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
In the next few weeks, NASA will present President Obama with options for the near-term future of human spaceflight. A manned flight to Mars is one possibility. But if we do send astronauts to Mars, do we really need to bring them home again?
The Anatomy of Spiral Arms, shows how galaxies naturally evolve to form grand-design two-arm spirals. The Hubble Ultra Deep Field in 3D. [more inside]
Orbital skydives to follow inflatable heatshield success? "NASA has announced a successful live test of a prototype inflatable heat shield for re-entry to a planet's atmosphere. The blow-up shield could have important implications for future missions to Mars - and also, perhaps, for the nascent field of orbital spacesuit skydiving."
While we may be tuning in, Earthlings haven’t done much to deliberately broadcast messages to space (unless you count the Voyager gold record). Now you can send a 160 character message towards Gliese 581d, the nearest known earth-like planet.
Disney's Man and the Moon (1 of 6). One-horned unigoats versus SCIENCE! featuring Werner von Braun who, to the nose adds a small atomic reactor in preparation for [cue dramatic music] a trip around the moon. [via]
Spacehack "A directory of ways to participate in space exploration. Interact and connect with the space community."
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."
The Apollo 11 Command Module code (Comanche054) and Lunar Module code (Luminary099) have been open sourced.
NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has returned its first images of the Apollo moon landing sites. The spacecraft’s onboard camera photographed Lunar Module descent stages at five of the six Apollo sites—11, 14, 15, 16, and 17. The Apollo 12 site will be photographed in coming weeks. [more inside]
We Chose the Moon: The JFK Library and Museum has just launched this interactive web experience using archival audio, video, photos, and recorded transmissions to re-create, in real time, the July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 mission to the moon.
Welcome to the Universe - III: The Size of Things . . .we take a breif trip through the Solar System and beyond to see the size of the Universe. A youtube video by AndromedasWake about the scale of the Universe.
If extraterrestrial civilizations are monitoring our TV broadcasts, then this is what they are currently watching.
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]
"Workmanlike" astronomy: The Vatican Observatory, among the oldest astronomical centers in the world, brings a team of Jesuits to the papal summer residence. Its scientists play a large part in the church's efforts to reconcile faith with reason. [Previously.] [more inside]
"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.
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]
In Starcom, 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]
Go buy a helmet because Astronomers calculate there is a tiny chance that Mars or Venus could collide with Earth. [more inside]
The Haynes Workshop Manuals are a series of practical instructional repair manuals aimed at both the DIY enthusiast or shade-tree mechanic and the professional garage repairman. In that spirit, they offer the following guides to repair and service the following: The Spitfire Fighter (no, not that one), The Lancaster Bomber and the Apollo modules.
We previously lamented the lack of a real writer in space. Well, at least now we will have a poetic and social fire-eater.
A time lapse video of the night sky as it passes over the 2009 Texas Star Party in Fort Davis, Texas. The galactic core of the Milky Way is brightly displayed.
Atlantis. Hubble. And a big, yellow friend. Astrophotographer Thierry Legault managed to get amazing shots of Space Shuttle Atlantis approaching the Hubble Space Telescope during a transit of the sun. [more inside]
Images from The Complete Book of Space Travel illustrated by Virgil Finlay, including an analysis of the space-crew candidate.
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.
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]
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 has announced a 200MW space solar project to be up by 2016.
SpaceTimeTV collects and lets you watch all the best educational videos online from full length documentaries (such as the 50 minute long Is There Life on Mars) to short video clips such as this one on glaciers and global warming. There are hundreds of videos on topics including history, space, technology, and nature.
"I said to myself, 'we are going to die.'" Space Shuttle commander Hoot Gibson on his reaction as he saw pictures from the Shuttle's robot arm of gouged and missing tiles along its underbelly. Shades of Columbia - but this was mission STS-27, over fourteen years earlier. Yet mission control discounted the reports from orbit, perhaps misled by the poor quality of the downlinked images that resulted from encryption demanded by the mission's secretive military profile. In the end, Atlantis made it back, but with visible damage along her right flank. But like most classified DoD missions of the time, little was reported, and NASA was arguably wary of drawing attention to the near-loss of only the second flight since the Challenger disaster. But if this near-miss had been better known, might NASA have been more concerned about indications of debris damage during the launch of STS-107?
Are plasma crystals alive? Cosmic dust can, in the presence of plasma, creates formations known as plasma crystals. An international team of researchers published a study in the Aug.14, 2007, issue of the New Journal of Physics (PDF here, abstract here) that indicates that these crystals may be more sophisticated than anyone realized. In simulations involving cosmic dust, the researchers witnessed the formation of plasma crystals displaying some of the elementary characteristics of life -- DNA-like structure, autonomous behavior, reproduction and evolution. [more inside]
A dot in the sky becomes a rock in the hand. An asteroid near miss (as opposed to the more recent near hit) is the first time an object first seen in space is brought back to the laboratory. [more inside]
Once dubbed the Picture of the Century, the first Earthrise, photographed in 1966 by NASA's Lunar Orbiter 1, presented "a stunning juxtaposition of planet and moon that no earthling had ever seen before." After initially inspiring awe, the original image was almost destroyed. In the mad rush of the space race, the pictures and data from early missions were warehoused and forgotten. Many at NASA believed that the original high-resolution images, stored on fragile tapes that could only be read by obsolete equipment, would be nearly impossible to retrieve, but one woman was determined to see them restored. Via.
I see your Great Recession, climate change, asteroid collision and super-volcano, and raise you a space storm!
Sick of worrying about the global financial crisis? Got global warming fatigue? Here's a whole new threat to worry about: NASA is warning that the world is ill-prepared for a Carrington event that wil melt electricity grids world-wide with 90 seconds notice. If it's any consolation, it's going to look real pretty
So you go to be spaceman. If the space race had taken a few different turns, we might have ended up with a historical exhibit that looked like the one cooked up by the American Dream Technical Institute. [more inside]