Carnival of Space #408

North, South, East and West, the Carnival of Space is the best! And our articles come from many directions as well!

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The Great and the Small: Is Quantum Foam Losing its Fizz?
Eric Perlman | Chandra X-Ray Observatory

Astronomy has been a tool of discovery since the dawn of civilization. For thousands of years, humans used the stars to navigate and find their place in the universe. Astronomy made possible the travels of the ancient Polynesians across the Pacific Ocean as well as measurements of the Earth’s size and shape by the ancient Greeks. Today, astronomers search for hints about what the universe was like when the universe was much younger. So imagine, for a second, what life would be like – and how much less we would know about ourselves and the universe – if…

NASA Telescopes Set Limits on Space-time Quantum Foam
Megan Watzke | Chandra X-Ray Observatory

A new study combining data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and Fermi Gamma-ray Telescope, and the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array (VERITAS) in Arizona is helping scientists set limits on the quantum nature of space-time on extremely tiny scales, as explained in our latest press release.

Certain aspects of quantum mechanics predict that space-time – the three dimensions of space plus time — would not be smooth on the scale of about ten times a billionth of a trillionth of the diameter of a hydrogen atom’s nucleus. They refer to the structure that may exist at this extremely small size as “space-time foam.” This artist’s illustration depicts how the foamy structure of space-time may appear, showing tiny bubbles quadrillions of times smaller than…

Pluto: Days of Discovery Draw Nearer

C. C. Peterson | TheSpacewriter’s Ramblings

In just about six weeks, the New Horizons spacecraft will begin its close flyby of Pluto, Charon and three (or more) other moons in this distant system. That mission will change our perspective on the solar system in ways we haven’t even thought of yet.

Why do I say that? Well, let’s look at how we define the objects in our solar system. It’s a moveable feast of planets, moons, rings, asteroids, comets, and…

Live in the City? No Problem! Let’s Stargaze!
Carolyn Collins Petersen | About Education

Whenever you read an article (even the ones here) about stargazing, it usually includes the warning: get to a good, dark-sky observing site, along with other good advice about being outside under the night sky. That’s all fine if you can get away, but if you live in the city and don’t have access to nearby dark-sky “reservations”, you might be tempted to just stay inside and…

In the Late-2020s a Microlensing Survey Could Tell if Rogue Planets are More Common Than Planets Around Stars
Brian Wang | Next Big Future

The Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) is a proposed infrared space observatory which was selected by National Research Council committee as the top priority for the next decade of astronomy. The WFIRST space telescope could be in space by 2024 if it is started in 2017.

Estimates suggested that every planetary system in the galaxy booted at least one planet into interstellar space. With billions of planetary systems in the Milky Way, there may be billions, maybe even hundreds of billions, of rogue planets in the galaxy, says planetary scientist Sara Seager of MIT.

“A census of rogues,” Liu says, “is the only way we are going to fully understand the…

Large Survey Telescope Will Image the Entire Sky Every Few Nights for a Thousand Fold Increase in Survey Power
Brian Wang | Next Big Future

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) is a planned wide-field “survey” reflecting telescope that will photograph the entire available sky every few nights. The LSST is currently in its design and mirror-development phases. Site construction is scheduled to begin in October 2014, with engineering first light in 2019, science first light in 2021, and full operations for a ten-year survey commencing in January 2022.

The LSST will image the entire visible sky every few nights, thus capturing changes and opening up the time-domain window over an unprecedented range of timescales for billions of faint objects. Each sky patch will be visited 1000 times during the survey with a pair of exposures per visit. The LSST data will enable qualitatively new science. Billions of objects in our universe will be seen for the first time and monitored over time. Motivated by the evident scientific progress enabled by large sky surveys, multiple national reports have concluded that a dedicated ground-based wide-field imaging telescope with an effective aperture of 6-8 meters is a high priority for astronomy, physics, and planetary science over the next decade. With a thousand-fold increase in survey power in time-volume space over current facilities, LSST is likely to make unexpected…

SpaceX Gets Certified For National Security Launches
Brian Wang | Next Big Future

SpaceX has won certification from Space and Missile Systems Center. This carries enormous import for the international launch industry, for the Pentagon, the Air Force and the Intelligence Community.It’s not that Musk’s SpaceX is going to win deals tomorrow from the current national security launch monopoly, the United Launch Alliance. It’s that Musk has proven to many of the world’s most demanding acquisition experts and systems engineers that a commercial company can do rocket science to the same standards as ULA’s Boeing and Lockheed Martin. What are the stakes? National security launches can take billion-dollar payloads that perform crucial military and intelligence work into space. Lose one to an exploding rocket and you not only have lost more than $1.25 billion — including the cost of launch — but you’ve also lost the capability, the time, the money and then you must fork over even more money to…

Graphene Sponge Can Absorb Light and Emit Energetic Electrons for Breakthrough Solar Sail Propulsion
Brian Wang | Next Big Future

The direct light propulsion of matter was observed on a macroscopic scale for the first time using a bulk graphene [graphene sponge] based material. The unique structure and properties of graphene and the morphology of the bulk graphene material make it capable of not only absorbing light at various wavelengths but also emitting energetic electrons efficiently enough to drive the bulk material following Newtonian mechanics. Thus, the unique photonic and electronic properties of individual graphene sheets are manifested in the response of the bulk state. These results offer an exciting opportunity to…

‘Ocean Worlds Exploration Program': New Budget Proposal Calls for Missions to Europa, Enceladus and Titan
Paul Scott Anderson | The Meridiani Journal

The exploration of the outer Solar System has revealed a plethora of amazing worlds, the likes of which were little known or even unheard of just a decade ago. Among the most remarkable and tantalizing discoveries are the “ocean moons” such as Europa and Enceladus, which have oceans or seas of liquid water beneath their icy surfaces. Other moons like Titan, Ganymede, and Callisto may also have them, and even some asteroids. Titan also has seas and lakes of liquid methane/ethane on its surface. With all that water, these small worlds have become a primary focus in the search for possible life elsewhere in the Solar System. Now, a new NASA budget proposal wants to take that a step further and…

To Europa! NASA Announces Science Instruments for New Mission to Ocean Moon
Paul Scott Anderson | The Meridiani Journal

An exciting new development in planetary exploration was announced yesterday: NASA has chosen the science instruments which will be included in a new mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa. For those advocating and supporting such a mission, this is welcome news indeed. Europa’s subsurface ocean has become a prime target in the search for possible life elsewhere in the Solar System, and this mission may finally…

Hubble Captures a Collision in a Black Hole’s “Death Star” Beam
Jason Major | Universe Today

Even the Empire’s planet-blasting battle station has nothing compared to the immense energy being fired from the heart of NGC 3862, a supermassive black hole-harboring elliptical galaxy located 300 million light-years away.

And while jets of high-energy plasma coming from active galactic nuclei have been imaged before, for the first time activity within a jet has been observed in optical wavelengths, revealing a quite “forceful” collision of…

NASA Orders First Ever Commercial Human Spaceflight Mission from Boeing
Ken Kremer | Universe Today

The restoration of America’s ability to launch American astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) from American soil in 2017 took a major step forward when NASA ordered the first ever commercial human spaceflight mission from Boeing.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) office gave the first commercial crew rotation mission award to the Boeing Company to launch its CST-100 astronaut crew capsule to the ISS by late 2017, so long as the company satisfactorily meets all of NASA’s human spaceflight certification milestones.

Thus begins…

Observer’s Guide – June 2015
Allen Versfeld | Urban Astronomer

Urban Astronomer presents their June observer’s guide for the southern hemisphere

Well it took long enough but Winter finally started. Here where I live, the evenings are finally cold, the air is finally clear, and the stars are back out in their finest, brightest glory. It’s a fantastic time to observe, so here’s a quick rundown on what you can see:

The month starts with the Moon. It passes close by Saturn on the 1st, one day before Full Moon on the 2nd. At this phase, the Moon is so bright that deep sky observing is hardly worth the effort, and you can read a newspaper without artificial lights. Great for…

And that is the main body of articles. We may get a few more so stop by again in a couple of days to catch the latest news, then on to Carnival of Space #409!

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