite phone coverage, would require thousands of big satellites, which is prohibitively expensive. But you could dump a thousand CubeSats in one place then spread them out to the right points, for a fraction of the price.

8. Universe Today - As 2014 opens, most of the half dozen comets traversing the morning and evening sky are faint and require detailed charts and a good-sized telescope to see and appreciate. Except for Comet Lovejoy. This gift to beginner and amateur astronomers alike keeps on giving. But wait, there’s more. Three additional binocular-bright comets will keep us busy starting this spring.

9. Urban Astronomer - Enceladus has powerful jets of water blowing out into space from near its South Pole, and astronomers have not been able to agree what causes them. But new observations from Cassini reveal that their intensity varies according to its position in its orbit around Saturn, which has given clues as to where the water is coming from.

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