Carnival of Space 319

The Carnival of Space 319 is up at Dear Astronomer.

TheSpacewriter investigates whether alien moons could offer habitable environments.

Exomoons orbiting planets similar to Neptune, Saturn or Jupiter in the habitable zone of a 0.7-solar-mass star (that is, a star that is 70 percent the mass of the Sun) and with orbital eccentricities typical for solar system moons will be shielded by their planet’s magnetic field, but only if they are closer than the runaway greenhouse edge. That means that they are protected, but their atmospheres will run wild. Ultimately, it means an exomoon can be shielded inside its planet’s magnetosphere, or it can be habitable. But it can’t be both.

So, this is not so good news for future Pandorans around gas giants similar to our own. But, if you play with the variables and come up with a Neptune-like world that is very rocky, there’s a chance it might have habitable worlds AND a giant magnetosphere to shield them.

Photostospace – A brief look at the Grasshopper test vehicle from Space X. What is SpaceX doing and how fast are the revisions to the platform coming?

Grasshopper 1.0, revealed in September 2011, stands at 106′ tall and includes a first stage tank from one of their Falcon 9 rockets and a complex multi-legged base which houses additional hardware needed for flight operations, and has already completed several test flights.

The updated Grasshopper 1.1, at 160′, will include folding legs and a larger, updated Falcon 9 first stage fuel tank. With flight testing scheduled to begin between October 2013 and February 2014, Grasshopper 1.1 is expcted to reach testing altitudes of up to 300,000 feet.

With the successful testing to date of Grasshopper 1.0 and testing on 1.1 to begin soon, SpaceX has announced intentions to gradually increase both speed and altitude during successive flights.

Nextbigfuture – Here is a Keith Henson article about space based solar power bootstrapping to use lasers on Skylon Spaceplanes to lower the cost of launch

Nextbigfuture – There is a Spacex launch coming this week which if it goes off will have the soft splash down of the first stage. This could lead to a resuable first stage which would reduce launch costs by over 25% and all three stages reusable will reduce costs by ten to one hundred times.

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