Thursday April 8th 2010

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New Evidence for Water on Enceladus

New measurements from Cassini, made on a flyby through the plume of Enceladus on March 12, 2008, bolster the case for liquid water in the Saturnian moon. Cassini found negatively charged water ions in the plume, and its plasma spectrometer also traced other kinds of negatively charged ions including hydrocarbons. That adds Enceladus to a fairly [...]

Notes & Queries 2/8/10

Prospects for Interstellar Travel Be aware of Paul Titze’s continuing exegesis of John Mauldin’s book Prospects for Interstellar Travel (Univelt, 1992). I used Mauldin again and again as I developed my Centauri Dreams book, finding the dense and lengthy volume covered every conceivable aspect of interstellar flight as understood by [...]

FOCAL: Renewed Call for Papers

Every few weekends as we move toward the March 5 deadline for submission of abstracts to the next International Astronautical Congress, I’ll re-run this call for papers that I originally published in December. The Tau Zero Foundation hopes to energize discussion of FOCAL in the astronautical community and create a growing set of papers [...]

A Boost for Exoplanet Atmosphere Studies

What JPL’s Mark Swain calls ‘an absolutely brilliant way to characterize super-Earths’ has emerged from work performed with a small NASA infrared telescope, one that has allowed scientists to identify an organic molecule in the atmosphere of a distant gas giant. HD 189733b is an old friend by now, the subject of intensive studies [...]

Collision in the Asteroid Belt?

Collisions between asteroids should be highly energetic affairs, with an average impact speed of close to 5 kilometers per second. We may be looking at the debris of a head-on collision between two asteroids in imagery provided by the Hubble Space Telescope. The object in question, originally thought to have been a comet, is P/2010 A2, discovered [...]

Unusually Rapid Changes on Pluto

Here’s something to consider re the recent Pluto news: The Hubble maps of the tiny world that were released yesterday show a resolution of roughly 300 miles per pixel. When New Horizons flies by Pluto/Charon in 2015, it will send images with a resolution of 300 feet per pixel. And we’ve been reminded once again that every time we look [...]

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