Carnival of Space 323

The Carnival of Space 323 is up at the Urban Astronomer.com

Universe Today – NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Returns 1st Flyby images of Earth while Sailing On to Jupiter by Ken Kremer

This reconstructed day side image of Earth is one of the 1st snapshots transmitted back home by NASA’s Juno spacecraft during its speed boosting flyby on Oct. 9, 2013. See the original raw image below taken by the probes Junocam imager and methane filter at 12:06:30 PDT and an exposure time of 3.2 milliseconds. Juno was due to be flying over South America and the southern Atlantic Ocean. Credit: NASA/JPL/SwRI/MSSS/Ken Kremer

Nextbigfuture – Robin Hanson discussed great filters in regards to the Fermi Paradox. Humanity seems to have a non-trivial chance of expanding to fill the universe with lasting life. But the fact that space near us seems dead now tells us that any given piece of dead matter faces an astronomically low chance of begating such a future. There thus exists a great filter between death and expanding lasting life, and humanity faces the ominous question: how far along this filter[s] are we? The human population went down to about ten thousand breeding pairs back in 70000 BC. This may have been caused by the Toba Super-volcano. Supervolcanoes, asteroids and other events could disrupt the development of intelligent species on other planets if they are more frequent than our experience here on earth.

Nextbigfuture – The latest research on rocky relics suggests a distant planetary system, now past its “death throes”, had very similar water ‘delivery system’ to our own – and consequently the potential to contain habitable exoplanets complete with water. Astronomers have found the shattered remains of an asteroid that contained huge amounts of water orbiting an exhausted star, or white dwarf. This suggests that the star GD 61 and its planetary system – located about 150 light years away and at the end of its life – had the potential to contain Earth-like exoplanets, they say. This is the first time that both water and a rocky surface – two “key ingredients” for habitable planets – have been found together beyond our solar system.

Nextbigfuture – China outsourced to the Ukraine for rocket design.

The Ukrainian space agency has always been short of funding. The Ukrainians used to work closely with the Russians as part of the Soviet program, but that stopped with the breakup of the soviet union. Currently Russia’s leader Putin has bad relations with the Ukraine. Ukraine has the Zenit rocket family. Ukraine had been working on the “lighthouse” project to make expanded rocket engines based on the Zenit engines. Previously it was believed that these were mostly paper studies. The Cyclone-4 engine should launch in 2014. China has money in its space program. China and Ukraine space agencies have a cooperation program. The combination will help China to accelerate technological catch up in space launch capabilities. China has its own teams and rocket designs and internally developed a liquid hydrogen upper stage, but there seems to be a speed up in rocket development by utilizing rocket engines that Ukraine has developed.

Ukrainian designs to get to 250 ton and 500 ton thrust rockets. 500 tons thrust rockets would be need for China’s planned manned moon landing in the 2020s.

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