On October 9th, NASA spacecraft will run into the moon, and on purpose. The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite
) 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
). 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.
posted by filthy light thief
on Oct 8, 2009 -
Through three giant images, the Gigagalaxy Zoom
project reveals the full sky as it appears with the unaided eye from one of the darkest deserts on Earth, then zooms in on a rich region of the Milky Way to reveal three amazing, ultra-high-resolution images of the night sky that online stargazers can zoom in on and explore in an incredible level of detail.
posted by Effigy2000
on Sep 15, 2009 -
Last Tuesday, The Augstine Commission
- an independent council created earlier this year to study NASA's human spaceflight objectives - released their findings
. While many are responding to the report's grim findings on NASA's budget woes, former aerospace engineer Rand Simberg
has a criticism of his own: "If our attitude toward the space frontier is that we must strive to never, ever lose anyone, it will remain closed. If our ancestors who opened the west, or who came from Europe, had such an attitude, we would still be over there, and there would have been no California space industry to get us to the moon forty years ago. It has never been 'safe' to open a frontier, and this frontier is the harshest one that we've ever faced.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing
on Sep 12, 2009 -
"A directory of ways to participate in space exploration. Interact and connect with the space community."
posted by chrismear
on Aug 4, 2009 -
Astronaut Michael Collins
– "I really believe that if the political leaders of the world could see their planet from a distance of 100,000 miles their outlook could be fundamentally changed. That all-important border would be invisible, that noisy argument silenced. The tiny globe would continue to turn, serenely ignoring its subdivisions, presenting a unified façade that would cry out for unified understanding, for homogeneous treatment. The earth must become as it appears: blue and white, not capitalist or Communist; blue and white, not rich or poor; blue and white, not envious or envied."
posted by miss lynnster
on Jul 28, 2009 -
One of the hardest things for people to understand about the universe is just how big it is
. There are three approaches typically used in describing its size. The first, the song, was pioneered by Monty Python
(NSFWish, wireframe of naked woman) and then done just as masterfully by the Animaniacs.
The second, the zoom method has been featured twice before
here on the blue. The third method is the comparison
method (skip to 1:30, unless you like looking at a image of the solar system with terrible distorted orbits), yielding some truly beautiful
videos (this one found via the fantastic Bad Astronomy
blog). These videos go, at most, as far as looking at the local cluster or the Virgo Supercluster. There are two videos that attempt to show the size of the entire universe, one unsuccessfully
(although with great music) and one successfully
. (Warning, all links except the first one, are to YT videos). [more inside]
posted by Hactar
on Jul 1, 2009 -
"The arc of the Milky Way seen from a truly dark location is part of our planet's natural heritage
," said Connie Walker, and astronomer from the U.S. National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Arizona. Yet "more than one fifth of the world population, two thirds of the U.S. population and one half of the European Union
population have already lost naked eye visibility of the Milky Way
." In these areas, people are effectively living in perennial moonlight
. They rarely realize it because they still experience the sky to be brighter under a full moon than under new moon conditions. "Reducing the number of lights on at night could help conserve energy, protect wildlife and benefit human health
," astronomer Malcolm Smith of the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. One study found an increased risk of breast cancer for women living in areas with the most light pollution (abstract
). Some communities are embracing their dark skies
, such as the New Zealand community of Tekapo
, possibly home to first "Starlight Reserve
," waiting on UNESCO's official approval. Not sure where to look in the vast night sky
? Follow some guidelines
, or check the view in Chile
, Queensland, Australia
, or Texas
posted by filthy light thief
on Jun 13, 2009 -
The Millennial Project is a comprehensive plan for space development, beginning with the terrestrial cultivation of an environmentally sustainable civilization and Post-Industrial culture and culminating, far in the future, in the colonization of our immediate stellar neighborhood. The TMP2 project is specifically a project of the Living Universe Foundation community to continually update and revise the content of the original plan as described by Marshal T. Savage in his book The Millennial Project. [more inside]
posted by Joe Beese
on Jun 12, 2009 -
, a space-based action adventure game, you pilot a starship defending the galaxy from an encroaching enemy invasion with an increasingly powerful array of armaments and technologies. It's a hell of a lot of fun, so play and enjoy! [via mefi projects]
posted by Effigy2000
on Jun 11, 2009 -
At the mostly abandoned Moffett Field in an abandoned McDonald's, digital archeologists attempt to restore, recover and archive abandoned high resolution imagery and data from previous manned Moon missions, using an abandoned Ampex 2" tape drive found in a chicken coop - the last working machine in the world, restored by the last man alive capable of rebuilding the heads. This is likely only part of their weird story.
posted by loquacious
on May 1, 2009 -
Lost in Space: What really happened to Russia's missing cosmonauts? An incredible tale of space hacking, espionage and death in the lonely reaches of space.
"There are those who believe that somewhere in the vast blackness of space, about nine billion miles from the Sun, the first human is about to cross the boundary of our Solar System into interstellar space. His body, perfectly preserved, is frozen at –270 degrees C (–454ºF); his tiny capsule has been silently sailing away from the Earth at 18,000 mph (29,000km/h) for the last 45 years. He is the original lost cosmonaut, whose rocket went up and, instead of coming back down, just kept on going." [Via]
posted by homunculus
on Apr 30, 2009 -
Space-based Solar Power
beamed down to earth sounds pretty far out, but the technology is further along than many suppose, the sun never sets in space, and space is a Saudi Arabia of unlimited energy for the nation with the technology to harness it. PG&E (California) in conjunction with SolarEn
a 200MW space solar project to be up by 2016.
posted by stbalbach
on Apr 20, 2009 -