759 posts tagged with nasa.
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Dreaming of Mars, again

Under Obama, NASA finds itself in a familiar place: Big goals but inadequate funds.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Apr 12, 2016 - 17 comments

Close Enough for Government Work

How many digits of pi do we really need? Thirty-nine.
posted by Eyebrows McGee on Mar 30, 2016 - 74 comments

"Who's Out There?"

Orson Welles, sitting in a dark library and smoking a cigar, narrates the 1975 28-minute long NASA documentary "Who's Out There" on the subjects of Mars, and the possibility of extraterrestrial life and civilizations. Also featuring Carl Sagan.
posted by ShooBoo on Mar 13, 2016 - 11 comments

There will be Netflix on Mars

The future of space travel demands better communication. The pokey pace at which our current Martian spacecraft exchange data with Earth just isn't enough for future inhabitants who want to talk to their loved ones back home or spend a Saturday binge-watching Netflix. So NASA engineers have begun planning ways to build a better network. The idea is an interplanetary internet in which orbiters and satellites can talk to one another rather than solely relying on a direct link with the Deep Space Network, and scientific data can be transferred back to Earth with vastly improved efficiency and accuracy.
posted by Chrysostom on Mar 6, 2016 - 41 comments

The fabulous ruins of NASA

Remnants of the American space race, photographed from Florida to California. "There is a spiritual quality to Launch Complex 34. The launch pedestal with its large round opening to the sky gives it the look of some ancient astronomical archaeological ruin, something like Stonehenge."
From a new book.
posted by doctornemo on Mar 4, 2016 - 19 comments

Windows on Earth

Astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted 1,000 photos during his year in space.
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Mar 1, 2016 - 13 comments

At Sea with America's Largest Floating Gathering of Conspiracy Theorists

It’s an experience that may not appeal to everyone—a seven-day cruise at sea, with the aim of “taking back power from corrupt and greedy institutions, attain true self-authority, and realize our genuine Self behind the masks … discovering the truth, taking command of our lives, and attaining genuine inner realization” —with every odd belief you can think of listed as entertainment: GMOs, Monsanto, bee colony collapse, ecology, global warming, climate change, fracking, HIV, autism, Big Pharma, medical suppression, vaccinations, fluoridation,… electoral fraud, identity chips, 2nd amendment, and so much more. Anna Merlan writes charitably yet unflinchingly for Jezebel about her experience joining them [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Feb 29, 2016 - 121 comments

After Thirty Years of Guilt - "My Burden Has Been Reduced"

Last month NPR reported a story about Bob Ebeling, one of the NASA engineers who tried, and failed, to stop the Challenger launch thirty years ago. His guilt and depression touched the hearts of many listeners, who wrote Mr. Ebeling, telling him he did all he could and wasn't to blame. Those letters have finally helped him move past the guilt.
posted by blurker on Feb 25, 2016 - 37 comments

Eerie music from the dark side of the moon

"Astronauts onboard Apollo 10 say they heard mysterious "music" on the dark side of the moon. They didn't know if they were hearing things and were left wondering if music really was coming from behind the moon. The answer is - sort of - but not really. They could hear an "outer space-type" droning musical sound when they went around the back of the moon at the end of the 1960s and say they were worried nobody would believe them". CNN news piece with short clip of the sound.
posted by marienbad on Feb 22, 2016 - 48 comments

Astronaut ice cream is a lie

Astronaut ice cream is a lie (SLYT)
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug on Feb 19, 2016 - 46 comments

NASA's Visions of the Future Calendar Images

The images for JPL’s Visions Of The Future 2016 Calendar, which was an internal gift to JPL and NASA staff along with scientists, engineers, government and university staff, have been put online. "As you look through these images of imaginative travel destinations, remember that you can be an architect of the future." [via] [more inside]
posted by cashman on Feb 11, 2016 - 17 comments

I Want to Believe

Edgar Mitchell, NASA astronaut, Apollo 14 Lunar Module Pilot, and outspoken alien visitation believer, has died at age 85. [more inside]
posted by 1367 on Feb 5, 2016 - 44 comments

Cut it out NASA, you don't have the money or a plan for Mars

"Members of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology tore apart NASA's Journey to Mars initiative, claiming the program needs a much more defined plan and clear, achievable milestones to work. Those in attendance also doubted the feasibility of a long-term Mars mission; they cited the massive amount of money needed for the trip — much more than NASA currently receives year to year — as well as a significant leap in technological development. Because of these enormous challenges, a few witnesses at the hearing suggested that NASA either rethink its approach or divert its attention to a Moon mission instead."
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Feb 5, 2016 - 89 comments

The Last of Its Kind Still Flying

In honor of its latest flight transporting the Orion capsule to the Kennedy Space Center, let's consider the world's most bulbous plane, NASA's Super Guppy.
The Super Guppy has a cargo area that is 25 feet tall, 25 feet wide and 111 feet long. The jumbo plane can carry over 26 tons worth of cargo and is often used by NASA to ferry large components around the country that would take too long (or be impossible) to ship by land or by sea.
[more inside] posted by Existential Dread on Feb 2, 2016 - 51 comments

"No! No! No! They don't mean the shuttle! They don't mean the shuttle!"​

An Oral History Of The Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster
posted by brundlefly on Jan 28, 2016 - 105 comments

NASA reduces average payload weight without sacrificing capabilities

For the first time [ever], NASA’s latest class of astronauts is 50 percent female. And, NASA has announced, in 15 years they could all be selected for an inaugural trip to Mars.
posted by Hot Pastrami! on Jan 22, 2016 - 23 comments

Cancer and Climate Change

"I’m a climate scientist who has just been told I have Stage 4 pancreatic cancer."
Ex-astronaut and NASA climate scientist Piers J. Sellers compares the long-term prognosis for Humanity and the Earth to his short-term prognosis and decides "I’m going to work tomorrow." Previously, he wrote about the passing of Neil Armstrong and was interviewed about the end of the Space Shuttle program.
posted by oneswellfoop on Jan 17, 2016 - 14 comments

Working outside in the cold at the ISS

Britain's first official astronaut, Tim Peake, is hard at work today outside the International Space Station on a spacewalk, going on live as of 10:40am EST. [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Jan 15, 2016 - 84 comments

A Rare Glimpse of NASA’s Otherworldly Treasures

HOUSTON, Tex.—Building 31 on the campus of Johnson Space Center lacks the Tower of London’s majesty and history. No Queen’s Guard stand outside. But this drab, 1960s-era building is nonetheless where NASA keeps the crown jewels of its exploration program. Inside various clean rooms, curators watch over meteorites from Mars and the asteroid belt, cosmic dust, samples of the solar wind, comet particles, and, of course, hundreds of kilograms of Moon rocks.
posted by veedubya on Jan 13, 2016 - 17 comments

The Normalization of Deviance

In 2014 a Gulfstream plane crashed and burst into flames in Bedford, Massachusetts, killing seven people (NTSB animation). Aviation writer Ron Rapp argues that the cause was not defective equipment or simple complacency, but the normalization of deviance, whereby "people within [an] organization become so much accustomed to a deviant behavior that they don’t consider it as deviant, despite the fact that they far exceed their own rules for the elementary safety." This was also considered to be a factor in the crashes of the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia. The creator of the concept and author of The Challenger Launch Decision, sociologist Diane Vaughan, is interviewed here. (transcript)
posted by desjardins on Dec 27, 2015 - 108 comments

Watch it live, sorta

If you hurry, you may be able to catch Apollo 17 taking off from the Moon.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Dec 13, 2015 - 30 comments

Quantum computing! Brought to you by Google, Goldman Sachs, the NSA...

Google successfully tests the first commercially available quantum computer. Google/NASA's Quantum Computing / AI lab has verified that D-Wave Systems recently announced 1000+ qubit quantum computer works as designed: really, really, really fast. "A 100,000,000x leap in computing power", one of their board members claims. In addition to Google, NASA, and government grants, D-Wave's CEO, the former CTO of Goldman Sachs, also obtained large initial investments from the financial industry. One of their first customers? Los Alamos National Laboratory, "a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security." This obviously has huge implications for public key encryption, scientific research... everything, really.
posted by markkraft on Dec 8, 2015 - 121 comments

How do you lose a rocket booster?

A decades old mystery is now solved! After many attempts searching through Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) images, the Apollo 16 S-IVB rocket booster impact site has been identified. [more inside]
posted by tocts on Dec 4, 2015 - 15 comments

It spent all its money on whiskey and beer

Remember the prototype lunar rover that was believed to be scrapped but was recovered by a junkyard owner? It just failed to sell at auction, and could be yours if you have an amount of money more than $30000 burning a hole in your pocket.
posted by Artw on Nov 22, 2015 - 10 comments

None of them wanna pay taxes again. Ever.

The Asteroid Hunters
posted by zarq on Nov 17, 2015 - 23 comments

Katherine Johnson and others awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Obama: “I look forward to presenting these 17 distinguished Americans with our nation’s highest civilian honor. From public servants who helped us meet defining challenges of our time to artists who expanded our imaginations, from leaders who have made our union more perfect to athletes who have inspired millions of fans, these men and women have enriched our lives and helped define our shared experience as Americans.” [more inside]
posted by Beti on Nov 16, 2015 - 13 comments

“Solar-wind erosion is an important mechanism for atmospheric loss,”

NASA Mission Reveals Speed of Solar Wind Stripping Martian Atmosphere [mars.nasa.gov] [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Nov 6, 2015 - 42 comments

Houston to Ground Control (SLYT)

Artist Tom Kucy raided the NASA Apollo Project Archive of photos to create a short film titled "Ground Control".
posted by msbutah on Oct 13, 2015 - 3 comments

Pretty floating spheres of water

RED 4K Video of Colorful Liquid in Space. "Once again, astronauts on the International Space Station dissolved an effervescent tablet in a floating ball of water, and captured images using a camera capable of recording four times the resolution of normal high-definition cameras. The higher resolution images and higher frame rate videos can reveal more information when used on science investigations, giving researchers a valuable new tool aboard the space station. This footage is one of the first of its kind. The cameras are being evaluated for capturing science data and vehicle operations by engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Oct 10, 2015 - 19 comments

The Apollo Photos

The Project Apollo Archive has uploaded to Flickr all photographs taken by the Apollo missions to the moon (Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17). [more inside]
posted by nubs on Oct 2, 2015 - 36 comments

There is Water on Mars

The New York Times is reporting that NASA is about to announce the discovery of "definitive signs of liquid water on the surface of present-day Mars."
posted by schmod on Sep 28, 2015 - 109 comments

Look! Up in the sky!

Supermoon Lunar Eclipse! Coming to most of the world September 27th or 28th, 2015. There are many other cool visualizations, like this telescopic view or a view from the moon. Provided by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission of NASA.
posted by Roger Dodger on Sep 19, 2015 - 15 comments

Finally, if you are still with me, you hardy reader...

Tindallgrams is a collection of snarky memoranda of Howard W. "Bill" Tindall, Jr., a NASA Orbital Mechanics specialist working at MIT to coordinate software development for the Apollo spacecraft guidance systems. His memos, dating from 1966 through 1970, are epistles of triumph, frustration, and incomprehension that will be familiar to project managers throughout time. [more inside]
posted by Sunburnt on Sep 18, 2015 - 12 comments

You will not be going into space today

The Ballad of Captain Dwight-The story of Ed Dwight, the first black American trained to be an astronaut, via the memory palace [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Sep 17, 2015 - 9 comments

why were they serving soup to people in bed anyway?

meet the man NASA paid $18,000 to lie in bed for 70 days straight
posted by and they trembled before her fury on Sep 14, 2015 - 38 comments

How to Explore the Surface of a Comet or Asteroid

Hopping, tumbling and flipping over are not typical maneuvers you would expect from a spacecraft exploring other worlds. Traditional Mars rovers, for example, roll around on wheels, and they can't operate upside-down. But on a small body, such as an asteroid or a comet, the low-gravity conditions and rough surfaces make traditional driving all the more hazardous. Enter Hedgehog: a new concept for a robot that is specifically designed to overcome the challenges of traversing small bodies.(via)
posted by AElfwine Evenstar on Sep 7, 2015 - 8 comments

Europa Mission

"The search for alien life has recently taken a surprise twist away from Mars and toward Europa, an ice ball of a moon in orbit around Jupiter. To understand why, you just need to look at these three numbers: Zero 1.33 billion 3 billion.... [more inside]
posted by storybored on Sep 4, 2015 - 48 comments

Worms, meatballs and logos

In the '70s, NASA commissioned a redesign of their "meatball" logo. They wanted something to make it more modern and better designed, so eventually the "worm" logo was unveiled. Unfortunately a lot of NASA engineers hated it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Sep 1, 2015 - 97 comments

Next time NASA lands on Mars, they want your name on the lander.

Your name could be on Mars in the next several months. You've already paid for it, so you might as well go. In March 2016, NASA is launching its Insight lander, which will be the first Mars mission to probe beneath the surface of the Red Planet and explore its interior in-depth. (In-depth, get it? Nevermind) They're offering to micro-etch the name of any Earthling who wishes on the lander. Here's where to sign up. [more inside]
posted by Sleeper on Aug 21, 2015 - 28 comments

It is surprising how much brighter Earth is than the moon

From a Million Miles Away, NASA Camera Shows Moon Crossing Face of Earth. [more inside]
posted by Narrative Priorities on Aug 5, 2015 - 74 comments

"That was definitely an E-ticket!"

"Roger roll, Discovery." The sweet, sweet sounds of NASA mission control audio snippets, edited for your sampling and ringtone pleasure as MP3 and M4R downloads.
posted by Laminda on Jul 29, 2015 - 19 comments

A Whole New World

NASA will host a news teleconference at noon EDT Thursday, July 23 (livestream) to announce new discoveries made by its planet-hunting mission, the Kepler Space Telescope.

"The first exoplanet orbiting another star like our sun was discovered in 1995. Exoplanets, especially small Earth-size worlds, belonged within the realm of science fiction just 21 years ago. Today, and thousands of discoveries later, astronomers are on the cusp of finding something people have dreamed about for thousands of years -- another Earth."
posted by jayCampbell on Jul 22, 2015 - 82 comments

Al Gore's Satellite

In 1998, Vice President Al Gore had a vision for "Triana," an imaging satellite that would continuously transmit a live "big blue marble" Earthview for the nascent World Wide Web. Designed, built, and scheduled for launch in 2001, the $150 million "GoreSat" became a victim of politics during the W. Bush administration, and was relegated to a closet at the Goddard Space Flight Center. Friendlier heads revived the satellite in 2009 as the NOAA's DISCOVR - the Deep Space Climate Observatory - and launched her on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket last year. Today, NASA published her first "epic" view of Earth.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on Jul 20, 2015 - 27 comments

In conventional camera terms, it’s a 75mm lens at f/8.7

A story in the Atlantic about "Ralph", the camera taking the tan-and-sepia-toned high-resolution photos of Pluto.

Because different materials shrink at different rates, “We actually built the mirrors and the chassis out of aluminum so that as they shrink, they would shrink together, to maintain the same focal length."
posted by artsandsci on Jul 15, 2015 - 7 comments

New Horizons reaches the ninth planet in our solar system

50 years to day after Mariner IV gave humanity its first closeup glimpse of another planet, the New Horizons spacecraft brings us our first close up image of Pluto. [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Jul 14, 2015 - 303 comments

Humans to Mars with current technology, within NASA budget

A recent paper describes a credible, achievable plan for a crewed Mars mission. Plans for human exploration of Mars tend to suffer from two problems: too expensive, and/or relies on technology that doesn't exist yet and may never exist. A group of mission planners at JPL has come up with a plan that uses existing technology, and can fit within the NASA budget projections from now to 2050. It relies on SLS launches, a habitat on Phobos, and practice descent/ascent on the Moon.
posted by amy27 on Jul 2, 2015 - 89 comments

A planetary-scale platform for environmental data & analysis

According to Wired, "Paired with AI and VR, Google Earth will change the world". But just after its tenth birthday, Google Earth is already changing the world even without AI or VR, simply by giving scientists tools to map the world's problems (NYT). Google Earth Engine has become an emerging tool in environmental monitoring, conservation, water resources, regional planning, epidemiology, forestry, agriculture, climate science, and many other fields:
In 2007, not long after taking the job at Google, Askay flew to Brazil, helping an indigenous tribe, the Surui, map deforestation in their area of the Amazon, and this gave rise to a wider project called Google Earth Engine. With Earth Engine, outside developers and companies [and scientists] can use Google’s enormous network of data centers to run sweeping calculations on the company’s satellite imagery and other environmental data, a digital catalog that dates back more than 40 years.
[more inside] posted by dialetheia on Jul 1, 2015 - 12 comments

All Engine Running

Jack King, voice of Apollo 11, has died. He was 84. King, a former NASA Chief of Public Information and Public Affairs Officer, is remembered for having voiced the commencing countdown of, among hundreds of other NASA launches, perhaps the most famous space launch in human history: the launching of Apollo 11. Named as "the voice of launch control", King's presence and contributions are deeply woven into the beginnings of NASA. Indeed, save for that of Neil Armstrong's, no voice is as indelibly etched in our collective memory of humankind's move to space as Jack King's. Recounting those halcyon days of NASA and the birth of the Space Age, here is one of King's last interviews.
posted by Mike Mongo on Jun 27, 2015 - 25 comments

What to expect when you're zipping by Pluto

In about a month, on July 14th at roughly 7:50am EST,the New Horizons spacecraft will make humanity's closest approach to Pluto. This will produce the best images we've ever seen of the dwarf planet, its odd system and bizarre collection of moons. In anticipation of this historic event, Emily Lakdawalla of Planetary.org has written a blog post describing exactly what and when to expect photos and other science data from the encounter. [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Jun 14, 2015 - 27 comments

You can't get your ass to Mars

Every sensate being we’ve encountered in the universe so far—from dogs and humans and mice to turtles and spiders and seahorses—has evolved to suit the cosmic accident that is Earth. The notion that we could take these forms, most beautiful and most wonderful, and hurl them into space, and that this would, to use Petranek’s formulation, constitute “our best hope,” is either fantastically far-fetched or deeply depressing.
As Impey points out, for six decades we’ve had the capacity to blow ourselves to smithereens. One of these days, we may well do ourselves in; certainly we’re already killing off a whole lot of other species. But the problem with thinking of Mars as a fallback planet (besides the lack of oxygen and air pressure and food and liquid water) is that it overlooks the obvious. Wherever we go, we’ll take ourselves with us.
Project Exodus: Elizabeth Kolbert on Mars, Earth, exploration versus science and astronautical reach exceeding grasp. [previouslyish]
posted by byanyothername on May 28, 2015 - 107 comments

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