Volume 29 – January 30, 2011
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The Green Space Oddity
There is an unusual, ghostly green blob of gas floating around in space and it's giving birth. To new stars, that is!
In 2007, Hanny van Arkel, a Dutch school teacher and a sky enthusiast, discovered Hanny's Voorwerp (Hanny's object in Dutch) while surfing through online Galaxy Zoo images. The Galaxy Zoo project encourages sky enthusiasts to browse through SDSS images and classify galaxy types.
Hanny's Voorwerp is about the size of Milky Way galaxy and it is the only visible part of a 300,000-light-year-long streamer of gas stretching around the galaxy IC 2947. After recently releasing pictures taken by the Hubble telescope, NASA announced that the blob is 650 million light years away and it mostly contains hydrogen gas with glowing oxygen causing its bright green color. Furthermore, parts of the Hanny's Voorwerp are collapsing, causing pressure which creates new stars.
To learn more about the Galaxy Zoo project , to see an image of the Voorwerp, and read more about it, please visit:
Space Exploration Story
Would you like to read the stories of early space exploration from the original NASA transcripts. Now, you can. In a growing website of space logs you can find transcripts of 3 missions: Apollo 11, the first manned mission to land on the moon; Apollo 13, the third lunar landing mission, aborted due to an on-board explosion, but deemed a "successful failure" due to the safe return of the crew; and Mercury 6, the 1962 Mercury mission that made pilot John Glenn the first American to reach Earth orbit, with three orbits before re-entry.
At the moment, work is in progress to add 2 more spacelogs, Apollo 8 and Gemini 7, the former, the first human space flight to leave orbit; and the latter, one half of the first orbital rendez-vous.
In this website, not only the transcripts are available to public to read but also to search and to link. Furthermore, the most interesting feature for some might be the ability to get involved with the project even without technical knowledge. The help could be as simple as finding minor spelling errors.
To read the available transcripts and to see how to get involved, please visit:
Daedalus and Icarus Live on!
In the late 1970's the British Interplanetary Society worked on project Daedalus to assess the feasibility of interstellar transits. Using the available science and technology, they designed a nuclear-pulse probe for a 50-year expedition past Barnard's Star (about 6 light years away) with a scientific payload of 500 tons. Daedalus would have been propelled by electron beam-initiated explosions of fusion micropellets. The fusion fuel of choice was a combination of deuterium and helium-3, accelerating the craft to 10 percent of the speed of light (0.1c). However Helium-3 is very rare on Earth and needs to be mined from a cosmic source. The project Daedalus although very difficult and unbelievably costly, it is still in the realms of present-day science and physics, and theoretically it is completely feasible.
In September, 2009, inspired by Daedalus, a new project started. Not surprisingly, the project is called, Icarus. This project revisits the same premise using the advances made in the last 30 years. Here are the guidelines of Icarus as stated on their website:
- To design a credible interstellar probe that is a concept design for a potential mission in the coming centuries.
- To allow a direct technology comparison with Daedalus and provide an assessment of the maturity of fusion based space propulsion for future precursor missions.
- To generate greater interest in the real term prospects for interstellar precursor missions that are based on credible science.
- To motivate a new generation of scientists to be interested in designing space missions that go beyond our solar system.
To learn more, please visit:
To see a virtual rendering of Daedalus's flight please visit:
Parts of this segment were borrowed from:
My Dream of Stars
My Dream of Stars: From Daughter of Iran to Space Pioneer: a book by Anousheh Ansari and Homer Hickam.
In her memoir, Anousheh recalls her long path to success and to achieving her dream. To learn more about the book, please visit: http://www.anoushehansari.com/book/
To find a book signing, please check the upcoming appearances section of this newsletter.
To obtain a copy please visit: