Friday, December 29, 2006

Star Belts: Orion

Alnitak, Alnilam, Mintaka
Credit: Digitized Sky Survey, ESA/ESO/NASA FITS Liberator
Color Composite: Davide De Martin (Skyfactory)

Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka, are the bright bluish stars from east to west (left to right) along the diagonal in this cosmic vista.

Otherwise known as the Belt of Orion, these three blue supergiant stars are hotter and much more massive than the Sun. They lie about 1,500 light-years away, born of Orion's well-studied interstellar clouds. In fact, clouds of gas and dust adrift in this region have intriguing and some surprisingly familiar shapes, including the dark Horsehead Nebula and Flame Nebula near Alnitak at the lower left.

The famous Orion Nebula itself lies off the bottom of this star field that covers an impressive 4.4x3.5 degrees on the sky. The color picture was composited from digitized black and white photographic plates recorded through red and blue astronomical filters, with a computer synthesized green channel. The plates were taken using the Samuel Oschin Telescope, a wide-field survey instrument at Palomar Observatory, between 1987 and 1991.

Astronomy Picture of the Day 29 December 2006
Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
Blue Giants -Wolf-Rayet Stars by Plato
The Christmas Tree Cluster from Universe Today
Across the electromagnetic spectrum podacast by Universe Today
The Dark Side of Nature release from ESO European Space Observatories
Every culture has its own constellations and mythology. Constellations rarely look like the object their name suggests; many groupings of stars have been called different things over the years.
According to Greek mythology, the stars in this region of the sky are labeled Orion in honor of a great hunter, son of Neptune and the nymph Eurayle. This drawing from E. Burritt's atlas of 1835, shows the typical image of Orion -- club in hand, lion-skin shield, attacking the bull, Taurus.
To the Egyptians, the same stars were a tribute to the god of light, Osiris.
Famous Quotes: A will finds a way. Orison Swett Marden
There is no other investment you can make will pay you so well as the
effort to scatter sunshine and good cheer through your establishment

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

COROT on its way


Launched today from Kazakhstan, the unique astronomy mission COROT is on its way. Its twin goals are to detect exoplanets orbiting around other stars and to probe the mysteries of stellar interiors as never before. COROT is a French national space agency (CNES)-led mission to which ESA and European partners are adding a particularly strong international flavour.

Read More European Space Agency ESA release 27th December 2006

Europe goes searching for rocky planets

Of the rocky worlds, COROT is most sensitive to those with orbits of 50 days or less. That would place them closer to their parent star than Mercury is to the Sun. In most cases, such proximity to a star would scorch them beyond habitability. However, if such a world were discovered around a red dwarf star, it could be placed at exactly the right distance for liquid water to exist on its surface.

COROT will target at least fifty specific stars for a detailed study in this way. By choosing stars of different sizes and behaviour, COROT will supply astronomers with the most complete picture of stellar evolution to date.

Stellar physics is not a 'done deal'.
In fact, we are really just beginning with it.
The Pelican Nebula from Astronomy Picture of the Day
Cosmic Spider is a good mother from Science Daily 11 April 2006
Portrait of a dramatic Stellar Crib from Science Daily 26 Dec 2006
The geometrics behind a supernova and its history by Plato
Famous Quotes Peace begins with a smile. Mother Teresa

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Source of Xmas Light

"A Christmas Tale" - Reading from The Book by Ellala

Can be seen from oh so very near, can be seen from afar
from right here to high up in the sky & the furthest Star
like the source of all light, there is really nothing on a par

So you may have once thought one had to be hardwired
for one to be thus, in such resplendent light fully attired
or such great paintings & masterpieces to have inspired

But as you and you can see one can nowdays be wireless
yet still remain really truly lasting & really quite tireless
Universal source of Galaxies, all the Stars & life no less

Photo: Stanford Uni by MemC

Here and for a moment wishing all of you, A very Merry Xmas
Season Greetings & Best Wishes - from Quasar9 to One & All.
Famous Quotes: The wisdom of the wise and the experience
of the ages are perpetuated by quotations.
Benjamin Disraeli

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Europe's COROT launch


On 27 December, COROT is to be launched into space on a unique astronomy mission: its twin goals are to detect exoplanets orbiting around other stars and to probe the mysteries of stellar interiors as never before.

COROT stands for ‘Convection Rotation and planetary Transits’. The name describes the mission’s scientific goals. ‘Convection and rotation’ refer to the satellite’s capability to probe stellar interiors, studying the acoustic waves that ripple across the surface of stars, a technique called asteroseismology. ‘Transit’ refers to the technique whereby the presence of a planet orbiting a star can be inferred from the dimming starlight caused when the planet passes in front of it. To achieve its twin scientific objectives, COROT will monitor some 120,000 stars with its 30-centimetre telescope.


COROT will lead a bold new search for planets around other stars. In the decade since the first discovery in 1995 of an exoplanet (51 Pegasi b), more than 200 other such planets outside our solar system have been detected using ground-based observatories. The COROT space telescope promises to find many more during its two-and-a-half-year mission, expanding the frontiers of our knowledge towards ever-smaller planets.

Many of the planets COROT will detect are expected to be 'hot Jupiters', gaseous worlds. An unknown percentage of those detected are expected to be rocky planets, maybe just a few times larger than the Earth (or smaller, even). If COROT finds such planets, they will constitute a new class of planet altogether.

While it is looking at a star, COROT will also be able to detect 'starquakes', acoustic waves generated deep inside a star that send ripples across its surface, altering its brightness. The exact nature of the ripples allows astronomers to calculate the star's precise mass, age and chemical composition.

For additional information about COROT, you can also visit:
COROT at ESA: and

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Stardust & Comets

Red/green stereo anaglyph of Comet Wild 2 Credit: NASA JPL Stardust

Stardust reveals turbulent start to the Solar System
Analysis of comet samples brought back to earth by NASA's Stardust mission reveal that the start of the Solar System was a lot more turbulent than first thought. Dust particles from comet Wild 2 are found to originate from both the inner reaches and outer edges of the Solar System indicating a massive amount of mixing of particles prior to the formation of the comet. The findings of the initial analysis of comet samples were published in Science (15th Dec 2006).

The precious cometary samples were collected by the Stardust spacecraft which journeyed 2.88 million miles during a seven year round trip from Earth to comet Wild 2 and back again. Following the capture of the particles from the comet in January 2004 the capsule containing the interstellar cargo was returned to Earth in January 2006. After its retrieval from the Utah desert grains of the comet were distributed to worldwide teams of scientists to begin the initial analysis.

Many of the grains were silicates - iron and magnesium rich grains that are the usual constituents commonly observed around newly forming stars where planets are being created. But one of the most exciting results was that some of the dust grains were not silicates, but were rich in calcium and aluminium, grains that are only produced at very high temperatures. This is important because it shows that some of the dust must have been formed very close to the centre of our Solar System. And it leaves a mystery as to how they managed to become mixed in with the rest of the dust and gas that made up the comets, forming on the outer edges of the Solar System.

We have not yet begun to unravel the relationship between the organic and inorganic parts of the comet dust.

Using spectroscopy technology, which does not damage the mineral content of the particles, the Stardust scientists from Imperial College London and the Natural History Museum have found that the comet dust is made up of many different mineral compositions rather than a single dominant one. This implies that the dust was formed in many different environments before coming together to make the comet, indicating a great deal of mixing in the early Solar System prior to the formation of the planets.

Of particular significance is the discovery of calcium aluminium inclusions, which are amongst the oldest solids in the Solar System and are thought to have formed close to the young Sun. This discovery suggests that the components of the comet came from all over the Solar System, with some dust having being formed close to the Sun and other material coming from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Read More Stardust Jet Propulsion Lab - NASA
Aurora Over Iowa from Astronomy Pic of The Day

Credit & Copyright: Stan Richards (
Plume on Saturn's Moon - Enceladus from Science Daily
How multiple star systems come together @ Universe Today
Spitzer looks right back to the first stars from Universe Today

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

White Light Riders

Abrivado by Yvan Laussel @

Energy & Passion in motion, dynamic and full of emotion
Cannot be bottled or contained like some magical potion
Has to be felt all day & all night, not just after nine to five
The fearless zest for life - the joy of living and being alive!

White Hart Native Tale "Ghost of the White Deer" BarnGoddess
Static Magical freeflowing short burst of prose by sojournerspace

Friday, December 15, 2006

Redchrono Lights

Photo "Car Dasboard Display" courtesy of Ghost Particle

[+/-] Click here to expand

Redchrono Electronic Xmas Lights

Some say I'm a particle, some say I'm a wave
oscillating at Xmas parties or New Year's rave
I even cheer-up Santa's Grotto, Santa's cave

A thousand airport runways at night I pave
every safe landing, pilots from error I save

People try to tell me where & how to behave
or which way they want me to pass & wave
if you are lucky I'll pretend to be your slave
but nothing can hold me down not the grave

The star on top, the xmas fairy she's a babe
but on Xmas trees, I'm all the children's fave

You can turn me on, you can turn me off
but never ever call me David Hasselhoff
A flick of the switch, and I'll start to glow
if you really want I'll put on quite a show
but mostly I just like to go with the flow

Thru the day & thru the night I like to play
I like to flicker on your dashboard display
Many lights you can see as you race thru town
Many lights when you cruise and travel around

In your car & dashboard display I'm the king
on the electronic dashboard I'm the real thing

I can be seen from near, can be seen from afar
but you know there is really nothing on a par
with how red the light glows inside your car

From the pages of Charmed, a White Lighter
I'm on the dashboard of kit from Night Rider

And if you listen to Pink, or Shirley Bassey
the uk extravaganza the M&S xmas ad for tv
You'll know "I can go for miles and miles..."

From the film Tron you are sure to have known
I can move faster than a supercharged electron
almost as if something from another dimension
passing thru gates & switches, I go on and on

Every person knows me, and drivers look for me
They want to know how fast they are travelling
They want to know how fast in the car to go
I silently keep them informed of the throbbing
the revs under the bonnet or long french capot

At great speeds, lying low on the faster roads
I'm even in the cockpits of passenger jumbo jets
flying at 30,000 feet or more, higher up above
flowing swiftly, flowing fast, graceful as I rove

Racing at 200KMH on the German autobahn
turn up the radio as it starts Golden Earring's
"Radar love" with words about forgotten song
music for those who been driving all night long

In France we finally arrive, nearing the tunnel
in Paris where Princess Diana did hit the rail
like someone straight out of a tragic fairy tale
On the stereo listen - to Billy Idol sing & roar
In the midnight hour, I want more, more, more

Enter the tunnel of light, steady as she goes

So you may have thought I had to be hard wired
for anything to get me excited, to get me fired
but as you can see here I never never get tired
when I'm in full flow and by you feeling inspired

The 130 mph electric roadster from Tesla Motors

With the acceleration of a Ferrari
Rich man’s toys - will one day soon translate into making
powerful electric cars available to the general public, one & all.

Electric motor made by Tesla Motors in Taiwan.
Assembled by Lotus Cars, Hethel, Norwich, England.
More on Tesla and other powerful electric cars from Impact Labs

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Meteor Showers -

The 2006 Geminid Meteor Shower
The best meteor shower of the year peaks this week. Start watching on Wednesday evening, Dec. 13th. The display will start small but grow in intensity as the night wears on. By Thursday morning, Dec. 14th, people in dark, rural areas could see one or two meteors every minute.

The source of the Geminids is a mysterious object named 3200 Phaethon.

The mystery, properly told, begins in the 19th century: Before the mid-1800s there were no Geminids, or at least not enough to attract attention. The first Geminids appeared suddenly in 1862, surprising onlookers who saw dozens of meteors shoot out of the constellation Gemini. (That's how the shower gets its name, the Geminids.)

Astronomers immediately began looking for a comet. Meteor showers result from debris that boils off a comet when it passes close to the Sun. When Earth passes through the debris, we see a meteor shower.

For more than a hundred years astronomers searched in vain for the parent comet. Finally, in 1983, NASA's Infra-Red Astronomy Satellite (IRAS) spotted something. It was several kilometers wide and moved in about the same orbit as the Geminid meteoroids. Scientists named it 3200 Phaethon.

Just one problem: Meteor showers are supposed to come from comets, but 3200 Phaethon seems to be an asteroid. It is rocky (not icy, like a comet) and has no obvious tail. Officially, 3200 Phaethon is catalogued as a "PHA"-a potentially hazardous asteroid whose path misses Earth's orbit by only 2 million miles.

If 3200 Phaethon is truly an asteroid, with no tail, how did it produce the Geminids? "Maybe it bumped up against another asteroid," offers Cooke. "A collision could have created a cloud of dust and rock that follows Phaethon around in its orbit."

So, are the Geminids an "asteroid shower"?
The object's orbit carries it even closer to the Sun than Mercury. Extreme solar heat could've boiled away all of Phaethon's ice long ago, leaving behind this rocky skeleton "that merely looks like an asteroid." - In short, no one knows. It's a mystery to gaze upon, under the stars.

Some scientists have said that the impact of a large meteorite in the Yucatan Peninsula, in what is today Mexico, caused the mass extinction of the dinosaurs, along with the majority of all other animal species on Earth, approximately 65 million years ago. Others argue that there must have been additional meteorite impacts or other stresses around the same time.

A new study provides compelling evidence that "one and only one impact" caused the mass extinction.

Read more A Single Meteor Impact Killed The Dinosaurs
Gemini is one of the constellations of the zodiac. It is part of the winter sky, lying between Taurus to the west and Cancer to the east.

A myth of these twins concerns cattle theft, and may be connected to early views of the Milky Way, as a herd of dairy cows -
The orientation of the constellation can vary (they readily form stick figures whether leaning right or left), though the twins are usually viewed as left leaning. However, when right leaning, one of the twins resides in the Milky Way, and the other outside it, a situation making it appear that one of the twins is stealing the cattle, and the other is observing.
We were all made of supernovae Podcast @ Universe Today
Heavy stars embedded in NGC 6357 read more @ Universe Today
What makes the biggest impact on galactic evolution @ Universe Today

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Planet Earth

The outermost layer of the atmosphere will lose 3 percent of its density over the coming decade. (Credit: NCAR)

Recent observations by scientists tracking satellite orbits have shown that the thermosphere, which begins about 60 miles above Earth and extends up to 400 miles, is beginning to become less dense, said Robert Kerr, program director in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Division of Atmospheric Sciences.

At heights of more than 60 miles, one of the main elements of the atmosphere is atomic oxygen, a single atom of oxygen. As carbon dioxide increases near Earth's surface, it gradually diffuses upward and absorbs heat through collisions with atomic oxygen. It then radiates the heat away to space through infrared radiation, and the result is a net cooling of the upper atmosphere. As the molecules cool and settle, the thermosphere loses density.

Also affecting the thermosphere is the 11-year cycle of solar activity. During the active phase of the cycle, ultraviolet light and energetic particles from the sun increase, producing a warming and expansion of the upper atmosphere. When solar activity wanes, the thermosphere settles and cools.

Read more Science Daily releases 12 December 2006
Original Source: National Science Foundation Press Release

By about 2040, the Arctic may be nearly devoid of sea ice during the late summer unless greenhouse gas emissions are significantly curtailed. (Illustration copyright UCAR)

Arctic sea ice has retreated in recent years, especially in the late summer, when ice thickness and area are at a minimum. To analyze how global warming will affect the ice in coming decades, the team studied a series of seven simulations run on the NCAR-based Community Climate System Model, one of the world's leading tools for studying climate change. The scientists first tested the model by simulating fluctuations in ice cover since 1870, including a significant shrinkage of late-summer ice from 1979 to 2005. The simulations closely matched observations, a sign that the model was accurately capturing the present-day climate variability in the Arctic.

The research team points to several reasons for the abrupt loss of ice in a gradually warming world. Open water absorbs more sunlight than does ice, meaning that the growing regions of ice-free water will accelerate the warming trend. In addition, global climate change is expected to influence ocean circulations and drive warmer ocean currents into the Arctic.

"As the ice retreats, the ocean transports more heat to the Arctic and the open water absorbs more sunlight, further accelerating the rate of warming and leading to the loss of more ice," Holland explains. "This is a positive feedback loop with dramatic implications for the entire Arctic region."

Read more Science Daily releases 12 December 2006
Original Source: The National centre for Atmospheric Research


Climate experts search for answers in the oceans
By absorbing half of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere, the oceans have a profound influence on climate. However, their ability to take up this carbon dioxide might be impaired as a result of climate change. To determine their response to global warming, ESA has backed two projects that provide systematic data on key oceanic variables – colour and temperature.

Read more ESA News 11th December 2006

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Monday, December 11, 2006

APEX enhances Tadpole

Tadpole Galaxy
UGC 10214
Hubblesite gallery
LEFT: Tadpole galaxy, imaged in 2002 by the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) aboard NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, shows what NASA called a "Whitman's Sampler of galaxies" from the universe's 13-billion-year evolution. RIGHT: Applying the APEX method to the Tadpole galaxy image brings both "foreground" objects and background galaxies into significantly sharper focus. (Images courtesy of NASA/NIST)

Removing blur is a problem common to almost all imaging, from home snapshots to scientific instrumentation. Mathematically, blurring can be thought of as a set of mathematical operations that are applied to every point in an image and that result in that point being spread out and diffused. In principle, if you know the blurring function, the exact set of operations, you can remove the blur by delicate numerical analysis, being careful not to amplify noise.

But usually you don't know that. Many things go into blur--motion of the object, motion of the imager, irregularities in the optics, atmospheric effects ... the list goes on. As a rule, the precise mathematical transformation, the "point spread function," is unknown.

The APEX method was developed by mathematician Alfred Carasso as a general solution to a specific limited class of blur: blur that is symmetric and has certain other mathematical characteristics. APEX is based on a major simplifying assumption that leads to a big pay-off: it's fast and it's "blind" - it doesn't need to know the underlying point spread function in advance, but it can deduce it from the image.

Not every image is suitable for APEX enhancement because of its basic assumptions, but a remarkably large number are. At NIST, APEX originally was applied to deblurring images from scanning electron microscopes, and it also has been applied to some medical imaging.

In a recent paper, Carasso applied APEX to astronomical images, including color images from the Hubble Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), NASA's most advanced imaging system. Deblurring color images is even more involved, because the (still unknown) point spread function can be different for different color components.

APEX successfully detected and corrected unusual optical blurring functions in several astronomical images and delivered strikingly enhanced versions of well-known Hubble images, including the Whirlpool and Tadpole galaxies.
APEX is not an acronym. A.S. Carasso. APEX blind deconvolution of color Hubble space telescope imagery and other astronomical data. Optical Engineering. 45, Number 10, October 2006, 107004
Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology December 11, 2006
Famous Quotes
There is more to life than increasing its speed. Mohandas Gandhi
Commerce is of trivial importance; Love, faith, truth of character,
and the aspiration of man, these are sacred. Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Eye of the beholder

Change of view by neulands - slideshow by neulands

With the morning mist I rise
every day like a new sunrise

Everything my eyes behold
my domain better than gold
Sometimes if I'm feeling bold
I'll venture even into icy cold

Really when all things are told
I'm one of the many in the fold
Has been said, since days of old
the tale by many, has been told

Love cannot be bought or sold
Love is better than much gold

Wishing You All A Mighty Fine weekend! - Q9
Drawings & photos from Montana Gypsy @ katieskaleidoscope
Famous Quotes Do the right thing.
It will gratify some people and astonish the rest. Mark Twain

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Black hole feeds

An accreting black hole and a binary star Credit: R Hynes ENLARGE Image

No matter their size black holes "feed" in the same way
Research by UK astronomers, published today in Nature (7th December 2006) reveals that the processes at work in black holes of all sizes are the same and that supermassive black holes are simply scaled up versions of small Galactic black holes.
For many years astronomers have been trying to understand the similarities between stellar-mass sized Galactic black hole systems and the supermassive black holes in active galactic nuclei (AGN). In particular, do they vary fundamentally in the same way, but perhaps with any characteristic timescales being scaled up in proportion to the mass of the black hole. If so, the researchers proposed, we could determine how AGN should behave on cosmological timescales by studying the brighter and much faster galactic systems.

An Artist's impression of an
intermediate sized black hole
Credit: NASA Goddard
The research shows that the characteristic timescale changes linearly with black hole mass, but inversely with the accretion rate (when measured relative to the maximum possible accretion rate). This result means that the accretion process is the same in black holes of all sizes. By measuring the characteristic timescale and the accretion rate, the team argues this simple relationship can help determine black hole masses where other methods are very difficult, for example in obscured AGN or in the much sought after intermediate mass black holes.

Accretion of matter into a black hole produces strong X-ray emission from very close to the black hole itself. So, studying the way in which the X-ray emission varies with time, known as the X-ray lightcurves, provides one of the best ways of understanding the behaviour of black holes.

It has been known for over two decades that characteristic timescales can be seen in the X-ray lightcurves of Galactic black hole systems. The timescales are short and so can be found on short observations. However to find equivalent timescales is much harder as we must observe for months or years at a time.

In their paper, the team show that the width of the lines is correlated very strongly with the characteristic X-ray timescales. "Using some basic physical assumptions about the gas which emits the emission lines, and some very simple mathematics, we showed that the observed relationship between line width and characteristic timescale is exactly what is expected, as long as the characteristic timescale is proportional to the ratio of the black hole mass and accretion rate,' says Professor McHardy.' Our optical observations provide very strong confirmation that the characteristic timescale which links large and small black holes is just proportional to the ratio of the black hole mass to accretion rate. So active galactic nuclei AGN really are just scaled-up galactic black holes."

Read more @ PPARC press release 07 Dec 2006
Supermassive Blackhole consumes A Star @ Universe Today
Where do stars go when they die? Podcast @ Universe Today
Do Galaxies follow Darwinian Evolution? from ESO Outreach.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

ION Thrusters


Ion engines are a form of electric propulsion and work by accelerating a beam of positively charged particles (or ions) away from the spacecraft using an electric field. ESA used electric propulsion on its Moon mission, SMART-1 which impacted into the Moon on 2nd September 2006. The new engine is over ten times more fuel efficient than the one used on SMART-1. Using a similar amount of propellant as SMART-1, with the right power supply, a future spacecraft using our new engine design wouldn’t just reach the Moon, it would be able to leave the Solar System entirely.
[+/-] Click here to expand

Traditional ion engines use three closely separated perforated grids containing thousands of millimetre-sized holes attached to a chamber containing a reservoir of the charged particles. The first grid has thousands of volts applied, and the second grid operates at low voltage. The voltage difference over the gap between the two grids creates an electric field that acts to simultaneously extract and accelerate the ions out of the chamber and into space in a single step. The higher the voltage difference, the faster the ions are expelled and the greater the fuel efficiency of the thruster. However, at higher voltage differences approaching five thousand volts (5kV), some of the ions collide with the second grid as they are accelerated, thus eroding and damaging the grid and thereby limiting its lifetime in space.

The DS4G ion engine utilises a different concept first proposed in 2001 by David Fearn, a pioneer of ion propulsion in the UK, which solves this limitation by performing a two-stage process to decouple the extraction and acceleration of ions using four grids. In the first stage, the first two grids are closely spaced and both are operated at very high voltage and a low voltage difference between the two (3 kV) enables the ions to be safely extracted from the chamber without hitting the grids. Then, in the second stage, two more grids are positioned at a greater distance ‘downstream’ and operated at low voltages. The high voltage difference between the two pairs of grids powerfully accelerates the extracted ions.

The test model achieved voltage differences as high as 30kV and produced an ion exhaust plume that travelled at 210,000 m/s, over four times faster than state-of-the-art ion engine designs achieve. This makes it four times more fuel efficient, and also enables an engine design which is many times more compact than present thrusters, allowing the design to be scaled up in size to operate at high power and thrust. Due to the very high acceleration, the ion exhaust plume was very narrow, diverging by only 3 degrees, which is five times narrower than present systems. This reduces the fuel needed to correct the orientation of spacecraft from small uncertainties in the thrust direction.

There is of course still a great deal of work to be done before the new engine design can fly in space. “Working with our industrial partners, the next challenge is to transition this promising new engine design from laboratory experiment to spacecraft flight model and properly define the new missions that it will enable”, says José Gonzalez del Amo, Head of Electric Propulsion at ESA. The flight-suitable engines must then be tested: and for ion engines this is a long process.
Since they must operate continuously in space for tens of thousands of hours providing a small thrust, ground tests in a vacuum facility must last several thousand hours to prove their reliability. Only after all this could the first flight models be launched.

Once ready, these engines will be able to propel spacecraft to the outermost planets, the newly discovered planetoids beyond Pluto and even further, into the unknown realm of interstellar space beyond the Solar System. Closer to home, these supercharged ion engines could figure prominently in the human exploration of space. With an adequate supply of electrical power, a small cluster of larger, high power versions of the new engine design would provide enough thrust to propel a crewed spacecraft to Mars and back.

“This is an ultra-ion engine. It has exceeded the current crop by many times and opens up a whole new frontier of exploration possibilities,” says Dr Walker.

Europeans And Australians Make Space Propulsion Breakthrough
Science Daily press releases 12 January 2006

The How and Why of Returning to the Moon
NASA To Build Lunar Base - Why The Moon?
Concept Art - NASA Moon & Mars Missions
ESA launches new initiative to foster research
A new initiative to increase interaction between ESA, European universities, research institutes & industry has just begun. Through its Networking/Partnering Initiative, ESA is offering to support research carried out by institutes & universities in advanced technologies with space applications.

Technologies developed for space often have significant spin-offs for non-space applications and some of the very advanced technologies developed by universities & research institutes, for use in industrial or domestic applications, have potential ‘spin-in’ for use in space.

Read more >> ESA launches new initiative 6th December 2006
Magnetic whirlpools feed Earth's magnetosphere 6th Dec 2006
Reaching for the stars by Plato @ Dialogues of Eide 06 Dec 2006

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Space Settlements

Toroidal designs - NASA Space Settlements ENLARGE Image

Jerusalem a City of Streets

Space, spatial awareness & Space Time
Physical & mental limits on ancient man

Space, spatial awaremess & Space Time
Physical & mental limits on modern man

What is stopping man from walking in step
What is preventing man from taking the next step

"By using matter/antimatter annihilation,
velocities just below the speed of light could be reached,
making it possible to reach the next star in about six light years." -
Stephen Hawking 30 Nov 2006

Below the surface is pattern? by Plato
About Artificial Gravity by Astro Prof
Magical Mosaics from Mary @ getit4yourself
Charmed Cosmic Poetry from Sojourner Space

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Quasar & SpaceTime

Image of Quasar & Blackhole by Barron Storey @ Picture gallery: Art work

Gravity Probe B and space-time

Gravity Probe B is the relativity gyroscope experiment being developed by NASA and Stanford University to test two extraordinary, unverified predictions of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity.

The experiment will check, very precisely, tiny changes in the direction of spin of four gyroscopes contained in an Earth satellite orbiting at 400-mile altitude directly over the poles. So free are the gyroscopes from disturbance that they will provide an almost perfect space-time reference system. They will measure how space and time are warped by the presence of the Earth, and, more profoundly, how the Earth's rotation drags space-time around with it. These effects, though small for the Earth, have far-reaching implications for the nature of matter and the structure of the Universe.

Gravity Probe B is among the most thoroughly researched programs ever undertaken by NASA. This is the story of a scientific quest in which physicists and engineers have collaborated closely over many years. Inspired by their quest, they have invented a whole range of new technologies -- technologies that are already enlivening other branches of science and engineering.

More on Gravity Probe B
"Ptolemy invented a universe and it lasted two thousand years. Newton invented a universe and it lasted two hundred years. Now Dr Einstein has invented a universe and no one knows how long this one is going to last" - George Bernard Shaw (1930)
Testing Einstein's Universe by Plato
Finiteness of String Theory and Mandelstam by Plato
Book-cover physics by Stefan Scherer @ Backreaction
Observatories view supernova remnant n49 @ Universe Today
Measuring the shape of supernovae explosions @ Universe Today
We are moved through space and time by extraordinary forces
We are but a few atoms bound precariously together for a short time
We may use these atoms & molecules to dance our way thru the day
Energised we are transformed - sometimes from starburst to sunray

Here's Wishing you all a mighty fine weekend - Quasar9
Magical Mosaics from Mary @ getit4yourself
Charmed Cosmic Poetry from Sojourner Space
Contest announcement from>>> Ghost Particle

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