Carnival of Space No. 381

Welcome to the latest edition of the amazing Carnival of Space. Each week the Carnival brings you a collection of articles about all things space. Tune in each week to learn the latest happenings in astronomy, space science and space flight. Are you ready for some science? Let’s go!

This weeks Carnival starts with this article from IO9 about the crew swap on the ISS:

It’s time for a crew swap on the International Space Station, with astronauts Reid Wiseman, Alexander Gerst, and Max Suraev returning home on an almost-perfect landing.

Next up, Universe Today has a pair of articles about planets. First a look at one in our solar system, followed by a look at the instruments we are building to find more:

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot Gets Its Color From Sunlight, Study Suggests

NASA’s Next Exoplanet Hunter Moves Into Development

Continuing with the look at deep space, we move to the Chandra X-Ray Telescope’s page and their articles looking at Neutrinos and possible sources for them:

A Lighthouse at the Heart of the Milky Way: Hunting Cosmic Neutrinos

NASA X-ray Telescopes Find Black Hole May Be a Neutrino Factory

CosmoQuest also looks deep into the heavens by examining stars that apparently are not bound in a galaxy:

Cosmic Castaways’ Orphaned Stars Lighting Up the Universe in New Numbers

Returning to our Solar system, we find a great article over at the Meridian Journal that looks deeper into the Cassini mission’s study of Titan and its oceans:

Cassini plumbs the depths and new mysteries of Titan’s seas

Speaking of our planets, the Lunar and Planetary Institute has a few images up on their flickr account. These are NASA press release images along with captions:

10 NASA press release images with captions. Images of Mars, Mercury, the Moon, Saturn’s moons, and the Earth.

Everyday Spacer has a couple of great posts. Get your free printables and find out just how old you would be on other planets:

Just for fun this week, Everyday Spacer offers Free Printables in one post

And we write about our new app in another: When is Your Birthday? On Any Other Planet, it Would be Different!

What happens when we see quasars start lining up? The Space Writer take a look at this celestial event

Quasars Aligning: It’s not some New Age Stunt!

The space section over at has a great story on Comet 67 and the discoveries being made there:

A look at discoveries at Comet 67 by Carolyn Collins Petersen, Space/Astronomy Expert at

We cap off the Carnival with a pair of news items from Next Big Future. They take a look at synthetic biology and the rise of companies looking at incredible things such as life extension companies.

Synthetic biology can be very useful to harness available volatiles and waste resources on manned missions to explore the Moon and Mars…Because of the benign assumptions involved, the results provide a glimpse of the intriguing potential of ‘space synthetic biology’, and help focus related efforts for immediate, near-term impact.

“If the plans of Google and related companies and projects like Calico and the GoogleX and Solve for X projects, come to fruition then the influence of Great Companies will be far more important for shaping the future. Calico could be one of the companies that enables radical life extension…”

The amount of information packed into the articles this week has been amazing. If you missed last week’s episode, you can find it over at Links Through Space. Tune in next week for the next exciting Carnival hosted over at Everyday Spacer. I know those of us at Photos To Space will be tuning in. Until next time…



Carnival of Space #373

Welcome all, to Carnival of Space #373!

Got your favorite chair, popcorn, and drinks? Great! Let’s see what exciting discoveries and events are going on in space this week!

Are you ready for the lunar eclipse and solar eclipses coming up this month?

What Is This Bizarre Ball That The Curiosity Rover Found On Mars?

India’s MOM Captures First Image of the Red Planet.

I ask 17 people what space or NASA project they’re excited about.

Image Gallery: more oddities from Curiosity

The art of Pinhole camera and long exposure photography. Our Astronomy Club Solargraphy project.

The Indian Space Research Organization has successfully reached Mars with its Mars Orbiter Mission.

Do Black Holes even exist? Maybe not…

The Japanese construction giant Obayashi says they will build a space elevator that will reach 96,000 kilometres into space.

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted after reading about all these great articles!

Tune in next week for another excellent edition of Carnival of Space, and, as always…



Y’all ain’t gonna believe this…

Gather around, kids, today we’re gonna jump the track in a big way as I tell you a story about technology run amok with help from some crafty and unscrupulous folk.

Why? Because this is one of those stories ya just can’t make up!

As you know, I am bound for Montana in a couple of weeks to (in theory) see the Northern Lights for myself.

And so it came to pass that earlier today I went to arrange for a rental car. No, I won’t tell you which agency I’m going through, it doesn’t matter in this case. The staff at the local office were very helpful and got me set up with a reservation, after which they said I could pay in advance through the website. Upon returning home to do so, I found that, for reasons unknown, that’s not an option in this case.

What to do? Why, call the friendly folks at Customer Service, of course!

I was routed to a call center in Jamaica. Remember that, it becomes important later.

We’ll call the first person I spoke with “Bob”. Bob pulled up the info and somehow gave me a price lower than what I was looking at on the website. Strange, but ok. He then informed me that I could complete the payment through him.

At this point, the hairs on the back of my neck began to stir.

However, I decided to go ahead. After all, the number I had called had been obtained from the website. I gave him my debit card number and information, after which the call immediately dropped.

Now the aforementioned hairs are standing at attention.

So I call back. This time I’m talking to “Barry”, who looks up the rental info and informs me that no payment was made. Talking to him leads me to talk to “Sheila”, a “Supervisor”, who transfers me to Customer Service.

Ok, wait…transfers me to Customer Service? Then exactly what department do those 3 work in?

By now I had to leave to get to an appointment and decide to pursue the matter once home again. Now I’m talking to Kim, who assures me she’s not in Jamaica. I explain the situation, at which point she drops the bomb on me.

“Sir, we don’t have a facility in Jamaica.”


That’s right…somehow someone managed to hijack the rental company’s toll-free phone number in order to get debit and credit card information. I’ve heard of websites getting redirected, but phone numbers?

That’s a new one, even amongst my old IT buddies.

10 minutes later, I’m at the bank, verifying all the charges on the debit card for today, which are all mine, thankfully, and then immediately ordering the card cancelled and replaced.

Just between you and I, after all that I could use a drink.

And no, this was no dream. But it could have been a nightmare.


Feeling the pressure

An Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or EMU

An Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or EMU

I always end my blog entries with the word “dream”.

Let’s think about this for a moment. In the context I use it, it’s meant that we should think about the future and what it may hold. In another context, a dream is our subconscious mind at work while we sleep.

But dreams, both of the future and the subconscious, are not always pleasant. If they get unpleasant enough, we call them “nightmares”.

So what would be a good example of a nightmare in the context of space?

How about a micrometeorite, about the size of a grain of sand, or maybe even a pebble, impacting your ship or space station while moving at several thousand miles (ok, or kilometers) per hour. The damage would be done before anyone aboard would know what had happened, and if there’s a hull breach, the crew would have a serious problem.

Depending on the exact circumstances, the ship or station could potentially depressurize to lethal levels in a matter of minutes.

So what is a hapless astronaut to do? Take a couple minutes, grab his (or her) trusty spacesuit, climb into it, and survive the day, of course!


We see it in the movies often, but the reality is quite different. Just putting on a pressure suit can be done in as little as 15 minutes (which could still be far too much time to save the astronaut). However, putting it on correctly, meaning with all the necessary preparation, both for the suit and the astronaut using it, can take up to 2 hours.

And if the normal preparation steps are skipped in favor of speed? Well, the user would probably develop a rather painful condition called the Bends, which means there are nitrogen bubbles in their blood stream, and they could find the faceplate of the helmet becomes so fogged up that they’d be unable to do anything anyway.

And that’s assuming the seals between all the different parts are mated correctly and there are no leaks in the suit itself. After all, a lifeboat with a hole in it is no better than the sinking ship.

And none of the above even takes into account that it takes help from at least one other person for someone to put a space suit on.

For more information, take a look at these links: and

So what’s the next step in pressure suits? What ideas do you have for making a space suit that could be donned faster or without the help of another astronaut? These are difficult problems requiring serious thought. The more people thinking about the problem, though, the better the solutions will be.

And although you knew this was coming…



Carnival of Space Number 368

Last week, Everyday Spacer gave us a complete buffet of space happenings. This week we continue the trend with a plethora of space related articles. Grab your astronaut bib, favorite browser and enjoy the bounty!

First up, TheSpacewriter writes about the “Beam Me to Mars” shoutout fundraiser for science research and education.

Carolyn Collins Petersen presents a first look at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko for readers of’s astronomy and space section.

Bruceleeeowe explores the possibilites of space colonization by sending SRSPs(Self Replicating Space Probes) into deep space.

The wonderful website, Universe Today brings us a couple of awesome articles:

When Saturn is at its closest to Earth, it’s three-quarters of a billion miles away — or more than a billion kilometers! That makes these raw images from the ringed planet all the more remarkable.

Calling all meteorite collectors and enthusiasts! There’s a hot space rock at large and, as Indiana Jones would say, it belongs in a museum. Perhaps you can help put it back in one.

Continuing the doubling trend we have a second set of twins. Along with other great news and reads from, comes this pair of stories:

Engineers unfolded the James Webb Space Telescope’s spine in the world’s largest clean room in preparation for decking it with mirrors like a giant, glittering Christmas tree.

While terrestrial humans tolerate stinky, sticky garbage trucks, our astronaut brethren opt for something much more beautiful for their disposal runs. This streak of fire across the night sky is the burning of the Cygnus spacecraft, dirty laundry, and other junk. On the flip side, garbage day is a lot less frequent.

From Stereo Moons comes this nice little read about how new science can come from old data:

Dr. Paul Schenk looks back at the Voyager Program. He announces a new Triton map and a movie recreating 1989 Voyager Flyby. Some great photos of the last days of involved in the Voyager Program’s grand tour.

The Meridian Journal continues its reporting on all things stellar by looking some amazing things going on at Saturn:

Space dust indicates ancient origin for Saturn’s rings.

Crossing just over the 50% mark on this week’s Carnival we have The Next Big Future with series of four of great science articles for your reading enjoyment.

1) Harold White spoke about his studies for NASA on creating detectable warps in space and on the Emdrive tests.

2) Dr. Gerald Cleaver discusses Matter-Antimatter Propulsion and Icarus Interstellar. He presented on the February 12th colloquium for the SAIC Technical Speaker Forum at NASA-Johnson Space Center in Clear Lake, Texas.

Cleaver had been requested to speak on two topics:
(i) Icarus Interstellar, including its history, mission and ongoing projects, and
(ii) his related past research with Richard Obousy on theoretical string theory realization of the Alcubierre warp effect and on his present research regarding in situ matter/antimatter production for starship thrust.

3) Seth Shostak describes a very large optical interferometry space telescope array:

“Using interferometry to pool data from thousands of small mirrors in space spread out over 100 million miles to image exoplanets 100 light years away down to 2 meter resolution.

“At 100 light-years, something the size of a Honda Accord subtends an angle of a half-trillionth of a second of arc. In case that number doesn’t speak to you, it’s roughly the apparent size of a cell nucleus on Pluto, as viewed from Earth.”

4) A 90 minute feature film quality production will be produced and it is funded by kickstarter. It is called Star Trek Axanar. It will show the Battle of Axanar which was mentioned in an old series episode. It is the story of Captain Garth. Garth of Izar.

CosmoQuest is bringing citizen science to DragonCon 2014! See where we’ll be Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, Georgia.

Steve Shurtleff at PhotosToSpace wraps up this week with a look at some of the reasons we go to great lengths to study the sky: On Male Bonding, Philosophical Voids, and the Magnetosphere

Whew! That’s a lot of great reading material. We hope you have enjoyed this week’s Carnival of Space. Tune in next week when Urban Astronomer will be hosting another round of space news and articles you are sure to love.


On Male Bonding, Philosophical Voids, and the Magnetosphere

AndromedaI would hope you read all of the blogs here.

Really, I would.

If you don’t, by all means, please start, we’d love that!

If you do, awesome! You probably saw the one back on December 17th of last year regarding “Bucket Lists” and the Auroras. For some time now, I’ve felt a need to see the Northern Lights for myself. No cameras, no videos, no online albums, just them and my own two eyes.

(In case you missed that one, it’s here:

Well, that was just 8 months ago, and it looks as if that’s going to happen.

In October, I, and hopefully 3 of my closest friends, will be gathering in Colorado to take a drive into Montana with the hopes of seeing them firsthand. As far as is known, none of us have seen them other than looking at photos.

I may yet be the only one able to go, but I hope not.

Bill, who I consider my best friend, and I have talked more than once about taking a road trip, just “because”, but after 29 years, it’s yet to occur. It would be great to finally be able to do that.

Joe, another close friend and business partner, who many of you know, has, just as I do, an interest in space and spatial phenomenon, and wants to see them just as much as I do. Given that, the trip just wouldn’t be as enjoyable without him. He and I both view it as a sort of spiritual journey.

Jeremy, who I’ve called a friend for 29 years as well, went to school with Bill and I. We had lost touch for a LONG time and, fortunately, have been able to catch up on the years in conversation. I met both him and Bill in the 8th grade.

While none of them are entirely sure they can make it, my fingers are most decidedly crossed that they all can. You have no idea how hard crossed fingers makes typing, but it’s worth the effort. I can only imagine the depth of the conversations that could result, none of us are much for talking without meaning.

So what’s the real reason I’m writing about this again?

I need to do it. On the innermost level possible, I have to do this. I can’t explain exactly why it’s necessary, but it is, more so than anything in recent memory. If I don’t, I feel like I might be…damaged…in some way.

Close Encounters“This means something. It’s important.” – Roy Neary, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1977.

And what of the “Philosophical Void”?

Well, in the December 17th blog, I mentioned that this was the one consistent line on my “Bucket List”. That has changed since then. Seeing the Auroras is the ONLY thing on the list.

Once I see them (ok, if I see them), the list will then become a blank page. Nothing will remain.

So where do I go from there?

Do I develop a new list, or should I simply sit back and enjoy the rest of the ride, knowing that I’ve done all that I set out to do?

Might look like a simple question, but believe me, looking at it from this angle, it’s definitely not.

Maybe some new adventure will present itself.



Is It Time To Feel Upbeat About Space Again?

When the Space Shuttle stopped flying a couple years ago, many in the public had the thought that space flight was over. Those in the industry knew that not to be the case, but in space, as in many situations, perception becomes the reality no matter how successful we may be. A lot of hard work has moved the bar forward with NASA’s work on the Space Launch System. SpaceX unveiled the Dragon Version 2 and Sierra Nevada has the DreamChaser. Additionally, the number of rocket companies adding to the ‘win’ column for progress continues to grow. That is the reality.

The perception is that space is passe or doomed. We are currently dependent on Russia to get our personnel to the space station. The current situation in the world has some worried that we won’t be able to launch space bound vehicles soon, as we can no longer get the rocket engines we need. Space, as the public has seen it, is not exciting any more.

That perception of space flight, coupled with the ugliness of reality – multiple wars, religious and political upheaval, as well as nature gone venge-binge on us humans – and the future seems very bleak indeed. The future it seems is not very bright.

Along comes a film…

The recent surprise hit, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, has struck a chord with the public. Here is a movie (I highly recommend seeing it) that turns the gloom and doom into something fun and exciting. This is a space film that gives a bit of hope. It is light hearted and carefree. Space is the backdrop to ordinary people doing incredible things. The movie magicians at Marvel created a film that resonates with its audience. This is having a rather interesting effect on the public’s view of the space community.

Star Wars, Take Two

We have been here before. The world seemed bleak and dreary once upon a time in the past, as it does again now. The war in Vietnam was a disaster, the Watergate scandal brought a U.S. President to his knees. The oil embargos had left many trapped in a dour reality. And then ‘Star Wars’ came out. It brought something the public had never seen before. It resonated the idea that space travel was something that could be done. It really did bring a sense of hope to public. The idea that people could live and work in space (despite the fantasy of it all) struck a chord. The world seemed a bit brighter after you saw the film.

Now, I am not saying that the world will change by watching a movie. Far from it. But a movie like ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, just like “Star Wars” before it, touches a nerve. They both bring back the idea that we can reach for the stars. This is where we belong. Living and working among the Cosmos.

Maybe it is just coincidence that the news about space seems to be looking up. The public is recognizing all the work that is going on – from building space craft to rovers on Mars to robots around comets. It seems Space is ‘cool’ again. And that is something to feel upbeat about.


Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment Group


Carnival Of Space Number 364

Welcome to the 364th edition of the Carnival of Space. We have a lot of great articles for you this week with more being added all the time. If you missed last week’s edition, you can check it over at the Chandra X-Ray Observatory’s web site.

We start this week off with an article from the Urban Astronomer. From the article:

“On 20 July, I joined a group of volunteers to time an asteroid occultation. In this article, I talk about the experience, what occultations are, why it’s useful to time them and how we managed to achieve such high precision.”

Next up, Universe Today has a trio of great articles for us to peruse. They cover everything from Mars, to Rosetta to the Dream chaser.

“NASA has no scheduled Mars science orbiters after MAVEN arrives on the Red Planet in the fall,” the agency warned in a press release. “This creates the need to identify cost-effective options to ensure continuity of reliable, high-performance telecommunications relay services for the future.”

ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft is just over a mere two weeks away from its arrival at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (which has recently surprised everyone with its binary “rubber duckie” shape) and the excitement continues to grow — and rightfully so, since after ten years traveling through the Solar System Rosetta is finally going to achieve its goal of being the first spacecraft to orbit a comet!

The winged Dream Chaser mini-shuttle under development by Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) has successfully completed a series of risk reduction milestone tests on key flight hardware systems thereby moving the private reusable spacecraft closer to its critical design review (CDR) and first flight under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program aimed at restoring America’s indigenous human spaceflight access to low Earth orbit and the space station.

After our big trio, we follow up with a pair of articles from last week’s Carnival host, Chandra X-Ray Observatory:

Reflections on Chandra’s 15th anniversary from former director Harvey Tananbaum.

A conversation with former Chandra X-ray Center director about his career before, during, and after Chandra.

In addition to the two articles from Chandra, they are also working with Smithsonian researchers to understand how color affects perception & aesthetic appreciation of astronomy images. They could use your help by taking a 10 minute survey.

Here. There. Everywhere. takes their exhibit to Sioux City, Iowa. The following write up covers what they did while visiting the city recognized as one of the best places to live.

Here, There & Everywhere Exhibit visited Sioux City, Iowa in April 2014

The article pairs just keep on coming! This next set is from CosmoQuest. The first one takes a look at the Dawn spacecraft data. That’s followed up with a look at the Night Sky Network.

Dawn data is used to take a peek at Vesta’s interior, and its structure continues to surprise us.

Calling all US astronomers! How can the Night Sky Network help your organization in the next few years?

Our final pair of articles comes from that wonder of the internet, They take a look at what NASA does to compete at Comic Con. They also take a look at the ISEE crowd sourced science space mission.

NASA competes with movie stars to fill a room to capacity at San Diego Comic Con. How? By talking about the Next Giant Leap in human space exploration with Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

ISEE-3 is now the first crowd funded, crowd sourced, citizen science space mission.

Coming into the home stretch we have Pam Hoffman of Everyday Spacer explaining the reasoning behind their Meetups:

“I want to spend more time and energy helping as many people as possible go there, and elsewhere, as soon as possible! That’s why I created the Everyday Spacer meetup. We find and create events and encourage members to participate in the exploration of space however they can.”

We finish this weeks Carnival with a Photos To Space look at what happens when movies and science collide.

Faster than a speeding bullet, huh? What do Superman, Indiana Jones and the USS Enterprise all have in common? Physics – and it’s all relative in this look at the Intuitor web site.

That’s it for the Carnival this week. Tune in next week when the AARTScope Blog will be hosting. Until then keep you eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground. Unless you want to be an astronaut. Astronauts are COOL! Just saying.



Faster than a speeding bullet, huh?

Superman leaps tall buildings in a single bound.

The USS Enterprise travels faster than light.

Indiana Jones survives nuclear detonations by getting inside refrigerators.

Some things just are, despite reality. If every movie paid close attention to physics, most films would probably not be very entertaining. Would you pay $8 (or more) to see Indy get rapidly evaporated? How about to watch Captain Kirk take several thousand years to reach Vulcan? Or to see Clark Kent jump 2 feet off the ground?

Neither would I.

Yes, I know…Superman is from Krypton, the Enterprise has over 200 more years of technology behind it than we do, and Dr. Jones drank from the Holy Grail.

So how do we know what’s accurate and what’s bunk in the movies we watch?

We turn to

Intuitor is a family-run website led by Tom Rogers that, amongst other things, watches and evaluates Hollywood productions for accuracy in their presentation of physics.

While it doesn’t do this for every single film out there (there are simply too many of them), it does present good physics reviews for many of the more popular titles, and provides a kind of rating system for the films for which reviews are posted.

Now, this doesn’t mean that we can’t or shouldn’t suspend disbelief, but sometimes it’s good to find out what would really happen in a given situation, even if it’s in a fictional setting.

So go ahead and check it out!

And as always…




The OCO-2 Satellite launch

The OCO-2 Satellite launch

You’re reading this now, so I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you like sci-fi films too. You might even enjoy science docudramas, especially those made with a Hollywood budget.

Maybe even movies like Apollo 13, one of my personal favorites.

Remember when Mission Control notices the carbon dioxide levels in the cabin rising due to regular, everyday, normal breathing? Yes, I know…astronauts? Breathing? Hard to imagine, but they do. That was 3 men in an airtight vessel with CO2 scrubbers, so the rising levels were just a matter of time; there was no avoiding it under the conditions they were faced with.

Now, want to hear something really scary?

The same thing is happening on Earth right now. Combine industrial emissions, deforestation, and severe overpopulation and, sooner or later, that’s the inevitable outcome.

So what do we do about it?

First thing we need to know is how excessive the carbon dioxide levels have become. For that, we turn to NASA and the OCO-2 (Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2) satellite, which was launched on July 2nd from Vandenburg AFB, California.

So what is the probe going to do about it?

It’s going to measure carbon dioxide in the atmosphere 24 times every second to determine where the high and low levels are, where the emissions are coming from, and where they are being dissipated.

So why are we doing this?

Because about 250 years ago, before the Industrial Revolution, CO2 levels planetwide were about 280 parts per million. And now? They’re about 400 parts per million. Why the increase?

Us. Humans.

Humans put about 40 billion tons of CO2 into the air every year. Natural filters like trees remove only about half of that. Fortunately, we live on a big planet, but in time, the levels will become lethal to humans.

That’s right. It’s going to prove fatal to most life eventually.

And the Earth? It will go on fine without us.

Too bad it’s not a dream.

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