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]
Here is NASA's Z1 Prototype Spacesuit and Portable Life Support System featuring a rear-entry design (interviews with spacesuit engineers Cristina Achondo and Amy Ross). And yes, it looks a little familiar.
Astronaut, and Expedition 33 Commander, Sunita Williams gives a tour of the International Space Station.
NASA Johnson Style (Yes, it's a Gangnam Style Parody, but it's a pretty damn good 'un) SLYT
NASA has released an updated set of Earth at Night images, obtained via the Suomi NPP satellite's Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). A set of images is available on Flickr. [more inside]
Voyager One, the furthest man made object from earth, recently entered the boundary between the heliosphere and interstellar space. Scientists from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena have nicknamed this boundary area the Magnetic Highway.
We taught it everything we know, we did everything we could for it. But now it has to find its own path.
Mars Curiosity Rover. A short film by Dan Winters, narrated by members of the team that sent Curiosity on its way. [more inside]
NASA will send you an email or text alert when the International Space Station is visible from your area. IBM scientists have recently made significant advances in nanotechnology. A mathematician thought a poorly-encrypted headhunting email from Google was testing him, but he had actually discovered a major security hole. All of this found via The Brief: A Daily Briefing of Technology News Worth Caring About from MeFi's own nostrich. [via mefi projects]
Don Pettit, famed International Space Station photographer, gives an interesting talk at Luminance 2012 about the opportunities and difficulties of shooting aboard a space station.
Camilla the rubber chicken is the child of a chicken and an extra-terrestrial visitor (whose name is being concealed for legal and safety issues)." After a sad childhood in the circus, Camilla joined the Heliophysics team at NASA and befriended Little SDO, the satellite component of the the Solar Dynamics Observatory. In her capacity as SDO mascot and astrochick, Camilla flew into space with Little SDO, flew into a solar radiation storm, continues to monitor space weather, and is training for a trip to the International Space Station alongside astronaut Lt. Commaner Wiseman. Camilla also participates in science outreach and education programs, and she's currently in Australia, preparing to run the solar eclipe marathon! [more inside]
In March of 1969, Apollo 9 was launched into low earth orbit as critical test for future lunar landings. The Duet of Spider & Gumdrop is a half hour film, set to music from The Yellow Submarine, that publicized highlights of the mission.
All evidence is pointing to the fact that Voyager I has left our solar system. New data from the spacecraft, which I will discuss below, indicate Voyager 1 may have exited the solar system for good. If true, this would mark a truly historic moment for the human race — sending a spacecraft beyond the edge of our home solar system
Now that's rocket science: An interview with Steve Collins of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
eXtreme Deep Field (1.4 MB JPG) is the deepest-ever view of the universe - a new assemblage of 10 years of Hubble Space Telescope photographs focused on a small area at the center of the original Ultra Deep Field. With a cumulative exposure time of 2 million seconds, XDF shows approximately 5,500 galaxies - some of them 10 billion times too faint to be seen with the naked eye.
Photos of the Flight Deck (cockpit) of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, fully powered for one of the final times, by young former NASA photographer Ben Cooper
35 years ago today, Voyager 1 transmitted three images which NASA processed into a single frame of Earth and its moon. [more inside]
In 1994, theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre proposed a scheme for virtual faster than light travel using a real-world analog to the familiar science fiction trope known as "Warp Drive." The basic premise exploited certain space-time warping effects predicted by General Relativity to fold space-time, theoretically allowing a specially designed space craft to reach distant destinations effectively at FTL speeds without actually having to accelerate to light speed or beyond at all. There was, however, at least one major problem with the proposal: The math suggested it would require as much energy as the mass of the planet Jupiter to power the thing. But according to newer calculations based on a modified version of Alcubierre's original proposal, warp speed travel may now theoretically be within reach (warning: eyeball-gouging Space.com link), requiring drastically less energy than originally thought. Of course, not everyone's convinced there's anything to see here. And even so, prohibitive energy input requirements may not be the only serious challenge facing the development of real-world warp drive technology, so don't go packing your bags for that long overdue vacation to Risa just yet.
NASA Scientist suggests everything we see, touch, feel, taste, and smell could be a simulation running inside a computer. [more inside]
"It's horrible to see smoke pouring from wounds in your own country from such a fantastic vantage point." Astronaut Frank Culbertson's reflections as he orbited the Earth on Sept. 11th, 2001.
Dr. David Morrison is the senior scientist at NASA's Astrobiology Institute in the Ames Research Center in California. For the past eight years he's also run the Ask an Astrobiologist feature on the institute's website. "Started by a civic-minded intern, the column has become the go-to place for concerned citizens to write to NASA and ask if, as they'd heard on the internet, the world will truly end on December 21, 2012. Before he took the helm on Ask an Astrobiologist, Dr. Morrison hadn't heard anything about such theories. Now he can't escape them." Meet NASA's unofficial answerer of apocalypse emails -- at least until December 23rd. [more inside]
The fine people over at the International Guild of Knot Tyers Forum talk knots. On Mars.
Google brings its Street View cameras into the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This is their largest special Street View collection to date: 6000 panoramic images, including the Apollo 14 module, the Vehicle Assembly Building, Launch Firing Room #4 and Space Shuttle Orbiters Atlantis and Endeavour. Intro Video. (Via) [more inside]
NASA’s lunar lander crashes, ignites massive explosion (+video). The spider-like spacecraft called Morpheus was on a test flight at Cape Canaveral when it tilted, crashed to the ground and erupted in flames.
NASA commentary on Curiosity landing has just started, landing itself is expected two hours later, at 5:31 am UTC/10:31 pm PDT. [more inside]
Coming soon to a red planet near you, it's the Mars Science Laboratory! On Monday, August 6 at 05:31 UTC (other times around the world), NASA's Curiosity rover is expected to land on Mars in search of conditions suited to past or present Martian life. Live coverage begins on NASA TV at 03:30 UTC. But this mission has been years in the making, so if you have a little catching up to do... [more inside]
In the five day period between July 8th and July 12th, Greenland saw a dramatic and unprecedentedly rapid thawing across 97% of its surface ice cover. Initially, NASA and other experts questioned the satellite data, viewing such a rapid melting as too unlikely to be true, but NASA has since confirmed the results. [more inside]
Sally Ride has died of pancreatic cancer at age 61. NPR blog. She was an inspiration to many. I saw her speak years ago when I took my daughters to a women in science program at the University of Michigan and both they and I came away impressed with her intelligence and commitment - the world is a richer place for her having been in it.
Views from the ISS at Night (Vimeo) - Knate Myers assembled this video from a series of time-lapse videos taken aboard the ISS. Plus, one of my favorite movie soundtracks! Naturally, go full-screen HD for best experience. [more inside]
Robbie is a short film assembled from NASA archive footage.
Up-close with Atlantis. A photo gallery of Space Shuttle Atlantis, as it awaits decommissioning in the VAB.
Curiosity's Seven Minutes of Terror is a YouTube video guaranteed to get you excited about NASA again. It shows the elaborate process that will get the Curiosity rover onto the Martian surface on August 5. It involves the largest supersonic parachute ever built, multiple vehicles, 76 explosive devices, and a skycrane.
A gamma-ray burst, the most energetic explosions in the universe, converted to music. What does the universe look like at high energies? Thanks to the Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT), we can extend our sense of sight to "see" the universe in gamma rays. But humans not only have a sense of sight, we also have a sense of sound. If we could listen to the high-energy universe, what would we hear? What does the universe sound like?
Expedition 31 Flight Engineer Don Pettit relayed some information about photographic techniques used to achieve the images: “My star trail images are made by taking a time exposure of about 10 to 15 minutes. However, with modern digital cameras, 30 seconds is about the longest exposure possible, due to electronic detector noise effectively snowing out the image. To achieve the longer exposures I do what many amateur astronomers do. I take multiple 30-second exposures, then ‘stack’ them using imaging software, thus producing the longer exposure.”
PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA has narrowed the target for its most advanced Mars rover, Curiosity, which will land on the Red Planet in August. The car-sized rover will arrive closer to its ultimate destination for science operations, but also closer to the foot of a mountain slope that poses a landing hazard. "We're trimming the distance we'll have to drive after landing by almost half," said Pete Theisinger, Mars Science Laboratory project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "That could get us to the mountain months earlier." It was possible to adjust landing plans because of increased confidence in precision landing technology aboard the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft, which is carrying the Curiosity rover.
Stunning video of the transit of Venus by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.
The United States Department of Defense has generously "decided to give NASA two telescopes as big as, and even more powerful than, the Hubble Space Telescope." They apparently had some antiquated spy satellite hardware sitting around unused and unwanted. NASA still needs to find money to outfit them with recording instruments and pay a team to manage them, which may take 8 years