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OUTREACH November 2007

November Meeting

      Oklahoma Space Alliance will meet at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 17 at the Koszorus' house in Norman. Prospective members are also welcome. Their house is at 514 Fenwick Court in Norman.
      This is the meeting at which we nominate officers. If you wish to serve as an officer of Oklahoma Space Alliance, please let us know at the meeting or contact Syd by e-mail at sydh@ou.edu. Syd will be sending out election ballots around the beginning of December by both e‑mail and snail mail. If you wish to be an officer, please contact him by December 1. Elections will be held on the Christmas Party on December 15.
      To get the meeting either: (1) Take the Robinson Street west exit off I-35. Proceed west to 36th Street where you will turn left, and go south until you turn left on Rambling Oaks (about half a mile north of Main Street). Fenwick Court is the third street on the left. Tom's house is the last on the left side, or (2) Take the Main Street west exit off I-35, proceed west past the Sooner Fashion Mall, and turn right at 36th Street, and go north until you turn right on Rambling Oaks (about half a mile north of Main Street). Fenwick Court is the third street on the left. Tom's house is the last on the left side


December Meeting

      The Oklahoma Space Alliance will have its annual Christmas Party on December 15 at the Koszoru residence, 514 Fenwick Court in Norman. Prospective members are also welcome. Directions are the same as for the November meeting. Arrive at 5:00 p.m., eat at 6:00 p.m. Elections will be at 7:00 – 7:15 p.m.
      This will be the meeting at which we elect officers.  Ballots will be mailed in Outreach in November. You can vote at the meeting if you wish; if you cannot, votes will be accepted through e-mail or by snail mail.  We will also be selecting officers of the Mars Society of Central Oklahoma.  We will also probably discuss ISDC business since we can’t help ourselves.
      For more information, call Tom at 366‑1797, Syd at 321‑4027, or Claire at 329‑4326.

Minutes of October Meeting

      Oklahoma Space Alliance met at the Koszorus’ on October 20. Attending were Tom and Heidi Koszoru, Claire McMurray, Tim Scott and Syd Henderson.
      Claire went to the Astronomy Club meeting in Oklahoma City. They will be having a Star Party on the nights of November 16 and 17. Syd is to check their web site for future Sky parties [They will also be having Dark Sky parties on December 1 and 8 and a Christmas Party on the December 14. These are now listed in the Calendar section where I’ll try to remember to list them. Their web site is www.okcastroclub.com] Claire suggested that we may want to attend the event on November 17, which falls on the night of our meeting.
      Syd needs to check with the robotics people about future events and invite David Miller and Cathryne Stein to our Christmas Party.
      We discussed fundraisers, including selling NSS Calendars. Syd is buying an extra one for his father.
      How can Yuri’s Night be turned into a fundraiser? Tom suggested that we could work with the Knights of Columbus for a casino night. There is a $500 down payment of which we would provide $200 – 250. For casino night there are three people for a table and they’ll have to wear tuxedos. We use funny money. Admission is charged to the whole event. Oklahoma Space Alliance and maybe the Omniplex can do it.
      Another suggestion is a dance, presumably charging admission.
      We have had a page in Ad Astra for the last three months for chapter events. Claire will forward three digital photographs of our display at TrickConTreat from early October.
      Tom is going to do an orientation for chapters on Second Life. Tom is Chair of the Chapters Assembly of the National Space Society.
      We need to provide for tags (plates?) for the “Space Trees” we gave to the Oklahoma Spaceport and Omniplex. These two tags will cost $25 apiece.
      We looked on YouTube for a demo of Second Life, but we couldn’t get it to play.
      Someone suggested doing a slide show of what our probes have found. We also suggested doing an alternative afternoon thing for kids.
      We talked about bringing back Space Alliance letterhead. We had some several years ago, but that reflected obsolete contact information, and, if there was a website, it’s one we haven’t used for years. Syd suggested that we should keep the headers on a computer and print it off as we need it.
      The Christmas Party will be December 15 at 5:00 p.m.
      We need to put Congresswoman Mary Fallin on our e-mail list, and e‑mail copies to the appropriate staffer.

Viewing Opportunities for Satellites (November 17 – December 15)

      NASA has dropped the International Space Station from the list of satellites covered by J-Pass, although they are still covered on the Orbital Tracking page via spaceflight1.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/. This only seems to give you data for a couple of weeks. J-Pass still covers unmanned satellites at science.nasa.gov/Realtime/JPass/.
      You can get sighting information at http://www.heavens-above.com/. Heavens Above allows you to get Station data for 10 day periods, and gives you a constellation map showing the trajectory of the satellite. If you go to the bottom of the map page, it will give you a really detailed map with the location at 10 or 15-second intervals, depending on detail. In fact, the detailed charts will even show you the tracks against maps of the constellations, which should help you if you are familiar with the night sky.
      Sky Online (the Sky & Telescope web site) carries station observation times for the next few nights at skyandtelescope.com/observing/almanac. Note that with the addition of the solar panels, the magnitude of the Space Station is now -1.0, making it brighter than all the stars other than the Sun and Sirius, and the planet Saturn as well. The Hubble Space Telescope can get up to magnitude 1.5, which is brighter than the stars in the Big Dipper, although, since it is lower in the sky, it is a bit more difficult to see. 
      Missions to the Space Station or Hubble Space Telescope may change its orbit. At this writing, the target date for the Atlantis launch to the Space Station is December. The next repair mission to the Space Telescope is planned for August 7, 2008.

HST  November 19, 2007
Time       Position       Elevation
6:27 p.m.    216°           19°
6:28            197            26
6:29            172            28
6:30            147            26
6:31            129            19

HST  November 20, 2007
Time       Position       Elevation
6:26 p.m.    221°           21°
6:27            202            27
6:28            176            31
6:29            149            27
6:30            130            21

HST  November 21, 2007
Time       Position       Elevation
6:24 p.m.    226°           21°
6:25            207            28
6:26            180            32
6:27            152            28
6:28            133            21

Station    November 22, 2007
Time       Position       Elevation
6:33 a.m.    316°           17°
6:34            320            35
6:35              37            79
6:36            123            37*
6:37            128            18
*Passes 2° from Venus

HST  November 22, 2007
Time       Position       Elevation
6:22 p.m.    229°           21°
6:23            211            28
6:24            183            31
6:25            156            28
6:26            137            21

HST  November 19, 2007
Time       Position       Elevation
6:21 p.m.    231°           20°
6:22            213            26
6:23            188            29
6:24            162            26
6:25            143            20

Station    November 24, 2007
Time       Position       Elevation
Appears from Earth’s shadow at
5:44:40 a.m.    2°          70°
5:45              31            74
5:46            119            36
5:47            125            17

Station    December 2, 2007
Time       Position       Elevation
6:43 p.m.    218°          17°
6:44            209            36
6:45            137            69
Vanishes into Earth’s shadow

Station    December 4, 2007
Time       Position       Elevation
5:53 p.m.    215°          17°
5:54            204            35
5:55            131            63
5:56              67            33
5:57              57            17

      Pass times are from Heavens Above.
      Key: Position is measured in degrees clockwise from north. That is, 0° is due north, 90° is due east, 180° is due south, and 270° is due west.  Your fist held at arm's length is about ten degrees wide. "Elevation" is elevation above the horizon in degrees. Thus to find the International Space Station at .6:34 a.m. on November 22, measure five fist-widths north from due north, then three-and-a-half fist-widths above the horizon.
      In addition to the J-Pass program which I use to provide this satellite viewing data, J-Pass provides a service called J-Pass Generator, which will e‑mail you sighting information for the next three days for up to ten satellites. For more information, go to science.nasa.gov/Realtime/JPass/PassGenerator/.

Calendar of Events

      I’ve been adding links to all the space probes mentioned here. If you know of some I’m missing, please let me know. Links are at the first appearance of the mission in the calendar. Wikipedia tends to have pages on all major space missions, even when I haven’t mentioned them, with links to the mission web sites.
      November 16 – 17: Oklahoma City Astronomy Club will be having a public star party at Greenleaf State Park. To reserve a spot or get directions, contact Glen Kilgour at observingcoodinator@okcastroclub.com.
      November 17: [tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
      November 17: Peak of Leonid meteor shower.
      December 2007-January 2008: Naked-eye Comet 8P/Tuttle peaks, probably at around 4th magnitude.
      December 1: Oklahoma City Astronomy Club has a dark sky party at the Cheddar Ranch. Go to www.okcastroclub.com/Docs/CROmap.pdf for directions.
      December 6: Launch of Atlantis to the International Space Station.
      December 8: Oklahoma City Astronomy Club has a dark sky party at the Cheddar Ranch. Go to www.okcastroclub.com/Docs/CROmap.pdf for directions.
      December 14: Peak of Geminid meteor shower.
      December 14: Oklahoma City Astronomy Club meets at the Omniplex Planetarium at 6:45 p.m. This is their Christmas Party.
      December 15: Oklahoma Space Alliance Christmas Party at the Koszorus. Arrive at 5:00 p.m. eat at 6:00, elections at 7:00 – 7:15.
      December 22: Winter solstice is 12:08 p.m.
      December 24: Mars is at opposition with magnitude -1.6.
      January 3, 2008: Peak of Quadrantid meteor shower. This shower is named after the obsolete constellation Quadrans Muralis. The radiant is in Boötes.
      January 14, 2008: MESSENGER's first flyby of Mercury. For information on the MESSENGER mission, visit http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/ or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MESSENGER. MESSENGER is an acronym for Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging, which shows how far you have to go sometimes to get a cool acronym.
      January 20, 2008: Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation, 19° east of the Sun (hence can be seen after sunset).
      February 5, 2008. Launch of the Gamma-Ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST).
      February 14, 2008. Launch of Endeavour with the Kibo Japanese Experiment Logistics Module to the Space Station.
      February 20, 2008: Total lunar eclipse visible from North America.
      February 24, 2008: Saturn is at opposition.
      April 2008: India launches its lunar probe Chandrayaan 1. [Postponed from September.] The craft will orbit the Moon at an altitude of 60 miles for two years. For information, visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chandrayaan or
      May 18, 2008: The Phoenix Mars Mission arrives at Mars. For details, see http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/.
      May 23 – 26, 2008: 27th International Space Development Conference in Washington, DC.  Web site is http://isdc.nss.org/2008/.
      June 8, 2008: Venus is in superior conjunction with respect to the Sun.
      July 9, 2008: Jupiter is at opposition.
      July 31, 2008: Launch of the Planck Surveyor and Herschel Space Observatory from Kourou, French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5. For more information, visit www.rssd.esa.int/index.php?project=Planck, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planck_Surveyor, http://herschel.esac.esa.int/ and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herschel_Space_Observatory. [The spaces in the Wikipedia URLs are underlines.]
      August 7, 2008: Repair mission to Hubble Space Telescope. [Updated September 6, 2007.]
      September 5, 2008 The ESA's Rosetta asteroid & comet probe passes by asteroid 2867 Steins. Web page is www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Rosetta or visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosetta_%28spacecraft%29.  
      October 6, 2008: MESSENGER's second flyby of Mercury.
      October 28, 2008: The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is launched. It will assume a polar orbit. The mission will last at least a year. For more information, visit http://lunar.gsfc.nasa.gov/ or en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_Reconnaissance_Orbiter.
      January 14, 2009: Venus is at maximum eastern elongation, 47.1° east of the Sun.
      March 2009: Dawn asteroid probe flies by Mars.
      March 8, 2009: Saturn is at opposition.
      August 10, 2009: Saturn’s rings are edge-on with respect to the Sun.
      August 14, 2009: Jupiter is at opposition.
      September 4, 2009: Saturn’s rings appear edge-on.
      September 30, 2009: MESSENGER's third flyby of Mercury.
      October 2009: Russia launches Phobos-Grunt, a sample return mission to Martian moon Phobos. For more information, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phobos-Grunt.
      December 2009: The Mars Science Laboratory is launched. See http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ for details.
      January 29, 2010: Mars is at opposition with magnitude -1.3.
      June 2010: Hayabusa returns to Earth with a sample of asteroid Itokawa.  This will be the first asteroid sample returned to Earth. Web site is www.isas.jaxa.jp/e/enterp/missions/hayabusa/index.shtml.
      June 2010: Japan launches the Venus Climate Orbiter (aka Planet‑C) to Venus. Web page is http://www.jaxa.jp/projects/sat/planet_c/index_e.html.
      July 10, 2010: The Rosetta comet probe passes asteroid 21 Lutetia.
      September 21, 2010: Jupiter is at opposition. This is the closest Jupiter will come to Earth in the next 20 years, about 370 million miles.
      October 2010: The Mars Science Laboratory rover lands on Mars. See http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ for details.
      December 2010: Japan’s Venus Climate Orbiter arrives at Venus.
      October 2011: Dawn probe orbits Vesta.
      March 18, 2011: MESSENGER goes into orbit around Mercury.
      October 2011 – April 2012: Dawn probe orbits Vesta.
      Sometime in 2012: Russia launches the “Luna-Glob” mission which will deploy 13 mini-probes upon the lunar surface.
      March 3, 2012: Mars is at opposition at magnitude -1.2. This is the worst opposition for the next twenty years.
      April 2012: Dawn probe leaves orbit around Vesta for Ceres.
      June 6, 2012: Venus transits the Sun's disk.  The early part of this will be visible from the United States, but the full transit will only be visible from the western Pacific Ocean, eastern Asia, eastern Australia, and eastern Indonesia including New Guinea.
      Sometime in 2013: ESA launches the ExoMars Mars Rover. For more information, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exomars.
      June 2013: Earliest date for the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope.
      August 2013 (approximate): The European Space Agency/JAXA BepiColombo Mercury Orbiter is launched. Home page is sci.esa.int/science-e/www/area/index.cfm?fareaid=30.
      August 2014 - December 2015: The Rosetta space probe orbits comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. In November, 2014, it will release the Philae lander. See September 5, 2008 for website information.
      Sometime in 2015 or 2016: Launch of SIM PlanetQuest (aka the Space Interferometry Mission). This mission was originally supposed to have been launched in 2005 and has been delayed at least five times. It was recently moved from 2012. For more information, visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Interferometry_Mission.
      February 2015: Dawn space probe arrives at Ceres. Operations are scheduled to continue through July. Dawn may continue on to other asteroids if it is still operational.
      July 14. 2015: The New Horizons probe passes through the Pluto-Charon system. The New Horizons web site is http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/.
      July 2016-2020:  The New Horizons probe visits the Kuiper Belt.
      August 21, 2017: The next total solar eclipse visible in the United States, on a pretty straight path from Portland, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina.  St. Louis is the biggest city in-between.
      August 2019 (approximate) BepiColombo arrives at Mercury orbit.
      April 8, 2024: A total solar eclipse crosses the US from the middle of the Mexico-Texas border, crosses Arkansas, southern Missouri, Louisville, Cleveland, Buffalo and northern New England.
      August 12, 2045: The next total solar eclipse visible in Oklahoma.  This one is also visible in Salt Lake City, Denver, Little Rock (again), Tampa Bay and New Orleans.

Sky Viewing

      Comet Holmes is still easily visible to the naked eye. It is in Perseus near the second-magnitude star Mirfak. (Perseus is the constellation on the other side of Cassiopeia from Polaris.)
      The Leonid meteor shower peaks on November 17, but is expected to be rather weak. You’re better off waiting for the Geminids, which peak on the morning of December 14. The Geminids actually last from December 7 through 17, and are also visible in late evening on December 13. This is usually the second best meteor shower after the Perseids, and, unlike the Perseids, it takes place on one of the longest nights of the year. The meteors appear to come from Gemini, which is high in the sky at midnight.
      The nearly full moon will cross the Pleiades on December 21, as seen from Europe and Newfoundland. Most of the United States and Canada will see the moon just after it’s finished passing through the Pleiades.
      On December 24-25, the Moon will occult Mars, Unfortunately, this will be visible from northwestern United States and western Canada, northern Asia and northern Europe.
      Mars is currently rising about 8:30 p.m. and is visible all night. It is currently magnitude -0.7, which is brighter than all the stars except Sirius and Canopus. Mars will be at opposition on December 24, and during the second half of December will be around magnitude -1.6, which is actually brighter than Sirius and Canopus.
      This opposition of Mars is the best until 2006. Mars will actually appear to move backward in the Zodiac from November 15 until January 30 because the Earth is overtaking it.
      Venus is currently magnitude -4.2 and is conspicuous in the eastern sky before dawn. It was at greatest elongation on October 28, so it is still near its maximum separation from the Sun.  It will remain around the same magnitude through December. Venus is gradually moving away from us and will be in superior conjunction with the Sun on June 8 after which it will be visible in the evening sky. Oddly, Venus never reaches greatest elongation in 2008—the next time is January, 2009.
      Mercury is currently magnitude -0.6 and is visible about an hour before sunrise. The bright star halfway between Venus and the horizon is Spica; Mercury is a little bit north of the imaginary line from Venus through Spica to the horizon.
      The very bright planet low in the western sky just after sunset is Jupiter, which is currently magnitude -1.9. Jupiter will not be visible during much of December because it will be in conjunction on December 20.
      Saturn, on the other hand is rising just after midnight and is magnitude 0.8, which is easily visible. This is rather dim for Saturn, and is because its rings are tilted only seven degrees to our line of sight. The rings tilt will be shrinking from now until September 4, 2009, when they will be edge-on to our line of sight.
      Saturn is currently in the constellation Leo and is more than half a magnitude brighter than Regulus, the first-magnitude star in the sickle of Leo. Saturn will get up to magnitude by the end of December, by which time it will be rising around 10:00 p.m.
      Uranus is magnitude 5.8 and is in the evening sky in the constellation Aquarius. Neptune is magnitude 7.9 and is one constellation over in Capricornus. Both should be visible with binoculars, and Uranus is theoretically visible to the naked eye. Finder charts are on the Sky & Telescope web site, www.skyandtelescope.com via the “Sky at a Glance” button.
      Pluto, which is impossible to see without a good telescope anyway, is too close in the sky to the Sun to be observed. Pluto is in conjunction with the Sun on December 20.

Space News

      The Chinese lunar probe Chang’e 1 was launched on October 24 and entered lunar orbit on November 5. Photographs are expected in late November. This is the first Chinese lunar probe, making it the fifth space power to send a craft to orbit the Moon. (The others are the USSR/Russia, United States, Japan and the European Space Agency.) Chang’e 1 is to orbit the Moon for at least a year, mapping its surface and the distribution of useful elements, including Helium-3.
      China is apparently planning to take its time with its lunar mission. Chang’e 2 will not launch until 2011 or 2012 and will carry a robot lunar rover. Chang’e 3, sometime around 2017, will be a sample-return mission. The first manned probe probably will be around 2020.
      Lunar orbit is starting to be a busy place. As reported in last month’s Update, Japan’s SELENE mission put a new orbiter, Kayuga, around the Moon, and India is preparing to launch its orbiter, Chandrarayaan-1 in April 2008, with a rover of its own in a few years. NASA’s sending up the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in late 2008.

      On October 18, NASA terminated its contract with Rocketplane Kistler for the production of a resupply vehicle to the International Space Station because Rocketplane failed to meet required funding deadlines. The contract was jointly awarded to SpaceX and Rocketplane Kistler on 18 August 2006. SpaceX has met its funding deadline so there is no problem for it. The remaining $175 million on the contract is now available to other companies. Rocketplane Kistler appealed NASA’s decision. Rocketplane Kistler can submit a proposal when the other companies bid, but it looks to me like they have simply lost their chance.

      A fifth planet has been discovered around the star 55 Cancri A (aka Rho1 Cancri A), which is the most that have been discovered around any star other than the sun. The new planet is 45 times the mass of the Earth and half the mass of Saturn, and about as far from 55 Cancri A as Venus is from the Sun. Since 55 Cancri A is slightly less massive than the Sun, this puts the planet within the habitable zone. The planet itself is too massive to support life as we know it, but an oversized moon might be able to support life.
      As for the other planets, 44 Cancri Ae is about eleven times the mass of the Earth and orbits its star every three days at a distance of only 3.5 million miles or a tenth the distance of Mercury from the Sun. 55 Cancri Ab is a “hot Jupiter” with about the mass of Jupiter which orbits star every 15 days at a distance about 30% that of Mercury from the Sun. 55 Cancri Ac is about half the mass of Saturn and orbits its star every 44 days at about 2/3 the distance of Mercury from the Sun. Finally, 55 Cancri Ad is about four times the mass of Jupiter, and orbits its star every 14 years at a distance of 536 million miles, a little farther than Jupiter is from the Sun. Interestingly, nothing has been found yet in orbits corresponding to Earth, Mars or the Asteroid Belt.
      The Minor Planet Center sent out an e-mail last week reporting that a newly reported asteroid, 2007 VN84, was going to miss the earth by about 3500 miles, which is less than half the diameter of Earth.
      Fortunately a scientist at Moscow’s Space Research Institute noticed that the asteroid’s trajectory matched that of the Rosetta comet probe, which is due for a flyby on November 13 to pick up a gravitational boost.
      The Minor Planet Center has withdrawn its prediction.

      A temperature map of Neptune has revealed that the warmest place on the planet is in fact the South Pole. This is because for the last 40 years the South Pole has been facing the Sun and has been warming up. Methane has been rising into Neptune’s stratosphere in the south polar area, presumably being boosted by the extra warmth, and, since methane is a greenhouse gas, helping to warm the region even more. This is a temporary phenomenon. 80 years from now it will be Neptune’s North Pole which will be the hot spot.

      Mars Express has detected what appear to be massive underground deposits of ice in the Medusae Fossae Formation at the Martian equator. If confirmed the deposits are up to 1.5 thick and contain about as much water as icecap at the Martian South Pole.

      Jerome Orosz of San Diego State University and his colleagues have discovered a black hole with the mass of 15.65 suns. This is the heaviest stellar mass black hole ever recorded, and, according to theory, it shouldn’t exist. It has a 70-solar mass companion, which means that, the star that became a black hole has already collapsed, it must have been even more massive, perhaps on the order of 100 solar masses. (The more massive the star, the faster it uses up its fuel and burns out.) Such a star should lose a lot of mass from stellar wind, and also lose a great deal of mass to its companion star.
      To make matters worse, a team led by Andrea Prestwich in Cambridge, Massachusetts think they have found a black hole whose mass is 25 – 34 solar masses.

Space-Related Articles

      The 12 October issue of Science has a 30-page section on the results of New Horizons’ flyby of Jupiter. New Horizons flew about 1.4 million miles from Jupiter; in other words, it passed outside the orbits of all four major moons of Jupiter. It did observe Jupiter’s major moons, some of the minor moons (particularly Amalthea) and analyzed its magnetosphere.
      New Horizons now has a long lonely journey to go, since it won’t arrive at Pluto until July, 2015.

      “Black Hole Universe Makes Dark Energy,” by Zeeya Merali, New Scientist, 6 October 2007, page 16. Odd things happen at the horizon of a black hole. In empty space, virtual pairs of particles, one matter and one anti-matter are being created and destroyed all the time. This is because of the Heisenberg Uncertainly Principle, which allows for these particles to “borrow” energy as long as they disappear before they can be observed. But if a virtual pair is created at the event horizon of a black hole, one of the pair may be trapped inside the black hole, leaving the other to keep existing. The energy that goes into its mass comes from the black hole itself. The stream of particles that are produced is called “Hawking radiation” after Stephen Hawking, who first predicted in the 1970s.
      A similar effect happens at the edge of the observable universe, the “cosmological horizon.” Jae-Weon Lee’s team of the Korea Institute for Advanced Study in Seoul thinks that the energy produced counts for the “dark energy” which is causing the expansion of the Universe to accelerate.
      [Note: I read a paper in the late 70s or early 80s by Stephen Hawking that demonstrated a similar effect at the boundary where the red shift of the expanding universe reaches the speed of light. I think this is the same boundary. Hawking used it to expand the inflationary universe; Lee is trying to accelerate that expansion.--Syd]

      “Pangaea, the Comeback,” by Caroline Williams and Ted Nield, New Scientist, 20 October 2007, pp. 36-40. 250 million years ago, all the worlds major landmasses had combined in a single supercontinent now called Pangaea. 250 million years from now, it will happen again as North and South America collide with Asia (although apparently Antarctica will be left out in the cold.)
      Supercontinents happen every five hundred million years or so. About a billion years ago, there was Rodinia, and before that there are theoretical supercontinents named Nuna at 1.8 billion BC, Kenorland at 2.5 billion BC and Ur around 3 billion BC. These earlier supercontinents are a lot more uncertain since there has been so much movement and erosion since then.

      “Antique Fridge Could Keep Venus Rover Cool,” by David Shiga, New Scientist web site, 12 November 2007. [Presumably it will appear in the next issue of New Scientist.]
      Although a number of Russian probes and one NASA probe have landed on the surface of Venus, none have lasted more than a couple of hours because of the extreme heat and atmospheric pressure. Geoffrey Landis and Kenneth Mellott at the Glenn Research Center in Ohio have designed a refrigerator for a Venus Rover which should keep the electronics cool enough to allow the Rover to operate up to 50 days, “Cool” here is a relative term.  We’re talking 400° F instead of 850° F.
      In case Geoffrey Landis’s name is familiar, yes, he is the same as the science fiction writer Geoffrey A Landis who has won both Nebula and Hugo Awards for his short stories. He’s also written numerous scientific papers and worked on both the Rover team for Mars Pathfinder and also is on the science team for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers.
      The refrigerator design is based on that of the Stirling Cooler, which was invented by Reverend Robert Sterling in 1816. The Stirling Cooker is a closed system device that uses a piston to transfer heat. Essentially it compresses gas, allows heat to radiate, then expands the gas around the electronics. When gas expands, it cools, which cools the electronics. The device uses an external power source, which in the case of the Venus Rover, would be supplied by powered by plutonium batteries.

      “New Worlds on the Horizon: Earth-Sized Planets Close to Other Stars,” by Eric Gaidos, Nader Haghighipour, Aric Agol, David Latham, Sean Raymond and John Raynor; Science, 12 October 2007, pp. 210-213. This is a paper on potential methods to detect small exoplanets, including transits and Doppler shifts. Generally, Earth-sized planets are too small to be detected by current methods (except for planets of pulsars), but that will soon change.
      One method I hadn’t seen discussed before is detection of a small exoplanet by its gravitational effect on a larger one that transits its star. The gravitational effect would cause the times of transits to shift by several minutes in a cycle that should be detectable from Earth.

Oklahoma Space Alliance Officers, 2007 (Area Code 405)

Tom Koszoru, President                                      366-1797 (H)
John Northcutt, Vice-President                            390-3476 (H)
Syd Henderson, Secretary & Outreach Editor     321-4027 (H)
Tim Scott, Treasurer                                            740-7549 (H)
Claire McMurray, Update Editor             329-4326 (H)  863-6173 (C)

OSA E-mail Addresses and Web Site: (Substitute "@" for " at "

claire.mcmurray at sbcglobal.net(Claire McMurray, new address)
T_Koszoru at cox.net (Heidi and Tom Koszoru)
sydh at ou.edu(Syd Henderson)
ctscott at mac.com (Tim Scott)
john.d.northcutt at tds.net (John Northcutt)
lensman13 at aol.com (Steve Galpin)
dmcraig@earthlink.net (Nancy and David Craig).
      E-mail for OSA should be sent to sydh@ou.edu.  Members who wish  their e-mail addresses printed in Outreach, and people wishing space-related materials e-mailed to them should contact Syd.  Oklahoma Space Alliance website is chapters.nss.org/ok/osanss.html. Webmaster is Syd Henderson.

Other Information

      Air and Space Museum: Omniplex, Oklahoma City, 602‑6664 or 1-800-532-7652.
      Oklahoma Space Industrial Development Authority (OSIDA), 401 Sooner Drive/PO Box 689, Burns Flat, OK 73624, 580-562-3500.  Web site www.state.ok.us/~okspaceport.
      Tulsa Air and Space Museum, 7130 E. Apache, Tulsa, OK  74115.
Web Site is www.tulsaairandspacemuseum.com.  Phone (918)834-9900.
      The Mars Society address is Mars Society, Box 273, Indian Hills CO 80454. Their web address is www.marsociety.org.
      The National Space Society's Headquarters phone is 202-429-1600.  The Chapters Coordinator is Bennett Rutledge 720-529-8024.  The address is:  National Space Society, 1620 I (Eye) Street NW Ste. 615, Washington, DC 20006.    Web page is www.nss.org.  
      NASA Spacelink BBS  205-895-0028.  Or try www.nasa.gov.  .
      Congressional Switchboard 202/224-3121.
       Write to any U. S. Senator or Representative at [name]/ Washington DC, 20510 (Senate) or 20515 [House].

 A Chapter of the National Space Society


Please enroll me as a member of Oklahoma Space Alliance.  Enclosed is:
          ___                       $10.00 for Mem­bership.  (This allows full voting privileges, but covers only your own newsletter expense.)
___________________ $15.00 for family membership

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          National Space Society has a special $20 introductory rate for new members ($35 for new international members).  Regular membership rates are $45, international $60.  Student memberships are $20.  Part of the cost is for the magazine, Ad Astra.  Mail to: National Space Society, 1620 I (Eye) Street NW, Washington DC 20006, or join at www.nss.org/membership. (Brochures are at the bottom with the special rate.) Be sure to ask them to credit your membership to Oklahoma Space Alliance.
          To join the Mars Society, visit.  One-year memberships are $50.00; student and senior memberships are $25, and Family memberships are $100.00.    Their address is Mars Society, Box 273, Indian Hills CO 80454.

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OSA Memberships are for 1 year, and include a subscription to our monthly newsletters, Outreach and Update.  Send check & form to Oklahoma Space Alliance, 102 W. Linn, #1, Norman, OK 73071.

To contact Oklahoma Space Alliance, e-mail Syd Henderson.
102 W. Linn St. #1
Norman OK 73069
Copyright ©2007 Oklahoma Space Alliance.