writes: The long beleaguered experimental magnetic confinement fusion reactor ITER, is currently in what some are calling the worst crisis of its 25 year history. Still existing only on the paper of thousands of proposed design documents, latest cost estimates for the superconducting behemoth are soaring to nearly 20 billion USD; roughly twice the estimates of as recent as a few years ago. Anti-nuclear environmentalist organizations have seized upon the moment as an opportunity to use the current global economic crisis as a means to push for permanently killing the project. If ITER is not built, the prospect of magnetic confinement fusion as a technique to reach thermonuclear breakeven and ignition in the laboratory would be in serious question. Meanwhile, the largest laser-driven inertial confinement fusion project, the National Ignition Facility, has demonstrated the ability to use self generated plasma optical gratings to control capsule implosion symmetry with high finesse, and is on schedule to achieve ignition and potentially high gain before the end of the year.
writes: Richard Greenberg, professor of planetary science at the University of Arizona, has presented findings at the current 41st meeting of the American Astronomical Society ("Vertical Transport through Europa's Crust: Implications for Oxidant Delivery and Habitability") suggesting that the oxygen content of the enormous oceans (suspected to be twice the volume of all Earth's oceans combined) on Jupiter's moon Europa, could be a hundred times higher than the previous estimate — story at MSNBC. Greenberg hypothesizes that the oxygen produced there from radiolysis of Europan surface ice as a result of Jupiter's intensely radioactive magnetosphere, could be sufficient to support ~3 million tons of complex multicellular life, should such life have oxygen requirements comparable to that of terrestrial animals.Link to Original Source