Carnival of Space #249

Saturn and Titan
Saturn and Titan, as seen this month by the robotic spacecraft Cassini. Saturn is one of the amazing places we'll see in this week's Carnival of Space. Credit: NASA/JPL/SSI

Welcome to the Carnival of Space, a roundup of articles from some of the best space bloggers on the Net!

Every week, a different webmaster or blogger hosts the carnival, showcasing articles written on the topic of space. You can see a list of past carnivals, and if you’d like to join or host, just send a message to

Step right up, and enjoy this week’s amazements.

When former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich officially suspended his campaign for the presidency, thus giving up likely for the rest of his life his quest to become president of the United States, he declined to give up on one project that he had supported during the campaign.


Lunar & Planetary Institute

Whatever else might be said of our tiny slice of history, historians of the future will note that in our time humans first undertook the exploration of their own solar system.


The Once and Future Moon
Air & Space Smithsonian Magazine

Dr. Paul Spudis writes, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers*”



Binary stars and exploding white dwarfs: the astronomy word of the week is “nova”.


Venus Transit

Saturn rules the nights these days. Read about the ringed planet and how it looked from Galileo to Voyager.


Doc Madhattan

A brief post about the void theory (or model), an alternative to dark energy and dark matter in order to explain cosmological observations.



Today’s topic is “normal stars,” which is what astronomers call stars that are similar to our Sun.


Centauri Dreams

Richard Gott believes we may be as close to the end of the space program as to its beginning. Centauri Dreams looks at Gott’s views and ponders his emphasis on a Mars colony as a way of ensuring species survival and continued expansion into the cosmos.


Dear Astronomer

Ray Sanders at provides a guide on how you can get involved with protecting the night sky.



Mike Massimino isn’t a Soyuz crew member, but he plays one on TV. The real-life NASA astronaut made his second cameo on CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” on Thursday, joining the show’s Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) to launch to the International Space Station aboard a Russian capsule. collectSPACE caught up with Massimino to talk about the show, its mock spacecraft and spacesuits, and the future of spaceflight, both by NASA and “The Big Bang Theory.”


Vintage Space

Thirty-seven seconds after launching on November 16, 1969. Apollo 12 was struck twice by lightning. While the control panel lit up like a Christmas tree with warnings, one engineer identified and solved the problem fast enough that the crew didn’t have to abort.


Supernova Condensate

The eerie sound of Saturn’s aurorae…



StarryCritters zooms into a new image of irregular galaxy NGC 2366 from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, exploring a large star-making region and dozens of faraway galaxies in the mist of stars.



Brilliant blue stars of NGC 6604 are scattered widely throughout a close-up zoom of the rich starfields of Serpens from the European Southern Observatory.


The Planetary Society Blogs

Looking for a good guide to the night sky for this summer? Astronomy Blogger Ray Sanders delivers with his quarterly guest post at the Planetary Society.


Next Big Future

Why is Diamandis thinking about mineral mining in space, when resources here on Earth — in his view — are so abundant? Oil in place in the continental US is from about 3 trillion to 5 trillion barrels of oil not including the 4.5 trillion barrels of oil shale. There is enough and the technology will be here to get it and use it affordably. However, the technology to clean has historically lagged and that would be a big problem. Everyone in the developing world wants to at least catch up the US and Europe. So in 2050 that means about 10 billion people with $100,000 per person. So a $1000 trillion global economy. We have demonstrations here where the 99% want to get to the 1% level of income. For the US, getting to where the bottom level of the current 1% is about $506,500 per year. Everyone getting to that level is a $5000 trillion economy. The world is currently at an $82 trillion economy. It is not just cornucopians who want more, clearly everyone wants more.

The developing world wants more and the 99% want more. However, most people have not thought it through or done the calculations. There are a bunch of knee jerk doomers who just assume it cannot be done and that they consider the current level too much. Many of the doomers have some kind of implicit or explicit mass death and poverty solution. Technology and long term planning and execution of those plans can achieve true abundance for everyone.


Next Big Future

This paper from University of Strathclyde won the SGAC’s Near Earth Object Working Group’s fourth annual Move an Asteroid technical paper competition for one of the authors, Alison Gibbings of the United Kingdom.


Next Big Future

Proposed for the deflection and mitigation of asteroids, laser ablation is caused by illuminating the surface of the asteroid with a laser light source. The laser beam heats the surface material, enabling it to ablate, transforming directly from a solid to a gas. The ablated material then forms into a small and extended ejecta plume. This action is considered to be similar to the formation of a rocket exhaust. The exhaust material will induce a small and continuous force onto the asteroid. This force can then be used as a low thrust deflection technique to nudge an asteroid away from an Earth impacting event. Previous proposals considered using a single spacecraft, mounted with a nuclear reactor and mega-watt laser. However, this paper investigated using a swarm of small spacecraft, each equipped with an kilo-watt solar pumped laser. This provides a much lighter and more adaptable concept. Each spacecraft simultaneously hits the asteroid, ablating a small portion of its surface. By superimposing their laser beams, the required surface power density can be achieved. Multiple ablation spots can also be created. This is considered to increase the flexibility and the overall redundancy of the deflection mission.


Next Big Future

Astrophysicists use cepheids in 25 galaxies to measure gravity 100 times more precisely than before.


Links Through Space

The last Transit of Venus visible to people of our time will occur in less than 25 days. This spectacular event will be followed by many around the globe. Are you one of them? And do you want to get involved?



Using safe solar projection to view the current crop of sunspots.


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