At one point, Stafford recognized a landmark crater, Censorinus A. He was momentarily distracted by the dramatic shadows and giant boulders surrounding the crater. “I’ve got Censorinus A right here,” he said out loud to the world, “bigger than shit!” A shocked reporter listening to the transmission in mission control turned to astronaut Jack Schmitt. “What did Colonel Stafford just say?” Thinking quickly, Schmitt covered for his colleague and replied “He said, ‘Oh, there’s Censorinus… bigger than Schmitt!’”
How not to swear on the moon
, and other fun facts from Vintage Space
In March last year, the unmanned X-37B
US military spaceplane launched from Cape Canaveral on mission USA-226
, to "demonstrate various experiments", sensors and technology. Its original 270 day mission was extended in November
"as circumstances allow" for "additional experimentation opportunities", but a dedicated group of optical tracking specialists in the US and Europe believe that the X-37B is in fact spying
on the Chinese space station Tiangong-1
. [more inside]
Click the photo at the top of the linked page to view The Voyagers
, a rumination on the universe, love, a golden record and two small space probes.
The Habitable Exoplanets Catalog
is a database of the planets outside our solar system which are considered the most suitable for life according to certain steps
. So far 16 have been identified
as possible candidates. This Guardian article
is a good introduction. You can also just dive into the catalogue, which ranks planets on two main scales, similarity to Earth
and surface habitability
(note that all images are computer renderings
). The catalog is a project of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory
at University of Puerto Rico in Arecibo (home to the world's largest radiotelescope).
"They may well do it." [The Guardian]
Sir Arthur C Clarke predicted in a lost BBC interview that the Russians would win the space race by landing the first man on the moon in 1968, probably on the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution. Arthur C Clarke on The Sky at Night – video.
Fire tests on the International Space Station
are showing some really neat results, including that fire can burn in microgravity at lower temperatures and with less oxygen. Video included at the link. [more inside]
Brian Greene's Fabric of the Cosmos
is online in its entirety on NOVA's website, in four one-hour episodes. Time
, Quantum Mechanics
One of my favorite blogs
happens to be local to me. Eric Berger, the Houston Chronicle's "SciGuy" usually reports on the weather
. But he also posts entertaining and serious stuff as well. [more inside]
Between August and October this year the crew of the ISS used a special low-light HD camera to visually capture the earth as it passed beneath them. The result, edited together by Michael König and set to music, is jaw-droppingly spectacular
It may be redundant to tell you to set Vimeo to full-screen mode before playing, but do so - you won't regret it. Post intended as something of a sequel to this.
Some related channels on Vimeo: The World In HD, HDTime, Slow Motion & Timelapse Theatre.
To The Moon
is a stunningly good game about death, love and memories. If you love games and you enjoy love stories, I highly urge you to download it and play it immediately. Here's a review
, but you shouldn't read it. You should just play it. Warning: Have kleenex handy.
Yesterday, Russia's first interplanetary mission
in 15 years launched
sucessfully from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. It ran into serious problems almost immediately
. In jeopardy are a sample return mission from the Martian satellite Phobos, The Planetary Society's Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment
(LIFE), and China's Yinghuo
The Divine Craft docked with
the Space Palace
on Wednesday, and no one said anything! Cmon space fans
, this is the first Chinese space kiss
Why not space?
looked at Do The Math's assessment of energy use and economic growth. But could going to the stars allow us to escape?
Time lapse videos can be breathtaking, lovely, and a joy to watch… but they can also show you something you may not have thought about before. Before I even read the caption for Murray Fredericks’ video called "IRIDIUM", I knew it was filmed in the southern hemisphere. Can you guess how? [more inside]
On September 30, 2011 at 11:08am, Derek Deville's Qu8k (pronounced "Quake") launched from the Black Rock Desert in Nevada
to an altitude of 121,000' before returning safely to earth. Above 99% of the atmosphere the sky turns black in the middle of the day and the curvature of the earth is clearly visible. Direct video links inside. [more inside]
Over 500 people have traveled into outer space
. While many have written books about the experience
, only a few have used more creative means to express what they saw and felt. Here are a few: [more inside]
Scientist and Science Fiction author Joan Slonczewski
, author of A Door Into The Ocean
, guest blogs
about science fictional and microbiology on Charles Stross's site: Salt Beings
, Microbes grow the starship
, Synthetic Babies
The descent of the Apollo 11, plotted with Google Moon
Pictures from the actual moon landing side-by-side with Google Earth, as the lander descends. [via]
Also, try the Google Earth KML file
for the Apollo 11 landing.
Martian Life's Last Stand in the Trenches?
"Scientists have found water-bearing deposits on Mars that are out of step with what was happening elsewhere on the planet, raising the prospect that the sites could have hosted Martian life's last stand."
It's probably too late to take your Hasselblad aboard a Space Shuttle
, but if the opportunity arises, read the Astronaut's Photography Manual
(PDF) and you might capture photos like this one
To paraphrase a character in the film, The Black Hole walks "a tightrope;" if not between "genius" and "insanity," then certainly between "genius" and "banality". If you're looking at this movie as a Manichean exercise between darkness and light, then you can -- for at least a few hours -- entertain the "genius" part of that equation.
The secretive NRO celebrated 50 years of spying from space
with a one-day surprise public exhibition of a just-declassified KH-9 Hexagon "Big Bird" imaging satellite
. Between 1963 and 1986, a constellation of KH-7 Gambit, KH-8 Gambit 3, and KH-9 Hexagon satellites
, all revealed after a half-century of secrecy, returned high-resolution film exposures of Cold War targets from orbit by parachute.
When we talk about dark matter and its alternatives, we are talking about no less a task than explaining the structure of every large object in the Universe.
On the largest scales dark matter
blows all of its competitors
away. In terms of explaining
the large-scale structure of the Universe, not a single one of dark matter
's alternatives comes close to mirroring its success. But of course, that doesn't stop the sensationalist headlines from rolling in. We are understandably uncomfortable with the notion that we are not the most important thing in the Universe. We've just successfully figured out where the new material to form the Milky Way's young stars is coming from: high-velocity intergalactic gas clouds! About a Sun's worth of gas falls into the Milky Way (on average) every year, and this resupplies the Milky Way's gas reserves, which get eaten up as new stars form over billions of years.
But what about the other, larger mystery? What about reproducing the structure of the Milky Way itself?
Incredible, stunning, beautiful and humbling. Time lapse videos from Hubble.
Hey, remember the ISS, that space station
the Space Shuttle
helped build before the shuttle was retired? Turns out humans might have to vacate that nifty space station
for a bit. [more inside]
Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life
of new projects and a print version by December have been made. [more inside]
FOX has greenlit an update
of Carl Sagan's Cosmos: A Personal Voyage
) co-produced by Sagan's widow Ann Druyan and Seth MacFarlane, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson
, which will air in Fall 2013. [more inside]
NASA May Have Discovered Flowing Water on Mars Dark, finger-like features appear and extend down some Martian slopes during late spring through summer, fade in winter, and return during the next spring. Repeated observations have tracked the seasonal changes in these recurring features on several steep slopes in the middle latitudes of Mars' southern hemisphere.
Are We Alone In the Universe? New Analysis Says Maybe
In a new paper published on arXiv.org
, astrophysicist David Spiegel at Princeton University and physicist Edwin Turner at the University of Tokyo argue...using a statistical method called Bayesian reasoning...that the life here on Earth could be common, or it could be extremely rare — there's no reason to prefer one conclusion over the other. [more inside]
Pluto may have been downsized in 2006
, but it's still living large, moon wise: A fourth moon
has been discovered orbiting the dwarf planet
Dawn spacecraft now orbits asteroid Vesta
- After almost 4 years of space travel, the Dawn spacecraft successfully entered orbit around Vesta, an Arizona sized rock. Dawn tweets
, takes pictures
, and there is a Vesta Fiesta party
to celebrate. After hanging out at Vesta for a year, Dawn will head off to visit the Ceres asteroid next, a three year trip. Amazing achievement of engineering, innovation and accuracy.
Fancy yourself a rocket scientist? Want to build rockets and shoot little green guys into space? Comfortable with your rocket flying apart and exploding into a thousand fiery pieces? Able to press the space bar? Try Kerbal Space Program. [more inside]
On July 5th the SOlar and Heliospheric Observatory
) captured video
of a comet, known as a sungrazer
, in route to collide with our star. SOHO is equipped with an occluding coronograph
that blocks direct sunlight and reveals the corona
, but also prevents direct study of the terminal impact of sungrazers. But on July 6th, with the help of the Solar Dynamics Observatory
were able to observe the comet (slyt)
streaking in front of the surface of the sun for the first time in history. It likely disintegrated before impact due to extreme heat and radiation.