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Carnival of Space - The Holometer and Witches Brew edition

Thanks, Fraser, for allowing Kentucky Space to host the Carnival of Space! Wait: Kentucky what?

Thanks to its strategic partnership with NanoRacks, LLC., we enjoy regular access and egress to and from the International Space Station, where our plug-and-play modules, hosted on the NanoRacks Platform, are currently used (video) as mini research labs. If you're interested in repeatable and affordable micro-g research, please contact us about your payload. We also have active programs in the nearspace and orbital sciences - in fact, we just shipped our free-flyer, KySat-1 to be integrated as a secondary on the NASA Glory mission flying in February - and are fast developing the human capital and physical infrastructure necessary to support an active space program in the commonwealth. Just recently, for example, the GLXP team Frednet was by to have a look at our 21m dish.

In short: we fly stuff. Follow bluegrass-roots space @KySpace on Twitter or fan our Facebook page. Now, on to the links:

None too thrilled about the "star registry" businesses and dime-store telescopes, Cumbrian Sky talks about two things NOT to buy for Christmas. Continuing with the holiday theme, Tracy Zolllinger Turner posts about Halloween and Pluto. Kuiper Belt object or not, it makes for an interesting costume. What a great pic!

At Urban Astronomer, Allen Versfeld attended its biennial symposium to present a talk at the Astronomical Society of South Africa. He also found time to summarize the proceedings.

Does anyone have a "holometer?" Forget "brain-in-vat" scenarios - according to one controversial theory, we could all be living in a holographic universe, a 3-D projection of a 2-D universal event horizon. Moreover, at Discovery News Ian O'Neill writes that an experiment might shed more light on the occluded and fuzzy physics of a projected reality. Great piece.

Brian Wang at Next Big Future tackles the same story, and links, as well, to work on a shield to protect electrical grids against solar storms.

At The Planetary Society Weblog, one of my favorite bloggers, Emily Lakdawalla, catalogs the wide variety of robots currently sailing our solar system. These doughty explorers are leaving behind a trove of new data and spectacular imagery. She has written at length on the opportunities available to amateur and space enthusiasts to further develop - pardon the pun - these public domain pictures.

Let's hope we hear from Spirit this month!

From high in its Earth-trailing orbit, Kepler is not only looking for extrasolar planets but also providing data on stars themselves, enabling very precise measurements of size, distance and ages, according to Nancy Atkinson at Universe Today

At Centauri Dreams, Paul Gilster writes that new research offers hope that the search for other worlds might, in fact, turn up a bounty. According to this analysis, one in every four stars like the Sun could host Earth-size planets. Paul:

...their findings support the possibility of finding more Earth-sized planets at greater distances, and that includes worlds in the habitable zone. But the findings seem at variance with some models of planet migration, which suggest that interactions in the gas disk around the star would cause many planets to spiral inward. That would create what the researchers call a ‘planet desert’ in the inner region of solar systems, one that these two researchers do not see in their findings.

Chandra's "has literally transformed our understanding of the high-energy universe in the observatory's 11 years and counting in orbit," according to that Chandra X-ray Center at Harvard. And that understanding has only just begun. It's worth remembering that "prior to the 1960's, only the Sun was a known source of high energy radiation in X-rays and gamma-rays."

While a plume visible from Earth never materialized, the Air & Space Magazine, a publication of the Smithsonian, points out that the science certainly has. Published data from LCROSS reveals "a cold 'witches’ brew" deep inside the site of impact, the Cabeus crater at the lunar pole. I would be remiss if I didn't point out that the 21m dish at Morehead State University, Kentucky Space has been used to characterize the radar on LRO while the spacecraft orbits the moon - quite an achievement.

Taking its cue from Star Trek Project, Project Icarus ponders how to protect an interstellar probe from collisions with space debris. How might a deflector shield be built?

"Exploring the universe on a shoestring," Cheap Astronomy does the dishes - at least the parabolic ones.

Gianluigi Filippelli explains how neural nets can examine astronomical images and red shift.

Meanwhile Astropixie, Amanda Bauer describes, via Twitter, an observing run on Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

"The Kwisatz Haderach of Mars" is not a mountain range, but a reference from "Dune" that 21st Century Waves uses as starting point for discussion about the evidence for an ancient ocean on the Red Planet. Meanwhile, at The Meridiani Journal, Paul Scott Anderson also discusses other evidence, uncovered by Spirit, that water, in the relatively recent past, has made its way into the Martian soil.

Continuing with the idea of liquid past, Brice Leeeowe talks about the risks of microbial infection during a Mars mission, and engages in a little fun by thinking about the physical limits of computing.

Finally, in what is certainly not the last word on the subject, Weird Warp wonders if an alien civilisation might have something to say about God.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wayne

Picture credits, in order: Rover tracks - ASA/JPL-Caltech; A hypothetical exoplanet - NASA/ESA; Artist's impression of LRO - NASA