Today, One-Minute Astronomer is honored to host the 100th Carnival of Space, a showcase of online articles about space and astronomy organized by the team at Universe Today.
For our regular subscribers, today is a little different. Instead of a short article about astronomy or the practical details of how to see the night sky, we’ve got fascinating stories and insights from around the web related to astronomy, space science, and space exploration.
And for those of you who’ve never been here before… welcome! There’s a lot to cover this week, so let’s get started…
• We begin with an inspiring article from Cumbrian Sky celebrating the first steps of the Kepler space telescope towards discovering earth-like worlds among 100,000 stars in a small patch of sky in Cygnus and Lyra. The article argues that Kepler is the U.S.S. Enterprise of our time, with a mission to discover not strange new worlds, but worlds much like our own.
• Launching satellites is no longer the exclusive realm of governments and big telecom. In Kentucky, a non-profit consortium is designing a tiny low-cost satellite for teaching and research. And this week the satellite (called KySat-1) is a little closer to space, having passed an important compliance milestone and vibration testing to ensure it will survive launch.
• For what may be only the fourth time in history, two space shuttles sat exposed on launch pads at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was an impressive sight, and one you may never see again since the shuttles are scheduled for retirement next year. Read more at Collect Space…
• While the Space Shuttle will soon be history, the Beyond Apollo blog recounts a fascinating piece of history that never happened: a manned trip to Mars using nuclear-powered spacecraft. Presented by Wernher von Braun on August 4, 1969 to the Space Task Group appointed by president Nixon, this ambitious plan foresaw astronauts on Mars by late 1982.
• Staying with solar system exploration, Ralph Buttigieg at Discovery Enterprise examines 1960’s NASA studies and concludes our first planetary destination should be “Venus, not Mars”. And Ralph’s co-blogger Alex M. Bonnici looks at Apollo-era technology and comes up with a captivating video of a 1986 Mars Expedition that could have been.
• Aside from Earth, Saturn is arguably the most beautiful sight in the solar system. Ryan at Martian Chronicles answers questions about the ringed planet.
• And you can see spectacular images of Saturn from the Cassini space probe, courtesy of Paul at The Meridiani Journal.
• David at Mang’s Bat takes you on a tour of the solar system with a small-body orbit simulator from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Labs.
• It’s been 400 years since Galileo pointed a telescope at the heavens and discovered more in a few years than previous astronomers discovered in a millennium. Galileo made detailed observations not just of the stars and planets, but also of the Sun. It’s a common misconception that Galileo lost his eyesight from telescopic solar observation, but the team at Astroblog sets the record straight. And they comment on a quest to discover a genetic cause for Galileo’s blindness.
• Music of the Spheres sings praise to the Hubble Space Telescope and shows simulated images of the upcoming STS-125 shuttle mission… the final service call to this grand astronomical tool.
• From the Hubble Telescope to a Humble Telescope… Nancy Atkinson at Universe Today has a story of an Australian company developing an interactive telescope sculpture that combines science, art, and technology.
• Just in time for the release of the new Star Trek movie, Brian Wang projects boldly into the future to see what life might be like in 250 years
• With economic trouble, budget cuts, and downsizing of our civilization’s vision for the future, a Star-Trek-like era of space exploration may seem far fetched. But Dr. Bruce Cordell at 21st Century Waves reviews a fascinating cyclical theory of human history and argues the next great age of space exploration is just around the corner.
• On a practical note, the Astroprof gives pointers on whether or not to proceed with a star party when the weather isn’t cooperating.
• The bloggers for the Chandra X-Ray Observatory reflect on the media buzz created by a beautiful image from Chandra called “The Hand of God”
• Troll the web and you’ll find no shortage of news about conflict and strife. But Amanda Bauer brings you a touching slice-of-life story that explains no matter what our differences, we all have one thing in common.
• And here’s more wisdom from the Space Cynic blog. While this quote is specific to the space program, it can be applied to many areas of life, if you really think about it.
• The Babe in the Universe sits in the flight director’s chair at Apollo Mission Control. This chair was occupied by Gene Krantz, the unflappable flight director who helped bring the crippled Apollo 13 safely back to Earth. Krantz inspired his team with the famous words “failure is not an option.”
• And speaking of Apollo, the new documentary “Orphans of Apollo” explains the race by entrepreneurs to commercialize space, and the consequences of the sad demise of the Mir space station. Ken Murphy of “Out of the Cradle” reviews the documentary here.
• A team of Swiss planet hunters announced the discovery of a fourth planet orbiting the red-dwarf star Gliese 581. The planet is the smallest yet discovered –only 1.9x the mass of the Earth– but its surface is likely too hot to sustain life. Read the details here.
• Old, rich and eccentric. (No, not me.) These terms describe one of two Jupiter-sized planets discovered in an elongated orbit around an evolved metal-rich star. The Innumerable Worlds blog has all the details.
• Phil Plait of “Bad Astronomy” fame turns his keen eye to an image of the strange interacting galaxies Arp 194. The image was released to honor the 19th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope on April 24, 1990.
• When a big star goes supernova, it leaves behind a dense remnant called a neutron star. Invaderxan reviews eight facts about these exotic objects.
• Paul at Centauri Dreams examines recent discoveries of brown dwarfs and questions whether they offer enough mass to solve the dark matter mystery. The answer seems to be… well, you can find out here!
• While most of us know of SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence), Astroengine reviews options for actively contacting alien life, called METI (Messaging Extra Terrestrial Intelligence). Interstellar Twitter, anyone?
• Speaking of SETI, Orbital Hub presents a Q&A session with “alien hunter” Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the privately-funded SETI Institute.
• Dave Mosher shows off a video illustrating how small and insignificant we are in the universe. I love this video…
• And yes, on a cosmic scale, the Earth may be, in the words of Carl Sagan, an insignificant “mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” But it’s the only home we’ve got. What better way to appreciate our planet (and last week’s Earth Day) than with these beautiful images of Earth from space.
That’s it for the 100th Carnival of Space.
Thanks to all, and keep looking up!