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we came in peace

Moonbase Visions. You've read about and discussed NASA's plan to use new post-shuttle launch vehicles to return to the moon. But what, exactly, is the US planning to do on the moon? What would a semi-permanent moonbase look like? And why return at all? NASA's announced answers to these questions remain vague. But last year eleven sets of responses to these questions were offered to NASA in the development proposals submitted to NASA by eleven Aerospace concerns, each of which suggested different designs, missions, and philosophies for NASA's return to the moon. Some common themes:
Military: "Provide nationally assured access to orbital locations for the placement of observation systems" and "assured access to space for development of force projection systems and movements of logistics." (pdf link, p. 5) Commercial: "Commercialize space products and services" (pdf link, p.6) Public Relations: Keeping the public inspired with "regularly placed program milestones." (pdf link, p.7)
It's interesting to compare the details of these proposals. But taken together, they raise a broader question: does NASA's fear that the public will lose interest in this commercializing, militarizing, moon venture reflect an awareness that that the vision has finally been lost?
posted by washburn on Sep 22, 2005 - 62 comments

 

NASA soundtracks

Ignition sequence starts ... A spoken word documentary album of the flight of Apollo 11 to the moon. Dramatic - evocative - the right stuff. Provided by Hepcat Willy.
posted by carter on Sep 13, 2005 - 9 comments

No sign of giant robots or flaming flying turtles...yet...

Japan's Hayabusa spacecraft has arrived at asteroid Itokawa
posted by gimonca on Sep 12, 2005 - 19 comments

Spirit photographs Phobos and Deimos

Two Moons Passing in the Night. Mars rover Spirit took these sequential photos of Martian moons Phobos and Deimos passing overhead in the night sky. Those rovers are still going strong!
posted by brownpau on Sep 10, 2005 - 17 comments

Fate has ordained...

Now that Discovery is home safe and well, let's take a moment to remember some anxious moments 36 years ago, when President Nixon had a contingency memo prepared to read in case that Neil Armstrong et al. were somehow unable to return to Earth. The forgotten memo, written by William Saffire, is from the National Archives.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Aug 9, 2005 - 18 comments

"Go" for de-orbit burn...

Discovery is coming home... Around now (6.06am EDT) STS114 is due to commence firing its orbital maneuvering engines for 2 minutes and 42 seconds and commence its entry of the atmosphere to return home to Edwards Air Force base. Florida was declared a "no go" both yesterday and today due to weather conditions.

Weather at Edwards is good. Landing tracks from NASA available here.
BBC story with live video footage is here.
Pilot Jim Kelly is handling the de-orbit burn, according to commentary and mission commander Eileen Collins will make the final approach and touch down at Edwards.

Best of luck, Discovery, I'm sure I speak for all when I say that all of our thoughts are with you.
posted by tomcosgrave on Aug 9, 2005 - 130 comments

Shuttle Launch Exhaust

Ecological impact of Space Shuttle launch exhaust. Aluminum oxide powder, hydrogen chloride, and of course, water vapor, which can form noctilucent clouds. The environmental impact is supposedly minimal.
posted by brownpau on Aug 6, 2005 - 15 comments

Best. Self-Portrait. Ever.

Astronaut Steve Robinson took a picture of himself that Escher would've loved, when out fixing the Space Shuttle Discovery. Available in hi-res, too (not safe for dialup).
posted by cerebus19 on Aug 5, 2005 - 67 comments

out of the blue!

Is there any purpose to the kind of manned space flights we seem to be concentrating on?
posted by pantsrobot on Aug 4, 2005 - 48 comments

BBC News - In Pictures

BBC News' wonderful In Pictures section, including Hiroshima: Now and Then, Space Shuttle Discovery in orbit, and readers' photos of Battersea Power Station.
posted by Mwongozi on Aug 4, 2005 - 8 comments

Sky@Night

The Sky At Night Every episode of the BBC science series made since the end of 2001 viewable online. Anything I know about the universe I learnt from Patrick Moore.
posted by feelinglistless on Jul 30, 2005 - 17 comments

STS-114 Liftoff

Liftoff! Discovery is in orbit, and STS-114 is well and fully underway. The fuel sensor problem which had previously delayed the launch was not an issue this morning. Mission timeline, mission updates, and the Wikipedia entry.
posted by brownpau on Jul 26, 2005 - 38 comments

space sounds

Saturn's Eerie Radio Emissions and other space sounds.
posted by dhruva on Jul 25, 2005 - 24 comments

"I, for one, welcome our new alien overlords"

"I, for one, welcome our new alien overlords" - in what looks like a thinly-veiled attempt at viral marketing, a company claims to be giving bloggers the opportunity to send a piece of their lives into space to potentially connect with extraterrestrials. Let's just hope that future generations will not have to endure this kind of thing, next time a blogger decides to quit ranting on about themselves.
posted by UbuRoivas on Jul 19, 2005 - 9 comments

Cassini Photos of Saturn's Rings and Moons

Rocks Among the Rings. The Planetary Society's Emily Lakdawalla has compiled some of the loveliest imagery of Saturn's ring-and-moon system from Cassini. More on Saturn from the Planetary Society here. Also see the Cassini at Saturn photoset, from our very own kokogiak, and watch for updates on the latest Enceladus flyby.
posted by brownpau on Jul 15, 2005 - 5 comments

T-22 hours, and counting

The space shuttle (and NASA) return to flight tomorrow at a scheduled launch time of 1551 ET, weather permitting. They had a laundry list of things to fix, and of course, they've fixed all of them... except the three that actually killed the last crew. They're launching nonetheless, and NASA TV will be covering it, with a couple of lists of mirror site links. I wish them well.
posted by baylink on Jul 12, 2005 - 37 comments

A dreamable space simulation

Noctis is a free space simulation program/game written mostly in assembly by Alessandro Ghignola, an Italian programmer. It is downloadable for Windows and MS-DOS, but be warned there is quite a learning curve. It features a planet lander, onboard ship computer, a Fido Net style method of communicating newly named and discovered stars and systems with other users, and a haunting sense of being alone in an immense universe. Fan fiction. Screenshots reveal the outdated resolution of the program.
posted by nervousfritz on Jul 10, 2005 - 19 comments

Return To Flight

Three days and Counting Breathe deep, mine eyes, the frosty saga of eternal suns. From unseen depths and dreams undreamt, I sing the gleaming cantos of unvanquished space. By thought I embrace the universal, With wings of mind I sail the infinitude. Glory! 'tis the stars which beckon man's spirit and set our souls adrift!
posted by blue_beetle on Jul 10, 2005 - 14 comments

Big, Big Bang

THWACK!  (NASA TV Live feed) This is just a heads up, only about 80 minutes until Deep Impact (NASA mission page) slams into comet Tempel 1. Recent discussion here.
posted by planetkyoto on Jul 3, 2005 - 122 comments

NASA Claims Readiness for July 13 Launch

NASA says shuttle is ready for July 13 launch, but doubts remain. With two catastrophic failures marring the Space Shuttle's safety record, many people fear that the coming launch of the shuttle Discovery could turn in to a billion-dollar fireworks display. While NASA is optimistic about the coming mission, an independent panel of aerospace executives, academics and former astronauts are not. They concluded that NASA has failed to fully implement three of the fifteen return-to-flight recommendations made by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) in August 2003. While we wish the astronauts a safe and uneventful journey, serious doubts remain as to NASA's competency to continue carrying mankind to the stars. Perhaps our best hopes now lie with private ventures such as Scaled Composites?
posted by nlindstrom on Jul 1, 2005 - 20 comments

Star Atlases, Mercator Globes and Celestial Sundries

Star Atlases, Mercator Globes and Celestial Sundries [more inside]
posted by sciurus on Jul 1, 2005 - 8 comments

Well, no sleep for me tonight.

"The stars are veiled. Something stirs in the East. A sleepless malice. The eye of the enemy is moving. He is HERE."
posted by keswick on Jun 30, 2005 - 15 comments

avast ye maties! set sail for the milky way, yarr!

Cosmos 1 is officially lost! However, fellow solar sailors, it's not too late to buy a t-shirt. I, however, can't help but focus my attention on this educational BBC News article; I believe I'm having some sort of pavlovian response to that last diagram, but thankfully it seems I'm not the first solar sailing pervert out there.
posted by analogue on Jun 29, 2005 - 15 comments

Cosoms 1

In just over two hours, Cosmos 1, the world's first experimental "solar sail" spacecraft will launch, and reportedly will be visible "from nearly everywhere on its surface at one time or another".
posted by theonetruebix on Jun 21, 2005 - 19 comments

'It is I, Seagull! Everything is fine. I see the horizon.'

On June 16, 1963, at the height of the US-Soviet Space Race, Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space. Her flight aboard the Vostok 6 lasted 48 orbits and 71 hours, and during her flight she spent more time in space than all the U.S. astronauts combined to that date. Although NASA trained women astronauts in the 60's, it would take 20 years for an American woman to follow in Tereshkova's footsteps.
posted by anastasiav on Jun 15, 2005 - 18 comments

Pioneer Anomaly

The Pioneer Anomaly. Something's up in deep space: the Pioneer spacecraft, now out of contact, have shown an unexplained Doppler drift, indicating sunward acceleration, effectively decelerating the probes cumulatively. The effect may be be nongravitational, and could be explained by any number of factors: an undiscovered twist in Newtonian physics, localized cosmological contraction issues, or just venting gas. Other deep space probes may have experienced the anomaly as well, and a new mission could explore the puzzle; but for now, all we have is past Pioneer data, and that's stored on old 9 track tape which can only be read by antique readers. What's to be done? (Also see Pioneer Odyssey for a nostalgic romp through those early days of deep space exploration. And NASA, bring back the original Pioneer home page plz, kthx.)
posted by brownpau on Jun 13, 2005 - 21 comments

A New Kind of Solar Storm

Going to the moon? Be careful. A new kind of solar storm can take you by surprise. Biggest proton storm since 1956 - before there were satellites monitoring the sun.
posted by Cranberry on Jun 10, 2005 - 11 comments

Free at last, free at last, thank Mars almighty, Opportunity is free at last

Free at last, free at last, thank Mars almighty Opportunity is free at last. After a several week long struggle, the Mars Opportunity Rover is free from the sand trap many across the world had predicted would bring it to an end.
posted by mk1gti on Jun 4, 2005 - 22 comments

Odd Spot on Titan Baffles Scientists

Unidentified Titan Object Saturn's moon Titan shows an unusual bright spot that has scientists mystified. The spot, approximately the size and shape of West Virginia, is just southeast of the bright region called Xanadu and is visible to multiple instruments on the Cassini spacecraft.
posted by Diamornte on May 25, 2005 - 32 comments

Cassini-Huygens Mission to Saturn and Titan

Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn A collaboration between 17 nations (3 space agencies). The atmosphere shows wavelike cloud structures, Saturn's rings display Waves and Small Particles. First image of a small moon orbiting within the Keeler gap.
Previous Missions, 2005 tour dates.
posted by Lanark on May 24, 2005 - 11 comments

Alien planet

Alien planet "The drama takes place on Darwin IV, a fictional planet 6.5 light-years from Earth, with two suns and 60 percent gravity. Having identified Darwin as a world that could support life, Earth sends a pilot mission consisting of the mothership and three probes." Discovery channel feature, Flash heavy site, via Pharyngula.
posted by dhruva on May 9, 2005 - 20 comments

Mars Polar Lander found?

Mars Polar Lander found? The Mars Polar Lander was lost while attempting to land on Mars in December 1999. An initial search for the lander was fruitless. But now Michael Malin of Malin Space Science Systems thinks he may have found the lander's parachute and crashed remains. Meanwhile, some scientists are worried about landers and crashed vehicles contaminating Mars; others think it's not a problem. [via Slashdot]
posted by flug on May 6, 2005 - 4 comments

Return to Flight

So far the Return to Flight has been a bumpy ride for NASA. Apparently things over there are run like a bureaucracy and agency officials are worried about ice or foam insulation coming off the space shuttle again.

Will private companies eventually dominate space exploration and make NASA a thing of the past?
posted by Guerilla on May 1, 2005 - 28 comments

Hubble Birthday Gallery

Hubble's 15th Birthday Image Gallery
Reports about birthday.
NASA Hubble site.
(previous) via
posted by peacay on Apr 25, 2005 - 12 comments

Water on earth's moon?

Come and get it? Some researchers believe there's water on the Moon in reach of human explorers....as we look towards the Moon with thoughts of setting up a permanent home there, one new question is paramount: does the Moon have water? Although none has been definitely detected, recent evidence suggests that it's there.
posted by Cranberry on Apr 14, 2005 - 24 comments

Where was my kaboom?

[x] ok to transmit this posting into outer space (via space.craigslist.org)
posted by loquacious on Feb 28, 2005 - 9 comments

Life suspected, WMDs probable

ESA scientists announced that a giant sea is hidden under the Martian surface. With discoveries like this and weird photos like this, how long can it be before we find conclusive proof of extraterrestrial life?
posted by borkingchikapa on Feb 21, 2005 - 30 comments

NewsFilter - More evidence of life on mars

Life - a strong case for life on mars was presented sunday
posted by sourbrew on Feb 17, 2005 - 12 comments

Inside Mike Fincke's arm

NASA takes ultrasound to space No astronaut is pregnant, but NASA is using ultrasound as a portable diagnostic tool in space. If the NHL ever settles its labor dispute, the Red Wings' trainer may use it too.
posted by Cranberry on Feb 16, 2005 - 3 comments

Twinkle, twinkle little GPS BIIA-12...

J-Track 3D is an interesting JAVA web-app offered by NASA which gives a 3D interactive display of over 500 satellites currently orbiting the Earth.
posted by numlok on Feb 16, 2005 - 8 comments

How do you go to the bathroom in space?

How do you go to the bathroom in space? One of the questions answered on NASA's Brain Bites page.
posted by achmorrison on Feb 14, 2005 - 16 comments

Copyrighting public space

Chicago's current archetectual and artistic showcase, Millenium Park seems to be causing some problems. The pedestrian bridge was closed because the hardwood used to build it can not take the salt used to remove ice from pedestrian walkways. But it also seems that the massive sculpture Cloud Gate aka "The Bean" is a copyright elephant in public space. Park security are shaking down photographers for permits. As is typical, the copyright shakedown appears to be less about protecting the rights of the original artists, and more about the rights of the distributor (in this case, the city's desired monopoly on postcards and prints). See boing boing for editorializing and Slashdot for the typical herd reaction.
posted by KirkJobSluder on Feb 12, 2005 - 22 comments

Who can invent for us a cartography of autonomy, who can draw a map that includes our desires? - Hakim Bey

Cartography is a skill pretty much taken for granted now, but it wasn't always so. Accurate maps were once prized state secrets, laborious efforts that cost a fortune and took years (or even decades) to complete.

How things have changed. (Yours now, $110) It took almost 500 years to map North America, but it's only taken one tenth of that to map just everything else. In the last 50 years, we've been able to create acurate atlases of two planets and one moon (with a second in the works). Actually, we've done a lot more than that. We're actually running out of things to map.

Maybe Not.
posted by absalom on Jan 27, 2005 - 17 comments

European Space Agency

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.
posted by Pretty_Generic on Jan 21, 2005 - 28 comments

Seti Farming

Seti farming for those who just can't "crunch" enough. Including photos of his farm, past and present and resources for building your own.
posted by ThePrawn on Jan 19, 2005 - 23 comments

Titan-ic pictures

NASA has released some pictures from another moon The article has some pictures - almost actual and computer-enhanced of Titan. There are also links to the radar signals Huygens received in its descent to Titan and Cassini sent back to NASA. (They sound a bit like a Vespa buzzing past a window.)
posted by Cranberry on Jan 17, 2005 - 28 comments

Huygens Makes it!

It worked! Huygens has successfully landed on Saturn's moon Titan and the Cassini orbiter is sending good data back to Earth as I type. Isn't it amazing how we can take a probe the size of a compact car, send it on a 7 year journey in the most inhospitable environment imaginable, deploy a sub-probe that has been dormant for that entire time and land it where we had planned on another solar body so far away that it takes 67 minutes to get a signal back and forth. Exploration and research has never been so cool.
posted by tgrundke on Jan 14, 2005 - 37 comments

Obligatory NASA Post

European Space Agency's Huygens Probe Ready for Spectacular Mission to Titan
Mission managers for the European Space Agency's Huygens probe said the spacecraft is on course for its descent to Saturn's mysterious moon Titan on Friday, Jan. 14. The probe, which detached from NASA's Cassini orbiter last month, will be the first object to explore on-site the unique environment of Titan, whose chemistry is thought to be very similar to that of early Earth, before life formed. The data gathered during the probe's 2 1/2 hour descent through Titan's atmosphere will be transmitted from the probe to the Cassini orbiter and then back to Earth.
Make sure to stay tuned in this morning for updates.
posted by garethspor on Jan 13, 2005 - 69 comments

Oh you're absolutely fine ...

I LOVE YOU I WANNA LOVE YOU TENDER. You could be my only sweet surrender. I would never bring you any kind of sorrow. (38 Mb QT)
posted by Peter H on Jan 13, 2005 - 23 comments

Those were the days

Thanks to Yahoo's video search, I've spent the morning thrilling to movies from Nasa's earlier space programs. Ed White does the first american spacewalk, the crew of apollo 8 sends out a christmas message (wonder how that would play these days), Neil Armstrong goes for a walk, Buzz Aldrin gives a science lesson, John Young goes muddin', Apollo 17 lifts off from the moon. Galileo gets his due via Apollo 15, as does Kubrick, via Skylab. all this makes the Challenger explosion just incredibly sad.

Though I still don't know why searching for apollo 8 turned up gay porn and I don't wanna know.

What is really interesting though, is watching this Apollo 17 astronaut work on the moon. His body is moving in all sorts of subtle ways that highlight how odd it must be to work in lower gravity.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Jan 9, 2005 - 35 comments

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