WOW! A cool SETI theory…

Figure: The Wow! Signal. The peak is 32 times the signal to noise ratio of the observations. Courtesy of Sam Morrell. (From the article)

Not much more to be said so I post the intro to the article from Centauri Dreams, about an article/Theory by James Benford. Cool…

Was the Wow! Signal Due to Power Beaming Leakage?


The Wow! signal has a storied history in the SETI community, a one-off detection at the Ohio State ‘Big Ear’ observatory in 1977 that Jim Benford, among others, considers the most interesting candidate signal ever received. A plasma physicist and CEO of Microwave Sciences, Benford returns to Centauri Dreams today with a closer look at the signal and its striking characteristics, which admit to a variety of explanations, though only one that the author believes fits all the parameters. A second reception of the Wow! might tell us a great deal, but is such an event likely? So far all repeat observations have failed and, as Benford points out, there may be reason to assume they must. The essay below is a shorter version of the paper Jim has submitted to Astrobiology.

Our space science Economy has assets

An artist’s depiction of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft at work at the asteroid Bennu. (Image: © NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center)

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx probe could make a 2nd stop at infamous asteroid Apophis, at, and noted in several space related blogs, eMags. This sounds like a fantastic use of a remarkable space asset.

The Japanese asteroid prospector Hayabusa2 dropped off its samples from Ryugu at Earth and is on its way for more exploration last year: Farewell, Ryugu! Japan’s Hayabusa2 Probe Leaves Asteroid for Journey Home

These craft and others such as craft like the voyagers continue to return immensely valuable data long after their primary mission is complete. One of the things NASA and other space science organizations struggle with is supporting these ships long after the original funding timeline is past. This is a great problem to have and by and large the money is found since these are very cheap deep space projects in the big picture.

So my title, the economy of ‘outer space’ is all about data, science, prospecting right now. These are valuable assets that we need to support to provide returns orders of magnitude greater than the cost in the sense of other ways of getting that data, data that is both live affirming in its fascination and valuable as part of the bedrock of our understanding of the universe.


Cool Stars, Kinda Literally

Image: This artist’s conception illustrates what brown dwarfs of different types might look like to a hypothetical interstellar traveler who has flown a spaceship to each one…. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

There are a class of celestial objects much heavier than our systems Jupiter but about the same size. They are not really planets just balls of dense hot gas, but they are not really stars because they lack the mass to collapse and heat their core to ignite sustained fusion. These Brown Dwarves are probably one of the most common objects in our universe but little is known about them because until recently they were essentially impossible to find. With new tools and new techniques this fascinating class of in between are coming into focus.

Another fascinating article from Centauri Dreams.

Juno extended mission

Juno at Jupiter: Extended Mission Flybys of Galilean Moons
by PAUL GILSTER on JANUARY 11, 2021, Centauri Dreams

The proposed Juno extended mission (EM) would take advantage of the natural northward progression of the periapsis of the spacecraft’s orbit and the consequent lowering of spacecraft altitudes over Jupiter’s high northern latitudes. The EM would run until the end of the mission, with an expected duration of approximately four years. Under the High and Medium Scenarios, propulsive maneuvers would be utilized not only to target Jupiter-crossing longitude and perijove altitude, as during the prime mission, but also to target close flybys of Ganymede, Europa, and Io. The flyby maneuvers would act to shorten the spacecraft orbital period, yielding more close passes of Jupiter within a given time interval, and increase the rate of northward movement of spacecraft perijove. Under the Low scenario for EM operation, the satellite gravity assists and close satellite flybys would not be attempted.

from the Senior Review

Exciting new data from Jupiter inbound over the next 5 years. Just in time for this….

SpaceX starship at Jupiter (early concept)

Icy moons, exciting targets of exploration

The Interior of Enceladus Looks Really Great for Supporting Life
Article in UniverseToday on one of Saturn’s moons

In the early days of space exploration it was the rocky planets, particularly Mars and Venus that held some hope of significant life. Though those with the tools of observation and analysis were pretty negative and life in the rest of the solar system looked impossible. But as our knowledge and tools expanded the icy moons quickly became of interest because as cold region natives know, ice is not a bad insulator and a couple of miles of it would protect a lake. These days it seems pretty clear that Icy Moons often have oceans, seas or lakes inside, and the heat that melts the ice from underneath (from orbital stresses and or radioactive decay) could quite conceivably support life.

The article linked discusses model based research based on data from earlier orbiters and flybys. It shows that notionally their are several mechanisms that could be feeding nutrients and energy sources into the ocean of Enceladus, at a rate suffient to support a significant biome.

There are lots of other interesting articles on space at universe today website, take a look.

For Hubble, a long healthy life possible, could it be extended further?

Read more at:

Healthy Hubble telescope raises hopes of longer life BY WILLIAM HARWOOD FOR CBS NEWS “SPACE PLACE”

We can hope that it lasts long enough for a new manned or unmanned service mission. Hubble would seem to be an ideal target for a robotic repair mission demonstrating sophisticated, heavy weight-complex repair mission/capability.

Earth Sized Exo Planets…


The smaller of the two planets, dubbed Kepler-20 e, is about the size of Venus, with a radius 0.87 times that of Earth. It orbits its star every 6 Earth days and sits at a temperature of 1,040 Kelvin — hot enough to vaporize any atmosphere and leave a solid hunk of silica- and iron-rich rock.


Kepler-20 f, the larger planet with a radius 1.03 times that of Earth, has a 20-day orbit. As a result, it is a bit less scorching, at 705 Kelvin. At that temperature, says Fressin, hydrogen and helium wouldn’t survive in the atmosphere, but a shroud of water vapour might.


Then there is this planet Alpha Centauri Bb


This planet orbits very close to its star, like Kepler-20 e, in fact its close enough that its surface is most likely molten.  But its only 4 light years away and generally where there is one planet there are likely others.  This planet was not discovered by the Kepler observatory and there is some discussion as to the data set used to derive its existence…but it seems likely that its there and it’s certainly cool….

A felt of stars

A rich collection of colourful astronomical objects is revealed in this picturesque image of the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Explorer, or WISE. The Rho Ophiuchi cloud (pronounced ‘oh-fee-yoo-ki’ and named after a bright star in the region) is found rising above the plane of the Milky Way in the night sky, bordering the constellations Ophiuchus and Scorpius. It’s one of the nearest star-forming regions to Earth, allowing us to resolve much more detail than in more distant similar regions, like the Orion nebula.

The amazing variety of different colours seen in this image represents different wavelengths of infrared light. The bright white nebula in the centre of the image is glowing due to heating from nearby stars, resulting in what is called an emission nebula. The same is true for most of the multi-hued gas prevalent throughout the entire image, including the bluish bow-shaped feature near the bottom right. The bright red area in the bottom right is light from the star in the centre – Sigma Scorpii – that is reflected off of the dust surrounding it, creating what is called a reflection nebula. And the much darker areas scattered throughout the image are pockets of cool dense gas that block out the background light, resulting in absorption (or ‘dark’) nebulae. WISE’s longer wavelength detectors can typically see through dark nebulae, but these are exceptionally opaque.

The bright pink objects just left of centre are young stellar objects (YSOs). These baby stars are just now forming; many of them are still enveloped in their own tiny compact nebulae. In visible light, these YSOs are completely hidden in the dark nebula that surrounds them, which is sometimes referred to as their baby blanket. We can also see some of the oldest stars in our Milky Way Galaxy in this image, found in two separate (and much more distant) globular clusters. The first cluster, M80, is on the far right edge of the image towards the top. The second, NGC 6144, is found close to the bottom edge near the centre. They both appear as small densely compacted groups of blue stars. Globular clusters such as these typically harbour some of the oldest stars known, some as old as 13 billion years, born soon after the Universe formed.

 There are two other items of interest in this image as well. At the 3 o’clock position, relative to the bright central region, and about two-thirds of the way from the centre to the edge, there is a small faint red dot. That dot is an entire galaxy far, far away known as PGC 090239. And, at the bottom left of the image, there are two lines emerging from the edge. These were not created by foreground satellites; they are diffraction spikes (optical artefacts from the space telescope) from the bright star Antares that is just out of the field of view.