News from Brandon Q. Morris
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Solve the riddle of the Silent Sun

Is our sun behaving differently from other stars? When an amateur astronomer discovers something strange on telescopic solar pictures, an explanation must be found. Is it merely artefact? Or has he found something totally unexpected? An expert international crew is hastily assembled, a spaceship is speedily repurposed, and the foursome is sent on the ride of their lives. What challenges will they face on this spur-of-the-moment mission to our central star?

What awaits all of them is critical, not only for understanding the past, but even more so for the future of life on Earth.

Would you like to take a trip to our central star? Silent Sun is now available in e-book or in print formats.

I wish you much fun while reading it!

What can you expect next? All of my german language books are in translation right now. This means at least six more books this year. For the Mars Nation trilogy, I even intend a simultaneous worldwide release starting in summer. It will be a lot of work for my great editors Marcia and Steve. Each translator (I say hello to Frank, Will and Rachel!) adds a bit of his or her own voice, and the editors are responsible for making it one voice again.

Also, I'm planning a trip to New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada in early June. I will start in Albuquerque, see the VLA array, White Sands, Spaceport America ... Then I'll attend Amazons Re:Mars Conference in Las Vegas which is about robotics, artificial intelligence and space exploration. Very interesting for a SF writer! From there, I will drive south, pass Lowell Observatory (where Pluto was discovered) and see a space museum near Tucson, flying back from Phoenix.

I'm telling you this for two reasons: Maybe you would like to give me some hints about what not to miss? And also, if you live in the area, we could easily have a drink together. I really love to hear from my readers. Anyway, just send me a reply if you are interested. I'll land in Albuquerque on first of June.

Kind regards from my nightly desk!

Brandon Q. Morris

The weather for HR 8799 e
HR 8799 e is a rather inhospitable place. The celestial body discovered in 2010 and orbiting the 30-million-year-young star HR 8799 at a distance of 129 light-years from Earth is a gas giant similar to Jupiter. But its host star shines nearly five times brighter than our Sun, creating a significantly hotter atmosphere for HR 8799’s innermost planet (despite the “e,” HR 8799 e is the closest planet to its host star) than Jupiter. That is quite astonishing because at approximately 14.5 AU, HR 8799 e is almost five times farther from its host star than Jupiter is from our Sun. However, the gas giant also has five to ten times more mass and, because it is still rather young, like its star, has probably stored up a lot of heat from its birth phase. Astronomers at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) used the GRAVITY instrument on the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) to make the first direct observation of an exoplanet by means of interferometry using HR 8799 e as the test subject. Continue reading →
How to send a spaceship to the closest star using lasers

The StarShot program wants to accelerate mini-spaceships by means of laser bombardment to a velocity of one-quarter the speed of light so that they can reach our neighboring star, Proxima Centauri, within the foreseeable future. The technology sounds feasible, but still must overcome a few hurdles. Imagine you had to keep a ball floating in the air using a hairdryer. You will automatically think of a ping-pong ball floating a few inches above a fan. But could you accomplish this feat with a soccer ball located thirty feet above you? The hairdryer would have to be much larger and stronger.  Continue reading →

Did you miss one?
The Hole: Buy for $3.99
The Enceladus Mission: Buy for $2.99
The Titan Probe: Buy for $3.99
The Io Encounter: Buy for $3.99
Return to Enceladus: Buy for $3.99
What does the interior of Neptune or Uranus look like?
Exploring the interior of icy giant planets is not an easy task. Without more advanced technology, we won’t be able to use probes to make measurements on site, so researchers must rely on models. These models are based on what scientists know about the substances that make up these ice giants such as Neptune and Uranus. However, we can’t rule out that these models might contain errors. For example, it was previously assumed that carbon always took the form of diamond under very high pressures. Carbon and hydrogen are among the most abundant elements in the universe and make up a large portion of Neptune and Uranus, for example, in the form of methane. The deeper one goes down toward the center of either of these planets, the more extreme the conditions become. Initially, more complex structures of carbon and hydrogen are formed and then, at the very center, there is a solid core. Continue reading →
Is it possible to fly on Mars?
Of course, it’s possible to fly to Mars – but how about on Mars? The red planet’s atmosphere is significantly thinner than Earth’s. Atmospheric pressure at Mars’s surface is 0.00636 bar, which is one-hundred-fiftieth of the pressure at Earth’s surface. For a heavier-than-air aircraft to take off, it needs lift. It’s difficult to generate enough lift in such a thin atmosphere – but engineers at NASA’s JPL have apparently done it. Continue reading →
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