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
NASA's Image of the Day: Dragon on approach to the ISS (SIL) "This image of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft as it approached the space station was taken NASA astronaut Don Pettit. The SpaceX Falcon 9 and its Dragon spacecraft launched on Tuesday, May 22, at 3:44 a.m. EDT."
An Audience With Neil Armstrong is an hour long interview with Neil Armstrong about the moon landings from 2011, including a comparative view of footage from the Eagle's landing alongside Google Moon maps. [more inside]
SpaceX's Falcon9 rocket carrying Dragon capsule to dock with the ISS, has launched successfully. [more inside]
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon cargo capsule is scheduled to launch at 8:55 am UTC on Saturday, May 19, 2012 - a little less than 12 hours from now. [more inside]
In a recent episode of Mad Men titled "Lady Lazarus," Pete Campbell has an existential crisis when he sees a picture of the Earth from space, but were there color pictures of the whole Earth in October 1966? First some background... [more inside]
io9 asks the question: When and Why did Science Fiction drop the ubiquitous "Dinner in a pill" device?
Chilling amateur home video of the Challenger disaster "Obviously a major malfunction." Those words have always haunted me, but to hear them here, echoing across a PA system as shocked onlookers come to terms with what they have just seen, they carry even more power than they did when they were just an anonymous voiceover on a TV shot.
What the hell happened to the Luna 23 probe? As part of the Soviet Union's Luna program, it was designed to collect a small sample of lunar regolith and return it to Earth. But despite landing, it failed to leave the moon. Two years later, Luna 24 landed nearby and managed to attain and return a sample, but its geological properties conflicted wildly with what was expected. What the hell happened with Luna 24? [more inside]
This video features a series of time lapse sequences photographed by the Expedition 30 crew aboard the International Space Station. Set to the song "Walking in the Air," by Howard Blake, the video takes viewers around the world, through auroras, and over dazzling lightning displays.
The wonders of space. This is a stunning black and white video taken from actual Cassini and Huygens mission footage.
The Space Shuttle Discovery, known for launching the Hubble telescope, as well as being the workhorse of the fleet, made a final flight today. [more inside]
The Evolution of the Moon: a cool, short video made with information from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
"NASA is one of the few institutions I know that can inspire five-year-olds. It sure inspired me, and with this endeavor, maybe we can inspire a few more youth to invent and explore." An undersea expendition funded by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has discovered the spent rocket engines used to power Apollo 11.
Beautiful HD video of whirlpools flowing around rocks, courtesy of NASA and neatorama.
Orbiter Autopsies "What NASA will learn from dissecting Space Shuttles Atlantis, Discovery, and Endeavour" before they transition into retirement. (From the May 2012 issue of Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine.)
"A space station is a serious place. We're doing serious research." Rovio and NASA further explore the classic avain-porcine rivalry (and microgravity) through a Space Act Agreement. Angry Birds: Space is launching today.
Auroras Underfoot is a short documentary about auroras by NASA, which uses high-definition images taken by International Space Station science officer Don Pettit of aurora from orbit. Pettit writes about the difficulties of taking photographs from orbit and other subjects on his blog.
"Nature is not always the best designer, at least when it comes to things that humans must build and maintain. So the newest artificial heart doesn’t imitate the cardiac muscle at all. Instead, it whirs like a little propeller, pushing blood through the body at a steady rate. After 500 million years of evolution accustoming the human body to blood moving through us in spurts, a pulse may not be necessary. That, in any case, is the point of view of the 50-odd calves, and no fewer than three human beings, who have gotten along just fine with their blood coursing through them as evenly as Freon through an air conditioner."
Neil deGrasse Tyson gives testimony on March 7, 2012 before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation (Majority member page) (Minority member page) Eight minutes of speech followed by questioning and response. [more inside]
NASA has announced that the latest Kepler data dump contains 1,091 extrasolar planet candidates, with 196 Earth-sized planets among them. The data shows "a clear trend toward smaller planets at longer orbital periods is evident with each new catalog release. This suggests that Earth-size planets in the habitable zone are forthcoming if, indeed, such planets are abundant." Total Kepler candidates as of February 27, 2012: 2,321. [more inside]
The International Space Station is a complex place, with loads of gear packed into its 916 cubic meters of pressurized volume. SpaceRef has an assortment of detailed technical documents describing everything from basic operations to emergency procedures. For a general overview, see the excellent NASA ISS Reference Guide (pdf).
Fifty years ago today, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. In an recent interview, he lamented the decline of the manned US space program: "It's unseemly to me that here we are, supposedly the world's greatest space-faring nation, and we don't even have a way to get back and forth to our own International Space Station." [more inside]
A brief video of a tornado on the surface of the sun posted by NPR, as seen by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (links to various sizes and qualities of downloads here). The tornado is larger than Earth itself and has gusts up to 300,000 miles per hour.
The Blue Marble is a famous photograph of Earth, taken by the crew of Apollo 17 on December 7th 1972, as they traveled to the moon. On January 23th, 2012, the Suomi NPP satellite snapped a similar, high definition photo, called Blue Marble 2012. By sure to check out the other side of the Marble, how the photos were taken and a PDF that describes the NPP project.
Having now traversed 34 kilometres (21 miles) across the surface of Mars and exceeding it's 90-day mission to explore Mars by 2,830 days, NASA's Opportunity rover turned 8 years old today. So what's the feisty martian robot been up to lately? It's now exploring the rim of the 14-mile-wide Endeavor crater, discovering "slam-dunk" evidence that water once flowed through underground fractures, and is being strategically positioned at a 15-degree angle for a long winter suntan.
Astronomers using data from NASA's Kepler mission have discovered the three smallest planets yet detected orbiting a star beyond our sun. The planets orbit a single star, called KOI-961, and are 0.78, 0.73 and 0.57 times the radius of Earth. The smallest is about the size of Mars.
Today, NASA goes open source with its code, joining endeavours such as SpaceHack [previously], WorldWind and (for more worldly coders) Github, GoogleCode, and the venerable SourceForge.
At one point, Stafford recognized a landmark crater, Censorinus A. He was momentarily distracted by the dramatic shadows and giant boulders surrounding the crater. “I’ve got Censorinus A right here,” he said out loud to the world, “bigger than shit!” A shocked reporter listening to the transmission in mission control turned to astronaut Jack Schmitt. “What did Colonel Stafford just say?” Thinking quickly, Schmitt covered for his colleague and replied “He said, ‘Oh, there’s Censorinus… bigger than Schmitt!’”
How not to swear on the moon, and other fun facts from Vintage Space.
How not to swear on the moon, and other fun facts from Vintage Space.
King of the Cosmos (A Profile of Neil deGrasse Tyson) by Carl Zimmer. (Via) [more inside]
Click the photo at the top of the linked page to view The Voyagers, a rumination on the universe, love, a golden record and two small space probes.
There's Hard Rock, Soft Rock, Punk Rock, Folk Rock, Progressive Rock, Alt Rock, Art Rock, Acid Rock, Indie Rock, Grunge Rock, Schoolhouse Rock, 30 Rock, and now there's Third Rock, an internet radio station "powered by NASA", yes, NASA. (Think of it as 'New Music' with commercials for something you already like)
Fire tests on the International Space Station are showing some really neat results, including that fire can burn in microgravity at lower temperatures and with less oxygen. Video included at the link. [more inside]
One of my favorite blogs happens to be local to me. Eric Berger, the Houston Chronicle's "SciGuy" usually reports on the weather. But he also posts entertaining and serious stuff as well. [more inside]
NASA is hiring new astronaut candidates. Positions are open for all qualified U.S. citizens. [more inside]
NASA is designing a spiffy new rocket, the Space Launch System, which will lob people and cargo to the moon, an asteroid and eventually Mars. [more inside]
Rename the VLA (Very Large Array)! The famous desert radio telescope, made of a bunch of independently movable giant satellite dishes, has just finished a ten-year upgrade and they're holding a contest to pick a new name in celebration. Deadline December 1. (via Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy, which mentions another naming contest, for schoolkids in the US to pick a name for the GRAIL satellites)
Tiangong 1, [the] latest demonstration of Beijing's otherworldly ambitions comes in a year when the US has wound down its space shuttle fleet and its partners have said the International Space Station (previously) should be buried at sea in 2020. Perhaps in its honor, [s]trains of the famed American patriotic tune (America the Beautiful) rang out following the launch of the Tiang Gong-1 experimental space station module late Thursday night. [more inside]
Some time late tonight or early tomorrow morning, NASA's UARS (a satellite deployed in 1991 to study the ozone layer) will fall to the Earth. The odds of it hitting you are about 1 in 20 trillion, but the odds of it hitting somebody somewhere is about 1 in 3,200. The Planetary Society Blog has a nice writeup as well. Follow along yourself with NASA or the Center for Orbital Reentry Debris Studies. [more inside]
Hey, remember the ISS, that space station the Space Shuttle helped build before the shuttle was retired? Turns out humans might have to vacate that nifty space station for a bit. [more inside]
Breathtaking first-person-view wingsuit flights in the Swiss Alps and around Europe. Jetman (with a turbine-powered strap-on wing) flies the Grand Canyon. Meanwhile, NASA continues work on the Puffin: an electric VTOL "personal air vehicle". [more inside]