Carnival of Space Image Credit: Jason Major

And here we are again, with another Carnival of Space!  As always, we bring you the past week’s very best writing on space science and astronomy, fresh from The Internet.  Read on to find out what’s new in the Universe!Our first submission comes from last week’s host, Gadi Eidelheit of The Venus Transit. As an astrophotographer, he has been trying for some time to capture a recognizable image of the International Space Station, and finally he’s managed!

Then comes Universe Today with three interesting articles.  First up, the solution to a long-standing problem in astrophysics may have been found at last: Neutron stars are some of the strangest and densest objects in the universe, second only to black holes.  Regular readers are probably aware that, as you add more mass to a neutron star, it becomes denser and denser until it collapses into a black hole. The problem astrophysicists have struggled with is knowing exactly when this occurs.  In theory, it’s not too hard to calculate the exact mass at which this change occurs for a static neutron star, but in real life they all rotate, usually quite rapidly, and the resulting centrifugal effect makes the mathematics much harder to solve.  But that particular nut seems to have now been cracked by a team of researchers from Goethe University!

Universe Today’s second article covers some very exciting news from the world of commercial space travel: SpaceX have finally managed to succesfully land one of their Falcon 9 rockets!  Critics like to point out that Blue Origin have been landing their own rather stylish rockets succesfully for some time now, but it’s worth pointing out that SpaceX’s rockets have been landing at sea, on small barges as they roll up and down the ocean waves – a much more challenging task – and of course, SpaceX’s rockets are successfuly delivering satellites into orbit, making them a commercial success whether or not the landings succeed.  So for SpaceX, the landing is a way to reduce costs and make future launches more affordable, and not just a cool technology demonstration.

Universe Today’s final contribution is the news that a star known only by its catalogue number of HD 100546, has been found to posess a protoplanetary disk composed largely of water ice.  This would suggest that the system is still quite young, as the ice has not yet been melted and sublimated away by the star’s radiation, and also that the disk has not yet coalesced into planets.

Planetaria has an update on the Mars Science Laboratory mission, popularly known as the Curiosity Rover.  Curiosity recently set a new record, by attempting to climb the steepest slope ever driven by a rover on another planet.  The slope was so steep that its wheels could not find the traction to pull it any higher, causing mission engineers to abandon that path for fear of damaging the rover.  Curiosity has performed a great deal of geological field work over the course of its mission, and recently caught a passing dust devil on one of its cameras.

The Lunar and Planetary Institute shares their archive of videos of the Cosmic Explorations Speaker Series. LPI periodically invites a speaker to deliver a free lecture, and these lectures are recorded and made available on their website for those who could not attend in person. It’s definitely worth spending a few hours of your time watching these!

Finally, bringing the carnival to a close, Artsnova announces the winners of the 2016 National Space Society’s Space Settlement Student Art Contest. The contest was open to students from around the world, from grade 5 through to college. Entries had to pass a strict set of qualification criteria, including originality and adherence to the theme (images needed to show people living and working in space).

And that’s that for another Carnival of Space!  next week’s carnival will be hosted at Everyday Spacer – don’t miss it!

 

 

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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Carnival of Space #453 — 2 Comments

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