Carnival of space 494

1. Universe Today – Here’s the Highest Resolution Map of Pluto We’ll Get from New Horizons

Color mosaic map of Pluto’s surface, created from the New Horizons many photographs. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

2. Universe Today – New Age in Weather Forecasting Begins with Spectacular 1st Images from NASA/NOAA GOES-16 Observatory

3. Universe Today – How to See the Space Station Fly in Front of the Moon

4. Evolving Planet -NASA Releases Breathtaking Video of New Horizons’ Approaching Pluto

5. Evolving Planet – Ceres Surface Not as Carbon-Rich as Previously Thought

6. Planetaria – A very alien moon: NASA celebrates 12th anniversary of Huygens landing on Titan

7. Blasting News – China to launch Chang’e 5 lunar sample return mission in November 2017

China has a long-term, ambitious space exploration program that involves a space station, missions to Mars and beyond, and an eventual human landing on the moon. China would like to exploit the moon for its natural resources, including helium 3, a substance that could be used to fuel future fusion power plants.

Blasting News – What John Culberson and Ted Cruz talked about at the GOP congressional retreat They discussed how ‘we will work together to restore NASA to the glory days of Apollo.’

Culberson chairs the House appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA. Cruz chairs the Senate subcommittee that oversees the Space agency, authorizing its programs. Thus, together, the two men have the power to make a lot of things happen, especially because the United States has a president eager to find ways to “make America great again.”

Blasting News – Would going to Mars Apollo-style unite America? Not so fast

A piece in the Washington Times advocates a stepped up Journey to Mars program. The idea is to use part of the money saved by President Donald Trump’s across the board cut in domestic discretionary spending to add enough money to NASA to get people to Mars and back in a reasonable amount of time.

If NASA were to partner with SpaceX and other commercial companies then the anti-Apollo program crowd might not oppose going to Mars as much. Lunar return advocates will point out that the moon has more immediate and practical benefits. However, putting a return to the moon in the path on the Journey to Mars will mollify that faction.

The idea that going to Mars will help stimulate enthusiasm for STEM education is largely true and is supported by what happened during the Apollo race to the moon. Indeed, some of the commercial space entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos were inspired by Apollo (and Star Trek.) So a serious Mars effort would likely encourage a lot of kids to get into math and science, based on history.

Blasting News – The final five in the Google Lunar XPrize race to the moon announced

Blasting News – SpaceX’s Elon Musk’s new BFF is President Donald Trump

Nextbigfuture – Substantial evidence we live in a vast and complex holographic universe

A UK, Canadian and Italian study has provided what researchers believe is the first observational evidence that our universe could be a vast and complex hologram.

Theoretical physicists and astrophysicists, investigating irregularities in the cosmic microwave background (the ‘afterglow’ of the Big Bang), have found there is substantial evidence supporting a holographic explanation of the universe – in fact, as much as there is for the traditional explanation of these irregularities using the theory of cosmic inflation.

Nextbigfuture – 5 Xprize teams are launching to the moon this year

SpaceIL, Tel Aviv, Israel
Moon Express, Cape Canaveral, Florida
Synergy Moon, International
Team Indus, India

Hakuto, Japan

Nextbigfuture – NASA has new test for life on other planets that is ten thousand times more sensitive

A simple chemistry method could vastly enhance how scientists search for signs of life on other planets.

The test uses a liquid-based technique known as capillary electrophoresis to separate a mixture of organic molecules into its components. It was designed specifically to analyze for amino acids, the structural building blocks of all life on Earth. The method is 10,000 times more sensitive than current methods employed by spacecraft like NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover, according to a new study published in Analytical Chemistry. The study was carried out by researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

One of the key advantages of the authors’ new way of using capillary electrophoresis is that the process is relatively simple and easy to automate for liquid samples expected on ocean world missions: it involves combining a liquid sample with a liquid reagent, followed by chemical analysis under conditions determined by the team. By shining a laser across the mixture — a process known as laser-induced fluorescence detection — specific molecules can be observed moving at different speeds. They get separated based on how quickly they respond to electric fields.