Carnival of Space #343Welcome, everybody, to the 343rd Carnival of Space! Every week, space science and astronomy writers from around the world submit samples of their writing to the Carnival of Space’s host, to have their work highlighted and shared across the Internet. Each week the Carnival moves to a new host blog, and this week the host is Urban Astronomer! If you are a science writer and would like your articles to be included on the Carnival of Space, drop a mail to with your details. Note that the Carnival of Space is not hosted by an aggregator – each Carnival is hand-built by a human host, and you need to choose your own articles and submit them directly! This week’s Carnival attracted a lot of submissions, so make sure you don’t have anything important to do before reading further!First up is Spanish language blog Vega0.0, with an article about CERN’s plans for their next big project:  A supercollider even larger than the LHC.  I don’t read Spanish myself, but am reliable informed that the article is quite complete, and includes plenty of information about the different technologies used in different collider designs.

Next up comes the CosmoQuest blog, who have an interesting problem to solve:  They have accumulated so much cool space stuff over the years that they’ve decided to give it away to some of their regular users!  All you have to do is contribute to their citizen science projects, either directly by identifying features in a specified number of images, or help build the user community by participating actively in the forums.  Details are in the blog posting, but I once received such a bundle, back when CosmoQuest was just starting out and you can take my word that it’s cool stuff that you do want.  Mine even included a hand-written note from Dr Pamela Gay, although I can’t promise that current winners will be so blessed.

After CosmoQuest comes Urban Astronomer‘s recent article about Saturn’s mysterious hexagonal cloud band, circling its North pole.  It recently became a whole lot easier to study as Saturn’s ponderous seasons finally shifted, bringing daylight to the pole for the first time since Cassini arrived. 

Links Through Space have been travelling through Cambodia, on a project to assess the night sky seeing and to see the amount of light pollution within the cities in Cambodia.  This submission is actually a series of six articles detailing the entire journey.

Universe Today write about Uwingu’s new venture to raise fund for space science and education grants.  They plan to raise $10M by selling naming rights to craters on Mars.  Uwingu acknowledge that the names their customers assign to Martian features would need to be approved by the IAU for them to become official, which seems unlikely, so that the entire business is reminiscent of those companies selling bogus “Title Deeds” to stars, or the Moon.  However, they are clear and upfront about their names not being official, and the money is being spent on advancing real science, so that goes a long way towards making it respectable.

Universe Today also wrote about the amazing news from the Kepler team that a new technique has allowed them to confirm the existence of an astounding 715 exoplanets!

Air&Space Magazine write about China’s lunar rover, Yutu.  Yutu experienced technical problems just as it was preparing to hibernate through the long Lunar night, and as a result was not properly protected from the near absolute zero conditions it had to endure for two weeks.  As a result, it has not properly recovered from its ordeal, and is currently immobilised.  While the vehicle is still able to do some science, the current situation is disastrous for its primary mission.

AstroSwanny write about an interesting challenge sent out to amateur astronomers:  Try to catch sight of sunlight glinting off the the Gaia spacecraft‘s solar panels as it passed through Earth’s L2 La Grange point.  Dr. Paul Spudis discusses the value of human spaceflight and The Meridiani Journal asks if recently discovered microscopic features deep inside martian rocks are a sign of life on Mars.

And finally, closing off the carnival, we have Next Big Future (the home base of the Carnival of Space), with a generous four articles:  First, they discuss the same Kepler confirmation of 715 exoplanets that Universe Today talked about earlied in the Carnival.  Then, a pair of progress reports for SpaceX: They have just completed the first of three required missions to qualify to carry military and intelligence satellites, and will be fitting a set of landing legs to an unmanned Dragon cargo vessel to test the possibility of building cheap, re-usable booster rockets.  And finally, a discussion on the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).  TESS is an Explorer-class planet finder. In the first-ever spaceborne all-sky transit survey, TESS will identify planets ranging from Earth-sized to gas giants, orbiting a wide range of stellar types and orbital distances. The principal goal of the TESS mission is to detect small planets with bright host stars in the solar neighborhood, so that detailed characterizations of the planets and their atmospheres can be performed. TESS, along with the Neutron star Interior Composition ExploreR (NICER), had been selected for launch in 2017. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), previously known as Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST), is a planned space telescope (with a launch target 2018) optimized for observations in the infrared, and a scientific successor to the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope. The main technical features are a large and very cold 6.5-meter (21 ft) diameter mirror and four specialized instruments at an observing position far from Earth, orbiting the Earth–Sun L2 point. The combination of these features will give JWST unprecedented resolution and sensitivity from long-wavelength visible to the mid-infrared, enabling its two main scientific goals – studying the birth and evolution of galaxies, and the formation of stars and planets.



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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