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This reminds me how, waaaay back, I played around with the random society generator tables in an old edition of Traveller and got belters with steam-era tech level. After a bit of thinking, I concluded it could work. IIRC John Ericson, the engineer who designed the Monitor, experimented with solar-powered steam engines. So, if an asteroid belt has lots of water and isn't too far from its star, you could have steam rockets with big mirrors to provide the heat; and in microgravity, not much thrust would be needed.

 

Dean Shomshak

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Delta Heavy Launch Yesterday. SpaceX launches have spoiled me, on their superior showmanship. This is a National Reconnaissance Office launch, and so their camera work isn't the greatest, but the launch was successful and there were some nice highlights:

 

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On 1/22/2019 at 5:22 AM, Christopher said:

Looks like the Moon got hit During teh Lunar Eclypse:

 

 

What I haven't seen yet is any kind of quantitative estimate for the brightness of the event or the size of the impactor, and that would, I think, be an interesting number.

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1 hour ago, Cancer said:

 

What I haven't seen yet is any kind of quantitative estimate for the brightness of the event or the size of the impactor, and that would, I think, be an interesting number.

Apparently it was only captured by hobby astronomers, not by any of the scientific Telescopes. So getting a reliable value for brightness (and everything you derive from it) is difficulty to impossible.

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The Feb. 2019 issue of Scientific American has a nifty article on the geology of Venus. The planet is a lot harder to study than Mars and has received far fewer visits, but scientists have found clever ways to make use of what information they have (mostly radar scans of the surface). Some think there's evidence on nascent plate tectonics.

 

Dean Shomshak

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On 1/20/2019 at 1:22 PM, DShomshak said:

This reminds me how, waaaay back, I played around with the random society generator tables in an old edition of Traveller and got belters with steam-era tech level. After a bit of thinking, I concluded it could work. IIRC John Ericson, the engineer who designed the Monitor, experimented with solar-powered steam engines. So, if an asteroid belt has lots of water and isn't too far from its star, you could have steam rockets with big mirrors to provide the heat; and in microgravity, not much thrust would be needed.

 

Dean Shomshak

I think I goofed around with the same table.?I think I went with steam powered fly wheels tossing rocks. So I could have stern wheelers in Space.?

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The Feb. 2, 2019 issue of The Economist has three space-related articles:

* A proposal that x-rays might be better than radio for interstellar communications. They spread out  more slowly, don't scatter as much, and there's a whole lot less natural x-ray sources to mask messages.

* A bit of rock brought back from the Moon by Apollo astronauts may originally have been a bit of the Earth. The two-gram grain from the Fra Mauro highlands is a bit of the slashed debris from the Late Heavy Bombardment impact that created the Mare Crisium. The zircon and quartz grains in the rock, however, are of a sort unlikely to have formed in Lunar conditions; they more plausibly formed on Earth. (The brief article doesn't say what features lead to this conclusion.) So, one LHB impact could have splashed the rock from Earth to the Moon (which at the time was only a third its current distance); then another impact put it on the Fra Mauro highlands; and now it's back to its planet of origin. This interests geologists, because the Earth has very little rock that is relatively unchanged from that long ago. (You can judge the rarity by geologists considering being through two massive impacts still "relatively unchanged.")

* And an article on Pentagon proposals for laser-armed satellites to shoot down missiles, in the latest iteration of "Star Wars" missile defense.  The article notes the vast expense of existing missile defense, the likelihood that it would fail against relatively small numbers of missiles, and a "detailed and scathing" analysis of boost-phase interception that the National Research Council produced in 2012. I simply remember a Scientific American article from the 1980s that concluded the laws of physics make any space-based missile defense system, well, considerably harder than advocates make it sound.

 

Dean Shomshak

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