Saturday, October 18, 2008

The space carnival has the biggest tent this election

Here on Earth, the medial political grouping on the northern continent of the western hemisphere is preparing for an election. The the election culture of this particular nation, it is common to refer to having a 'big tent' when wooing potential voters. Of course, tents are conspicuously absent on the campaign trail, and the biggest tents are actually found at circuses and carnivals such as this.

Because this is a space carnival, our tents should be very large indeed.

Our first carnival tent encompasses the planet Earth, that six million, million, billion ton ball of rock and molten iron that we all know and love. Evidently, not everyone on this planet is in a big tent sort of mood, as NASA has canned Conference Travel in 2009. Despite this small minded view, at least some folks are looking for the big picture. plans for big telescopes have been described in a round up of future giant telescope news, which has also been described from a historical perspective, as Newton was on to this trick ages ago.
As large rocks such as the Earth inevitably end up becoming targets for smaller, jealous rocks, there has been some discussion of death by meteorite. And the fall location of the meteorite that landed last week was plotted up, just in case Anyone likes collecting meteorites.
We also have an excellent description of the Earth’s Wobble, or Precession. And for those who like to push the tent's edges, there's a
suborbital rocket experiment carrying a payload from Kentucky
.

Our second tent encompasses the Earth's Hill sphere, and everything in orbit around our home rock.

Although this picture only shows our largest natural satellite, there is news from the biggest artificial one as well. Educators have released Teacher Tools for the High Frontier: International Space Station. And there has been much made of the story of an Astronaut's son, who recently boarded the ISS as a Russian tourist.
On the less commercial, more nationalistic side of things, the idea that China faked its space walk is debunked here. And the ESA is readying a satellite to Study the Earth's Gravitational Field. Finally, the US Vision for Space Exploration has released a publicity video touting systems that hopefully will be built in our lifetimes.

Moving out, we can put the inner solar system under a tent that is a mere billion km wide.

We start On Mars.... Phoenix has won an award as a World-Changing Innovations of the Year. And futuristic probes like ExoFlys are also discussed.
Asteroids are especially interesting if they arrive on your doorstep, and
Pallas is highlighted at the Planetary Society's blog.

The Outer solar system tent is substantially larger- 60 AU across will net Neptune, but we'll need something ten thousand times that size to capture the Oort cloud.

In the icy regions of the outer solar system, a comet discovered from an icy region of the Earth is celebrated.The presence of water volcanoes on Enceladus has some folks doubting the laws of physics. There was a brilliant 5 day liveblog of the DPS meeting held last week. Day 2 was on Rings, Titan, Comets, and orbits. Day three consisted of More Titan, and exoplanets. While day five was icy and not-so-icy moons. Finally, there is a report on new data investigating Holmes, the exploding comet.

Expanding our tent to a few hundred thousand light years keeps the Milky Way out of the rain.

Lack of rain is good for observers of variable stars, one of whom recently had an almost perfect night. Some other stars in our galaxy host planets, and the main detection methods for finding them are summarized here. Of course, telescopes are rarely point and shoot- it is common for observers to have challenges and puzzles. Anyone familiar with the moons of Jupiter knows a bit about tidal heating, so it is only natural for this effect to be considered for the habitability of exoplanets. And just in case some of those planets are inhabited with technologically advanced internet addicts, Bebo has beamed a friend invite into space. Going back to the DPS liveblog, day one involed Mars, exoplanets, defining planets and Enceladus.

The ultimate big tent experience involves covering the entire universe with rain resistant canvass.

Not only does this involve an enormous amount of fabric, but it also raises interesting philosophical questions about what you peg the guy lines to. Fortunately, we have an explanation of why dark matter is more diffuse than ordinary matter to make this subject a little less mysterious. And cosmology has evidently also inspired jazz. Obviously, accessing the distant reaches of the universe is neigh impossible with known science, but that won't stop people's imaginations from blasting out there at “Warp 10, Scotty!”.

1 comment:

Rainer said...

Hi, nice idea with the tent ;) I finally manged to link to you in my blog, too. I think I have also one animation which would fit nicely into your theme, clouds as they pass over the Atlantic, from my "the clouds" project. Enjoy :)

Rainer