Carnival of Space #272

It’s time for another roundup of the lat­est space news from var­i­ous blogs around cyber­space; some­thing we call Car­ni­val of Space. Watch your step and look up as you board the lat­est ride through the carnival.

Per­haps the biggest, cer­tainly the most excit­ing, news last week was the announce­ment from the Euro­pean South­ern Obser­va­tory of a scorch­ing world orbit­ing uber-close to Alpha Cen­tauri B. It’s also the light­est exo­planet dis­cov­ered around a Sun-like star, reports Next Big Future.  Nancy Atkin­son at our host Uni­verse Today detailed the new find­ing. Astroblog­ger offers reflec­tions (and a celes­tia file) on the recent Earth-sized red-hot planet.

Artist's impression of the planet around Alpha Centauri B.

This artist’s impres­sion shows the planet orbit­ing the star Alpha Cen­tauri B, a mem­ber of the triple star sys­tem that is the clos­est to Earth. Alpha Cen­tauri B is the most bril­liant object in the sky and the other daz­zling object is Alpha Cen­tauri A. Our own Sun is vis­i­ble to the upper right. Credit: ESO

The Car­ni­val is full of more infor­ma­tion on this nearby world from The Merid­ian Jour­nal and Aartscope

The offi­cial count­down toward the end of the world has begun (if you believe in that sort of thing). Nancy Atkin­son of Uni­verse Today explores the 2012 crazi­ness and why peo­ple are so will­ing to get sucked into the hype.

Cos­mo­Quest hits one mil­lion total craters between the Moon and aster­oid Vesta. What are the fruits of this cit­i­zen sci­ence labor of love?

Next Big Future writes that Keck obser­va­tions reveal the more details of Uranus than even the Voy­ager flyby in 1986.

Researchers pre­sented infrared spec­troscopy and mass spec­trom­e­try analy­ses of Apollo sam­ples that reveal the pres­ence of sig­nif­i­cant amounts of hydroxyl inside glasses formed in the lunar regolith by microm­e­te­orite impacts.Lunar regolith is every­where on the lunar sur­face, and glasses make up about half of lunar regolith. Find­ing hydroxl in the glass means that a huge amount of mate­r­ial that could be turned into water on the moon.

Spacex is devel­op­ing a new more pow­er­ful engine that will enable a rocket to take 200 tons of pay­load to low earth orbit. Musk said the new rocket, which he calls MCT, will be “sev­eral times” as pow­er­ful as the 1 Mer­lin series, and won’t use Merlin’s RP-1 fuel. Beyond adding that it will have “a very big core size”, he declined to elab­o­rate, promis­ing more details in “between one and three years”.

NASA’s Com­mer­cial Crew Pro­gram (CCP) part­ner Blue Ori­gin has suc­cess­fully fired the thrust cham­ber assem­bly for its new 100,000 pound thrust BE-3 liq­uid oxy­gen, liq­uid hydro­gen rocket engine. As part of Blue’s Reusable Booster Sys­tem (RBS), the engines are designed even­tu­ally to launch the biconic-shaped Space Vehi­cle the com­pany is devel­op­ing. Blue Ori­gin is a reusable rocket being devel­oped by Jeff Bezos CEO of Amazon.

The NH National Guard Child and Youth Pro­gram and NHNG Mil­i­tary Edu­ca­tion Out­reach Com­mit­tee were proud to present a pilot sci­ence event with the Chan­dra Edu­ca­tion & Out­reach Group on Octo­ber 14, 2012 in Con­cord, New Hampshire.

Cheap Astron­omy presents a pod­cast on the Hub­ble Ser­vic­ing Mis­sions and the expected future for the telescope.

While Any Shira Tei­tel of Vin­tage Space read­ily admits Felix Baumgartner’s high alti­tude sky dive was awe­some to watch, we may have missed an oppor­tu­nity to teach a huge audi­ence a thing or two about sci­ence.
Tran­quil­ity Base asks dur­ing the Cold War, did the U.S. or the Soviet Union ever launch an armed space­craft? And, have there been any weapons in space since the cold war ended?
Encounter with Uniden­ti­fied Fly­ing Object in South­ern Fin­land. The bright light and the irreg­u­lar pace of the craft caught my atten­tion. Read more on Links Through Space.

Eruptions on Io from Earth

Obser­va­tions of sev­eral bright & young erup­tions detected at short wave­lengths (~2.1 microns) on the top and longer wave­lengths (~3.2 microns) on the bot­tom since 2004 using the W. M. Keck 10-meter tele­scope (May 2004, Aug 2007, Sep 2007, July 2009), the Gem­ini North 8-meter tele­scope (Aug 2007), and the ESO VLT-Yepun 8-meter tele­scope (Feb 2007), all with their adap­tive optics sys­tems. The ther­mal sig­na­ture of the Tvashtar out­burst can be seen near the north pole on images col­lected in 2007. A new erup­tion on Pil­lan Pat­era was seen in Aug 2007. A young and bright erup­tion was detected on Loki Pat­era in July 2009. This is the last bright erup­tion that was detected in our sur­vey; since then, Io’s vol­canic activ­ity has been qui­es­cent. Credit: F. Marchis

You fancy your­self an arm­chair astronomer? John Williams writes at Uni­verse Today about a group of Cal­i­for­nia researchers who have stepped it up a notch by mon­i­tor­ing the intense vol­canic erup­tions on Jupiter’s strangest moon Io from the com­fort of their home.

Lastly, peer into a tightly spun rain­bow. Explore the arch­ing tails of the Pin­wheel Galaxy in this com­pos­ite image fea­tur­ing imagery from NASA’s Hub­ble, Spitzer, Chan­dra and GALEX telescopes.

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The ancient peo­ples saw pic­tures in the sky. From those pat­terns in the heav­ens, ancient sto­ry­tellers cre­ated leg­ends about heroes, maid­ens, drag­ons, bears, cen­taurs, dogs and myth­i­cal crea­tures…
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