“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]
The frequently excellent photo-blog The Big Picture at the Boston Globe has posted a collection of stunning and, well, alien-looking photos of the martian landscape.
On Nov. 3, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 2, a one-way, history-making trip for a dog named Laika. Take a moment to remember her. [more inside]
Tim Macmillan has been slicing time for more than twenty years now. His early attempts and the recent applications of his technique in nature documentaries, commercials, sports, music videos and his own short films can be watched on his vimeo page. His technique later mutated into the Bullet Time effect made popular by the Matrix movie. Watched enough? Then read an interesting article about him. Via Fleischfilm. [more inside]
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.
Strange Adventures in Infinite Space is a game of space exploration that can be played in under twenty minutes. Its adjustable difficulty and random maps make it very replayable, and for the first time ever, it's completely free. PC and Mac versions are available. [more inside]
Soyuz rocket rolls to launch pad. A fine photoset of an otherwise routine Russian rocket rollout. I can tell that photographer Bill Ingalls loves rockets. His favs.
Columbia Hills Flyover 2.0 - "a flyover of the Columbia Hills on Mars using data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Spirit, the Mars rover. "
José Hernández was a migrant worker when he first started to dream about becoming an astronaut. He is the first astronaut to Twitter in Spanish from space on shuttle mission STS-128. NASA wasn't happy about the controversy he caused when he advocated for the legalization of undocumented immigrants. He is not the first Hispanic-American to fly on the space shuttle. Hernández is a national hero in Mexico and has been invited to dine with President Calderon.
Lauching a HD video camera into space using a balloon. And retrieving it in one piece.
Reprocess of Bubble Nebula Data. NGC 7635, also called the Bubble Nebula, is an emission nebula in the constellation Cassiopeia. It's created by stellar winds from a superhot star 40 times the size of our sun which whip the cloud of gas around the star into a bubble. [Via]
This month marks the 25th aniversary of Elite, the groundbreaking 3D space trading game. The making of Elite. More on the making of Elite from The Backroom Boys. Emulate the original BBC Micro version. The Dark Wheel.
With the integration of cameras, GPS receivers, and more into cellphones, many people take for granted the lightweight, energy efficient technology in their pockets. MIT ties all that tech together to a weather balloon in Project Icarus, where for $150 a prepaid cellphone becomes a high-altitude near-space camera.
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.
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."
Earlier today, NASA released the first photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope since it was refurbished last May - and the results are absolutely stunning.
...the lyrics to that last song were basically taken from an encyclopedia written in the 50s, and since the 50s, some remarkable things have happened...In 1959, a number of songs about science were released on an album called Space Songs. One of these was later covered by the band They Might Be Giants: Why Does The Sun Shine? (The Sun Is A Mass of Incandescent Gas). Only one problem: it isn't--the song was based on an incorrect text from 1951. So they wrote an answer song to themselves: Why Does The Sun Really Shine? (The Sun Is a Miasma of Incandescent Plasma). Bonus link: see for yourself! (previously)
1,512 high-resolution images of Mars from the viewpoint of an airplane passenger. Previous photos: 1 2 3