One hundred years ago today, on March 3, 1915, a Naval Appropriations Bill was passed through Congress and signed by president Woodrow Wilson. A small rider was attached to the bill and went through the process almost completely unnoticed. That rider legislated the formation of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. [more inside]
"A press release from Cornell explains how the researchers used some creative chemical modeling to construct a hypothetical, methane-based cell that's stable in Titan's sub-zero oceans. They call their alien life form an "azotosome."" [more inside]
A graduate student at MIT has published an analysis of the Mars One colony plans. Turns out that surviving off local crops is a bad idea. [pdf] Mars One is an ambitious and highly publicized plan to start a colony on Mars by launching groups of astronauts on a one-way trip to the red planet. The Mars One foundation claims that all of this is feasible with current technology: Falcon heavy launchers, Dragon capsules, inflatable structures, and life support systems similar to the International Space Station. Sydney Do, a Ph.D candidate in MIT's Strategic Engineering Research Group disagrees. His detailed and impressive analysis of the Mars One architecture reveals a few surprising and counter-intuitive results: the astronauts are better off eating food delivered from Earth, and the need for spare parts to sustain life support system ends up dominating the materials required to keep the colony going.
Secret stash of Moon artifacts found hidden in Neil Armstrong's closet. The artifacts have been sent to the National Air and Space Museum for research and preservation. The article shows pictures of each one and where it was used in the Lunar Module. Even more detail over at nasa.gov!
Asteroid 2004 BL86 will safely pass about three times the distance to the moon on January 26. It will not be bright enough to view with an unaided eye; however, astronomy sites including Earthsky and Universe Today have instructions for amateur astronomers with suitable equipment. [more inside]
Ted Cruz, Senator from Texas, global warming denier, and (attempted) NASA funding slasher, has been appointed to chair the Senate subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness. In other words, he will be overseeing NASA. [more inside]
Why you should water your house plants more often... Kamal Meattle describes how common houseplants can result in measurably cleaner indoor air. His work stems from earlier NASA research by Bill C. Wolverton who first investigated how to grow air in a space station before researching the indoor environmental impact of plants themselves. [more inside]
3 awesome downloadable NASA designed Travel Posters for places we haven't been to yet NASA's Kepler telescope is still discovering new, distant exoplanets in our corner of the Milky Way, but oftentimes they're hard to visualize and easily forgotten about by some of us normal folk. Now, to get everyone dreaming about these potentially habitable worlds, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has drawn up a trio of beautiful posters by the "Exoplanet Travel Bureau." All three echo the WPA's iconic travel prints from the mid-1930s, with classic typefaces and swathes of flat, contrasting color.
KSP History is an ongoing webseries which combines information and photos of historic events in human spaceflight with near-perfect recreations of those missions in Kerbal Space Program. The most recent entry recounts the first operational Space Shuttle launch. Highlights below the fold. [more inside]
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has revisited one of its most iconic and popular images: the Eagle Nebula’s Pillars of Creation. A new, higher quality image of the structure as seen in visible light recreates the original image, while a high quality image as seen in infra-red light reveals different aspects of the structure and hints of new stars being born. [more inside]
Forty-five years ago, Buzz Aldrin became the second man to walk on the moon. It made him one of the most famous people in the world. And it has haunted the rest of his life.
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), an X-ray telescope designed to observe deep space, has been used to capture images of X-rays streaming off the Sun for the first time. [more inside]
"Astronauts on the International Space Station have used their 3-D printer to make a wrench from instructions sent up in an email. It is the first time hardware has been "emailed" to space. Nasa was responding to a request by ISS commander Barry Wilmore for a ratcheting socket wrench."
There's all this talk about a manned trip to Mars. But there's another planet to consider visiting before a trip to Mars - NASA is now studying how to send people to Venus.
If you ever wrote a letter to Neil Armstrong it's probably now archived at Purdue University. The first man on the moon saved over 70,000 pieces of personal correspondence, and that probably includes that letter you wrote in late July 1969 when you were in the 2nd grade.
NASA’s new Orion spacecraft will soon blast off on its maiden voyage into space. It’ll be a quick and unmanned flight to test the craft, particularly its innovative heat shield, which will protect Iron man, Captain Kirk, Slimey the Worm and a unnamed Tyrannosaurus Rex from the white hot temperatures as Orion returns to Earth. Watch the launch on NASA TV (Audio only stream) on Thursday, December 4th, at 7:05am EST (1205 GMT) i.e. tomorrow morning for most of the Western world. [more inside]
How I Got My Own Area Code: It took the combination of phone phreak and "space cadet" to find a relationship between the number 321 and the countdowns of Cape Canaveral. [more inside]
An Antares rocket with the Orbital Sciences Corporation Cygnus CRS Orb-3 spacecraft bound for the International Space Station exploded today shortly after liftoff from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. [more inside]
“I would give my life to fly in space. It’s hard for me to talk about it but I would. I would then, and I will now.” The terrible injustice of Jerrie Cobb, who deserved to be the first female astronaut, yet never made it to space at all.
Here's a collection of NASA sounds from historic spaceflights and current missions.
"Using footage from NASA's Johnson Space Center, filmmaker Fede Castro creates a captivating time-lapse video of Earth from space. In a little over four minutes, 'Nuestra Tierra—Our Earth' takes us around the world, sighting major cities and even catching the breathtaking aurora borealis." More from Fede Castro.
SPACE.com has reported that a prototype of the ISSpresso, an espresso machine heading to the International Space Station (ISS) next year, was recently displayed at the 65th International Astronautical Congress 2014. [more inside]
When Musk went to price the mission with US launch companies, he was told transport would cost $60-80 million. Reeling, he tried to buy a refurbished Russian intercontinental ballistic missile to do the job, but his dealer kept raising the price on him. Finally, he’d had enough. Instead of hunting around for a cheaper supplier, Musk founded his own rocket company. His friends thought he was crazy, and tried to intervene, but he would not be talked down. Musk identifies strongly as an engineer. That’s why he usually takes a title like chief technical officer at the companies he runs, in addition to chief executive officer. He had been reading stacks of books about rockets. He wanted to try building his own. The Elon Musk Mars Interview.
It's official, Boeing's CST-100 and Space X's Dragon have been chosen to launch astronauts to the International Space Station by 2017, ending Russia's dominance as the sole provider of rides to the ISS, which they haven't been shy about using for leverage. Meanwhile, develop of the Space Launch System, designed for travel beyond low earth orbit, continues for its maiden launch in 2018. [more inside]
European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst captured this photograph from the International Space Station and tweeted "Words can't describe how it feels flying through an #aurora. I wouldn't even know where to begin..." Not many can share his experience, but photographer Paul Williams captured an aurora while on a flight from London to New York (stills on Flickr). NASA's Science News has an article on Flying Through a Geomagnetic Storm, with information on how auroras are formed, and a bit more on what it's like to fly through them, with an accompanying video (previously).
While on ISS, astronaut Reid Wiseman captured and tweeted a picture that captured night time picture of the Gulf of Thailand, including a vast area of green lights, distinct from the white, yellow and orange lights of adjacent cities. Reid wrote "Bangkok is the bright city. The green lights outside the city? No idea… " but others did know: it was many fishing boats with green fishing light attractors. [more inside]
On Thursday, NASA released the names and designs of three vehicles that could replace the space shuttle as means of sending our astronauts into space. [more inside]
Civilians in Abandoned McDonald’s Seize Control of Wandering Space Satellite (with NASA's silent blessing)
Storm Chasing on Saturn with Cassini [viz. cf.] - "The sun is slowly rising over Saturn's north pole, exposing an immense six-sided hurricane. The storm, big enough to swallow four Earths, was first spotted by the Voyager missions in the early 1980s. [Cassini] will be passing directly over the north pole with its cameras pointing down later this month." (previously 1,2)
Remember the floating training remote in Star Wars? Some people have done DIY versions of the remote that can levitate on your desktop. However, leave it to NASA to create the real thing and call it SPHERES: Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites: robotic bowling balls (OK, 18-sided polyhedron satellites) with autonomous propulsion, power, avionics, software, communications, and metrology subsystems, that fly freely in the ISS. First tested in 2006, they have been upgraded with Android smartphones, which makes them (for now) the less terrifying item in Google's growing robotic arsenal.
On July 21th, 1969 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin waited within paper thin walls on the surface of the Moon. Hours ago they had made history by being the first humans to land and walk on its surface. Now the only thing left to do was take off. All that entailed was performing the final test of the Lunar Module: launching from the lunar surface with no on-site support or possibility of fixes if something failed. [more inside]
NASA discovers hundreds of pits on the surface of the moon.
While the moon's surface is battered by millions of craters, it also has over 200 holes – steep-walled pits that in some cases might lead to caves that future astronauts could explore and use for shelter, according to new observations from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft. (Previously.)[more inside]
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, or LROC, is a system of three cameras mounted on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) that capture high resolution photos of the lunar surface . . . .The LROC team assembled 10,581 NAC [narrow angle camera] images, collected over 4 years, into a spectacular northern polar mosaic.
The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), aka the Curiosity Rover is something of a robotic geologist, so it makes sense to include the tools of the trade in some form, including a calibration target. For giving a sense of scale with smaller geologic features, pennies are often used for scale, as a common item with a standard dimension. But why is there a 1909 penny on the Rover? That's thanks to Kenneth Edgett, the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) principal investigator and an amateur coin collector who appreciates the history of the controversial 1909 V.D.B. Lincoln Cent.
The solar system's solid surfaces stitched together. If you want some more detailed imagery, you can always browse around NASA's planetary photojournal archive.
Astronaut Sally Ride and the Burden of Being The First. 'Tampons were packed with their strings connecting them, like a strip of sausages, so they wouldn’t float away. Engineers asked Ride, “Is 100 the right number?” She would be in space for a week. “That would not be the right number,” she told them. At every turn, her difference was made clear to her. When it was announced Ride had been named to a space flight mission, her shuttle commander, Bob Crippen, who became a lifelong friend and colleague, introduced her as “undoubtedly the prettiest member of the crew.” At another press event, a reporter asked Ride how she would react to a problem on the shuttle: “Do you weep?”'
The Energy Sciences Network is a private Department of Energy network operated by Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, that links research institutions in the United States and the world. In 2011 researchers acheived 91+ Gbps disk-to-disk on their 100 gbps network. The Shadow Internet.
Lovatt reasoned that if she could live with a dolphin around the clock, nurturing its interest in making human-like sounds, like a mother teaching a child to speak, they'd have more success. - stories from the NASA- funded project to teach Dolphins to talk using LSD (among other methods. )
It appears that we're doing a bit better... "After ten years in orbit, the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA's Aura satellite has been in orbit sufficiently long to show that people in major U.S. cities are breathing less nitrogen dioxide – a yellow-brown gas that can cause respiratory problems."
In November of 2013, I found myself the lone bidder of a Russian high altitude space suit on an auction website called RRauction. Since then, I’d been scheming how to best use the suit. I have been revisiting my childhood love for space and my obsession was growing stronger and stronger. It was only natural to use this suit to project the inner child in me, still dreaming about space. With that, I present to you: "A day in the life of Everyday Astronaut".
Minecraft in Space: NASA embraces the space simulator Kerbal Space Program with the Asteroid Redirect Mission patch.
Use a trampoline. “The cancellation of the space shuttle may be the biggest blunder ever made by the United States,” Kraft said. “It’s fairly obvious that no one in the government thought through what they were about to bring about when they made that decision.”
Russia wants to nix plans to use the ISS after 2020, prohibit the United States from visiting the space station after that date along with preventing the US from using Russia made rocket engines for military launches. NASA says it hasn't received any official word, as US Congress critters begin asking questions
Warm water is eating away at the bases of West Antarctic glaciers in an irreversible runaway process: West Antarctic Glacier Loss Appears Unstoppable [the damn paper (paywalled)] [more inside]
After being delivered to the International Space Station aboard the SpaceX resupply mission, the High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) platform was activated on April 30th, providing a live HD stream of Earth for anyone to view. [more inside]
Won't you please, please won't you be my neighbor? NASA's Kepler Discovers First Earth-Size Planet In The 'Habitable Zone' of Another Star. Kepler-186f is a planet about ten percent bigger than Earth that orbits within the habitable zone of its star. The light there is dim and orange, and it only gets about a third of the sunshine we do, but that may be enough for life. If you go outside tonight, there might be someone 500 light years away looking back at you...