Mission Juno Tonight, Earth species Homo sapiens sapiens, with ongoing support from photosynthesizing relatives in the Plant kingdom, will attempt the delicate task of inserting a large machine into polar orbit around the highly radioactive gas giant Jupiter. After using a slingshot maneuver around Earth and Jupiter's tremendous gravitational pull to become "one of the fastest human-made objects ever built," it is hoped Juno will collect data for 20 months, shedding light on the composition of the planet and what it can tell us about the origin of the Sol system 4.6 billion years ago. [more inside]
California-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has been central to the US missile and rocket development and operations for decades, and from the beginning that technology's success rested on a corps of expert mathematicians, people known as computers. And from the beginning they were all women, in a time when such opportunities were few and far between. You can find pictures of them, but names have not been well-recorded ... until now. Nathalia Holt found many of those women and wrote about their experiences in her book, Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars. [more inside]
"On July 14, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will fly past Pluto, offering the first close-up look at that small, distant world and its largest moon, Charon. These denizens of the outer solar system will be transformed from poorly seen, hazy bodies to tangible worlds with distinct features." Who gets to name those features? You do. Via Bad Astronomy.
From the initial 202,586 applicants, 100 hopefuls have been selected to proceed to the next round of the Mars One Astronaut Selection Process. The final 100 chosen come from around the world, with 39 from the Americas, 31 from Europe, 16 from Asia, 7 from Africa, and 7 from Oceania. A total of 40 candidates will eventually be chosen to take part in a training programme and live in a copy of the Mars outpost on Earth. [more inside]
Won't you please, please won't you be my neighbor? NASA's Kepler Discovers First Earth-Size Planet In The 'Habitable Zone' of Another Star. Kepler-186f is a planet about ten percent bigger than Earth that orbits within the habitable zone of its star. The light there is dim and orange, and it only gets about a third of the sunshine we do, but that may be enough for life. If you go outside tonight, there might be someone 500 light years away looking back at you...
Like sending out Christmas cards but prefer something light on the Santas and Jesuses? The Hubble Telescope is here to help you out with a whole line of free-to-download-and-print holiday-themed greeting cards!
"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!
Are We Alone In the Universe? New Analysis Says Maybe. In a new paper published on arXiv.org, astrophysicist David Spiegel at Princeton University and physicist Edwin Turner at the University of Tokyo argue...using a statistical method called Bayesian reasoning...that the life here on Earth could be common, or it could be extremely rare — there's no reason to prefer one conclusion over the other. [more inside]
“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]
Susan Bell, mild-mannered secretary, thinks that pirates, space aliens, and lesbians are only found in pulp adventure novels. Until she is Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space! And finds out that she's one of them! You don't have to be a lesbian, a pirate or a space alien to read this web comic, but it helps.
Is life possible even in the coldest depths of space? If so, this tough little guy has long been thought to be a good candidate. Now, finally, analysis of the Tardigrades (a.k.a. "water bears") exposed to open space as part of the TARDIS project is finally complete. So what's the verdict? [more inside]
Hubble's Deepest View Ever of the Universe Unveils Earliest Galaxies. The deepest portrait of the visible universe yet taken -- 400 million years after the Big Bang. Mirrors here and here.
Screw Major Tom! "Oscar 1 was battery powered. Its signals lasted for about two weeks. The batteries were not rechargeable". Awww..... Here are the actual sounds of the first satellites. In fact, I may just become a MeFi musician just to sample them. So there.
Space Rescue. Since the 1960's engineers have been thinking about bail-outs and rescue of stranded space crews. From Project MOOSE and the Paracone of the 1960's, the 'Rescue Ball' of the early shuttle flights to the recently canceled (and perhaps soon to be revived) X-38 and even the Alpha Lifeboat based on left over Soviet space hardware.
The Solar System Simulator 'is designed to simulate - as realistically as possible - what one would actually see from any point in the Solar System. The software looks up the positions of the Sun, planets and satellites from ephemeris files developed here at JPL, as well as star positions and colors from a variety of stellar databasees, and uses special-purpose renderers to draw a color scene. Texture maps for each of the planets and physical models for planetary rings have been derived (in most cases) from scientific data collected by various JPL spacecraft.' Far too complicated for me to even begin to understand, still I've always wondered what Saturn looks like from Triton.
The space shuttle launches tomorrow at 5:11 pm CST! I know these launches seem somewhat routine, but it's still the most dangerous job in the world, and each launch still fascinates me. You can watch the launch from the Houston Chronicle's live feed.
Hey! What's this thing suddenly coming toward me very fast? Very, very fast. So big and flat and round... Are you one of those people in search of a new extreme sport? Have you considered spacediving?