On December 8, 2013, a tiny video game studio called Hello Games announced No Man’s Sky [previously], a first-person space adventure game of exploration, combat, trade, and survival, whose environments would be entirely procedurally generated and functionally infinite. The game was released today on PS4; it is promised to be available for Windows PC on Friday. [more inside]
California-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has been central to the US missile and rocket development and operations for decades, and from the beginning that technology's success rested on a corps of expert mathematicians, people known as computers. And from the beginning they were all women, in a time when such opportunities were few and far between. You can find pictures of them, but names have not been well-recorded ... until now. Nathalia Holt found many of those women and wrote about their experiences in her book, Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars. [more inside]
Endless Sky is a space trading and exploration game, dubbed as a spiritual successor to Escape Velocity. It's free to play, available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, completely open-source (GPLv3), and available on Steam. [more inside]
Hopping, tumbling and flipping over are not typical maneuvers you would expect from a spacecraft exploring other worlds. Traditional Mars rovers, for example, roll around on wheels, and they can't operate upside-down. But on a small body, such as an asteroid or a comet, the low-gravity conditions and rough surfaces make traditional driving all the more hazardous. Enter Hedgehog: a new concept for a robot that is specifically designed to overcome the challenges of traversing small bodies.(via)
"On July 14, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will fly past Pluto, offering the first close-up look at that small, distant world and its largest moon, Charon. These denizens of the outer solar system will be transformed from poorly seen, hazy bodies to tangible worlds with distinct features." Who gets to name those features? You do. Via Bad Astronomy.
"A press release from Cornell explains how the researchers used some creative chemical modeling to construct a hypothetical, methane-based cell that's stable in Titan's sub-zero oceans. They call their alien life form an "azotosome."" [more inside]
There's an odd bright spot on the dwarf planet Ceres. Scratch that, there's actually two bright spots on the its surface. Cue speculation as the Dawn spacecraft prepares to orbit Ceres.
Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication is a free book (PDF) from NASA. The premise is that communication with alien lifeforms will have some (cautious) analogues to interpreting past cultures, and to the work that anthropologists and linguists do cross-culturally. Among the 16 chapters are: Beyond Linear B - The Metasemiotic Challenge of Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence; Learning To Read - Interstellar Message Decipherment from Archaeological and Anthropological Perspectives; and, Mirrors of Our Assumptions: Lessons from an Arthritic Neanderthal.
Educators, prepping for World Space Week, Oct 4-10? Be sure to include the very excellent space documentary The Mars Underground in your plans. It's free! [more inside]
Ever Upward isn't just a blog about space but a love letter to the wonder and beauty lurking in the science of space. It is written, and occasionally drawn, by MeFite Narrative Priorities [more inside]
Over at Make Blog, Sean Ragan has after years of search dug up a copy of the Rockwell International Integrated Space Plan from 1989. It's now scanned and downloadable for your enjoyment.
Carl Sagan wrote, “We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars.” But how will humans or our machine representatives fly to the stars? [more inside]
The Carnegie Institution for Science reports "a much higher water content in the Moon’s interior than previous studies." For decades, the moon's water content was estimated at less than 1 part per billion; the new estimates range from 64 ppb to 5 parts per million. A scientist at Washington University said, "We can now finally begin to consider the implications—and the origin—of water in the interior of the Moon.” There's more at NASA and the BBC, and the full paper is available at PNAS (PDF).
Where am I now? Travelin' 1.18km/s(2646mph). 70,289km from the Moon. 19 hrs! RU Excited? I am! #lcross
On October 9th, NASA spacecraft will run into the moon, and on purpose. The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) and its rocket's Centaur upper stage will impact the moon, with the goal of sending some of the (possibly present) ice above the lunar surface. Once out of the eternal shade of the moon's south pole, sunlight will break the ice up into H+ and OH- molecules, which can be detected by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The initial impact site was the crater Cabeus A, but the target was later changed to Cabeus (proper), selected for highest hydrogen concentrations with the greatest level of certainty, and for the high-contrast back drop to detect ejecta and vapor measurements. NASA has provided guides for amateur observations of the impact, a facebook group, and a Twitter feed so you don't miss the moment.
Fifty Years of Space Exploration Professor John Zarnecki gives the The Open University Lecture 2007. You can watch or listen whilst exploring the resources elsewhere on the OU site.
Where did you want to live when you grew up? If you're like me, you read Clarke's SF classic, Rendezvous with Rama (soon to be a major motion picture?). Donald E. Davis took what we dreamed about and illustrated it, for NASA. His depictions of O'Neill Cylinders, Stanford Tori, and Bernal Spheres are in the public domain (and make excellent desktop wallpaper).
Instead of liquid water, Titan has liquid methane. Instead of silicate rocks, Titan has frozen water ice. Instead of dirt, Titan has hydrocarbon particles settling out of the atmosphere, and instead of lava, Titanian volcanoes spew very cold ice.
" It was beyond description, really, it was mind-blowing," she said. "I'm surprised at how surprised I am at the beauty and the clarity of these images. They are shocking to me."
An Elevator to the Stars. The paper of record claims this isn't science fiction, but do we really believe that in ten years we'll be able to build a 60,000 mile long cable capable of supporting 13 ton cargo loads? Would you trust this to take you into asynchronous orbit? (Or maybe you just want to make like Joe Kittinger and jump out at 100,000 feet.)
Designing a Space Colony? Start Here. Some light Reading. Be sure to check out the artwork (more space art by Don Davis).
"Survivor" meets "Star Trek". The next tourist in space may be a game-show winner. (Gad.)
NASA releases new high resolution images of the "Face on Mars" digitally enhanced to make it it look like an ordinary mesa rock formation.
Of course, we know better...
Of course, we know better...
Will the Pluto mission once again get cancelled? I mean, now that Pluto isn't a planet anymore; apparently, it's been downgraded to "big ball of ice." After all those years of service, of faithful rotation, that steadfast revolve, how can they just kick a planet out like that?! It's a travesty, I tell you -- a travesty!