With all this talk of wars in distant countries, it's easy to forget that there's exciting things going on just 300 million km from your back porch. NASA has provided 90 second videos of the first 90 sols of the Spirit
[5MB .mov] and Opportunity
rovers [5MB .mov].
posted by fatbobsmith
on May 18, 2004 -
Mars Rover Blog
, move over: SpiritRover
are on Livejournal, along with Pathfinder(ess)
, Voyager 1
, and the Planet Mars Himself
. (Educational. Sort of. And very LJ. Very, very
posted by brownpau
on Apr 2, 2004 -
Life on Mars? Methane has been found in the Martian atmosphere which scientists say could be a sign of present-day life on Mars. It was detected by telescopes on Earth and has recently been confirmed by instruments onboard the European Space Agency's orbiting Mars Express craft. Methane lives for a short time in the Martian atmosphere so it must be being constantly replenished. There are two possible ways to do this. Either active volcanoes, but none have yet been found on Mars, or microbes
. The Independent has it as Methane find on Mars may be sign of life
. The second group to detect signals of methane in the Martian atmosphere is led by Michael Mumma of Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland, who used powerful spectroscopic telescopes based on Earth. This team is even believed to have detected variations in the concentrations of methane, with a peak coming from the ancient Martian seabed of Meridiani Planum, which is being explored by a Nasa rover. This could indicate a subterranean source of methane which is pumping out the gas, either due to some residual geological activity or because of the presence of living organisms producing it as a waste gas. Asked whether the continual production of methane is strong evidence of a biological origin of the gas, Dr Mumma said: "I think it is, myself personally." As to how...
posted by y2karl
on Mar 28, 2004 -
"The unpiloted 12-foot-long X-43A vehicle, part aircraft and part spacecraft, will be dropped from the wing of a B-52 aircraft, lofted to nearly 100,000 feet by a booster rocket and released over the Pacific Ocean to briefly fly under its own power at seven times the speed of sound." Watch
(RealPlayer) it live.
posted by cedar
on Mar 27, 2004 -
Save the Hubble!
I know, I know, it's an internet petition... but it's to save the Hubble Telescope! That's worth a minute out of your day.
posted by Hugh2d2
on Jan 29, 2004 -
NASA is running their Spirit Martian explorer program on Martian solar time. With the project day running 39 minutes longer than a real day, engineers found they faced difficulties adjusting to this virtual timezone. Their solution was nearly as old as timekeeping itself.
posted by Ogre Lawless
on Jan 9, 2004 -
To the moon, Alice! (And then, on to Mars)
Time will tell whether this declaration will lead to an actual rebirth of NASA and realignment of goals for the agency. But I for one am absolutely thrilled that Bush is planning to give NASA a long-overdue new mission and goal. Avoiding the obvious pro/con debate of doing this (or the cost), I think it's absolutely vital to the national psyche for the United States to have a long-range goal that it can focus positive energy upon. This could be the first real "Challenge to the Union" that I think should become an annual event to replace the State of the Union.
posted by tgrundke
on Jan 9, 2004 -
We landed on Mars.
The Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has captured its first color image of Mars. It is the highest resolution picture ever taken of another planet. Fascinating.
posted by mad
on Jan 7, 2004 -
Mars, take II
- Still no word from Beagle 2
), unfortunately, as Mars maintains its tough reputation. However, the first of two rovers much larger than 1997's very successful Pathfinder is expected to hit the Martian surface with a giant bounce tonight at 8:35 p.m. PST. Check out the realistic simulation videos
of how it will land and get to work, then watch Nasa TV
(RealVideo) for live coverage.
posted by planetkyoto
on Jan 3, 2004 -
In about 24 hours, the Beagle 2 lander
will descend to the surface of Mars, courtesy of the European Space Agency. After a few mighty bounces, encased in a giant rubber ball, the lander will open up and allow its instrument payload to start sampling the surface.
This is the first in a trifecta of landers
destined for Mars during the next month. NASA's landers
, Spirit and Opportunity
, land on January 3rd and January 24th.
posted by warhol
on Dec 23, 2003 -
Robert "Moose" Cobb's new job
--Under fire for its handling of postwar contracts in Iraq, the Bush administration plans to appoint NASA's inspector general to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad to oversee investigations of any alleged abuses.
Cobb was Associate Presidential Counsel for Bush and before that spent nine years as a career attorney with the Office of Government Ethics. His appointment was seen as a bid by the administration to counter criticism -- mostly from Democrats in Congress -- that oversight of multibillion-dollar contracts has been lax.
So can a guy who worked in the Bush White House actually be trusted to objectively investigate abuses? And if the Pentagon is auditing all of this, why use this guy? (and can the Pentagon objectively investigate this stuff either?)
posted by amberglow
on Dec 15, 2003 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
Pentagon: space is for Americans only
At the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs in early April, (NRO director Peter) Teets proposed that U.S. resources from military, civilian and commercial satellites be combined to provide 'persistence in total situational awareness, for the benefit of this nation's war fighters.' If allies don't like the new paradigm of space dominance
, said Air Force secretary James Roche, they'll just have to learn to accept it
. The allies, he told the symposium, will have 'no veto power.' Suckers!
posted by magullo
on May 30, 2003 -
Martin Wattenberg, in collaboration with NASA and Rhizome.org
, developed a gorgeous applet
to showcase NASA's commissioned art program. Participating artists include William Wegman, Andy Warhol, Annie Leibovitz, and Robert Rauschenburg, among others. Pieces can be viewed by subject, title, or create your own gallery. Beautiful.
posted by ariana
on May 28, 2003 -
Screw Major Tom!
"Oscar 1 was battery powered. Its signals lasted for about two weeks. The batteries were not rechargeable
". Awww..... Here are the actual sounds of the first satellites. In fact, I may just become a MeFi musician just to sample them. So there.
posted by Carlos Quevedo
on May 20, 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 -
Did downsizing and inexperience lead to Columbia's destruction?
In the rush to cut costs and 'downsize' NASA in the 1990s the agency outsourced most Space Transportation System (STS, or the Shuttle) functions to a private consortium called United Space Alliance. Now, senior engineers at Boeing (lead member of the USA) are beginning to talk about the lack of experience, 'brain drain', and negative effects of downsizing and privatization. This begs the issue of market imperatives, relative value of privatization and the question of how to better manage projects of this magnitude in a mixed private/public arrangement.
posted by tgrundke
on Feb 23, 2003 -
"I imagine this is the last we will hear of this."
Or not. NASA releases email between NASA engineers leading up to the Columbia disaster documenting significant concerns regarding damage done to the shuttle on takeoff. Engineers calculated the likelihood of a 7" x 30" gouge in the heat shields, but when they let management know of their concerns, they weren't taken seriously, were forced to work "at night" to do simulations, and found that requests for additional information were "treated like the plague."
posted by insomnia_lj
on Feb 22, 2003 -
I saw a documentary about the SR-71 Blackbird last night and I must admit I am fascinated by it. Not only is it sleek
it's also fast as hell
Given its space-age appearance it is amazing to think that it first flew in 1964 and still nothing comes near in performance terms (that we know about
Withdrawn from service in 1990 due to the expense of running it, it was used by Nasa for testing until recently. Nowadays your only chance of seeing one is in a museum, and if you're outside the US, the only place to go is the excellent Air Museum at RAF Duxford
posted by jontyjago
on Feb 14, 2003 -
The Microwave Anisotropy Probe
's long-awaited map
of the afterglow of the big bang
was released today, and all of a sudden, most of the uncertainty in the concordance model of cosmology has disappeared. We now know, to within 1%, that the universe is 13.7 billion years old. We now know that Hubble constant is 71, plus or minus 4. And though the results agreed stunningly well with the weird picture
that cosmologists have about the nature of the cosmos, there was one surprise -- the first stars were born way before expected. Great day for science, and a likely future Nobel.
posted by ptermit
on Feb 11, 2003 -
Shuttle "Achille's Hell"
According to this article, Shuttle has one. Curiously it's in the area in which that piece of insulation hit during launch.Were the astronauts warned ? Did they do some space walk to see what was wrong ? I would stop my car to go out and see if I heard a loud "thump" coming from somewhere.
posted by elpapacito
on Feb 3, 2003 -