Aliens More Likely to Pick Up Our NEO Radar Transmissions than Radio

Radar emissions - lighting up the night sky (Ian O'Neill)

When you stop to think about it, sending transmissions via radio into space in the hope to contact aliens is a bit silly. The intention behind the 16 transmission we have directed into space is to a) make contact with extraterrestrials, b) advertise our presence in the cosmos, and c) tell ET something useful about mankind. We know we are leaking transmissions into space all the time (i.e. radio and TV), but we assume they don’t travel that far or are too weak for aliens to detect. But wait one second… We are constantly blasting radar into space, tracking near earth asteroids; will aliens pick up those transmissions? Well, these radar transmissions have covered 2000 times more sky than radio and last 500 times longer. And since the 1960’s we’ve sent 1400 radar transmissions into space. So, what’s the verdict? Aliens are one million times more likely to receive the tracking signal from NEO tracking radar than radar intended for aliens…
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Supermassive Black Hole Flare Lights Up Mysterious Molecular Torus

Artists impression of a light echo from the surrounding torus of a supermassive black hole (Max Planck Institute)

Theoretically, supermassive black holes that occupy the centre of galaxies (including our own) are surrounded by a vast cloud of gas. Depending on the angle you are viewing this molecular torus will obscure the supermassive black hole’s bright accretion disk. Until now, this vast doughnut of matter has never been observed, but with the help of the supermassive black hole accretion disk and a dying star, there’s a possibility that the molecular torus will not only be observed, but also mapped…
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What Happens When Two Galaxies Collide?

A galactic collision between NGC 2207 and IC 2163 (HST)

So what does happen? Will the stars crash into one another, sending out huge emissions of gamma radiation and gravitational waves? The effects of two galaxies meeting and colliding are actually a little more elegant than that – for starters, it’s most likely that none of the stars will meet due to the huge distances between star systems. Also, the merging of the systems will spark a huge campaign of star creation within the newly formed fertile gas clouds. So what will we see long after the galaxies have ripped each other apart? Simulations show huge arcs of tidally-formed dust and stars, looking strangely like the precursors to the galactic ghosts recently observed
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Carnival of Space #50 @KySat


This week’s 50th edition of the Carnival of Space is hosted by Wayne Hall over at KySat in Kentucky. The Kentucky space science movement seems to be in full swing, culminating in the excellent KySat website. This week, we have stories ranging from rocket racing, monkeys in space (my personal favourite!), Saturn’s moon Titan and my contribution: LHC Worries are Based on Fear of the Unknown, not Science.

Superb space science reading from the entire space-science blogosphere, so go and check it out

The Sinister Side of the Cosmos: Killer Galaxies, Cosmic Forensic Science and Deadly Radiation

The ghost of a dead dwarf galaxy hangs around the killer, spiral galaxy (R. Jay Gabany)

It’s been a busy day with a range of topics posted on the Universe Today, but all have a common thread: the universe is a deadly place for man and galaxy. For starters, research into the radiation mankind will face when settling on Mars and the Moon could prove to be one of our main challenges in space. The threat of a massive dose of radiation from a solar flare is bad enough, but the gradual damage to our cells and increased risk of cancer is a problem we need to solve, or at least manage. But that’s nothing compared with what dwarf galaxies have to put up with; their larger spiral cousins like to eat them for dinner, leaving behind galactic ghosts of the dwarfs that were…
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Astronaut Photographers Take Stunning Pictures of Earth Too

We may have some of the best, high resolution robotic cameras looking down on Earth from orbit, but you can’t beat the human eye for choosing the right shot. This spectacular image is a view of Harrat Khaybar, about 140 kilometres to the northeast of the city of Medina, Saudi Arabia. Old volcanic calderas, deserts and ancient lava flows can be seen. This picture was taken by a member of NASA’s Expedition 16 crew on October 10th, 2007, but has only just been released as part of the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment. We pay so much attention studying the Martian landscape and peering into galactic cores, sometimes it’s nice to turn the lenses around and see the complex geology of Planet Earth. There’s a lot more pictures where this one came from
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LHC Worries are Based on Fear of the Unknown, not Science

The construction of the LHC is nearing completion, exciting or worrying? (AP)
The construction of the LHC is nearing completion, exciting or worrying? (AP)

I’ve heard some crazy talk in my time, but the fear surrounding the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN has really surprised me. On writing a story last month that a guy in Hawaii (with a scant background in physics) was trying to pass a lawsuit to put a stop to the construction of the LHC, I realised the pressures physicists at the cutting edge of science are under. Physicists the world over have defended the science behind the LHC, and although some of the products from high energy particle collisions are as yet unknown, there is an infinitesimal chance that a black hole will swallow Earth… (I actually want a black hole to be created, the scientific implications will be revolutionary.)
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Human Space Exploration: Essential for our Survival

The International Space Station (NASA)

So what is the point of exploring space anyway? We have famine, disease and disaster here down on Earth, why the hell should we direct funds toward manned exploration of the Solar System and beyond? The answer is far from simple, but my personal answer is: to explore the undiscovered
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Carnival of Space #49

It’s that time of the week again, when all the space blogs get together for one almighty shindig, discussing the news, views and opinions on the blogosphere. It’s the Carnival of Space!

This week’s edition is hosted by fellow Englishman Will Gator, science writer for the BBC Sky at Night magazine. The stories are wide-ranging and diverse, and my contributions includes how Wolf-Raynet stars may be gamma ray bursts precursors (with a little help from their neutron star buddies) and I discuss some of the implications behind setting up a distributed Internet on future Mars colonies.

Thanks Will!

Daily Roundup: Space Station Dumps its Refuse and Three Black Holes Collide

Progress 28 module drops to Earth. Credit: NASA

In a quiet event, with no ceremony or sending off party, the Russian Progress 28 supply module was released from the International Space Station on Monday to fall to Earth as a fireball. On board, all the waste and unwanted equipment from the stations astronauts. The Progress module was launched in January to deliver food, water and other supplies, and with its usefulness at an end, the charred remains of the spaceship now sit at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean… Such a sad story for poor old Progress 28…
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