Carnival of Space 440

1. Universe Today – ‘A City on Mars’ is Elon Musk’s Ulitmate Goal Enabled by Rocket Reuse Technology

How often will SpaceX recover the rockets ?

“I think that we’re going to get quite a few rockets back, so I imagine we’re going to have a whole fleet of booster rockets accumulating quite rapidly because we’re building them right now at about one every three weeks,” Musk stated.

“Over time we expect to get back over 99% of the rockets. So we will figure out how to make the reuse as easy as possible. So that really no work is required between reuses, apart from refilling the propellant tanks.”

“So it will take us a few years to iron all that out and make sure it all works well.”

How much does it cost to build the Falcon 9?

“The Falcon rocket costs about $60 million to build,” Musk said. “It’s kind of like a big jet, but the cost of the propellant, which is mostly oxygen and the gases, is only about $200,000. So that means that the potential cost reduction over the long term is probably in excess of a factor of a hundred.”

Up close post landing ocean view of SpaceX Falcon 9 at Landing Zone 1 the day after first stage touchdown at Landing Zone 1 on Dec 21, 2015 at Cape Canaveral, Fla. Credit: Jeff Seibert/AmericaSpace

2. Universe of Today – Gallery of photos for Spacex nailing the perfect return to flight launch and historic vertical return landing.

3. Universe Today – The Top 101 Astronomical Events for 2016

– Comet C/2013 US10 Catalina continues to perform as a binocular comet through January.

– Mars reaches opposition on May 22nd.

-Mercury transits the Sun on May 9th, the first time it has done so since 2006.

-A close grouping of Venus and Jupiter on August 27th.

Chandra Finds Remarkable Galactic Ribbon Unfurled

4. Lunar Planetary Information – Issue No. 143 of the Lunar and Planetary Information Bulletin now available. Lead article is the history of the Lunar and Planetary Institute.

5. Brown Spaceman – Top 10 astronomy discoveries in 2015! What a great year it’s been for science.

6. Vega00 – For European observers 2016 will not be a good year for eclipse observing (no solar eclipse visible and of two moon eclipse, both penumbral and only one visible from Europe). But in May, Mercury will transit the Sun’s disc. This event will be visible from Europe. The article is written in Spanish.

7. Huffington Post – 8 Reasons We Should Care About Light

8. The Venus Transit – Look east to see Venus and Saturn. Photos from Venus Saturn and the moon Conjunction.

9. Planetaria – 2015 in review: a year of spectacular planetary missions and discoveries

10. Nextbigfuture – In 2015, SpaceX made a number of modifications to the existing Falcon 9 v1.1. The new rocket was known internally as Falcon 9 v1.1 Full Thrust, and is also known as Falcon 9 v1.2, Enhanced Falcon 9, and Full-Performance Falcon 9.

A principal objective of the new design was to facilitate booster reusability for a larger range of missions, including delivery of large commsats to geosynchronous orbit.

Modifications included liquid oxygen subcooled to −206.7 °C and RP-1 cooled to −7 °C for density (allowing more fuel and oxidizer to be stored in a given tank volume), several size and volume changes to the first- and second-stage propellant tanks, and several small mass-reduction efforts. The modified design gained an additional 1.2 meters of height, stretching to exactly 70 meters including payload fairing.

Two key improvements were the replacement of the first-stage engine with the full-thrust variant of the Merlin 1D and the replacement of the second-stage engine with the Merlin Vacuum (1D).

11. Nextbigfuture – SpaceX hopes to make history again on Jan. 17 with a rocket landing on its drone ship. This launch will take off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, carrying NASA’s Jason-3 satellite. Jason-3 carries instruments to monitor the ocean’s surface, collecting information about circulation patterns and perhaps rising sea levels.

The commercial spaceflight company succeeded Dec. 21 in making its first-stage rocket, which is usually discarded after reaching space, return safely to Earth and land upright at a predetermined location nears its launch pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

12. Nextbigfuture – Researchers at HRL Laboratories, LLC, have achieved a new milestone in 3D printing technology by demonstrating an approach to additively manufacture ceramics that overcomes the limits of traditional ceramic processing and enables high temperature, high strength ceramic components.

The researchers began with a vat of resin containing silicon, carbon and oxygen. They shone a pattern of ultraviolet light beams onto this resin, causing it to harden where the light shone through it. In 30 to 60 seconds, an item 0.5 to 1 inches (1.27 to 2.54 centimeters) thick can form, with a lattice or honeycomb shape, Schaedler said. The researchers then heat these objects to convert the material into silicon oxycarbide ceramic. This new method is 100 to 1,000 times faster than previous 3D-ceramic-printing techniques, the researchers said.

13. Nextbigfuture – Aidan Chatwin-Davies, Adam Jermyn, and Sean Carroll of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena have found an explicit way to retrieve information from one quantum particle lost in a black hole, using Hawking radiation and the weird concept of quantum teleportation.

14. Nextbigfuture – Astronomers using data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have found a distant object in the direction of Alpha Centauri. The object appears to be in the outer region of our solar system, and depending on its distance could be a hypothesized ”super-Earth.”

ALMA is capable of precise observations at short microwave wavelengths, typically emitted by cold gas and dust. But objects on the edge of our solar system also emit light in this range, and would be too cool and distant to be observed by infrared telescopes. In 2014, ALMA found a faint object in the direction of Alpha Centauri A and B. The object was again observed in May of this year, this time more clearly

the object is most likely part of the solar system, in prograde motion, albeit at a distance too far to be detectable at other wavelengths,

* an ETNO [Extreme Trans Neptunian Object] (≫ 100 AU)
* a hypothesized Super-Earth (∼ 300 AU)
* a super-cool brown dwarf (∼ 20 000 AU)