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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