Far, far away.
Today, Voyager 1 will reach 90 AU
from the sun, around which distance it is expected to cross the "termination shock," finally crossing into the fuzzy boundary between the heliosphere
and true interstellar
space. (Yes, it's taken that long
to get there.) Some even think that the termination shock has already been reached
, but then re-expanded past the spacecraft. Tears need not be shed yet for these distant explorers: both Voyagers have juice
till about 2020, and the mission remains very much alive.
(No word, however, on a possible return to the Creator
posted by brownpau
on Nov 5, 2003 -
ESA astronaut, Pedro Duque writes
"I am writing these notes in the Soyuz with a cheap ballpoint pen. Why is that important? As it happens, I've been working in space programmes for seventeen years, eleven of these as an astronaut, and I've always believed, because that is what I've always been told, that normal ballpoint pens don't work in space... and here I am, it doesn't stop working and it doesn't 'spit' or anything. Sometimes being too cautious keeps you from trying, and therefore things are built more complex than necessary." From Snopes
: Fisher spent over one million dollars in trying to perfect the ball point pen before he made his first successful pressurized pens
in 1965, which NASA uses. [via GearBits]
posted by riffola
on Nov 4, 2003 -
The largest solar flare of the current solar cycle
shot off the sun earlier today. After the media latched on to what was predicted to be mostly a non-event last week (probably due to a NASA article released around the same time about a super spacestorm
) , it's not making as much news this time. But you should pay attention this time
. This could be the best and last chance for a lot of us farther south to see some auroras before the sun dives into solar minimum, assuming all the variables line up
correctly this time. I recommend watching the Solar Terrestrial Dispatch
, as it is a great all around resource for solar activity and auroras that includes live data and sightings reports by the general public. Unfortunately though, no doubt as word IS spreading, that site is being hammered again and may be quite slow.
posted by yupislyr
on Oct 28, 2003 -
Breathtaking Hubble picture
of the Sombrero Galaxy (also identified as M104). The Hubble Heritage team took the original images during May and June of this year using the Advanced Camera for Surveys and multiple color filters. They then stitched 6 images together to make the final composite image.
posted by Irontom
on Oct 10, 2003 -
An Elevator to the Stars.
The paper of record claims this isn't science fiction, but do we really believe that in ten years we'll be able to build a 60,000 mile long cable capable of supporting 13 ton cargo loads? Would you trust this to take you into asynchronous orbit? (Or maybe you just want to make like Joe Kittinger and jump out at 100,000 feet
posted by alms
on Sep 23, 2003 -
NASA's Official 'Galileo Dies' Page.
Galileo is set to crash into Jupiter on Sunday. Responsible for many great images
and tons of information, Galileo served well. Find a complete history of the Galileo mission here
. Also, don't forget to watch the End of Mission webcast this Sunday at approx. 2 PM EST here
posted by Ufez Jones
on Sep 16, 2003 -
Asteroid orbits Enter the designation or name of any asteroid or comet, and a 3D orbit visualization tool will appear for that object
If Chicken Little had this link he might have calmed down a little. Or not...Find out if your favorite asteroid is about to rock your world.
posted by konolia
on Sep 2, 2003 -
"These are good people"...but changes must be made. The Columbia Accident Investigation Board final report was released on Tuesday.
Putting technical answers aside for the moment, the report targets the organizational
and behavioral issues
that led to a breakdown in communication, safety and responsibility. While acknowledging the good will at NASA, the report holds no illusions that changing this culture will be very difficult and very necessary in order to return to flight. What types of management/behavioral obstacles have you encountered in home, work, school or social organizations? How did you try to effect change and what obstacles did you encounter in an effort to make it more effective, safe, productive or enjoyable?
posted by tgrundke
on Aug 28, 2003 -
Lego Astrobots Blog From Mars Rovers
- The Planetary Society has teamed with NASA to "man" it's two Mars Exploration Rover spacecraft with Lego "Astrobots." The bots, Biff Starling and Sandy Moondust, are blogging their adventure
"to allow kids to vicariously experience life in space, from launch, through the six-month space cruise, to landing and roving on the Martian surface."
posted by tpl1212
on Jun 13, 2003 -
Just a reminder
that the lunar eclipse occurs tonight, starting at 7:00pm Pacific Daylight Time (and lasting about three hours). Various webcasts have been set up for the darkness-impaired.
Apologies for the double-post, and I am aware that I'll probably get like 5 comments that say "SpaceFilter".
posted by hammurderer
on May 15, 2003 -
NASA scientists want to know what the pristine inside of a comet looks like. What better way, then, than by blowing a 25-meter crater in one? Comet Tempel 1
, to be specific. Even better, send them your name
and they'll put it on a disc attached to the impactor spacecraft, which will be launched on December 30, 2004. It'll hit on the 4th of July, 2005.
posted by gottabefunky
on May 13, 2003 -
I drink my tea with chopsticks.
At least, I would if I lived in outer space. Cool movie (achtung: Quicktime) from the international space station showing the effects of surface tension in the absence of gravity. I wonder if any of us will ever live long enough to experience this in person?
posted by jonson
on Apr 9, 2003 -
Orbiter - A Free Space Flight Simulator
Starving for a high realism space simulator ever since Microsoft's Space Simulator was discontinued? Look no further than Orbiter, a free realistic space simulator written and maintained by Dr. Martin Schweiger. How realistic? You might want to start off by consulting NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Basics Of Space Flight
to get you grounded so to speak. This is a free, non-commercial simulator that uses accurate math and orbital physics (more or less) to try to model space flight. However hard it may appear, after orbiting Earth with the high-res (8192x4096) mod-pack installed, or sitting on the launch pad with the seamless OrbiterSound 2.1b
sound environment installed, you will be well rewarded for reading the manual and participating in the dance of the heavens. (Even if all you want to do is fly around the solar system!)
posted by Tystnaden
on Mar 22, 2003 -
On November 28, 1960, a morse code transmission reading "SOS to the whole world" from an orbiting spaceship was picked up by the Judica-Cordiglia brothers with their home-made radio tracking station in San Maurizio Canavese, Italy. Sometime between February 2-4, they picked up telemetry of a dying cosmonauts heartbeat and breathing. Yuri Gagarin,
the universally acknowledged first man in space, did not make his flight until April 12, 1961. These brothers claimed that they intercepted radio transmissions of other secret flights as well. Were there secret Soviet spaceflights that ended in the death of Cosmonauts? Most
tend to disagree,
and offer an excellent debunking.
I started reading about this several weeks before the Columbia, but it now has a new poignancy. I agree that it is exceedingly unlikely that these alleged flights took, but the claims of these brothers, mingled with various other rumor and various Soviet urban legends, (along with the fact of Russian/Soviet general secrecy about most everything,) create an alternate history that is exceedingly disturbing.
posted by Snyder
on Feb 7, 2003 -
Cosmic bolt probed in shuttle disaster
- Scientists poring over 'infrasonic' sound waves
Federal scientists are looking for evidence that a bolt of electricity in the upper atmosphere might have doomed the space shuttle Columbia as it streaked over California, The Chronicle has learned.
posted by y2karl
on Feb 7, 2003 -
is the most beautiful toy. It's a free (open source) simulator of the universe, including breathtaking models of known planets. Watch Jupiter rise over Io or follow the course of a solar eclipse. [more inside]
posted by grahamwell
on Feb 4, 2003 -
Fire in the Sky.
Perhaps you saw moonwalk veteran astronaut Buzz Aldrin
attempt on NBC to read a poem he received in e-mail Saturday, and falter in tears. It was actually lyrics to the Jordin Kare song "Fire in the Sky,"
a tribute to manned space exploration:
Prometheus, they say, brought God's fire down to man.
And we've caught it, tamed it, trained it since our history began.
Now we're going back to heaven just to look him in the eye,
and there's a thunder 'cross the land, and a fire in the sky
posted by Tubes
on Feb 3, 2003 -
So, why hasn't the Shuttle been replaced? Because it hasn't been easy. In the late 80's and early '90s, the cold-war-fantasy-cum-shuttle-replacement was the X-30 National Aerospace Plane (NASP)
that was supposed to take off and land like a plane flying on super-fast Scramjet engines
that, alas, were never really successful...
In the late '90s, the New Economy, space-exploration-on-VC-money shuttle replacement was the X-33 VentureStar
program which was eventually cancelled
, after a long and turbulent history
. The X-33/VentureStar was one of the most technologically daring machines ever built --albeit too
daring. I cannot mention the X-33 without mentioning the ingenious-but-untested linear aerospike engine
that was going to take it to orbit. If the US is now (again) considering a Shuttle replacement, maybe the Delta Clipper
is worth a second look. The DC-X was a competitor for the X-33 program that was eventually scrapped, for technological and other reasons
. At least the Russians and Europeans liked it so much better than the other New Shuttle options that they copied it
posted by costas
on Feb 2, 2003 -
Constance Adams, Space Architect
She designed the International Space Station's TransHab module
(a prototype for manned Mars missions), and says cool things about what the role of architecture is: "Architecture involves forming harmony around the human system, balancing culture, biology, planetary knowledge and technology in counterpoint to the unknowable." (via boingboing)
posted by vraxoin
on Jan 24, 2003 -
Art goes to Mars.
This may be the very first art that our species sends into space, unless you count the little naked folks on the Voyager plaque, or broadcast television. In a somewhat bold move, they've chosen shock artist putter-of-sharks-in-formaldehyde Damien Hirst
. Is it me, or would the chosen painting be much dorkier if this were NASA rather than the European Space Agency? Like a duck or something.
posted by condour75
on Nov 30, 2002 -
--and promise to as brighter or brighter than last year:
NASA scientists' predictions for the 2002 Leonid meteor storm.
Such meteor storms rarely happen in consecutive years, but 2001 and 2002 are exceptions. Experts have just released their predictions: Depending on where you live (Europe and the Americas are favored) Leonid meteor rates in 2002 should equal or exceed 2001 levels.
That's the good news. The bad news is that the Moon will be full when the storm begins on Nov. 19th. Glaring moonlight will completely overwhelm many faint shooting stars. Indeed, I often hear that the Moon is going to "ruin the show."
We shall see.
posted by y2karl
on Nov 16, 2002 -