Carnival of Space
Well it’s been a long time coming, but Urban Astronomer is finally hosting a Carnival of Space.  This will be the 306th Carnival and for anybody who’s gotten this far without knowing what a Carnival of Space is, it’s a weekly collection of the most interesting news from around the web on space science and astronomy.  Compilation follows:
At the top of the list is long-time home of the Carnival, Universe Today with news about observations of Asteroid 1998 QE2 by the Arecibo Observatory, and how it might be unlike any asteroid we’ve seen before near Earth.
 Pamela Hoff from Everyday Spacer presents Around Town, which posts feature ‘quickie’ notes about activities that you can do locally or online. We want to let you know about as many different things out there that you can do – often, right where you are – and sometimes just for taking the time to go look. 
Ian Musgrave from AstroBlog writes about the recent line-up of Mercury, Venus and the Moon – fully illustrated with his own photoraphy.
From the Spanish language blog Vega 0.0: Calar Alto Astronomical Observatory in Almeria (Spain), the most important of the Continental Europe, will suffer a reduction of 67% in the yearly budget , limiting its operational capacity to only a telescope. [Article in spanish]

The project team for the Chandra X-ray orbital telescope  reports on one of their most recent discoveries: Black Hole Bonanza Turns Up In Galaxy Next Door.  They also offer a guest post by Robin Barnard, who is currently a research fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.  Robin writes a very entertaining piece on Black Hole Hunting In The Andromeda Galaxy.

“Here, There & Everywhere”, a NASA sponsored project which brings science outreach displays to community centres and libraries, recently ran special programs at the Westland Public Library

Join host Ray Sanders (Dear Astronomer blog) for the season one finale of The Cosmic Ray Show. Featured guests include the “Bad Astronomer” Phil Plait, Meteorite Man Geoff Notkin, and musical guest James Olmos.

The Meridiani Journal reports on news from Mars:  Scientists confirm Curiosity rover’s discovery of ancient Martian streambed

Finally, Brian Wang from Next Big Future contributes three technology articles:

  • The theory underlying Mach effects – fluctuations of the restmasses of accelerating objects in which internal energy changes take place – and their use for propulsion is briefly recapitulated. Experimental apparatus based on a very sensitive thrust balance is briefly described. The experimental protocol employed to search for expected Mach effects is laid out, and the results of this experimental investigation are presented. A series of tests conducted to explore the origin of the thrust signals seen are described, and two of those tests – the most likely spurious sources of thrust signals – are considered in some detail. The thrust signals seen, if genuine Mach effects, suggest that “advanced and exotic” propulsion can be achieved with realistic resources. Advanced and exotic means propellentless high acceleration up to near light speed and even possible stargate wormholes. Recent experiments produced 2-3 micronewtons and a refined theoretical model now more closely expects 3.2 micronewtons based upon the materials and other methods used in this case.
  • A NASA study looked at a pathway using robotics and additive manufacturing to bootstrap space development. A fully functioning, remote system of robotic excavators and simple machinery still is years away from reality, and much research on asteroids needs to be undertaken. The building blocks of a successful system, however, appear to be in place, the study concluded. “Robots and machines would just make the metal and propellants for starters,” Metzger said. “The first generation of robots makes the second generation of hardware, except the comparatively lightweight electronics and motors that have to be sent up from Earth. It doesn’t matter how much the large structures weigh because you didn’t have to launch it.” The study was undertaken in part because companies on Earth are quickly building business cases for pathfinding missions to evaluate available resources in the solar system with an eye on collecting them. * Robots and machines would just make the metal and propellants for starters * first generation of robots makes the second generation of hardware, except the comparatively lightweight electronics and motors that have to be sent up from Earth. It doesn’t matter how much the large structures weigh because you didn’t have to launch it.” * in six generations of robotics, these machines will be able to construct themselves and operate without any need of materials from Earth.
  • Columbia University worked out how to remove graphene from a copper substrate without damaging it. They have large sheets of graphene with a strength of 95 gigapascals. This is fifteen times stronger than kevlar. This is 90% of the strength of perfect molecular graphene and is stronger than molecular carbon nanotubes. There are graphene factories being setup this year and next year that will produce hundreds of tons of graphene. Some of those factories could be adapted to produce the stronger undamaged graphene. We need solar sails at least 100 meter on a side and 400 meters on a side to get really interesting missions.

Finally, this carnival was posted a little later than I’d planned because I was distracted by CosmoQuest’s 32 hour Hangout-a-thon.  As we’ve said before on these pages, Urban Astronomer is a big fan of CosmoQuest, and would strongly urge anybody with an interest in space science, astronomy, education or science outreach, to help them with their finding crisis and make a donation.  But whether you do or not, you can catch up on 32 hours(!!!) worth of fundraisong Hangout-a-thon at the AstroSphereVids youtube channel.  Highly recommended – see Nicole Gugliucci and Pam Gay remain chipper, upbeat, and slightly manic after 32 hours straight broadcasting!

And that’s the Carnival of Space!  As with most carnival editors, I will keep submissions open right up until the next edition, so if you have anything you would like to see featured on this page, mail me a link and a summary to and I’ll add it for you.


About Allen Versfeld

Allen is an amateur astronomer, an IT professional, a podcaster, a father of five beautiful kids and a barely competent chess player. He is also the director of the Astrophotography Section of the Astronomical Society of South Africa, where he coordinates and promotes the activities of people who are far better photographers than him.


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