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Wednesday July 11th 2012

‘Space’ Archives

Remembering Dandridge Cole

Remembering Dandridge Cole

I’ve been thinking all weekend about Dandridge Cole, the aerospace engineer and futurist whose death at age 44 deprived interstellar studies of one of its most insightful advocates. Cole died in 1965, just five years before a deadline he himself set (in 1953!) for a manned landing on the Moon. But then, the former paratrooper from Ohio thought a [...]

Pushing Beyond Pluto

Pushing Beyond Pluto

What would you do if you had a spacecraft pushing toward the edge of the Solar System with nothing much to do? The answer is to assign it an extended mission, as we found out with the two Voyagers and their continuing data return that is helping us understand the boundaries of the heliosphere. In the case of New Horizons, NASA’s probe to [...]

KOI-872: Timing is Everything

KOI-872: Timing is Everything

It’s no surprise that the techniques we’re using to look for moons around exoplanets should start turning up new planets on their own. We’re still looking for that first exomoon, but a team of researchers working with the Hunt for Exomoons with Kepler (HEK) project has found transit variations that have revealed a second planet around a star [...]

Space Exploration: A Closing Window?

Space Exploration: A Closing Window?

Our expectations determine so much of what we see, which is one of the great lessons of Michael Michaud’s sweeping study of our attitudes toward extraterrestrial intelligence in Contact with Alien Civilizations (Springer, 2006). But extraterrestrials aside, I’ve also been musing over how our attitudes affect our perceptions in relation to [...]

Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer

Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer

Mars has always been a tempting destination because of the possibility of life. Thus the fascination of Schiaparelli’s ‘canals,’ and Percival Lowell’s fixation on chimerical lines in the sand. But look what’s happened to the question of life elsewhere in the Solar System. We’ve gone from invaders from Mars and a possibly tropical Venus [...]

Planetary Annihilation around White Dwarfs

Planetary Annihilation around White Dwarfs

Can we tell something about the planets around another star by examining that star’s atmosphere? A new study out of the University of Warwick makes a strong case for the method in the study of white dwarfs, following up on a landmark 2007 paper by Benjamin Zuckerman (UCLA) that looked at pollution in white dwarf photospheres. ‘Pollution’ as [...]

Rogue Stars Leaving the Galaxy

Rogue Stars Leaving the Galaxy

Having just re-read Arthur C. Clarke’s The City and the Stars for the first time in a couple of decades, I’ve been preoccupied by the idea of ‘deep time,’ and astronomical events that play out over billions of years. The fictional trick, of course, is to pair human observation with events that take aeons to unfold. In Clarke’s novel, the [...]

The Asteroid and the Telescope

The Asteroid and the Telescope

One of the topics receiving fairly little coverage in the excitement of the Planetary Resources announcement is asteroid deflection. It seems clear that learning how to reach an asteroid and extract everything from water to platinum-group metals from it will also teach us strategies for changing an asteroid’s trajectory, in the event we find one [...]

Advent of the ‘Belters’

Advent of the ‘Belters’

On the Trail of the Space Pirates was a 1953 adventure written by Carey Rockwell, a house pseudonym used by a Grosset & Dunlop writer who may or may not have been one Joseph Greene, an editor for the firm in that era. We don’t know for sure who ‘Carey Rockwell’ was and no one has come forward to claim the title, but see the Tom Corbett [...]

Bringing an Asteroid to Lunar Orbit

Bringing an Asteroid to Lunar Orbit

Long before Planetary Resources was a gleam in the eye of its founders, John Lewis (University of Arizona) wrote a book that put asteroid mining into the public consciousness. Mining the Sky: Untold Riches from the Asteroids, Comets and Planets (Perseus Books, 1996) contains no shortage of wonders, as in the well publicized idea that a single [...]

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