The balloon was launched at 5:37pm (PST) from Oxnard, CA and reached an altitude of 125,000 feet snapping photos and recording video along the way.
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).
Trouble started soon into Hayabusa's treacherous round-trip journey to Itokawa when she lost her companion, Minerva. On arrival, she stumbled and dropped the sample she was sent to retrieve, and we thought the worst when she stopped calling. One accident left her disoriented and unable to find her way, and another reduced her progress to a slow limp. But on Sunday, with unfailing help from home, Hayabusa returns, three years late and seven years after she departed.
Everybody's heard about the "secret" launch of the military's newest spacedrone the X-37, and everybody's heard about the other "secret" launch on the same day. The military has launched another type of spacedrone. This one looks a lot less like this and more like this. Unfortunately they've hit a snag. (previously) It's all part of the the U.S. military's prompt global strike doctrine. Some people think this may be a bad idea. [more inside]
At a time when the US was turning its attention from the moon and towards Mars, the Soviet Union had an active exploration program for Venus, Venera. Running from 1961 to 1983, the program had setbacks from the first launch, but Venera 9 produced the first ever transmission of images from another planet. [more inside]
Six would-be astronauts will this week begin a 520-day mock space voyage to simulate a mission to Mars. How will they cope with the huge psychological pressures? It's a project that may simulate a mission that's going nowhere.
Moon Zoo is another project from Oxford astrophysicist Chris Lintott, the creator of Galaxy Zoo (previously: 1, 2, 3). Moon Zoo calls for citizen scientists to record the craters and boulders, among other things, on the Moon's surface. [more inside]
Crater face: "Astronaut risks life and limb to bring two moon pimples together for love."
As the shuttle program winds down, astrophotographers like Thierry Legault are taking advantage of these last opportunities to capture absolutely incredible shots like this one, showing Atlantis' transit in front of the sun as it performs its inspection backflip before docking with the ISS. His other photography includes this magnificent series of the launch of STS-125. [more inside]
Yarchive is one man's collection of UseNET posts on the topics of Air Conditioning; Aircraft; Bicycles; Cars; Chemistry; Computers; Electrical, Electronic; Environment; Explosives, Pyrotechnics; Food; Houses; Guns; Jokes; Medicine; Metalworking; Military; Nuclear; Telephones; Physics; Risks; Security; Space mostly from a select group of authors. It has been updated several times since it first appeared here in 2001 and it never fails to sucker me in for hours every time I stumble upon it from a Google Search. [more inside]
Chrysler's recent announcement of a three year technical collaboration with NASA continues the automaker's long involvement with the agency, including production of the historic Redstone, reliable Jupiter, and mighty Saturn launch vehicles, and the design of an unusual Space Shuttle called SERV. [more inside]
Barring the need for STS-335 and any potential extension to the program, today's 2:30 EST scheduled launch of OV-104 Atlantis on STS-132 (pdf) will be her 32nd and final trip to space. She's had a good run (gratuitous launch vid).
The Space Potty - the one question astronauts get asked most often: "How do you 'go' in space?" [via]
Forty-nine years ago, Alan Shepard literally got his 15 minutes of fame by becoming the second person and first American to go into space.
Star Trek nerd alert: Standard orbit, Mr. Sulu." Captain Kirk barks out NASA announces Dawn, an ion propulsion rocket to two asteroids, Vesta and Ceres.
“In all honesty, we don’t know when it’s coming back for sure” - The US Air Force's first launch of the X-37b reusable space vehicle has provoked much speculation, with some even wondering if the Pentagon is reviving Nazi space-bomber plans. But was the launch of spaceplane an attempt to mask the launch of another secret weapon?
On April 24, 1990, the Discovery shuttle launched the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit around Earth, where it's been for 20 years. This spring, NASA has been rolling out more pretty pictures, videos and even an IMAX movie in its honor. The Hubble has contributed to hundreds of studies about our universe. As we celebrate its legacy, let's reflect on a bit on its past and future. [more inside]
MOONWALK ONE - A surprisingly groovy look at the Apollo 11 mission to the moon in a full length documentary that contains a lot of rare and not often seen footage of the preparations and launch of the first manned mission to the moon. Warning: Also contains lots of theramins, trippy optical effects, faux bohemians and some really blowy narrative.
"First Light" for the Solar Dynamics Observatory - researchers unveiled "First Light" images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, a space telescope designed to study the Sun.
Jerry Woodfill was an engineer with a mission control console at NASA when Apollo 13 became critically endangered by a blown oxygen tank. He shared his views on how the crew survived with Universe Today in a series of posts: 13 Things that Saved Apollo 13 written by Nancy Atkinson. [more inside]
Certainly you've read of the Space Shuttle's imminent retirement, but are you prepared for the secret robot "mini" shuttle, the X-37B? After a decade of checkered development under NASA, DARPA (with assistance from Scaled Composites' White Knight) and finally the U.S. Air Force, the first X-37B spaceplane, the Orbital Test Vehicle, is ready for an April 19th launch.
UK Space Agency launched with a logo that "looks uncannily like the logo for the British Rocket Group, a scientific body from Doctor Who." It's mission is to develop British space technology, "[b]ut this will have to be done through unmanned space activities, because for the foreseeable future the UKSA will not have enough resources to reverse the decision, taken by the Thatcher government in the 1980s, that Britain will not pay for manned space flights... planned expeditions to the International Space Station will be funded by the country's partners in the European Space Agency."
Once described by author Isaac Asimov as the "nearest thing to an artist in residence from outer space", his artwork has appeared on stamps and mission patches, posters from epic films and even the walls of the Smithsonian Institution. Renowned space artist Robert McCall died on Friday, February 28 2010. He was 90. [more inside]
Hey, remember the webtoon Space Tree from about 5 years back? If you don't, or (more likely) if you never became familiar with the series in the first place, check it out. It hasn't been updated in a few years, but the creator said on his twitter feed that new episodes are coming soon.
Since late January of 2010, the International Space Station was able to access the Internet for personal use, leading to the first tweet from space. The previous tweets were e-mailed to the ground where support personnel posted them to the astronaut's Twitter account. Currently there are 17 active NASA astronauts and 6 internatual'nauts tweeting from on high. If their words aren't enough, they're also posting pictures, primarily from Soichi Noguchi (@Astro_Soichi) and José Hernández (@Astro_Jose, whose socio-political messages were covered previously). [more inside]
Ted Taylor, physicist, nuclear scientist, and designer of the deceptively tiny Davy Crockett nuclear recoilless rifle, is not quite as famous as one of his other projects: nuclear spacecraft propulsion. Project Orion was intended as an interplanetary (and eventually interstellar) vehicle which could achieve Earth orbit with a series of 800 nuclear explosions, each detonated about a second after the other below the spacecraft. It would propel itself through space in a similar fashion, carrying many orders of magnitude more mass than chemical rockets such as the Saturn which would ultimately take men to the moon. Taylor and others intended a mission to Mars by 1965, but the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963 destroyed all hope to see Orion take flight. For the interested, "The Curve of Binding Energy" goes into much more detail, including the U.S. Air Force's plan to turn Orion into a nuclear space battleship (!). A youtube video of an Orion concept test using conventional explosives is here (flight footage begins around 0:23).
Return to the moon? Not likely. "President Barack Obama is essentially grounding efforts to return astronauts to the moon...".
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, the Annual John H. Glenn Lecture took place at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Tickets were in high demand for the event, which featured the Apollo 11 astronauts - among others - discussing the past, present, and future of manned spaceflight. [more inside]
A new photograph from the Hubble shows the largest stellar nursery in our galactic region. Click on the picture for a larger image.
The Known Universe takes viewers from the Himalayas through our atmosphere and the inky black of space to the afterglow of the Big Bang. Every star, planet, and quasar seen in the film is possible because of the world's most complete four-dimensional map of the universe, the Digital Universe Atlas that is maintained and updated by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History. The new film, created by the Museum, is part of an exhibition, Visions of the Cosmos: From the Milky Ocean to an Evolving Universe, at the Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan through May 2010.
The Physics of Space Battles "I had a discussion recently with friends about the various depictions of space combat in science fiction movies, TV shows, and books. We have the fighter-plane engagements of Star Wars, the subdued, two-dimensional naval combat in Star Trek, the Newtonian planes of Battlestar Galactica, the staggeringly furious energy exchanges of the combat wasps in Peter Hamilton's books, and the use of antimatter rocket engines themselves as weapons in other sci-fi. But suppose we get out there, go terraform Mars, and the Martian colonists actually revolt. Or suppose we encounter hostile aliens. How would space combat actually go?"
NASA's MESSENGER team (previously: 1, 2, 3), with help from the U.S. Geological Survey, released yesterday the first global map of the planet Mercury. [more inside]
Scientists at NASA will announce the first findings from the Kepler mission next month. The results have caught scientists off-guard but they aren't giving any hints as to what mission co-investigator David Latham "was not prescient enough to anticipate". [more inside]
Ship designation: Nemesis. Captain: Forever. (Flash, audio, outer space shoot-em-up fun.) [more inside]
Zoom around the Milky Way at different wavelengths with Chromoscope: X-Ray, Visible, Hydrogen α, Far-IR, Microwave, Radio. (You can also download it.)
The best space shuttle launch video you will see today. As compiled and edited by NASA's SE&I imagery team at Johnson Space Center.
In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year, NATO may lose in Afghanistan, the UK gets a regime change, China needs to chill, India's factories will overtake its farms, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum, the stimulus will need an exit strategy, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2", African football will unite Korea, conflict over natural resources will grow, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable), technology will grow ever more ubiquitous, we'll all charge our phones via USB, MBAs will be uncool, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world. And so the Tens begin.
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]