The Carnival of Space Week 96

Hello and welcome to the 96th Carnival of Space on!


Before we begin, I want to wish the Universe Today a Happy 10th Birthday! Fraser Cain started the website way back on March 23rd, 1999 (have a look to see what it used to look like) and he hasn’t looked back since. I am proud to be writing for the premium space news blog on the web that pulls in two million visitors per month. I love working with Fraser, Nancy, Tammy, Nick, Mark, and now our newest addition to our ace team, Anne. Here’s to the next decade!

So, for this week’s Carnival, as there were so many quality entries, I decided to pose a question for each entry. You can take a look at the questions below, and before you click on the link, try to guess the answer. Otherwise, just scroll down and read through the entire list. (Many of the answers may not be too obvious.) Failing that, you can listen into Astroengine Live on Wednesday April 1st for the first ever “live” Carnival of Space!

Thank you Fraser for allowing me to host this week’s Carnival, it really has grown since the last time I played host way back on the Carnival of Space #51 in April 2008! I hope to do it justice. If your entry isn’t here, be sure to drop me a comment below and I’ll get you online ASAP. Cheers!

Ready? Let’s roll….

The Questions

The Answers

GRS 1915 (Chandra/Digitized Sky Survey)
GRS 1915 (Chandra/Digitized Sky Survey)

What’s bright, flashy, massive, yet very small? Hint: It’s not a pulsar. [top]

The Digitized Sky Survey and Chandra have revealed, in great detail, the remarkably complicated variable micro-quasar, GRS 1915. The quasar itself is driven by the voracious apatite of a 14 solar mass black hole and Kimberly Kowal Arcand has the low-down over at the Chandra Blog.

What is the fastest way to travel to the nearest star? Hint: Project has the same name as the son of a mythological Greek craftsman. [top]

Kevin Long at Centauri Dreams introduces “Project Icarus”, the follow-up to the 1970’s Project Daedalus, using nuclear pulse propulsion to accelerate a probe to 12% of the speed of light. Let’s face it, any new ideas on the subject, using 21st Century technology to improve the Daedalus concept should be welcomed. Otherwise we will be waiting for a long, long time to see those exoplanets with our own eyes…

For one hour, on March 28th, the World dimmed. Why? [top]

To inspire the world to act on global climate change, David Gamey at Mang’s Bat Page goes into detail about why Earth Day is so important. It not only saves a little bit of energy (it’s not a lot, but it’s something), it pushes the issues of global climate change into the public eye. A worthy day for a worthy cause.

In 1912, on the night the Titanic sank in the Atlantic Ocean, which planet was prominent in the night sky? [top]

In the 1996 movie Titanic, director James Cameron took great pride in depicting the details of this maritime disaster. You’d think he’d get the astronomical details correct? Think again. According to Chuck Magee at the Lounge of the Lab Lemming, it would have been a very easy job to find out what the real sky looked like via a simple browse of the Internet (yes, even in 1996).

And the answer is: Jupiter.

The Moon (NASA)
The Moon (NASA)

Where can you go to explore 9000 lunar impact craters and create your own? [top]

The answer is easy, ask David Bigwood at the Lunar Impact Crater Database where you can get information about the size and location of each Moon crater various calculations about impact-related physical parameters and the age of the crater itself. Very cool.

The Mars Science Laboratory will be launched in 2011. What will it be called? Hint: Not just “The MSL”. [top]

US students have submitted a variety of names to the NASA naming competition and the deadline for submitting a suggestion was Sunday 29th March. Journey, Amelia, Adventure, Vision, Pursuit, Sunrise, Wonder, Perception and Curiosity are the candidates, which one would you vote for? Timothy Neale at Tomorrow is Here fills us in on some of the MSL details.

Who is Susan Sakimoto? [top]

Susan Sakimoto is Alice’s (the same Alice from Alice’s AstroInfo) unofficial thesis project adviser. And no, you probably don’t know her. So why is she important? She sounds like a phenomenally hard-working woman of science. And that is why she is being mentioned, as March 24th was Ada Lovelace Day, a time to appreciate all the women who achieve so much in science and technology…

The Kepler mission will look for Earth-like exoplanets orbiting other stars. Is it a waste of money? [top]

According to Amitai Etzioni, in an editorial in the Huffington Post, Kepler is an “overblown piece of PR.” I’ll hand that little peach of wrongness over to Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy:

“Dude. Seriously? The question of whether we are alone in the Universe, and even if there are other planets capable of sustaining life, is certainly deeply ingrained in our minds. This is one of the biggest remaining unanswered philosophical questions in science!”

So the answer is: no.

Something to do with fractals, gravity and quantum mechanics... I think (Ted Palmer)
Something to do with fractals, gravity and quantum mechanics... I think (Ted Palmer)

Theory of space-time with quantum scale fractals, anyone? Hint: I couldn’t think of a decent question for this, so skip to the answer. [top]

Brian Wang at Next Big Future examines a publication by Ted Palmer, a guy who used to study relativity at the University of Oxford under the same PhD advisor as Stephen Hawking. The paper wrangles with the role of gravity in quantum mechanics (as we all know is a bit of a problem for us physicists), so Ted examines an alternative way of looking at the Universe using the Invariant Set Hypothesis…

Who is Rex Ridenoure? [top]

In an enlightening and detailed interview with Eva-Jane Lark, Executive Interviewer at Out Of The Cradle, Rex Ridenoure, a space entrepreneur and CEO of Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation (the company famous for its RocketCam™ equipment), discusses his company, products, vision for space business and even provides some tips on how to begin a successful space start-up.

Why was Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal so horribly, horribly wrong? [top]

Bobby Jindal’s (now infamous) remarks about volcano early-warning systems being a waste of taxpayer money were not only laughable at the time, but the eruption of Mount Redoubt in Alaska last week proved that perhaps Jindal shouldn’t be so concerned about the funding of volcano monitoring. Carolyn Peterson (a.k.a. The Spacewriter) fills us in with the details and ponders that Jindal might be a little more concerned with volcanoes if he actually had any eruptions in his state.

Has Venus ever been considered as a destination for manned missions? [top]

Surprisingly, yes. However, when Mariner II flew past the cloud-shrouded planet in 1962, any hopes of a manned mission to the surface evaporated quicker than a beaker of water in the hellishly hot Venusian atmosphere. David Portree over at Beyond Apollo takes us on an exciting journey through the history of the planning for manned and robotic exploration of the planet, from 1956 to 1986…

The accretion disk surrounding a supermassive black hole
The accretion disk surrounding a supermassive black hole

Where are the most energetic particles in the Universe born? [top]

Ethan Siegel at Starts With A Bang shares his love for supermassive black holes, explaining that the most energetic particles in the Universe originate from galactic cores. However, there’s a huge mystery. The particles being emitted from the black hole location are too energetic. I’ll let Ethan explain that one

How was the Expedition-19 Soyuz TMA-14 transported to the launch pad? [top]

By train. In fact, you can watch the rocket’s journey on March 26th, 2009 via the Space Video of the Day. It’s a time before Soyuz launch that is rarely seen, so it’s a video well worth the watch.

Can liquid water exist on the surface of Mars? [top]

According to a group of Phoenix Mars Lander scientists, the lander observed suspect-looking “blobs” of a mystery liquid on its leg. This evidence was presented at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) at Texas last week and as reported by Emily Lakdawalla at the Planetary Society Blog, Keri Bean (a.k.a. @aggieastronaut) was at the conference, reporting on this exciting Martian development.

Who is Valentina Tereshkova? [top]

Bente Lilja Bye at PlanetBye gives us an intimate look into the achievements of retired Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova. Valentina was the first woman in space (orbiting the planet only two years after Yuri Gagarin’s historic launch in 1961). As the Carnival’s second tribute for Ada Lovelace Day, Valentina’s often overlooked achievements in the male-dominated world of spaceflight are celebrated…

NASAs OCO launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base (NASA TV)
NASAs OCO launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base (NASA TV)

Which rocket failed to deliver the Orbital Carbon Observatory (OCO) into orbit on February 24th, 2009? [top]

The Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Taurus rocket (in XL configuration) failed to deliver the OCO satellite after the upper-stage fairing failed to release its payload. However, the Taurus launch system has succeeded in six of eight launches since 1994, and according to DJ at Orbital Hub, Taurus can be launched from very basic locations. All that is needed is a 40×40 inch concrete pad capable of supporting the rocket’s weight. Impressive.

What resembles a muddy splodge on the Martian landscape? [top]

According to another Mars presentation at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC), the Red Planet might still be geologically active… and there might be significant quantities of water. Paul Scott Anderson at The Meridiani Journal examines why planetary scientists think this is the case. From observations made by Mars Odyssey and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, there appear to be mud volcanoes on the surface, suggesting fine sediment has mixed with water under the surface, then heated, exploding to life in hot muddy volcanic joy.

What does it take to be an astropixie? [top]

Amanda Bauer gives us an entertaining and detailed history of what it took to become an astropixie. Being a woman in science makes astropixie a rarity (as, amazingly, only 8% of science professors are female!), so it’s great to hear what motivated Amanda to pursue a career in physics and astronomy.

How close are we to space colonization? Hint: We are close. [top]

According to Bruce Cordell at 21st Century Waves, we are fast approaching a crossroads in science, technology and human ingenuity. By 2015 we could be looking at the “greatest decade of space spectaculars ever.” Exciting times…

What makes a planet habitable? [top]

An interesting question posed by Greg Fish at World of Weird Things as he examines a 2008 paper that investigates the components of a habitable planet (like the Earth, obviously). Interestingly, for Life As We Know It™ to thrive, there needs to be a deeper consideration other than just having a planet in the “Habitable Zone”. What about seasons? What if water, under huge atmospheric pressure, is maintained in a liquid state over 100°C? It will be hot, but bacteria might love it!

The MSL design (NASA)
The MSL design (NASA)

Could the Mars Science Laboratory be a girl rover? [top]

In a thought-provoking post by Stuart Atkinson at Cumbrian Sky, he ponders the official line-up of names suggested for the MSL by school children. “Amelia” after the legendary solo pilot Amelia Earhart seems to be a suitable suggestion, not only a worthy tribute to Earhart, it also gives the MSL a gender.

What’s the name of India’s first mission to the Moon? [top]

Louise Riofrio at A Babe In The Universe, sends a little Aloha to Earth’s only natural satellite, the Moon. She was also able to attend the Lunar and Planetary Science conference in Texas, finding out news about the Indian Chandrayaan and the Chinese Chang’e missions.

Do asteroids lurk at the Earth’s L4 and L5 points? [top]

For a short time, the twin STEREO spacecraft turned toward the two Lagrangian points and took some images. It is thought asteroids may be hiding in these gravitationally stable regions, and astronomers thought they’d spotted one lurking at L4. However, as explored by Ian Musgrave at Astroblog, the observation was a false alarm. Still, there are some exciting months ahead as the spacecraft begin to make the plunge into these unexplored regions of the Solar System…

Which spaceflight participant is currently in space, enjoying his second trip? [top]

Answer: Charles Simonyi. And I echo Bruce Irving’s (over at Music of the Spheres)No Fair!” comment. Simonyi is an engineer, billionaire and has spent way too much time in space for my liking, I think he needs to share the orbital love and invest in a space bloggers ISS expedition (psst! Charles, I’m in training right now, I await your response…).

Who is writing a book called “Astroeconomics: Making Money From The Vacuum Of Space”? [top]

Greg Fish (from World of Weird Things and Business Week) and Ian O’Neill (me!) have teamed up and are currently writing a book all about the business opportunities in space exploration. So in case you were wondering why I’ve been a little quiet writing blog entries, it’s because I am also co-authoring a book! We hope to complete the project soon, so watch this space. For more, check out “It was Only a Matter of Time…

Extra: Who was late to the Carnival? (A mini-party for those who missed the main event.) [top]

Nancy Atkinson over at the Universe Today recounts the amazing successes of STS-119, the Space Shuttle Discovery mission that prepared the remaining solar-power collecting arrays to operate at full power in preparation for the doubling of the ISS crew. (I don’t see a picture of Brian the Bat though…)

Lunar Mark at Today in Astronomy has built a great blog to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy 2009. As I’m not very good with my astronomical history, this is a great place for me to start. The most recent post is an insightful biography of the “Father of Modern Philosophy”, René Descartes…

Robert Pearlman at CollectSPACE gives an intriguing review about the stuff the record-breaking 13 astronauts and cosmonauts took up to space and brought back to Earth during the shuttle STS-119 mission and Expedition 19. Although there were a lot of people in space at the same time, there were many, many more mementos being ferried around for people on terra firma

Hey, Noisy Astronomer, the party is waiting for you, the beer is getting warm

She’s here! And she’s made up for the late arrival to the Carnival by bringing a case of wine and a wonderful article in celebration of Ada Lovelace Day. The new-look Noisy Astronomer showcases her favourite woman in technology and pioneer of radio astronomy, Ruby Payne-Scott.

17 thoughts on “The Carnival of Space Week 96”


  2. Moving into a smaller place after being accustomed to “living large” requires a little adjustment. Creative space utilization is key and is one of these necessary adjustments to making this new lifestyle work as well as the former.

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