Carnival of Space #278

By December 2, 2012 Carnival of Space 5 Comments

Credit: NASA

It’s time, once again, to see what’s got the Internet buzzing (space-wise) this week with another Carnival of Space! Today’s unrelated spaceflight image is Wally Schirra boarding the gondola at the Navy’s centrifuge in Johnsville, Pennsylvania. This picture was taken on New Year’s Day in 1960. I’m not sure spinning in circles pulling multiple Gs is the best way to ring in a new year, but there are worse ways!


The biggest news this week, or at least the news that’s gotten everyone’s attention, is that NASA’s MESSENGER team has confirmed there’s water on Mercury! But it’s ice in the bottom of super cold polar craters; not exactly a vacation destination. The Meridiani Journal gives us the details on this icy discovery, which is covered with a layer of organics. Nextbigfuture meanwhile brings us a more technical look at just what scientists have found – and the impressive amount of water on the closest planet to the sun.

From one mysterious little planet to another, a look at the Mariner 2 mission to Venus that launched in 1962.

In other weird space finds, Nextbigfuture tells us about a supermassive black hole that astronomers discovered. It’s 17 billion solar masses and makes up 14% of the weight of the galaxy it is in – that’s massive!

Speaking of the Sun, Weirdwarp gives us some insight into what solar minimums and solar maximums actually are, and how this solar activity is different now than what it was two years ago.

There have been some interesting solar phenomena visible from our own cosmic backyard lately. Ian Musgrave from Astroblog shares some stellar images of the recent annular solar eclipse and the penumbral lunar eclipse.

And speaking of stars, Nextbigfuture talks warp drives. If Harold White’s research were to pan out and make the leap from paper to flight hardware, travel time between stars would be cut from decades down to years.

But until warp drive becomes a viable technology, we’ll have to rely on the tried and true method. But they’re getting better. Nextbigfuture tells us about Skylon’s newly validated Spaceplane pre-cooler that will enable broad improvement in jet engines and space access systems.

Moving from new technologies to the people who develop them (sort of), Chandra Blog gives us an interesting look at the academic side of things with a looks at how to stumble into a PhD project, and how it can follow you. And speaking of PhD projects, Tranquility Base brings us Dr. Buzz Aldrin’s explanation of how two astronauts dock their spacecraft in orbit.If you’ve got a young woman in your life who isn’t quite PhD age yet, there are other ways to get her excited and interested in spaceflight. Everyday Spacer tells us about the Women in Stem High School Aerospace Scholars or WISH program.

Since the holiday season is upon us, it’s fitting to round out this week’s carnival with some holiday news. Links Through Space has an interesting offer for the month of December: send a Space-Postcard to Astronomy Club Toutatis in Finland from your part of the world, and they’ll send you one back in return. A friendly gesture for the holidays and a fun way to greet fellow astronomers. And for the space cadet on your list, check out Hubble Star Cards, the card game that puts the Universe right in the palm of your hand.


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