Carnival of Space 253

1. The Venus transit will not repeat for 105 years.
Gadi Eidelheit from “The Venus Transit” sends an article to summarize the Venus transit event.

2. Follow Links Through Space in their journey to capture the Transit of Venus. Astronomy Club Toutatis visit Enontekiö, Lappland to photograph the event and enjoy the last transit of Venus of our life time.

3. Cosmoquest – How an astronomical event like the Venus Transit can be used to teach science standards in the classroom.

4. Supernova condesate – Should the first people to walk on Mars be reality TV stars for us back here on Earth?

5. A dwarf galaxy-sized cloud of hydrogen will, in 27 million years, collide with our galaxy and help replenish the Milky Way’s gas supply so that it can continue to form stars.

6. The Science Of Black Hole Kicks: An Interview With Avi Loeb

7. August 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first successful interplanetary explorer, Mariner 2

8. A recent article tells how Soviet scientists studying soil samples returned from the Moon in 1976 by the unmanned Luna 24 mission first discovered lunar water.

9. Where does the Moon fit into plans for future human space exploration?

10. AstroWoW has moved to EarthSky! This week, we ask how astronomers measure the speeds of stars and galaxies. It has a lot to do with speeding tickets and passing trains. The astronomy word of the week is “redshift”.

11. We’ve just passed the 53rd anniversary of the X-15’s first glide flight. It wasn’t the smoothest, but pilot Scott Crossfield’s skill trumped pilot-induced oscillations for a safe landing.

12. Nextbigfuture – A physics team from The University of Alabama in Huntsville’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering soon will take delivery of a specialized system to see if they can “Z-pinch” a tiny bit of that salt into the heart of a star.

“We are trying to develop a small, lightweight pulsed nuclear fusion system for deep space missions,” explained Dr. Jason Cassibry, an associate professor of engineering at UAHuntsville. “If this works we could reach Mars in six to eight weeks instead of six to eight months.”

In hockey, a slapshot digs the head of the hockey stick into the ice to bend the shaft, like an archer’s bow, storing energy for a sharper snap against the puck and drive it down the ice rink. Cassibry and his team will attempt to drive a hollowed-out puck in on itself, fusing lithium and hydrogen atoms and turning a little of their mass into pure energy.

The “pucks” are approximately two inches wide and an inch thick, smaller than a regulation three-inch puck. They are made of lithium deuteride (LH 2), the lightest metal combined with the middle-weight form of the lightest element.

13. Nextbigfuture – Our universe may exist inside a black hole. This may sound strange, but it could actually be the best explanation of how the universe began, and what we observe today. It’s a theory that has been explored over the past few decades by a small group of physicists.

The Big Bang and inflation theories leave major questions unresolved. For example: What started the big bang? What caused inflation to end? What is the source of the mysterious dark energy that is apparently causing the universe to speed up its expansion?

The idea that our universe is entirely contained within a black hole provides answers to these problems and many more. It eliminates the notion of physically impossible singularities in our universe. And it draws upon two central theories (general relativity and quantum mechanics) in physics.

14. Nextbigfuture – The U.S. government’s secret space program has decided to give NASA two telescopes as big as, and even more powerful than, the Hubble Space Telescope. They just have to put cameras, spectrographs or other instrument, put the staff in place to manage them, and launch them into space.

Designed for surveillance, the telescopes from the National Reconnaissance Office were no longer needed for spy missions and can now be used to study the heavens.

They have 2.4-meter (7.9 feet) mirrors, just like the Hubble. They also have an additional feature that the civilian space telescopes lack: A maneuverable secondary mirror that makes it possible to obtain more focused images. These telescopes will have 100 times the field of view of the Hubble, according to David Spergel, a Princeton astrophysicist and co-chair of the National Academies advisory panel on astronomy and astrophysics.

The surprise announcement Monday is a reminder that NASA isn’t the only space enterprise in the government — and isn’t even the best funded. NASA official Michael Moore gave some hint of what a Hubble-class space telescope might do if used for national security:

“With a Hubble here you could see a dime sitting on top of the Washington Monument.”

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