Carnival of Space 194


AstroEngine – Screaming Exoplanets: Detecting Alien Magnetospheres According to a new study presented at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno, Wales we could detect the radio emissions from a distant Jupiter like worlds that possess a magnetosphere.

“Jupiter and Saturn take 12 and 30 years respectively to orbit the Sun, so you would have to be incredibly lucky or look for a very long time to spot them by a transit or a wobble,” said Nichols.

By assessing how the radio emissions for a Jupiter-like exoplanet respond to its rotation rate, the quantity of material falling into the gas giant from an orbiting moon (akin Enceladus’ plumes of water ice and dust being channeled onto the gas giant) and the exoplanet’s orbital distance, Nichols has been able to identify the characteristics of a possible target star. The hypothetical, “aurora-active” exoplanet would be located between 1 to 50 AU from an ultraviolet-bright star and it would need to have a fast spin for the resulting magnetospheric activity to be detectable at a distance of 150 light-years from Earth.

What’s more, the brand new LOw Frequency ARray (LOFAR) radio telescope should be sensitive enough to detect aurorae on Jupiter-like exoplanets, even though the exoplanets themselves are invisible to other detection methods.

2. Kentucky Space – since driving robots on other planets has to be the coolest job ever, we ask Scott Maxwell the question that any fan of the Big Bang Theory can relate to: would taking a date to the lab really impress him or her? Mars Rover Driver Team Lead, Scott Maxwell has been deeply involved in the now-seven year mission of the doughty rovers on the surface of the Red Planet.

3. Spacewriter – TheSpacewriter muses on what plants on worlds with binary suns would be like.

Imagine if Earth had two Suns in its sky, similar to the otherworldly scenes we recall from movies like Star Wars. What would our gardens look like as we whirled around in a binary star system?

According to Jack O’Malley, a scientist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, it’s very possible that our gardens would NOT be the colorful delights we know today. They might very well be teeming with plants that are distinctly black or grey.

4. We are all in the gutter – Niall tells us about the first detection of carbon monoxide in Pluto’s atmosphere. It may not be an official planet anymore but that doesn’t mean astronomers aren’t interested in it.

5. Vintage Space – A look at the tests and trials that preceded the Soviet launch of Vostok 1 in 1961.

6. Vintage Space – A closer look at Vostok 1 and some of the myths and mysteries surrounding Gagarin’s historic flight.

7. Cheap Astronomy reviews what the Large Hadron Collider might reveal about the first three minutes after the Big Bang. (MP3 Podcast)

8. Armaghplanet – This year will see both the end of space flights by NASA’s Shuttle fleet and the thirtieth anniversary of the first orbital mission by this historic spacecraft. Here is an overview of the project’s chequered history.

9. Pradeep space enthusiast blog – After Chandrayaan the space mission, comes Chandrayaan the movie – Pradeep shares a few posters. Not much is known about the plot of the film directed by India’s first space tourist.

10. Pradeep space enthusiast blog – After a rough 2010, ISRO began 2011 with a successful PSLV launch. Details.

11. Vega00 – Spanish – In May we’ll observe the Eta Acuarids meteor shower. This year, the conditions will be enough good for its observation

English translation of the Vega00 article – In May we’ll observe the Eta Acuarids meteor shower. This year, the conditions will be enough good for its observation

12. Weird Warp – You probably think that dust is a boring subject but it is far from that if you take the time to look closely at it (very closely as dust tends to be quite small).

13. Astroblogger – A FAQ for those worried that Elenin is a Comet of Doom. Will it Hit Earth: No, its closest approach is 0.23 AU on Oct 16, 2011, where 1 AU is the distance from the Earth to the Sun.

14. Nextbigfuture – rotating black holes should be detectable with existing telescopes


A picture of the lunar rover that China plans to send in 2013


Spacex Dragon

With its shuttles about to retire, NASA has offered $270m (£166m) of funds to four firms to help them mature designs for new orbiting vehicles. Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corp and SpaceX hope to sell astronaut “taxi” services to NASA by mid-decade.

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