October 20, 2017

11.06.11: ARGOSY: The Solar System Now?

Nautilus-X, one of the ideas for manned solar system exploration! (Credit: NASA).

Some fascinating papers have come our way via the Johns Hopkins APL Technical Digest that I thought I’d share with you, the space-mongering public. As the shuttle program comes to an end, there’s this sort of unspoken dread out there that NASA & America are turning away from manned spaceflight. [Read more...]

10.10.09: An Active Mercury?

An atmosphere. Magnetosphere. Signs of recent geological activity…is it Mars? Europa? Some far off exo-planet? Nope…its none other than Mercury, a visual twin of our own Moon and long thought of as just as inactive. The past three flybys of NASA’s Messenger spacecraft have revealed a world of dynamic activity. First, there is Mercury’s on-again, off-again magnetic field, a sign that it may possess an active core. Now that 95%+ of the surface has been visualized, a picture is emerging of a crater pocked surface that has also been shaped by recent volcanism. Finally, Messenger has picked up tenuous traces of magnesium out-gassing from the planet as a result of the intense solar radiation bombarding the sun-ward side, contributing to a tenuous trailing exosphere. The 3rd pass last week was the closest yet, and revealed more stunning photos of what is now the tiniest “planet…” Messenger will enter a permanent orbit in 2011. Google Mercury, anyone?

Review: Bang!

 

 

Think hard rock and astrophysics don’t mix? Think again. Recently, we had the pleasure of reading Bang! The Complete History of the Universe,” by astronomy heavyweights Brian May, Patrick Moore, and Chris Lincott… [Read more...]