Explore the Exoplanets courtesy of Nasa. ""Eyes on Exoplanets" provides a scientifically accurate, fully rendered 3D universe of the 900-plus "Exoplanet" discoveries." [via NASA/Kepler, via NASAPlanetQuest]. Kepler/Exoplanets previously on Mefi 1 2 3 4 and (from 2002) 5.
About this time, it came to my mind that during one of our training sessions we were told that one of the fully fueled prototype S11 rocket stages had been exploded out in the desert. The results showed that all buildings better be at least three miles from the launch lads - which they are. We were now within 25 feet of this 363ft tall bomb that sounded like it's giant fuse had been lit, and we were soon going to get much closer.
Scott Carpenter has died at 88. As the commander of Aurora 7 in 1962, Carpenter was the second Mercury astronaut to orbit the Earth. He is best known for having wished his friend John Glenn "Godspeed" as the latter launched into orbit. [more inside]
Joan Roosa, wife of Apollo 14 Lunar Module Pilot Stu Roosa, recalled "I was at a party one night in Houston. A woman standing behind me, who had no idea who I was, said 'I've slept with every astronaut who has been to the Moon.' ...I said 'Pardon me, but I don't think so'".
Chandra Sky Map - Joe DePasquale runs through the process of creating the map and some helpful tips for using the interactive tool.
New Scientist magazine has posted a nifty interactive infographic that illustrates how many Earth-like planets might exist, based on observations from the Kepler Space Telescope. The orbital observatory has catalogued 151 exoplanets based on examination of 0.28% of the sky. [more inside]
The Smithsonian's National Air and Space museum is running an exhibit showing the ingenuity of design inherent in the spacesuits used by NASA astronauts. It includes some very cool x-ray photographs of the equipment by Mark Avino. [via]
It's 1963. You're in a cold war with Russia. You want to keep up communication capabilities globally. Communication satellites haven't come into their own. The ionosphere is fickle and jammable. What do you do? You fire 480 million tiny copper wires into space to create an artificial dipole antenna belt around the earth. You call it Project West Ford. It works. [more inside]
A few weeks ago, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano (@astro_luca) almost drowned during a spacewalk when his helmet started uncontrollably filling with water, possibly from a leaky spacesuit cooling system. (See previous MeFi discussion on the incident.) A week later, his fellow ISS astronaut Chris Cassidy posted two videos online showing the actual spacesuit and using it to illustrate the problem. All future US and European spacewalks have been halted while the incident is being investigated, although the Russian ones are continuing, as they use different suits. Yesterday, Luca published a scary new entry on his in-orbit blog, where he not only gave all the horror-movie details, but also revealed that he nearly chose to depressurize his suit outside the ISS in order to survive.
Twelve Months in Two Minutes; Curiosity's First Year on Mars. Happy First Anniversary, Curiosity! [Previously]
"The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet." Before we get into terraforming, what about the space between worlds? NASA has a website dedicated to discussions of space settlements (previously), many going back to the 1970s, as seen in the CoEvolution Book on space settlement and the NASA Ames/Stanford 1975 Summer Study. There is also concept art from the 1970s by Don Davis (prev: 1, 2, 3) and Rick Guidice. Escaping from that orbit, there's also a toroidal space colony as imagined in the 1982 book Walt Disney's EPCOT, and more recently, a ton of neat imagery on Bryan Versteeg's Spacehabs website. [more inside]
Enjoy 200,000 images of Saturn, its rings and moons taken by NASA's Cassini over 8 years compressed into 4 minutes of video.
“Imagine having a fishbowl on your head with a half a litre of water sticking to your face, ears and nose. Then imagine you can’t take the fishbowl off your head for a minimum of 20 minutes, feel the panic?”
ISS astronaut Luca Parmitano developed a water leak in his helmet shortly after beginning a spacewalk, but is fine now.
ISS astronaut Luca Parmitano developed a water leak in his helmet shortly after beginning a spacewalk, but is fine now.
NOAA and NASA visualize a green planet. The amazing maps of Earth's vegetation highlight areas where plant life is the densest and barest... (Space.com). They have an interactive map too! [more inside]
"It’s not inconceivable that if you are on the right part of the Earth, and you stand outside and wave, that one or two of the photons of sunlight that reflect from you are going to make it out to Saturn and into Cassini’s telescope." NASA is taking a new version of Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot image, and they've invited everyone to Wave at Saturn!
The Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB), on behalf of The National Academies, is seeking input papers on human spaceflight until July 9th, 2013. You can also read the current submissions. [more inside]
The Long Swath is a satellite image by NASA's Landsat Data Continuity Mission that captures, in a single continuous image, a strip of land 120 by 6,000 miles stretching from South Africa to Russia. The image can be explored in Gigapan, Google Earth, and fly-over videos and high resolution images.
"It was one of those things that was a gift to humanity... We’re all going to lose for sure." Kepler's career is over, but not before answering one of mankind's most profound questions.
In 1985, Houston was preparing for a party: 1986 marked the city's 150th birthday, the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Texas, and 25 years since the opening of NASA's Johnson Space Center, the hub around which the city's aerospace industry blossomed. In comes French synthesizer pioneer Jean Michel Jarre, the "composer of the future", known for his spectacular 1979 Bastille Day show that attracted a million people to Place de la Concorde, and for being the first Western musician to play China in 1981. With the Space Shuttle Challenger due to take off on mission STS-51-L in January, Jarre penned a piece for Mission Specialist and saxophonist Ron McNair to record in space. The nation watched as McNair and his crewmates prepared for their journey and waved goodbye, only to perish in a haunting and iconic explosion. As Houston mourned the loss of the seven crew, who called the city home during their preparation for spaceflight, Jarre wasn't sure if the upcoming festivities should be held, but was convinced by astronaut Bruce McCandless that the show must go on. On April 5, 1986, 1.5 million people gathered downtown to witness Rendez-vous Houston, a massive tribute to America's pioneering spirit that used the city as its backdrop. [more inside]
NASA needs your help. Match the picture taken of a random location on Earth to the map, see how close you can get and "help NASA qualify their huge photo repository".
Last fall, the Canadian Space Agency asked students to design a simple science experiment that could be performed in space, using items already available aboard the International Space Station. Today, Commander Chris Hadfield conducted the winner for its designers: two tenth grade students, Kendra Lemke and Meredith Faulkner, in a live feed to their school in Fall River, Nova Scotia. And now, we finally have an answer to the age-old question, What Happens When You Wring Out A Washcloth In Space? [more inside]
In August 2013 a Minotaur V rocket (Lunar!) is being launched from Wallops Flight Facility, to deliver a Lunar Orbiter. [more inside]
There once were two planets, new to the galaxy and inexperienced in life. Like fraternal twins, they were born at the same time, and took roughly the same shape.
How NASA brought the monstrous F-1 "moon rocket" engine back to life - "The story of young engineers who resurrected an engine nearly twice their age." [more inside]
NASA's Space Food Hall of Fame
Today's space food has come a long way since the Mercury Program of the early 1960s. When John Glenn first tried apple sauce from a squeeze tube onboard his Friendship 7 spacecraft in 1962, who could have dreamed that later astronauts would be able to choose from such a wide variety of foods?See also: Food in Space: Great Photos of Astronaut Meals, from the Early Space Voyages to Today, on io9. [more inside]
Distractions in Space: Because astronauts also have problems with directions, coworkers, and poop.
Artist/designer Shepard Fairey was commissioned the Center For The Advancement Of Science In Space to design a brand new patch for the International Space Station's ARK 1 (Advancing Researching Knowledge) mission. CASIS's Pat O'Neill unveiling the patch and the ARK 1 proposal.
This week, the first images of Earth from the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) were released by NASA. The images show the meeting of the Great Plains with the Front Ranges of the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming and Colorado. [more inside]
When the US Department of Energy halted Plutonium 238 production as far back as 1988, things looked grim for the future of space exploration. On Monday, March 18th, NASA's planetary science division head Jim Green announced that production has been restarted, and is currently in the test phases leading up to a restart at full scale.
As promised, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his team have recovered several Apollo F-1 rocket engines from the bottom of the ocean. [more inside]
seaQuest: what if we could learn to live on/underneath the oceans (or in orbit)? [previously(er)] [more inside]
NASA recently announced that the latest results from NASA's Curiosity Rover on Mars provide clear physical evidence that Mars once had all the conditions necessary to support life. Despite the skeptical reception given to recent news that the rover may also have found indirect evidence of organic compounds and active microbiological activity, other recent scientific results have gone even further. One Australian study from 2011 concluded, given what we know about Mars now, 3% of its total volume (as compared to 1% of Earth's) is likely habitable to known terrestrial lifeforms. And more recently, further analysis of the results of experiments performed by the 1976 Viking Lander mission suggests that we have likely detected active microbiological activity on Mars already, with one researcher going so far as to claim a 99% certainty that those earlier results detected life. (Previously).
A life well lived. On October 4, 1973, Josh Miele (4) was permanently blinded in an acid attack by his neighbor (pdf). 40 years later, Dr. Miele has worked for NASA on the Mars Rover project, he's helped develop "WearaBraille", a virtual Braille keyboard interface, and has a new project launching this month: the Descriptive Video Exchange (DVX), which will allow "sighted video viewers to seamlessly add audio description to DVDs as they watch." [more inside]
A moment of adorable: two year old Kayla can't reach the moon, but that doesn't lessen her interest in it. Kayla's dad shared the video on Reddit, where he got a lot of suggestions for books and items to appease her lunacy, and was invited to tour the NASA facilities in California.
First noticed by westerners in 1965, when the Gemini-4 spacecraft flew over northwest Africa (alternate source, with link to uncompressed TIF | in Earth photographs from Gemini III, IV, and V on Archive.org), the Richat Structure in the Sahara desert of west–central Mauritania resembles an impact crater or a circular target (or a possible Atlantis, or Plato's circular city, or maybe an open-pit mine), but is a naturally occurring 40-50 km (25-30 mi) geologic dome that has eroded over time. It's large enough that, when seen in person, the scale of the geography is hard to capture. But it is quite impressive when seen from space (mentioned previously)
10 years ago today, the flagship of the Space Shuttle fleet, Columbia, broke apart upon its return to earth. [more inside]
Three days prior to its planned impact on a lunar mountain, mission controllers activated the camera aboard one of NASA's GRAIL twins to take some final photos from lunar orbit. The result is some of the best footage of the moon's surface captured so far. [more inside]
Comet Apophis flew to within 9 million miles of the Earth yesterday. In 2029 it will come around again and get within 20,000 miles (closer than geosynchronous satellites). Then in 2036 it will approach again. At one time it was thought that it had a 3.5% chance flying through a specific keyhole of space in 2029, which would indicate that it would hit the Earth in 2036. But now the odds are calculated to be infinitesimal. Let's hope the astronomer assumptions are correct about that pesky Yarkovsky Effect. [more inside]