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It is in the DNA of our great country to reach for the stars and explore

On May 16, 2011, after one scrubbed attempt, the space shuttle Endeavour set off on her final mission, STS-134. Shuttle commander Mark Kelly had this to say after receiving a "go" from the launch poll:
On this final flight of space shuttle Endeavour, we want to thank all the tens of thousands of dedicated employees that have put their hands on this incredible ship and dedicated their lives to the space shuttle program. As Americans, we Endeavour to build a better life than the generation before, and we Endeavour to be a united nation. In these efforts, we are often tested. This mission represents the power of teamwork, commitment, and exploration. It is in the DNA of our great country to reach for the stars and explore; we must not stop. To all the millions watching today, including our spouses, children, family, and friends, we thank you for your support.
You've seen launches before, but NASA has uploaded a whole slew of angles that will truly amaze: Witness 4.4 million pounds of shuttle, fuel, and rocket boosters "twang" a full 18 inches as the main engines ignite. 1.2 million pounds of thrust push against a locked down stack, waiting for the solid rocket boosters to ignite. (The SRBs bring the total to 7 million lbs of thrust, enough to break all that binds her to the pad.) OTV Camera 71, a fantastic, short close-up. UCS-15 (TV-21A) provides a dead-on, close up shot of the launch. The South Beach Tracker shot offers a fantastic view as well. From 3.1 miles away at the Press Site, note the ~11 second delay before the piercing sound of the SRBs hits. And just released today, fantastic footage from the solid rocket boosters, including their trip to splashdown in the Atlantic ocean from 30 miles up. And finally, the classic NASA view, with some great data overlays by Spacevidcast. [more inside]
posted by disillusioned on May 26, 2011 - 40 comments

On President Kennedy, the Space Race, legacies and politics

50 years ago today, on May 25 1961, US President John F. Kennedy decided "...this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." Eight years later the Apollo program fulfilled the task, leaving the world with a legacy that includes advances in computers and communciation, lessons in managing complex projects, technological innovations and new views of the Earth. [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on May 25, 2011 - 79 comments

Gordan Ugarković

Croatian software developer and amateur image processor Gordan Ugarković takes images from NASA's unmanned space probes released to the Planetary Data System, splices them together and tweaks the colors, sometimes combining higher resolution black and white images with color images, sometimes recreating what the object would look like in natural color (ie, in visible wavelengths, from images taken in multiple wavelengths), sometimes heightening the contrast to bring out detail. (via) [more inside]
posted by nangar on May 20, 2011 - 7 comments

Exploring the Solar System, on Earth and Beyond

From Earth to the Solar System (FETTSS) is a collection of images curated by NASA that portray an attempt to understand the origin and evolution of the solar system, by looking to the skies and investigating extreme situations on earth, like high-altitude lakes and an acidic river. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on May 17, 2011 - 4 comments

Einstein was right

"There is a space-time vortex around Earth, and its shape precisely matches the predictions of Einstein's theory of gravity." NASA announces result of elaborate experiment to prove Einstein's inferences about space time. The engineering involved in this blows me away. More links within the article...
posted by leslies on May 4, 2011 - 63 comments

Observing Earth

We tend to think of blogs that showcase large images as a phenomenon of the past few years. But NASA's Earth Observatory has been posting its Image of the Day since April 1999 (when its first "large" image available for download was a 214 KB jpeg of the North Pole). Now, Image of the Day has downloads of images in multiple formats, most of which measure in megabytes, not kilobytes, and these stunning images of the earth's surface give context to the human activity down below: a toxic spill in Hungary, wildfires in Mexico, the growth of a coal mine in West Virginia, agriculture in Brazil, snowmelt flooding in Fargo, North Dakota, last year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, artificial islands in Dubai, the aftermath of Japan's recent tsunami.
posted by ocherdraco on Apr 16, 2011 - 4 comments

A Journey's End

Following on the heels of NASA's announcement of the final resting places of the various space shuttles, NASA, in conjunction with William Shatner, released a final video commemorating the program. (SLYT)
posted by Heliochrome85 on Apr 12, 2011 - 25 comments

Some disassembly required

After completing it's final mission in March, Space Shuttle Discovery has been returned to the Kennedy Space Center's Orbiter Processing Facility, where it is being dissembled for cleaning and decommissioning. Spaceflight Now has pictures of the process.
posted by helloknitty on Apr 11, 2011 - 49 comments

For All Mankind

For All Mankind "Al Reinert’s documentary For All Mankind is the story of the twenty-four men who traveled to the moon, told in their words, in their voices, using the images of their experiences. Forty years after the first moon landing, it remains the most radical, visually dazzling work of cinema yet made about this earthshaking event." "For All Mankind is irreplaceable: one of a kind and likely to remain so. It is, formally, among the most radical American films of the past quarter century and, emotionally, among the most powerfully affecting. It makes its impossible title stick. In For All Mankind, we all lift off together, and we all come home the same way, and few movies have captured so well the rhapsodic absurdity of our common voyage." 1 :: 2 :: 3 :: 4 :: 5 :: 6 :: 7 :: 8
posted by puny human on Apr 7, 2011 - 35 comments

And a great big blue sky below

32 images of the earth from the blackness of space, many with spacewalking astronauts in the foreground, presented in a Big Picture style. (via) [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Apr 7, 2011 - 34 comments

Send Your Name For Great Victory Against The Red Planet

Scheduled for November 25th, the Mars Science Laboratory - Curiosity Rover will launch on an 8.5 month journey to Mars. Upon arrival, it will plummet through the atmosphere in a flying-saucer-like aeroshell and execute a most unusual landing via skycrane. Curiosity carries a dizzying array of cameras and sensors, but more importantly a high powered laser to teach Mars who is boss, and oh, maybe your name if you let it.
posted by pashdown on Apr 6, 2011 - 21 comments

That's a big ass rocket

$1,000 per pound to orbit is the holy grail for rocket pricing. Elon Musk claims that his SpaceX corporation's new Falcon Heavy will be able to lift 117,000 lbs. to low earth orbit for 1/3rd the cost of the next most capable launchers, the space shuttle and the Delta IV Heavy. [more inside]
posted by tgrundke on Apr 6, 2011 - 39 comments

Reaching for the stars

The Women@NASA website was developed to encourage more young women to pursue careers in math, science, and technology. Through a collection of videos and articles, the Women@NASA project shares the stories of 32 women across the agency who contribute to NASA’s mission in many ways.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Mar 27, 2011 - 31 comments

Tour The Solar System

Tour the solar system from a browser window. "Eyes on the Solar System", currently in beta, from JPL and Caltech. Yes, you have to allow a 3rd party plugin. Sorry about that. Zoom in to earth, and the sunrise line is accurate for the current time. Zoom to asteroids, satellites, or planets. Rewind time to watch Voyager go home.
posted by lothar on Mar 16, 2011 - 19 comments

Watch a spacewalk from your backyard.

Amateur astronomer Martin Lewis used a home-made telescope and digital camera to take a picture of the International Space Station, and caught NASA astronaut Steve Bowen on a spacewalk.
posted by jjray on Mar 4, 2011 - 30 comments

Tempel 1 Part Deux

On February 14 NASA's Stardust-NExT mission revisited the comet Tempel 1. Tempel 1 was first visited by NASA's Deep Impact, which smashed into the comet back in July 2005. [more inside]
posted by IvoShandor on Feb 21, 2011 - 16 comments

Deep Space N

Introducing the Nautilus-X MMSEV, a manned deep space craft proposed by a team at NASA's Johnson Space Centre.
posted by Artw on Feb 14, 2011 - 34 comments

The Sun is Still a Mass of Incandescent Gas

NASA has released the first STEREO images of the entire sun.
Previous. Previouser. Previousest.
posted by steambadger on Feb 9, 2011 - 17 comments

Ssssorry /Gilly

The U.S. Department of Transportation released results from the joint National Highway Traffic Safety Administration/NASA study on sudden vehicle acceleration in Toyota cars requested Spring 2010 by Congress. Short version: NASA engineers found no electronic flaws in Toyota vehicles capable of producing the large throttle openings required to create dangerous high-speed unintended acceleration incidents. [more inside]
posted by 2bucksplus on Feb 8, 2011 - 69 comments

1000 worlds

NASAs Kepler mission has discovered over 1,100 extrasolar planet candidates. Including, "68 Earth-sized, 288 super-Earth-sized, 662 Neptune-sized, and 165 Jupiter-sized planets". 54 are found in their star's habitable zone, with five of those considered "near-Earth sized" [more inside]
posted by IvoShandor on Feb 3, 2011 - 65 comments

"Slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God."

Challenger . . . . go with throttle up. Twenty-five years ago today the U.S. Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds into the 25th space shuttle flight. The reports (pdf) tell us of O-Ring failures. Today, we remember one of the most tragic days in the history of the U.S. manned spaceflight program. Today, January 28, 2011, we remember: Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe.
posted by IvoShandor on Jan 28, 2011 - 100 comments

"We're solar sailing!"

NASA's NanoSail-D unfurled its solar sail and is now orbiting 650 km above Earth. [more inside]
posted by Burhanistan on Jan 24, 2011 - 18 comments

People who changed the way the world works

They Were There is a 30 min video from IBM, who is turning 100 this year. "told by first-hand witnesses—current and retired employees and clients—who were there when IBM helped to change the way world works."
posted by finite on Jan 22, 2011 - 52 comments

Voyager I reaches edge of solar wind

The Voyager I spacecraft, 33 years into its mission, "has outrun the solar wind" and is exiting the solar system. This nice article explains what this means, and has a bunch of wonderful details and interviews with the original mission scientists. [more inside]
posted by LobsterMitten on Jan 19, 2011 - 70 comments

A portfolio of space imagery and videos

"The theme of this blog is not only and obviously space, but in particular places in space that a person might theoretically be able to one day visit. So for the most part, nebula, galaxies and the like are not a part of this forum. I tend to focus on “terrestrial” places or places that host such places. I suppose I would like to find out more about these places that we may one day inhabit or simply visit."
wanderingspace.net
Hat tip to Nice Guy Mike!
posted by boo_radley on Jan 14, 2011 - 4 comments

NASA - The Frontier Is Everywhere

NASA - The Frontier Is Everywhere. A NASA promo video made by a fan. Narration edit and music taken from an older video, though the words are obviously originally by Carl Sagan, from A Pale Blue Dot (previously). [more inside]
posted by kmz on Jan 11, 2011 - 12 comments

Littlest wanderer

Meet Kepler-10b. The smallest exoplanet ever discovered. [more inside]
posted by IvoShandor on Jan 10, 2011 - 36 comments

Never-before encountered aliens that just happen to speak English and laser guns.

The NASA list of "silliest" science fiction films outlines some complete horseshit offerings but is sci-fi meant to be realistic? Fans of hard sci-fi might argue it is the core of that place where dreaming and science combine, but shouldn't the dreaming part allow an amount of creative freedom in the hopes of getting at some larger truth? Some would say there is a point where you've gone too far. But what if our current impossible dream later becomes plausible, possible or reality?
posted by Raunchy 60s Humour on Jan 4, 2011 - 100 comments

It's a Small World After All

A 24 hour observation of all of the large aircraft flights in the world, condensed down to just over a minute. Similar videos are created by NASA's Future ATM Concepts Evaluation Tool (or FACET), like this one of a day in the life of air traffic over the United States.
posted by gman on Jan 4, 2011 - 14 comments

Greetings from ISS!

Crew from NASA's International Space Station send holiday greetings to all people of planet Earth.
posted by Taft on Dec 22, 2010 - 29 comments

"I can barely hear you, let alone see you..."

"I can sense stars, and their whispers amid the roaring of our own Sun." So goes one poetic status of the Voyager 2 twitterfeed, which appeals to my sense of wonder like nothing else on the internet. Interstellar space probes and microblogging go hand in hand in the 21st Century.
posted by Kattullus on Dec 21, 2010 - 23 comments

It Stinks

The smell of the Moon. Space. Pharaohs. Graffiti. Anger. Rain. Phantoms. Cancer. The Middle Ages.
posted by Paragon on Dec 21, 2010 - 17 comments

Only YOU can help find exoplanets!

Planet Hunters lets users comb through data from the Kepler mission in search of exoplanets. [via Bad Astronomy]
posted by brundlefly on Dec 17, 2010 - 4 comments

Volcanos on Titan and Oceans on Pluto

The Cassini team announced a possible cyrovolcano on Titan. A key difference between this find and cyrovulcanism on Enceladus is the probable existence of a thousand-meter peak and lobe-shaped flows similar to terrestrial vulcanism. Their video release explains the evidence with 3-d models of the features. More speculative, Guillaume Robuchon speculates that Pluto might have liquid water under an icy surface, assuming it has enough of a rocky core to support heat production through radioactive decay.
posted by KirkJobSluder on Dec 17, 2010 - 23 comments

The Original MoonWalking

Occasionally here on MetaFilter, the subject of an FPP 'drops by' to add information or respond to comments. That happened to Robert Krulwich the other day over on his blog 'Krulwich Wonders ...'. In one of his posts he had wondered why the first lunar astronauts had only walked less than a hundred yards from their lander. Who better to drop by and give him the answer but Mr. Neil Armstrong ...
posted by woodblock100 on Dec 12, 2010 - 59 comments

Planets made of diamond and graphite?

A hot carbon-rich gas giant exoplanet, WASP-12b, has been discovered. As the lead author of the paper being published today, Nikku Madhusudhan, says: ""This planet reveals the astounding diversity of worlds out there". In particular, the discovery supports theories that there are likely to be planets made of diamond and graphite out there.
posted by philipy on Dec 8, 2010 - 43 comments

I for one welcome our to be announced overlords...

“NASA will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. EST (11am PST) on Thursday, Dec. 2, to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe.” Watch it HERE live. [more inside]
posted by Sprocket on Dec 1, 2010 - 102 comments

"You're right. Man, this is beautiful"

Built as part of the fifth /dev/fort developer retreat, Spacelog.org allows you to explore early space missions via the original NASA transcripts. Currently live are Mercury 6 which made John Glenn the first American in orbit, and the 'successful failure' Apollo 13 (The transcribed key moment and the original). Alongside the transcripts are supporting materials from the NASA archives including photography and descriptions of the mission phases. The developers are looking for help to digitise the Gemini 7, Apollo 8 and Apollo 11 missions.
posted by garrett on Dec 1, 2010 - 11 comments

It's Warhol, actually. It's "hole." As in "holes." Andy Warhol.

Did you know that there's an art museum on the moon? A tiny, tiny one. The Moon Museum features works by Forrest "Frosty" Myers (the instigator), Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, David Novros, and John Chamberlain, inscribed on a little chip of silicon and surreptitiously transported to the moon's surface on the Apollo 12 mission. But of course there's a mystery, in this big of a secret: who is John F., the engineer at least partially responsible for smuggling the chip onboard the lunar lander? Related: other stuff people have left on the Moon (!)
posted by fiercecupcake on Nov 22, 2010 - 19 comments

The model rocket scene is getting ridiculous.

Order your 1:1 scale replica Space Shuttle model today! (Shipping not included. Replica will not fly)
posted by empath on Nov 19, 2010 - 39 comments

Earth as Art

Wired has selected a few of their favourite "enhanced" images of Earth taken by the Landsat 5 and Landsat 7 satellites. [more inside]
posted by gman on Nov 17, 2010 - 24 comments

Invasion of the blue UFOs!

“It’s weird. You only see this type of stuff in movies. Just as long as we're here, I'm sure there are other things somewhere." In the past couple of months, strange blue lights have been appearing over towns across the USA: Anaheim, College Station, and outside of Washington DC. Many UFO buffs and conspiracy theorists believe this to be a part of an alien agenda to force the US Government to disclose alien existence, or perhaps a plot by NASA to overthrow all the world's religions. [more inside]
posted by smoothvirus on Nov 10, 2010 - 52 comments

One small step for a robot

One small step for a robot, one giant leap for robot-kind... but not yet. The Robonaut R2 (sic) will have to wait at least another three weeks, as the final mission of Space Shuttle Discovery is delayed.
posted by philipy on Nov 5, 2010 - 13 comments

"The deepest of the deep"

In event of moon disaster...
posted by Artw on Nov 5, 2010 - 70 comments

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.

Laurent Lavader is a French astrophotographer. His new collection, Jeux Lunaires (Moon Games) features whimsical and beautiful photos of the moon (NPR Gallery, Flickr). Many of the photos have been coupled with a poem and collected in a book which you can preview online. [more inside]
posted by Lutoslawski on Nov 4, 2010 - 4 comments

Close Encounters of the Comet Kind

Earlier today a comet passed just 435 miles from a spacecraft. The NASA spacecraft EPOXI took some amazing pictures of the event. Scientists are still working to determine if there was any damage to the spacecraft as the comet passed by.
posted by morganannie on Nov 4, 2010 - 56 comments

On Joe Gavin, Jr., director of the Apollo 11 lunar lander program

“There’s a certain exuberance that comes from being out there on the edge of technology, where things are not certain, where there is some risk, and where you make something work.” Joseph Gavin Jr., an MIT-trained engineer and director of the Apollo 11 lunar module program for Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, died on Saturday. A few quotes from Joe about the program's complexity via an old Popular Mechanics article are nice, but this more complete interview providing some fascinating insights on the process and the culture and just how much went into the lunar lander program, from an engineer's perspective, is fantastic.
posted by disillusioned on Nov 4, 2010 - 18 comments

Imagine as basket filled with billions and billions and billions of eggs

We are nearing the end of a golden age of astronomy as more than a dozen space observatories reach their end of life in a few years. The only replacement on the horizon is the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to launch in 2014. Due to its enormous complexity and ever-rising costs, the JWST has starved other projects of funding. The fate of an entire generation of cosmologists and astrophysicists rests on its success.
posted by Rhomboid on Oct 28, 2010 - 33 comments

Cheap Water

The race is on: India by 2020, China by 2025 - will the US get there at all?
posted by PuppyCat on Oct 21, 2010 - 24 comments

The fine art of surfacing

Live coverage of the rescue operation of the 33 Chilean miners who have been stranded underground for the last 68 days. NASA are helping in more ways than one but it isn't over yet.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth on Oct 12, 2010 - 191 comments

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