Space News: December 8, 2015


Texas Astronomer Solves Mystery of ‘Born Again’ Stars with Hubble Space Telescope

AUSTIN — University of Texas astronomer Natalie Gosnell has used Hubble Space Telescope to better understand why some stars aren’t evolving as predicted. These so-called “blue stragglers” look hotter and bluer than they should for their advanced age. It’s almost as if they were somehow reinvigorated to look much younger than they really are.

Though blue stragglers were first identified 62 years ago, astronomers have yet to converge on a solution for their odd appearance. The most popular explanation among several competing theories is that an aging star spills material onto a smaller companion star. The small star bulks up on mass to become hotter and bluer while the aging companion burns out and collapses to a white dwarf – a burned out cinder.

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Beyond Mars: the distant future of space exploration

Louis Friedman has always balanced his optimistic vision for the future of human space exploration with a dose of reality, and his tempered outlook courses through his new book, Human Spaceflight From Mars to the Stars,in which he charts the distant future of human space travel.

Friedman is optimistic that human space exploration will continue well into the future. However, here’s that dose of reality from Friedman: humans will never venture beyond Mars, at least not in any historically significant way. Once humans tame Mars, how will humanity continue to explore cosmic frontiers, and to what end? Space travel, according to Friedman, will be an act more focused on transporting our minds — with the help of new technologies — rather than our bodies.

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Junk-eating rocket engine could clear space debris

Junk engineSpace debris is a pressing problem for Earth-orbiting spacecraft, and it could get significantly worse. When the density of space debris reaches a certain threshold, analysts predict that the fragmentation caused by collisions will trigger a runaway chain reaction that will fill the skies with ever increasing numbers of fragments. By some estimates that process could already be underway.

Lei Lan and pals from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, propose their solution. Their idea is to build an engine that converts space debris into propellant and so can maneuver itself almost indefinitely as it mops up the junk.

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A job opening for a Propulsion System Engineer, ATG. The System Engineer is during the development process closely involved in all technical aspects and issues that occur with the realization of a design. The System Engineer ensures the timely and complete availability of all relevant technical information, distributes tasks and technical information to the organization to achieve this goal. More information

Build up your space portfolio by participating in the project Asterank: to discover an asteroid, watch the animation of the night sky and look for a moving white dot. There’s a good chance that moving dot is an asteroid. The first user to notice the dot gets potential discovery credit and naming rights. You can contribute to the project and help with issues or additional features on GitHub. More information




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