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Carnival of Space #165

Welcome to this week’s CARNIVAL OF SPACE! If you’ve come here knowing exactly what the Carnival is, thanks, just scroll down and get started. If you’re a new visitor, wondering what’s going on here, let me tell you…

Every week a dfifferent blog publishes a selection of posts about astronomy and space exploration. These posts are submitted by their own authors, who want their own blogs to get more exposure, or who just want to be part of a wider community of space bloggers. This collection of posts is called “The Carnival of Space”… and you just walked in through the gates! 🙂

So, what’s been on the minds of our favourite space bloggers this past week..? Read on – oh, and by the way, inbetween their posts you can enjoy some more views of Mars, courtesy of the Mars Exploration Rover “Opportunity”, which is currently speeding towards a huge crater called Endeavour. ( You’ll need a pair of red-blue 3D glasses to see the 3D effect on the red/blue anaglyphs; those fancy polarised 3D glasses you, um, forgot to hand back at the end of TOY STORY 3 won’t work. )

Astroblogger Ian Musgrave was wandering around Copenhagen recently and saw something beautiful that inspired him to write about it on his blog. Read all about his unexpected encounter with an astronomical sundial here

Anyone with even a passing interest in astronomy and space know that if you want to find out the “just the facts, ma’am!” details behind a big, breaking astro-news story you go to the Planetary Society’s blog, written by Emily Lakdawalla. But Emily often takes a look at stories and events from the past, too. This week she looks back to Voyager’s encounter with Saturn, which, she points out, occurred a Saturn year ago… !

Like many of us, blogger Bruce Leeeowe, who writes the Weird Sciences blog, is intrigued and excited by the possibility of there being life “Out There”. He has submitted two fascinating entries on this theme to this week’s Carnival. One looks at the Top 5 Mythical Hypotheses about Alien Life, while the other considers why we should expect alien contact.

Staying with the subject of extraterrestrial life, Chris Dann, who writes the Weird Warp blog, has a very concise and informative beginners guide to just where habitable planets might be found around alien stars – i.e., the famous “Goldilocks Zone“.

Coming closer to home, Steve Nerlich, from the Cheap Astronomy blog, takes us back in time, via a fantastic podcast, to look at the Russian Venera missions to Venus… Have a listen, you’ll learn a lot you didn’t know, trust me.

If, like myself, you’re so sick of being asked about it that you want to bang your head against a brick wall, you’ll be pleased to learn that the Urban Astronomer, Allen Versfeld, has all the facts about the now annual, teeth-clenchingly annoying “Mars Will Look As Big As The Moon In The Sky!!!” hoax. Seriously, why would anyone BELIEVE that was even REMOTELY possible?!?!?! I despair sometimes… 😦

And speaking about Mars… as I often am… there was a big internet audience recently for the historic “first drive” of the Next Rover To Mars,” Curiosity. I covered the event in two rather different posts, here and here.

One of the best things about hosting, and visiting, the Carnival of Space is that it introduces you to blogs, and writers, you were unaware of before. This week I’m pleased to welcome blogger Rui de Borges to the Carnival for the first time. Rui’s blog “Beyond The Cradle” features posts by some very respected writers, many of them scientists and engineers working on the space missions that make the headlines. For his first Carnival post tho, Rui shares some of his own very personal thoughts with us, asking us all to consider the “bigger picture” as it were… Welcome to the Carnival, Rui!

Nancy Atkinson (no, no relation!) writes for Universe Today, another  must-have-favourited-or-bookmarked website. For this week’s Carnival she offers her post looking at recent discoveries on the Moon. Nancy says, “As the debate continues on where NASA should go, lunar scientists making the recent unexpected discoveries about water on the Moon are perplexed why NASA might turn away from the Moon.” Personally I’m impatient for us to get to Mars – oh come on: towering volcanoes, yawning chasms and valleys, chance of finding life! – and I’d be more than happy for us to just scoot past the Moon until we’ve landed people on Barsssom, but Nancy’s post looks at the other side of the debate. What do you think?

As the debate about the US’s space program’s future rumbles on… and on… and on… like a flogged-to-death horse rolling in slow motion down a hill… other countries are slowly, but surely, drawing up their own plans, which might leave the US, and NASA, trailing far behind. Brian Wang, who writes the always-intriguing Next Big Future blog, has a post describing China’s bold plans to build a heavy lift rocket that would be comparable to the old Russian Energia or the Saturn V when the rocket is in a 5 engine configuration. In his second post, Brian looks at an alternative method for getting payloads into orbit, the space elevator, a popular sci-fi idea that is either a) just on the horizon, or b) farther away than ever, depending who you listen to. Read all the latest news about the “space elevator games” here…

Many people, myself included, fear that we really have stalled in our efforts to get people off Earth and start spreading out across the solar system, and are frustrated that there are no signs of our self-imposed exile on Earth ending. But there are optimists out there, and one of them is Bruce Cordell, who firmly believes that manned space exploration is just half a decade away from receiving a seriously hard kick up the backside. Why? You’ll have to go to his inspiring and thought-provoking 21st Century Waves blog to find out how space “really works”… or will work in 2015

Best Blog Title of the week has to go to “We are all in the gutter“, and a post by Niall, entitled “Not the big bang they were looking for” has to win the week’s award for Best Post Title , too! Here’s a movie-trailer style teaser for the post; you have to imagine James Earl Jones saying this… “A satellite detects a bright burst of gamma-rays. Within minutes telescopes swing in to action expecting to see a massive star being torn apart by a cataclysmic explosion in a far-flung corner of the universe. But that wasn’t what they found……..” Duh-duh-DAAAAH!!! 🙂

If the Carina Nebula ever needs a tourism guide, then Carolyn Collins Peterson, aka “The Space Writer”, would be the perfect person for the job! She adores the place, and in her Carnival offering this week she takes a long and loving look at a breathtakingly beautiful new image of the nebula, taken from the ESO.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock on Mars this past week or two you’ll have heard about the “Kepler Kerfuffle”. Cutting a very long story very short, a Kepler scientist gave an illustrated talk recently that, depending on who you ask, either “let the Kepler cat out of the bag” or “was totally misreported”. Two posts in this week’s Carnival review what happened – Ian O’Neill examines the story over at Discovery.com, and I covered it too, here on Cumbrian Sky. It’s the post before this one, so I won’t insult your intelligences by adding a link; I’m sure you all know how to scroll down… 🙂

So, there you go, that’s another Carnival over with! I hope you enjoyed your visit, and that you’ll come see next week’s Carnival, too!