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Current Topic: Space -- Warp Speed Will Kill You
Topic: Space 6:30 am EST, Mar  9, 2010

Captain Kirk might want to avoid taking the starship Enterprise to warp speed, unless he's ready to shrug off interstellar hydrogen atoms that would deliver a lethal radiation blast to both ship and crew.

There are just two hydrogen atoms per cubic centimeter on average in space, which poses no threat to spaceships traveling at low speeds. But those same lone atoms would transform into deadly galactic space mines for a spaceship that runs into them at near-light speed, according to calculations based on Einstein's special theory of relativity.

The original crew of "Star Trek" featured as unfortunate examples at a presentation by William Edelstein, a physicist at Johns Hopkins University, at the American Physical Society conference in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 13. The physicist showed a video clip of Kirk telling engineer Scotty to go to warp speed.

"Well, they're all dead," Edelstein recalled saying. His words caused a stir among the audience.

Edelstein's personal interest in this thought experiment began 20 years ago, when his son Arthur asked him if there was friction in space. The father responded that yes, there would be hydrogen bumping off a spaceship. But he soon realized that the stray atoms of hydrogen gas would actually go right through the ship traveling close to light speed, and irradiate both crew and electronics in the process. -- Warp Speed Will Kill You

BBC News - Probe may have found cosmic dust
Topic: Space 6:26 pm EST, Mar  5, 2010

Scientists may have identified the first specks of interstellar dust in material collected by the US space agency's Stardust spacecraft.

A stream of this dust flows through space; the tiny particles are building blocks that go into making stars and planets.

The Nasa spacecraft was sent to catch material streaming from Comet Wild/2 and return it to Earth.

But it also carried a collector for interstellar dust.

The material was gathered by the Stardust probe in a seven-year, 4.8-billion-km (2.9 billion miles) interplanetary voyage.

BBC News - Probe may have found cosmic dust

A New Spacecraft to Explore on Waves of Light -
Topic: Space 4:48 pm EST, Nov  9, 2009

About a year from now, if all goes well, a box about the size of a loaf of bread will pop out of a rocket some 500 miles above the Earth. There in the vacuum it will unfurl four triangular sails as shiny as moonlight and only barely more substantial. Then it will slowly rise on a sunbeam and move across the stars.

A New Spacecraft to Explore on Waves of Light -

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Scientists announce planet bounty
Topic: Space 12:47 pm EDT, Oct 19, 2009

Astronomers have announced a haul of planets found beyond our Solar System.

The 32 "exoplanets" ranged in size from five times the mass of Earth to 5-10 times the mass of Jupiter, the researchers said.

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Scientists announce planet bounty

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Glimpses of Solar System's edge
Topic: Space 8:36 am EDT, Oct 16, 2009

The first results from Nasa's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (Ibex) spacecraft have shown unexpected features at our Solar System's edge.

Ibex was launched nearly one year ago to map the heliosphere, the region of space defined by the extent of our Sun's solar wind.

Ibex's first glimpses show that the heliosphere is not shaped as many astronomers have believed.

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Glimpses of Solar System's edge

Celestia: Home
Topic: Space 5:45 pm EDT, Sep 29, 2009

Welcome to Celestia
... The free space simulation that lets you explore our universe in three dimensions. Celestia runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X.

Unlike most planetarium software, Celestia doesn't confine you to the surface of the Earth. You can travel throughout the solar system, to any of over 100,000 stars, or even beyond the galaxy.

Celestia: Home -- It's Official: Water Found on the Moon
Topic: Space 7:10 am EDT, Sep 24, 2009

Since man first touched the moon and brought pieces of it back to Earth, scientists have thought that the lunar surface was bone dry. But new observations from three different spacecraft have put this notion to rest with what has been called "unambiguous evidence" of water across the surface of the moon. -- It's Official: Water Found on the Moon

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Sat collision highlights growing threat
Topic: Space 7:41 am EST, Feb 12, 2009

The collision between a US and Russian satellite in space highlights the growing importance of monitoring objects in orbit.

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Sat collision highlights growing threat

It's All Decked Out. Give It Somewhere to Go. -
Topic: Space 7:04 am EDT, Jul 16, 2008

Consider the International Space Station, that marvel of incremental engineering. It has close to 15,000 cubic feet of livable space; 10 modules, or living and working areas; a Canadian robot arm that can repair the station from outside; and the capacity to keep five astronauts (including the occasional wealthy rubbernecking space tourist) in good health for long periods. It has gleaming, underused laboratories; its bathroom is fully repaired; and its exercycle is ready for vigorous mandatory workouts.
Send the ISS somewhere.

The ISS, you see, is already an interplanetary spacecraft -- at least potentially. It's missing a drive system and a steerage module, but those are technicalities. Although it's ungainly in appearance, it's designed to be boosted periodically to a higher altitude by a shuttle, a Russian Soyuz or one of the upcoming new Constellation program Orion spacecraft. It could fairly easily be retrofitted for operations beyond low-Earth orbit. In principle, we could fly it almost anywhere within the inner solar system -- to any place where it could still receive enough solar power to keep all its systems running.
Let's begin the process of turning the ISS from an Earth-orbiting caterpillar into an interplanetary butterfly.

It's All Decked Out. Give It Somewhere to Go. -

Russia's Space City Frozen in Time
Topic: Space 7:26 am EDT, Oct 22, 2007

Rockets still pierce the heavens in a halo of smoke during launches, and engineers and military men still crack open bottles of vodka to celebrate a successful launch. What has changed are the passengers. Nowadays Baikonur embraces the world, from wealthy space tourists to the world's first Malaysian cosmonaut, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, who blasted off for the international space station on Oct. 10.

Russia's Space City Frozen in Time

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