Kepler’s supernova remnant, seen with Chandra. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/NCSU/M.Burkey et al; Optical: DSS
Cropped Mastcam image of “bubble” feature from sol 309. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
Nextbigfuture – A new study that calculates the influence of cloud behavior on climate doubles the number of potentially habitable planets orbiting red dwarfs, the most common type of stars in the universe. This finding means that in the Milky Way galaxy alone, 60 billion planets may be orbiting red dwarf stars in the habitable zone. Researchers at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University based their study, which appears in Astrophysical Journal Letters, on rigorous computer simulations of cloud behavior on alien planets. This cloud behavior dramatically expanded the estimated habitable zone of red dwarfs, which are much smaller and fainter than stars like the sun.
Nextbigfuture – The UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, singled out the SABRE project that will power Skylon into space in his 2013 spending review delivered to Parliament. The funding amount is £60Million ($90Million). This would not be full Phase 3 funding. It would help get private cofunding.
The hybrid engine – its name stands for Synergistic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine – is currently being developed by Reaction Engines, based at Abingdon, near Oxford. Unlike conventional aircraft engines, SABRE switches in flight to become a rocket engine that can boost Skylon to a speed faster than Mach 5, or more than five times the speed of sound.