1. Monday, Oct. 20, , 2014: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome back DR. PAUL SPUDIS to discuss his recent postings on www.spudislunarresources.com/blog and blogs.airspacemag.com/moon.
2. Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014:,7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT): WAYNE WHITE, space attorney, returns to discuss space property rights and his new proposal for creating them.
3. Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, 9:30 -11 AM PDT (12:30-2 PM EDT; 11:30-1 PM CDT):TBD. We welcome BRIAN ALTMEYER regarding his recent Space Review article, “The Strange Contagion Of a Dream” .
4. Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014, 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT) We. welcome space attorney MICHAEL LISTNER to the program to discuss the proposed NASA Air Traffic Control System for drones & much more..
The Space Show is a project of the One Giant Leap Foundation.
Tom Hanks has written a short story that’s published in The New Yorker magazine: “Alan Bean Plus Four”
He reads it on Soundcloud:
Hanks is also interviewed: This Week in Fiction: Tom Hanks – The New Yorker.
I recently mentioned the 3o day simulation of life in a space habitat underway by three grad students at the Univ. of North Dakota Department of Space Studies. Here are a couple of updates via the NDX Space Suit Projects blog:
On Day 8 there was an EVA:
I recently listed some relatively low cost, near(er) term nuclear fusion power projects, most of which originated at government labs or from government funded research at universities but are now being pursued by private ventures:
- Updates on five fusion power projects – Dynomak, Helion Power, EMC2 Polywell, Lockheed-Martin Compact Fusion, and Sandia’s magnetized fusion.
- LPP focus fusion update – Focus fusion at Lawrenceville Plasma Physics
Brian Wang lists these and two that I left out – General Fusion (backed by Jeff Bezos and others) and Tri-Alpha Energy (back by Paul Allen and others) : Updated Prospects for Commercial Nuclear Fusion – NextBigFuture.com.
Here’s a discussion about the L-M Compact Fusion scheme : Video: Podcast: Could The Fusion Age Be Upon Us? – Aviation Week.
In this PBS News Hour segment, Miles O’Brien reports on efforts to find and track asteroids and comets that could impact earth:
The latest show from TMRO (formerly Spacevidcast) is now online: Chasing Atlantis – TMRO.
They interview Paul Muzzin and Matthew Cimone about their in-work documentary, Chasing Atlantis.
The comet Siding Spring is just about to reach its closest approach to Mars. Below are links to various sites with info and imagery:
Comet Siding Spring (C/2013 A1)
Comet Siding Spring (C/2013 A1) is racing toward Mars
for a close encounter on October 19, 2014.
* Latest NASA news and images:
- Comets: Siding Spring (C/2013 A1) – NASA JPL – Mars Exploration Program
- Comet Siding Spring | NASA -
On Sunday, Oct. 19, Comet C/2013 A1, also known as comet Siding Spring, will pass within about 87,000 miles (139,500 kilometers) of the Red Planet — less than half the distance between Earth and our moon and less than one-tenth the distance of any known comet flyby of Earth. Siding Spring’s nucleus will come closest to Mars around 11:27 a.m. PDT (2:27 p.m. EDT), hurtling at about 126,000 mph (56 kilometers per second).
Hubble Image of Comet Siding Spring
The images above show — before and after filtering — comet C/2013 A1,
also known as Siding Spring, as captured by Wide Field Camera 3 on NASA’s
* ESA live webcast: European Space Agency – live streaming video powered by Livestream
* Live webcast from the SLOOH online observatory: live.slooh.com – Comet Siding Spring Swings by on a Close Approach to Mars
* Display of the current position of the comet in the sky: Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) Live Position and Finder Chart – TheSkyLive
* An animation of NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter maneuvering to image Comet Siding Spring:
Path of the comet:
Planet. That rock we live on. We think we’re so significant, but we’re merely a cosmic hickup. In a timespan of 100 cycles of this planet around the Sun, we think we already killed it.
Nothing is less true. Nature will overcome us, like <snap> that. With or without us. We still don’t get it; Nature adapts as it always had… A rock weighing a ton couldn’t eradicate Nature. A vulcanic eruption blowing an entire island off the map couldn’t, either.
And the cosmos will spin on and on… We’re just stardust walking and talking.
Time to put things in perspective.
I recently listed updates on five fusion power projects. There are an number of other such alternative projects underway that stand a good chance of beating the big tokamak and laser fusion programs that eat up all the government fusion funding. (Similar to the way NASA’s SLS/Orion boondoggles eat up funding from useful space projects that would get us into space far faster.)
- ARPA-E allows aneutronic fusion applications
- Tungsten anode installed in FF-1; aluminum cathode model checked out
- Crowdfunding rewards shipped out
(Link via nextbigfuture.com)
This weeks NASA report on activities aboard the Int. Space Station:
Composer and musician Warren Greveson will debut his work, Voyager for Orchestra and Four iPads, Sunday, Oct. 19th in Mount Dora, Florida: Music for orchestra and iPads debuts in Mount Dora – Orlando Sentinel .
The composition will be performed by the Stetson University Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Anthony Hose.
The work is inspired by the two NASA Voyager spacecraft. The performance will be accompanied with a film by Maurice Lock.
PBS has posted a video of the documentary aired this week about the history of women space travelers: Women in Space | MAKERS Season 2 | PBS –
Makers: Women in Space traces the history of women pioneers in the U.S. space program. Some, like aviators Wally Funk and Jerrie Cobb, passed the same grueling tests as male astronauts, only to be dismissed by NASA, the military, and even Lyndon Johnson, as a distraction. It wasn’t until 1995 that Eileen Collins became the first woman to pilot a spacecraft. The program includes interviews with Collins, as well as Sally Ride’s classmates Shannon Lucid, Rhea Seddon and Kathryn Sullivan, and features Mae Jemison, the first woman of color astronaut, and Peggy Whitson, the first female commander of the International Space Station. The hour ends with the next generation of women engineers, mathematicians and astronauts—the new group of pioneers, like Marleen Martinez, who continue to make small but significant steps forward.
Rick Boozer, the Astro Maven, tells me that on Thursday, Oct. 16th at 7:30 pm he will give a presentation at Roper Mountain Science Center in Greenville, South Carolina. The title of his talk is Hunting for an Exoplanet Using Stellar Photometry.
Rick has been posting a series of tutorials on his blog explaining the science of photometry and how the astronomical imaging software known as AIP4WIN can be used “by both amateur astronomers and professionals for some very advanced scientific work”.
While I’m quite optimistic about progress with LENR energy production, it’s great to see progress being made on more conventional fusion approaches as well. There has been a flurry of reports recently on different approaches to fusion that are far simpler and lower in cost than the ITER Tokamak-based system that is soaking up most all government fusion funding globally. At best ITER won’t reach break-even for decades and is unlikely ever to lead to a practical power generation system.
Here are updates and links on five fusion power projects:
Univ. Washington Dynomak:
Derived from the spheromak concept, a group at the University of Washington has
designed a concept for a fusion reactor that, when scaled up to the size of a large electrical power plant, would rival costs for a new coal-fired plant with similar electrical output.
The team published its reactor design and cost-analysis findings last spring and will present results Oct. 17 at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Fusion Energy Conference in St. Petersburg, Russia.
“Right now, this design has the greatest potential of producing economical fusion power of any current concept,” said Thomas Jarboe, a UW professor of aeronautics and astronautics and an adjunct professor in physics.
The UW’s reactor, called the dynomak, started as a class project taught by Jarboe two years ago. After the class ended, Jarboe and doctoral student Derek Sutherland – who previously worked on a reactor design at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – continued to develop and refine the concept.
The design builds on existing technology and creates a magnetic field within a closed space to hold plasma in place long enough for fusion to occur, allowing the hot plasma to react and burn. The reactor itself would be largely self-sustaining, meaning it would continuously heat the plasma to maintain thermonuclear conditions. Heat generated from the reactor would heat up a coolant that is used to spin a turbine and generate electricity, similar to how a typical power reactor works.
- UW fusion reactor concept could be cheaper than coal – UW Today
- Cheaper Than Coal? Fusion Concept Aims to Bridge Energy Gap – NBC News.com
Helion Energy is a spinoff from another group at Univ. of Washington and they have gotten some private funding recently to pursue their colliding plasmoids approach. Their design would work with neutron-free deuterium/helium-3 fusion, so no radioactive materials would be created.
- Y Combinator And Mithril Invest In Helion, A Nuclear Fusion Startup – TechCrunch
- Fusion Energy – MSNW LLC
EMC2 Polywell Fusion
I’ve posted many times (e.g. see here and here) about the Polywell fusion system invented by the late Robert Bussard. The research team at EMC2 has made solid progress but the Navy is out of money for such research so the company is looking for private investment.
EMC2 reports experimental results validating the concept that plasma confinement is enhanced in a magnetic cusp configuration when beta (plasma pressure/magnetic field pressure) is order of unity. This enhancement is required for a fusion power reactor based on cusp confinement to be feasible. The magnetic cusp configuration possesses a critical advantage: the plasma is stable to large scale perturbations. However, early work indicated that plasma loss rates in a reactor based on a cusp configuration were too large for net power production. Grad and others theorized that at high beta a sharp boundary would form between the plasma and the magnetic field, leading to substantially smaller loss rates. The current experiment validates this theoretical conjecture for the first time and represents critical progress toward the Polywell fusion concept which combines a high beta cusp configuration with an electrostatic fusion for a compact, economical, power-producing nuclear fusion reactor.
- EMC2 Fusion Releases Results and Needs $30 million for the next phase – NextBigFuture.com
- High Energy Electron Confinement in a Magnetic Cusp Configuration – arXiv.org
Lockheed-Martin Compact Fusion:
Aviation Week gives an update this week on Lockheed-Martin’s Compact Fusion project, which was mentioned here in February 2013 :
- Skunk Works Reveals Compact Fusion Reactor Details: Lockheed Martin aims to develop compact reactor prototype in five years, production unit in 10 – Aviation Week
- High Hopes – Can Compact Fusion Unlock New Power For Space And Air Transport? – AvWeek
Here’s a promotional video from L-M:
Sandia uses its Z Machine, which can produce millions of amps of current in short bursts, to create fusion in small canisters holding deuterium:
Sandia’s technique is one of several that fall into the middle ground between the extremes of laser fusion and the magnetically confined fusion of tokamaks. It crushes fuel in a fast pulse, as in laser fusion, but not as fast and not to such high density. Known as magnetized liner inertial fusion (MagLIF), the approach involves putting some fusion fuel (a gas of the hydrogen isotope deuterium) inside a tiny metal can 5 millimeters across and 7.5 mm tall. Researchers then use the Z machine to pass a huge current pulse of 19 million amps, lasting just 100 nanoseconds, through the can from top to bottom. This creates a powerful magnetic field that crushes the can inward at a speed of 70 km/s.
While this is happening, the researchers do two other things: They preheat the fuel with a short laser pulse, and they apply a steady magnetic field, which acts as a straitjacket to hold the fusion fuel in place. Crushing the plasma also boosts the constraining magnetic field, from about 10 tesla to 10,000 tesla. This constraining field is key, because without it there is nothing to hold the superheated plasma in place other than its own inward inertia. Once the compression stops, it would fly apart before it has time to react.
The latest news from the European Southern Observatory (ESO)
Astronomers have used the APEX telescope to probe a huge galaxy cluster that is forming in the early Universe and revealed that much of the star formation taking place is not only hidden by dust, but also occurring in unexpected places. This is the first time that a full census of the star formation in such an object has been possible.
This image, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows the full
ACS overview of the region around the Spiderweb Galaxy (just to the right of the center).
The galaxy is sitting at the centre of an emergent galaxy cluster, surrounded
by hundreds of other galaxies from the cluster.
Galaxy clusters are the largest objects in the Universe held together by gravity but their formation is not well understood. The Spiderweb Galaxy (formally known as MRC 1138-262 ) and its surroundings have been studied for twenty years, using ESO and other telescopes , and is thought to be one of the best examples of a protocluster in the process of assembly, more than ten billion years ago.
But Helmut Dannerbauer (University of Vienna, Austria) and his team strongly suspected that the story was far from complete. They wanted to probe the dark side of star formation and find out how much of the star formation taking place in the Spiderweb Galaxy cluster was hidden from view behind dust.
The team used the LABOCA camera on the APEX telescope in Chile to make 40 hours of observations of the Spiderweb Cluster at millimetre wavelengths — wavelengths of light that are long enough to peer right through most of the thick dust clouds. LABOCA has a wide field and is the perfect instrument for this survey.
The APEX view in sub-millimetre light of the region around the
Spiderweb Galaxy a protocluster of galaxies in the early Universe
surrounding a radio galaxy containing a supermassive black hole.
Some of the blobs in this image correspond to dusty star-forming
galaxies in the protocluster that cannot be seen in visible light due
to absorption by dust. The fainter features here are artifacts
of the difficult APEX image processing.
Carlos De Breuck (APEX project scientist at ESO, and a co-author of the new study) emphasises: “This is one of the deepest observations ever made with APEX and pushes the technology to its limits — as well as the endurance of the staff working at the high-altitude APEX site, 5050 metres above sea level.”
The APEX observations revealed that there were about four times as many sources detected in the area of the Spiderweb compared to the surrounding sky. And by carefully comparing the new data with complementary observations made at different wavelengths they were able to confirm that many of these sources were at the same distance as the galaxy cluster itself and must be parts of the forming cluster.
Helmut Dannerbauer explains: “The new APEX observations add the final piece needed to create a complete census of all inhabitants of this mega star city. These galaxies are in the process of formation so, rather like a construction site on Earth, they are very dusty.”
But a surprise awaited the team when they looked at where the newly detected star formation was taking place. They were expecting to find this star formation region on the large filaments connecting galaxies. Instead, they found it concentrated mostly in a single region, and that region is not even centred on the central Spiderweb Galaxy in the protocluster .
Helmut Dannerbauer concludes: “We aimed to find the hidden star formation in the Spiderweb cluster — and succeeded — but we unearthed a new mystery in the process; it was not where we expected! The mega city is developing asymmetrically.”
To continue the story further observations are needed — and ALMA will be the perfect instrument to take the next steps and study these dusty regions in far greater detail.
This video shows an artist’s impression of the formation of a galaxy cluster in the early Universe. The galaxies are vigorously forming new stars and interacting with each other. Such a scene closely resembles the Spiderweb Galaxy (formally known as MRC 1138-262) and its surroundings, which is one of the best-studied protoclusters. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser
I’ve posted a couple of times (see here and here) about the Register newspaper’s LOHAN (Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator) somewhat tongue-in-cheek project, which aims to launch a small rocket powered plane (named Vulture 2) from a high altitude balloon. The launch will start from Spaceport America in New Mexico.
Here is an update on the project: This rocket-powered toy plane will soon jet off to stratosphere – CNN.com –
It took the team four years, thousands of volunteer hours, and $60,000 from crowdfunding, to complete the “Lohan.” The nickname is short for “Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator” and, its inventors say, a reference to the Hollywood star Lindsey Lohan.
The page also includes detailed plans for an Atlas V rocket paper model.
Find more space paper modeling resources in the HobbySpace Modeling section.