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"We'd like to confirm, from the crew of Apollo 17, that the world is round."

The most widely-distributed photograph in history may be The Blue Marble, a shot taken in 1972 by an unknown crewmember on Apollo 17. In 2002, NASA released a new Blue Marble photograph, familiar to desktops everywhere, using a composite of many photographs. In 2005, Blue Marble: The Next Generation offered even better views and some spectacular animations of the seasons from space. In the same spirit, the Discovery Channel just launched Earth Live, which lets you see the dynamics of weather and climate through a well done interface.
posted by blahblahblah on Feb 11, 2008 - 37 comments

Nothing's gonna change my world?

Fears that malevolent aliens will tune into this week's broadcast of The Beatles' song "Across the Universe" have been voiced by scientists.
posted by monospace on Feb 7, 2008 - 68 comments

Spirit's Swan Song?

Real robot drama is happening on Mars today. Spirit, racing for her life to find shelter before winter, injured and underpowered after four years of hard labor, may have made her most significant find yet. The broken foot she's dragged behind her for the past two years unexpectedly uncovered evidence of a once-wet Mars with conditions theoretically hospitable for primitive life.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on Dec 12, 2007 - 89 comments

Yes, their job is cooler than yours.

Astronauts in Space, the music video.
posted by blue_beetle on Nov 14, 2007 - 8 comments

Hot space bot uses stirling engine

NASA proposes using a Stirling cooler (essentially a Stirling engine in reverse) to keep a probe cool on the surface of Venus, which has had a tendency to melt or smash previous probes. The cooler would maintain a 25cm sphere within the probe at 200°C -- 100°C above the boiling point of water but sufficiently cool for a high-temperature microcontroller to operate. The waste heat radiators on the exterior of the sphere would reach the temperature of 500°C, 40°C above the the normal Venusian surface temperature.
posted by Artw on Nov 12, 2007 - 40 comments

Video of a Tour around STS-120/ISS

A tour around Discovery STS-120 and the International Space Station with Paolo Nespoli and Dr. Scott Parazynski. Tomorrow, Parazynski will be perched at the end of a robot arm and sensor boom assembly, stitching up a damaged solar array in what might be one of the riskiest EVAs since Skylab 2.
posted by brownpau on Nov 2, 2007 - 29 comments

We live in a wonderfully insane universe.

NASA Astronomers Find Bizarre Planet-Mass Object Orbiting Neutron Star [via]
posted by brundlefly on Sep 13, 2007 - 45 comments

Race To Mars

"Somewhere on the planet are ten-year-olds who, someday, will be the first people to set foot on Mars" 300 scientists and space-experts contributed to what's billed as "a realistic vision of the first Human Mission to Mars" -- Race to Mars. Discovery Channel Canada used Hollywood special effects, but for added realism rather than ray-guns and aliens. On the website, you can argue about whether they got it right. www.racetomars.ca
posted by richlach on Sep 7, 2007 - 24 comments

Dear Earth: Send More Chuck Berry

The Golden Record: Hear what the aliens will hear.
30 years ago today, a collection of images and sound recordings engraved on a record was launched toward the stars. The playlist covers an amazing collection of music, and has been called the Mix Tape of the Gods.
posted by Hadroed on Sep 5, 2007 - 78 comments

Unseen photos of lunar surface

In honor of this morning's impressive lunar eclipse, another moon-photo post: For decades you had to be a scholar or specialist to get access to the original Apollo flight films, most of which have been stored in freezers at Houston's Johnson Space Center. Now Arizona State University and NASA are scanning the negatives with high-resolution equipment and creating an online digital archive of downloadable images for the general public. Here are the first few, from Apollo 15. (Similar topics previously: 1, 2, 3, 4.)
posted by GrammarMoses on Aug 28, 2007 - 9 comments

Save Skylab

While enjoying today's International Space Station construction mission, don't forget America's first outpost in space, Skylab. Launched in 1972, the experimental station, cobbled together from Apollo hardware, was abandoned two years later and plunged to Earth in 1979. Today, you can pitch in to save the rotting hulk of the Skylab trainer.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on Aug 13, 2007 - 17 comments

N1 Scale Model Launch

The Soviet Union’s answer to Saturn V, the massive, complex, and top-secret N1 rocket, failed win the moon race after four disastrous launch explosions between 1969 and 1972. In 2004, Polecat Aerospace had much better luck launching their 1/16 N1 scale model.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on Jun 13, 2007 - 17 comments

Animation of Tvashtar Volcano Erupting on Io

Tvashtar in Motion. Awesome five-frame GIF of fountaining sulfuric lava on Io courtesy New Horizons as it swung by Jupiter earlier this year. Found via Planetary Society Blog (Thank you, Emily). More on Tvashtar.
posted by brownpau on May 15, 2007 - 19 comments

Best of the Webb

"Clearly we need a much bigger telescope to go back much further in time to see the very birth of the Universe." The venerable Hubble space telescope is going to be replaced by what looks like a honeycomb on a box of chocolates. Of course, if it takes more pictures like this (XL), nobody is going to complain about its looks.
posted by BlackLeotardFront on May 11, 2007 - 39 comments

RIP Wally Schirra

RIP Wally Schirra, 1923-2007. One of the original Mercury Seven "Right Stuff" astronauts (just two left now), Schirra flew on Sigma 7, Gemini 7, and Apollo 7. From there on, it's stationkeeping.
posted by brownpau on May 3, 2007 - 50 comments

Accident Prone

I hope STS-117 isn't delayed by this train wreck like it was from that hailstorm last March.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on May 3, 2007 - 24 comments

Staring at the sun

Staring at the sun. YouTube video of solar flares, made from images captured by the SOHO satellite. Yes, there is more.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Apr 16, 2007 - 25 comments

Party at NASA!!!

Bay Area Yuri's Night 2007 Bay Area Yuri's Night 2007 Yuri's Night Bay Area will be held at Moffett Field in the NASA Ames Research Center's massive SOFIA hangar, home to the world's largest aerial observatory. Our host for the evening is pioneering space traveler Anousheh Anasari, the first privately funded female to reach orbit. She is joined by Dr. Chris McKay, world renowned expert in astrobiology and terraformation with the Space Science Division of NASA Ames Research Center, as they welcome you to a dazzling array of interactive art installations and science demos, interwoven with musical and acrobatic performances by some of the world's finest entertainers. Complete write up. Partially via MeFi's own lannanh.
posted by loquacious on Apr 6, 2007 - 23 comments

Astronaut Rock

Max Q, named after the aeronautical engineering term, is the only astronaut rock band (but not the only musical astronauts). Not to be confused with the barbershop quartet.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on Mar 23, 2007 - 7 comments

"The sun descending in the west, The evening star does shine;"

Have you ever wondered what a solar eclipse would look like from space? The STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) has just sent back its view (awe-inspiring video included). It has also sent back some gorgeous pictures of our sun (and the McNaught Comet). For more media, check out the other galleries (including some 3D images). For more about the project, see NASA's STEREO homepage. Be sure to also stop by the Johns Hopkins University STEREO Page, where you can download a mission guide (pdf), view animations, watch a video of the launch, or even make your own papercraft STEREO model (pdf). You can also learn more in six minute segments with their series of short educational videos.
posted by wander on Mar 13, 2007 - 15 comments

In Mission Control, while the loss of signal was a cause for concern, there was no sign of any serious problem

Four years ago today the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated shortly upon reentry. Here is a sad, but, fascinating real time video recreation of the final moments, compiled from various sources including Nasa radio transmissions.
posted by ae4rv on Feb 1, 2007 - 27 comments

The original Neil Armstrong tape

If you thought the video of Neil Armstrong setting foot on the Moon was rather blurry, it might interest you to know that this was never broadcast as well as it could have been. The original video quality was much better. You can't view the original video today, because NASA has lost the bleepin tape. Nobody seems to care, but the guys who once made the transmission possible are looking for it. An Australian minister is on their side. If the tape hasn't been accidentally degaussed, there's only one machine left that is able to read it.
posted by Termite on Jan 11, 2007 - 19 comments

Moonbase: Alpha

NASA Plans Permanent Moonbase. The base, a potential stepping stone for further Mars exploration, will likely be situated near one of the poles. The advantages of a polar site (pdf) include a relatively moderate climate, possible hydrogen and oxygen resources, unexplored terrain and abundant solar power. They have apparently abandoned plans to use nuclear reactors, which is probably for the best.
posted by justkevin on Dec 4, 2006 - 137 comments

Staring At The Sun

The Solar Optical Telescope (SOT), an advanced telescope onboard the Hinode satellite, was launched into space by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency on September 22, 2006. On October 23, the SOT opened its protective doors and began taking pictures
posted by Drunken_munky on Nov 2, 2006 - 11 comments

In space, no one can hear you say "cheese".

The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Over half a million photographs of Earth taken from orbit by astronauts, from 1961 through the present. The ability of the astronauts to rapidly identify interesting phenomena allows them to capture events as they occur, like volcanic eruptions, floods, and hurricanes, or take advantage of the angle of the sun to highlight specific features, like the pyramids or Mount Everest.
posted by Gamblor on Sep 21, 2006 - 14 comments

When you touch down/You'll find that it's stranger than known

300 Miles High
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Jul 17, 2006 - 18 comments

Discovery flies!

Rocket's red glare! STS-121 lifts of successfully on the Forth of July, on a mission to deliver equipment, supplies and an additional crewmember to the International Space Station. Said Wayne Hail, Shuttle Program Manager, "Great nations dare great things and take risks along the way, and I can think of no better way to explore the space frontier than the way we set out today." Photos - Videos
posted by BeerFilter on Jul 4, 2006 - 36 comments

Virtual tour of Cape Canaveral.

A fairly comprehensive tour of what's left of the historic Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
posted by loquacious on Jul 2, 2006 - 4 comments

Golf in spaaaaaaaaaaaace!

Though not the first time golf has been played in space, Russian cosmonauts are still planning to go ahead with the world's longest drive (3-4 years in orbit) from the International Space Station, as sponsored by the golf company Element 21 [link is to a rather neat CGI video of the shot, in wmv format. Coral Cache version.] The only problem -- it might hit the space station with the force of a 6.5 ton truck moving at 60 mph, though others are more worried about what the stunt means for the space program.
posted by blahblahblah on May 24, 2006 - 15 comments

Convert moon rocks to oxygen and other ways to earn $250,000

The NASA Centennial Challenges: Inspired by the X-Prize, NASA has begun a series of challenges to private inventors with cash prizes for things ranging from extracting oxygen from moon rocks to building better astronaut gloves to improving personal aircraft. Thanks to Congressional approval, NASA will be launching larger challenges of up to $50 million in value, including a new multi-million dollar lunar lander contest. With government space efforts criticized by private entrepreneurs, is this the right direction for NASA?
posted by blahblahblah on May 6, 2006 - 12 comments

I want to play that game.

Titan Descent Data Movie with Bells and Whistles
posted by crunchland on May 4, 2006 - 40 comments

Enceladus.

There's water on Saturn's moon Enceladus. Here's hoping space tourism can pick up the pace a little.
posted by jrb223 on Mar 9, 2006 - 123 comments

Enough speculation Pluto, time to see if you really are a planet.

The New Horizons spacecraft will be the first man-made object to visit our controversial sibling planet. An Atlas V will be used to launch the craft to the fastest speed that man has ever hurled an object to the heavens. Due to this and the small size of Pluto, the probe will only be capable of one flyby. Today is the first day in the launch window that the rocket is hoped to be launched.
posted by Phantomx on Jan 17, 2006 - 69 comments

Space Nerds Rejoice!

Stardust@home. The Stardust spacecraft (discussed recently here) should land in Utah early Saturday, carrying in its hold a sprinkling of grains of interstellar dust. Researchers are seeking the public's help in pinpointing the submicroscopic bits of dust. Participants will sift through the hundreds of thousands of pictures of the roughly square-foot collector plate.
posted by ND¢ on Jan 11, 2006 - 21 comments

Make the Kessel run in less than twelve par-secs!

Hyperdrive and a possible Unified Theory. New Scientist article about a paper and proposal to NASA outlining development parameters and possiblities for a faster-than-light anti-gravity propulsion system, based on some rather interesting physics theories originated by a guy named Heim. You mean you've never heard of the Millenium Falcon? (via)
posted by zoogleplex on Jan 9, 2006 - 70 comments

Tragic triana

Bob Park mourns Triana in his "What's New" newletter: NASA has quietly terminated what may have been its most important science mission. Critics of programs to limit emissions argue that climate change is caused by solar variation, not by atmospheric changes. There is one unambiguous way to tell: locate an observatory at L-1, the neutral-gravity point between Earth and Sun. It would have a continuous view of the sunlit face of Earth in one direction, and the Sun in the other, thus constantly monitoring Earth's albedo. Originally called Triana, the Deep Space Climate Observatory has already been built and is sitting in storage.
posted by 445supermag on Jan 6, 2006 - 23 comments

Where is everything?

Live tracking Thusday: Where are the interstellar probes? (and the objects in orbit?) Where is the lightning in Europe? Where is the fleet? Where is my flight? Where is tomorrow now? Where is your God now? Where is the magnetic north pole today? [J-track prev.]
posted by blahblahblah on Nov 3, 2005 - 19 comments

Stunning Saturn/Dione Photo

Stunningly beautiful photo of Dione and Saturn with rings. Such a sensation of depth and grandeur. Thanks, Cassini/JPL/NASA. [animation] [planetary photojournal entry] [B/W mirror from kokogiak] [now you play fun Flash spaceship game].
posted by brownpau on Oct 21, 2005 - 18 comments

Nice Cans!

How to build a Deep Space Network station. Via: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
posted by loquacious on Oct 14, 2005 - 4 comments

Cassini Flies by Tethys

Cassini Flies by Tethys and Hyperion, and the photos so far have been awesome and weird. I especially want to point out this fascinating view, which, if you look at it closely, reveals what appears to be a string of small impact craters, in a straight line over older terrain. What kind of meteor impact could have produced such an excellent formation of craters? Hyperion photos are coming. (Kokogiak's got backup in case the JRUNS strike.)
posted by brownpau on Sep 26, 2005 - 29 comments

we came in peace

Moonbase Visions. You've read about and discussed NASA's plan to use new post-shuttle launch vehicles to return to the moon. But what, exactly, is the US planning to do on the moon? What would a semi-permanent moonbase look like? And why return at all? NASA's announced answers to these questions remain vague. But last year eleven sets of responses to these questions were offered to NASA in the development proposals submitted to NASA by eleven Aerospace concerns, each of which suggested different designs, missions, and philosophies for NASA's return to the moon. Some common themes:
Military: "Provide nationally assured access to orbital locations for the placement of observation systems" and "assured access to space for development of force projection systems and movements of logistics." (pdf link, p. 5) Commercial: "Commercialize space products and services" (pdf link, p.6) Public Relations: Keeping the public inspired with "regularly placed program milestones." (pdf link, p.7)
It's interesting to compare the details of these proposals. But taken together, they raise a broader question: does NASA's fear that the public will lose interest in this commercializing, militarizing, moon venture reflect an awareness that that the vision has finally been lost?
posted by washburn on Sep 22, 2005 - 62 comments

Spirit photographs Phobos and Deimos

Two Moons Passing in the Night. Mars rover Spirit took these sequential photos of Martian moons Phobos and Deimos passing overhead in the night sky. Those rovers are still going strong!
posted by brownpau on Sep 10, 2005 - 17 comments

"Go" for de-orbit burn...

Discovery is coming home... Around now (6.06am EDT) STS114 is due to commence firing its orbital maneuvering engines for 2 minutes and 42 seconds and commence its entry of the atmosphere to return home to Edwards Air Force base. Florida was declared a "no go" both yesterday and today due to weather conditions.

Weather at Edwards is good. Landing tracks from NASA available here.
BBC story with live video footage is here.
Pilot Jim Kelly is handling the de-orbit burn, according to commentary and mission commander Eileen Collins will make the final approach and touch down at Edwards.

Best of luck, Discovery, I'm sure I speak for all when I say that all of our thoughts are with you.
posted by tomcosgrave on Aug 9, 2005 - 130 comments

Shuttle Launch Exhaust

Ecological impact of Space Shuttle launch exhaust. Aluminum oxide powder, hydrogen chloride, and of course, water vapor, which can form noctilucent clouds. The environmental impact is supposedly minimal.
posted by brownpau on Aug 6, 2005 - 15 comments

out of the blue!

Is there any purpose to the kind of manned space flights we seem to be concentrating on?
posted by pantsrobot on Aug 4, 2005 - 48 comments

STS-114 Liftoff

Liftoff! Discovery is in orbit, and STS-114 is well and fully underway. The fuel sensor problem which had previously delayed the launch was not an issue this morning. Mission timeline, mission updates, and the Wikipedia entry.
posted by brownpau on Jul 26, 2005 - 38 comments

Cassini Photos of Saturn's Rings and Moons

Rocks Among the Rings. The Planetary Society's Emily Lakdawalla has compiled some of the loveliest imagery of Saturn's ring-and-moon system from Cassini. More on Saturn from the Planetary Society here. Also see the Cassini at Saturn photoset, from our very own kokogiak, and watch for updates on the latest Enceladus flyby.
posted by brownpau on Jul 15, 2005 - 5 comments

T-22 hours, and counting

The space shuttle (and NASA) return to flight tomorrow at a scheduled launch time of 1551 ET, weather permitting. They had a laundry list of things to fix, and of course, they've fixed all of them... except the three that actually killed the last crew. They're launching nonetheless, and NASA TV will be covering it, with a couple of lists of mirror site links. I wish them well.
posted by baylink on Jul 12, 2005 - 37 comments

Big, Big Bang

THWACK!  (NASA TV Live feed) This is just a heads up, only about 80 minutes until Deep Impact (NASA mission page) slams into comet Tempel 1. Recent discussion here.
posted by planetkyoto on Jul 3, 2005 - 122 comments

NASA Claims Readiness for July 13 Launch

NASA says shuttle is ready for July 13 launch, but doubts remain. With two catastrophic failures marring the Space Shuttle's safety record, many people fear that the coming launch of the shuttle Discovery could turn in to a billion-dollar fireworks display. While NASA is optimistic about the coming mission, an independent panel of aerospace executives, academics and former astronauts are not. They concluded that NASA has failed to fully implement three of the fifteen return-to-flight recommendations made by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) in August 2003. While we wish the astronauts a safe and uneventful journey, serious doubts remain as to NASA's competency to continue carrying mankind to the stars. Perhaps our best hopes now lie with private ventures such as Scaled Composites?
posted by nlindstrom on Jul 1, 2005 - 20 comments

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