Carnival of Space 260!

Welcome, one and all, to the 260th edition of Carnival of Space! After being a contributor on and off for a few years, I’m proud to finally host the Carnival here on Supernova Condensate. For anyone unaware, a blog carnival is a themed collection of posts and snippets from blogs all around the web. If you run a space or astronomy blog and you’d like to get involved, then feel free to get in touch!

RIP Sally Ride

Before the carnival begins this week, let’s all take a moment to remember Sally Ride. The first American women to travel into space, a physicist, and a keen advocate of science education, who sadly passed away last week. She was an inspiration to many, and she will be sadly missed.

Opening the carnival, Ray Sanders at Dear Astronomer pays his respects to the late Dr Sally Ride (1951 – 2012).

At The Examiner, Mark Whittington too offers a tribute to Sally Ride, physicist, astronaut, science education enthusiast and feminist icon.

Black Holes and Revelations

Seeds of the supermassive

What do black holes and poppies have in common? Both are grown from seed! Ian O’Neill at Discovery News shares a story about the “seeds” of supermassive black holes being discovered. Three of the inexplicably rare intermediate mass black holes have been found in previously unknown star clusters near the centre of our galaxy.

Waiting for the monster to feed! Allen Versfeld the Urban Astronomer discusses a huge cloud of gas which is busy falling towards the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole. Excitingly, we’re waiting to see it hit next year!

Imagine the Large Hadron Collider, only in space. Tibi Puiu at ZME Science discusses the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer aboard the ISS – harvesting cosmic rays and analysing them in a surprisingly similar way to the LHC. In a bid to hunt for clues on puzzles like dark matter and dark energy, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer has gathered 18 billion cosmic rays already, and is boasting some fantastic results

Chandra is having an anniversary! In celebration, the Chandra Blog would like to thank the fantastic crew of STS-93 who launched and deployed Chandra a baker’s dozen years ago today. Here’s hoping for another lucky 13.


On Australian Science I tell the tale of the Murchison Meteorite and its crash landing in Australia 43 years ago. Much more than just a lump of space rock, this meteorite holds clues that once upon a time, the building blocks of life may have crash landed here!

For your listening entertainment – in the Under British Skies podcast, Jenny Winder interviews Lewis Dartnell, author of Life in the Universe: A Beginner’s Guide.

Science and Wonder

One of the most scientifically interesting meteorites ever found

Gadi Eidelheit at The Venus Transit plays with fridge magnets for science! Magnetism is very important in astronomy, with effects on scales from planetary to galactic. Read on to see how a little experiment with the Refrigerator Magnets in your kitchen can teach you some of the basics of magnetism.

At Yahoo News, Mark Whittington reports on a debate which has been sparked over NASA’s political stance after the release of a NASA report describing an “unprecedented” instance of ice melting in Greenland.

On CosmoQuest, Moon Mapper Stuart Robbins has the good news that MoonMappers science was just presented at the National Lunar Science Forums. A citizen science project with input from over 1000 users, it’s nice to see the results of all of their hard work!

Ian Musgrave at Astroblog shows us some images of near Earth asteroid 2012 OQ observed zooming past the Pelican Nebula.

Cheap Astronomy presents Part 1 of Alan Kerlin’s podcast interview with Dr Brian Boyle about the Square Kilometer Array.

Here on Supernova Condensate, I explain how Henrietta Leavitt, one of astronomy’s greatest unsung heroes, paved the way for Edwin Hubble to discover that other galaxies exist outside the Milky Way.

Planets near and far

I honestly never thought I’d be this jealous of a small robotic vehicle

The Curiosity rover is rapidly approaching Mars, and will arrive in just a week. Building up the excitement, Stuart Atkinson at The Road To Endeavour discusses a fascinating location on the surface of Mars, as explored by the Opportunity rover – in the story of The Journey to Whim Creek.

As more and more exoplanets are discovered, some are proving to host planetary systems which seem curiously familiar. Recently the first exoplanetary system whose planets exhibit a regularly aligned orbit has been found. Tibi Puiu at ZME Science talks about how a newly discovered solar system is very similar to our own!

Exoplanet research is one of the most exciting fields in astronomy right now. Paul Scott Anderson at the Meridiani Journal highlights that recently the Habitable Exoplanets Catalog has been updated with the top five potentially habitable exoplanets – including the much disputed Gliese 581g!

Fly me to the Moon

The Olympic Games are being held in London right now. Very much in the spirit of things, Stefan Lamoureaux at Links Through Space found himself wondering if any olympians had also been astronauts. Meet the Canadian Space Agency’s Major Kenneth Money!

At Centauri Dreams, Paul Gilster is a long standing advocate of interstellar travel and deep space exploration. Recently a New York Times op-ed took a rather pessimistic look at interstellar flight. Prompted by this – citing the growth of interstellar flight research since the 1950s and calling for a long-term, visionary look at humanity’s role in the cosmos – this is Paul’s response.

Falcon 1 was the first rocket developed by SpaceX

Could the F1 booster previously used in the Apollo era Saturn V rockets be modernised and find its way back into common use? Mark Whittington at Yahoo News has the story!

At The Once and Future Moon, Paul D. Spudis tells the tale of Falcon 1. Why would SpaceX spend six years and start up money developing a needed launch system, only to abandon it just as success and profit is at hand? Read on

It should come as no surprise that the Chinese have plans for lunar bases, but the idea of potentially using the Moon as a military high ground has caused plenty of debate. At Yahoo News, Mark Whittington takes a closer look.

At Next Big Future, Brian Wang explains the latest news on the VASIMR plasma rocket, the latest incarnation of which has improved its performance by 10% compared with the last testing 2 years ago. It has 15-200 times more thrust than current ion engines and 10-20 times more fuel efficiency than a chemical rocket. Could plasma rockets be the future of spacecraft propulsion?

The word inflatable puts most people in mind of pool parties, not space travel – but NASA have just successfully tested an inflatable heat shield for reentry to Earth’s atmosphere. Mark Whittington at Yahoo News reports!

One of the most common questions asked of Mark Robinson (principal investigator of the LROC team) is whether LRO images can show if the flags at the Apollo landing sites are still there. Nancy Atkinson at Universe Today has some amazing new images and a video compilation to show that yes, the flags are indeed still flying on the Moon!

And that’s all for Carnival of Space this week. Phew… What a brilliant line up. See you next time!

Image credits:
1 – Sally Ride – Great Images in NASA
2 – Artist’s impression of one of the star clusters containing an IMBH – Keio University
3 – Meteor above country road – Alex Cherney/
4 – Surface of Mars – NASA
5 – Falcon 1 Rocket – SpaceX
6 – See you space cowgirl – Alenas @ deviantART

About Invader Xan

Molecular astrophysicist, usually found writing frenziedly, staring at the sky, or drinking mojitos.
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