Sunday, April 1, 2012

Carnival of Space #243

Hi everybody and welcome to the 243th edition of Carnival of Space, hosted by the Venus Transit. As its name implies, the Venus Transit site has lots of articles about the upcoming rare event of Venus transiting the sun in June, and in addition  includes other articles on all aspects of astronomy.

Following are this week's articles:
Nextbigfuture covers the NASA Innovative Advanced Conference Spring meeting. One topic is the Fission Fragment Rocket Engine (FFRE). The FFRE requires small amounts of readily available, energy dense, long lasting fuel, significant thrust at specific impulse of a million seconds, and increases safety by charging the reactor after arrival in LEO. If this study shows the FFRE potential, the return could be immense through savings in travel time, payload fraction, launch vehicle support and safety for deep space exploration.

Nextbigfuture also covers Atomic metallic hydrogen. If metallic hydrogen can be metastable at ambient pressure and temperature, then it could be used as the most powerful chemical rocket fuel, as the atoms recombine to form molecular hydrogen. This light-weight high-energy density material would revolutionize rocketry, allowing single-stage rockets to enter orbit and chemically fueled rockets to explore our solar system. To transform solid molecular hydrogen to metallic hydrogen requires extreme high pressures, but has not yet been accomplished in the laboratory. In the proposed new approach electrons will be injected into solid hydrogen with the objective of lowering the critical pressure for transformation. If successful the metastability properties of hydrogen will be studied. This new approach may scale down the pressures needed to produce this potentially revolutionary rocket propellant. It would have an ISP of 1700 and would be usable for single stage to orbit launches (SSTO).
Discovery Space news writes about magnetic tornadoes measuring several Earths wide which have been spotted deep inside the sun's atmosphere. Using the high-definition eyes of NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), researchers from Aberystwyth University have, for the first time, captured a monster solar twister evolving deep inside the corona. But far from the phenomena just being fascinating to watch, it is thought it may help predict space weather.
Air and Space magazine sent us the following story: Attendees at the recently concluded 43rd annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference had front row seats to a heated debate on new data from the Moon. As opposed to how many envision scientific debate – coolly logical, white-frocked intellectuals, dispassionately discussing points of contention in a laboratory – what they witnessed was an impassioned and stormy exchange of differing opinions. There is good reason for passion. Subsequent decisions based on these data, places the success or failure of future missions in the crosshairs.
AstroWOW explains what "heliopause" is in its "Ride with the Voyager probes to the edge of the solar system" article.
Dear Astronomer  writes about new research from the ESO’s HARPS mission that provides evidence that small, rocky, Earth-sized planets are extremely common, especially in the habitable zones around faint red dwarf stars. Based on this new research, an international team places an estimate of tens of billions of these worlds in our galaxy alone, and possible hundreds of billions in our cosmic neighborhood.
Chandra X-ray telescope blog shares a new X-ray study of the remains of an exploded star that indicates that the supernova that disrupted the massive star may have turned it inside out in the process.
Astronotes from the Armagh planetarium gives us a lookout for the coming month: "The month of April is fantastic month for stargazing and for astronomy in general with numerous dates to mark in your calendar. We get a front row seat to the beauty of Saturn visiting the bright star of Spica as well as some other yearly visitors that make the April and spring night skies so magical.
Cosmic blog writes about Amateur astronomers who have been marveling over a curious cloud that they spotted on Mars - and now the professionals have focused in on an explanation.
Cosmic blog also writes about a treasure found in the deep ocean:'s billionaire founder, Jeff Bezos, says he's funded a successful effort to locate the mammoth rocket engines that sent the Apollo 11 mission on the first leg of its mission to the moon — and now he's planning to bring them up from the Atlantic Ocean floor.
The Meridian Journal updates us about the latest efforts to find liquid water on Mars: "New evidence from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter supports the possibility of liquid water brines on Mars."

Links Through Space fol­lows an Astron­omy Club as they travel through Spain. As they travel the south of Spain they visit beautiful sites and astro­nom­i­cal landmarks to bring you very cool astro-pho­tos and sto­ries about the his­tory of Span­ish Astronomy.

Some history from Vintage Space: Just over 47 years ago, NASA learned to fly in space with the first spacecraft designed for a pilot by a pilot. Read about Gemini 3 mission with Gus Grissom and John Young.

Riding with Robots writes: "With its geysers of water ice, Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus is quite possibly the most intriguing place in the entire solar system." Last week, the Cassini probe flew right through the plumes, and sent home some beautiful pictures along the way.

WeirdSciences also writes about Enceladus in a detailed article about What’s Wrong with NASA: Evidences of Life on Saturn’s Moon Enceladus?
And from this site, the major observational event of this week will be Venus in the Pleiades (M45), this will happen on April 3rd.

April 2012 is Global Astronomy Month (GAM), If you are an astronomer, from the novice to the expert, you will find lots of things to do and learn in GAM. Please visit GAM site and choose your desired activity or create your own!