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]
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]