Carnival of Space 545

1. Universe Today – James Webb Wraps up 3 Months in the Freezer. It’s Ready for Space


The sunshield test unit on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is unfurled for the first time. Credit: NASA

2. Universe Today – Lava Tube Openings Found Near the Moon’s North Pole

3. Cosmoquest –
Monitoring Coastal Morphology Using Astronaut Photography

NASA’s publically accessible Astronaut Photography of Earth database made available through the Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth website (eol.jsc.nasa.gov) curated by the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit at the Johnson Space Center houses over 2 million images taken by astronauts from space.

With CosmoQuest’s Image Detective 2.0 tool, Citizen Scientists around the world have the opportunity to enhance NASA’s Astronaut Photography of Earth database by identifying the center point location of astronaut photos. With center point locations, scientists can quickly search and download the scientific data they need.

4. Cosmoquest -CQ Science – Post 9: Angle of Illumination, Mapping Craters, and How YOUR Work Leads to Science!

5. Cosmoquest -Studying River Deltas Using Astronaut Photography

6. Universe Today – Huge Sheets of Ice Found Hidden Just Beneath the Surface of Mars

7. Nextbigfuture – NASA, Department of Energy, Los Alamos National Lab hosted a news conference at noon EST (9 a.m. PST) Thursday, Jan. 18, at the National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas, to present the Kilopower reactors.

The Kilopower reactors are tiny nuclear reactors that have been redesigned for safe power.

The full power runs for the test reactors will be done this month and the next two months.

Before the reactors are started the uranium in them would only cause a person to experience 0.5% of their average yearly exposure in the event of a launch accident.

The reactors including shielding are the size of a wastepaper basket. They currently are testing two sizes (1 kilowatt and 10 kilowatt). They would send five of the ten-kilowatt units on a Mars mission.

There is also work to similar safe modular nuclear reactors with megawatts of power. There is a Megapower design of the Los Alamos reactors. This would use stirling engines for the power conversion. The Megapower design is described at the bottom of this article.

Innovation
* A compact, low cost, fission reactor for exploration and science, scalable from 1 kW to 10 kW electric
* Novel integration of available U-235 fuel form, passive sodium heat pipes, and flight-ready Stirling convertors
* Would provide about 10x more power than the Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator
Impact
* Could be scaled up to provide modular option for human exploration missions to the Mars/Lunar surface
* Potentially enables Decadal Survey Planetary Science missions without reliance on limited plutonium dioxide fuel

Goals
* Full-scale nuclear system-level test of prototype U-235 reactor core coupled to flight-like Stirling convertors at relevant operating conditions
* Design concepts that show scalability to 10 kWe for Mars surface power

8. Nextbigfuture – The CEO of Iridium has tweeted (as an industry insider) believes that SpaceX was not at fault for the loss of the secret Zuma satellite.

9. Nextbigfuture – Despite SpaceX being less than one-fourth of the cost of ULA, there is still criticism from some politicians and The Federalist that SpaceX is somehow wasting US taxpayer money.

The September 2016 accident that blew up a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket does not count as a failed mission, since the rocket blew up while it was on the launch pad, and not during a mission.

United Space Launch is leading the Space Launch System heavy rocket development. This program has received $12 billion and yet to have one test launch. Currently, the earliest first test launch is Dec 21, 2019. Two more years of funding will cost over $4 billion.

SpaceX will be performing a static fire test of the Falcon Heavy. Yes, the Falcon Heavy development has taken four years longer than originally planned but the Falcon Heavy will easily beat the Space Launch System to reach operational capability.

SpaceX Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9 development will have gotten less than $1 billion in US government funding.

The Federalist shows it does not care about the US Taxpayer when they attack SpaceX government launch contracts and not the bloated United Launch Alliance contracts of the $12+ billion ULA Space Launch System.

10. Nextbigfuture – Skycorp’s Dennis Wingo sees metals mining, communication stations and telescopes on the moon. The combination of industries will make moon development viable.

The moon is largely made up of metal oxides that could yield new supplies of platinum — perhaps enough to drive prices for the precious metal down to $300 from $1,400 an ounce today. Processing metals on the moon does not require chemicals. Different levels of heat can be used to make different metals. Cheaper platinum will make fuel cells that are so much more effective than combustion engines.

Skycorp’s mission is to fundamentally transform the spacecraft industry, utilizing orbital assembly process, electric propulsion, and modular construction, to create applications unthinkable before.

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