Cosmic Search for a Missing Limb

This new Picture of the Week, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows the dwarf galaxy NGC 4625, located about 30 million light-years away in the constellation of Canes Venatici (The Hunting Dogs). The image, acquired with the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), reveals the single spiral arm of the galaxy, which gives it an asymmetric appearance. But why is there only one spiral arm, when spiral galaxies normally have at least two?

Read the full article at spacetelescope.com (Hubble’s official website).

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The Hopeful Side of Post-Apocalyptic Fiction

By Megan Hunter

I can chart the progress of my life through the types of apocalypse I have feared. As a child, the endings I imagined were natural, even cosmic: the land swallowed by the sea, the sun swallowing the earth. When I was an adolescent the man-made came to the fore, as I searched for mushroom shapes in clouds and imagined the exact moment of an explosion: would I know it was happening, I wondered, or would there only be after; dimness, blood, confusion.

As a young adult, I would visualize the carcasses of the planes I traveled on, post-crash, the way their bellies would be lifted from the sea with a winch, spun around like part of a whale. This was a smaller-scale disaster, but I could also imagine all the planes falling from the sky at once, dropping in a synchronized movement to the land below.

When I had my first child, my visions took on a new realism: the key dates of climate change no longer had a vague, post-death strangeness to them. They were the likely years of my son’s life. Now, I imagined him walking through a world too hot to exist in, or living in a city that had become a new Atlantis, its underwater streets swum through by fishes, its buildings draped in seaweed.

Read the full article at Literary Hub.

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Jupiter’s Colourful Clouds

By Calla Cofield

Jupiter’s southern hemisphere is a swirling, curling sea of colorful clouds in a new image from NASA’s Juno spacecraft and two citizen scientists.

The new image comes from data collected by the JunoCam instrument on Oct. 24, 2017, as Juno performed its ninth close flyby of Jupiter (its eighth science flyby), according to a statement from NASA. The raw data from the instrument were uploaded to the JunoCam website, and citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran took that data and processed it to create the image above. [Amazing Jupiter Photos by Juno and Citizen Scientists]

Read the full article at Space.com.

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How Vintage Rocket Tech Could Be NASA’s Ticket to Mars

I thought I would share that for me, this was one of those happy moments in the life of a sci-fi writer where I said, “I thought about that!”  Of course, I am by no means the first sci-fi writer to think of the use of nuclear rockets, especially when the tech was new.  But as a solution for the immediate problem of getting deeper into the solar system, and Mars in particular, I considered using vintage nuclear rocket tech as the logical solution for the extended time in space problem; and also for minimizing space radiation exposure.  This is part of the backstory to The Cloud.  So I was very excited to see this article.

Now I’ll go one step further, and I will point out that if this technology is successful, it could finally be the solution to nuclear waste disposal.  The reason why we do not just put all the nuclear waste on Earth in a rocket and blast it off into the sun (which is a natural high-test fusion reactor, in case you are not a science nerd type and you are reading this) is because we tried that and it blew up in high atmosphere, providing quite a light show in the magnetosphere for a few days, I understand.  But if we can stabilize this technology enough to make it safe for human transport (well, as safe as astronauting gets, anyway) then I imagine it could be stabilized enough to provide a safe(ish) container to transport nuclear waste in.  Just sayin’.

By Charlie Wood

Dangerous radiation. Overstuffed pantries. Cabin fever. NASA could sidestep many of the impediments to a Mars mission if they could just get there faster. But sluggish chemical rockets aren’t cutting it — and to find what comes next, one group of engineers is rebooting research into an engine last fired in 1972.

The energy liberated by burning chemical fuel brought astronauts to the moon, but that rocket science makes for a long trip to Mars. And although search for a fission-based shortcut dates back to the 1950s, such engines have never flown. In August, NASA boosted those efforts when the agency announced an $18.8-million-dollar contract with nuclear company BWXT to design fuel and a reactor suitable for nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP), a rocket technology that could jumpstart a new era of space exploration.

Read the full article at Space.com.

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We Are All Allies

By Dan Koboldt

IKoboldtn some ways, publishing is a zero-sum game. There are only so many slots in the schedule of traditional publishers. Only ten books can occupy the top ten list, and only one can win the Hugo. Yet the most dangerous and pervasive threat to the aspiring author is not another author, nor is it a big bad publisher. Nor is it a certain online store. No, the biggest threat is the ever-shrinking reading time the average person has in our modern world.

Books once enjoyed very little competition in this arena. Now, time that was once given over to reading is spent on the internet, on social media, on Netflix. The geek who used to read forty hours a week now spends them playing Dragon Age. That’s why authors need to band together: to remind the world of the importance of books. To get them to choose reading over skimming and streaming. Mark my words, fellow authors, we will live or die by our ability to do so.

Read the full article at SFWA.org.

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