“Thirty-six characters from different stages of life - representations of different times - interact in one room, moving in loops, observed by a static camera. I had to draw and paint about 16.000 cell-mattes, and make several hundred thousand exposures on an optical printer. It took a full seven months, sixteen hours per day, to make the piece”[ source]: Zbig Rybczynski on the making of his award winning (and much imitated) animation "Tango "(YT, mildly NSFW).
The Soviet Union’s answer to Saturn V, the massive, complex, and top-secret N1 rocket, failed win the moon race after four disastrous launch explosions between 1969 and 1972. In 2004, Polecat Aerospace had much better luck launching their 1/16 N1 scale model.
Mars and Beyond - 50 years ago, this animated episode of Tomorrowland aired on Disneyland a few months after the launch of Sputnik - an entertaining melange of astronomy, sci-fi, pop culture, science, speculation, and surreality. Walt himself and Wernher von Braun make guest appearances and clip 5 is particularly trippy. (Parts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
Here are some beautifully rendered views of polytopes, and a few more. The rendering program, Jenn 3D, is free and downloadable, (OS X, Linux, Win) and includes some really dazzling fly-about and camera effects as well as tons of high-dimensional models to explore. There's also a mind-boggling possibility of playing Go on boards in projective space. Via the Math Paint blog, which leads to other interesting places...
Scientists have discovered a planet composed of scorching hot ice. Originally thought to be a gas giant due to its mass, its actually only four times the size of Earth and most likely composed of exotic forms of ice, such as Ice VII and Ice X with s surface temperature of 300° C.
Tvashtar in Motion. Awesome five-frame GIF of fountaining sulfuric lava on Io courtesy New Horizons as it swung by Jupiter earlier this year. Found via Planetary Society Blog (Thank you, Emily). More on Tvashtar.
"Clearly we need a much bigger telescope to go back much further in time to see the very birth of the Universe." The venerable Hubble space telescope is going to be replaced by what looks like a honeycomb on a box of chocolates. Of course, if it takes more pictures like this (XL), nobody is going to complain about its looks.
Ruining science fiction: Not only are the science fiction cliches humorously skewered in the Tough Guide to the Known Galaxy, but the science itself is wrong. For example, despite the best efforts of SF writers, interstellar trade will never work, unless wine costs $11 billion a bottle. Slower-than-light travel is much harder than you think, and warp drives are far away. Space battles, if they happen, won't have fighters and dramatic dogfights, but instead involve vast distances and maneuvers lasting years. And you can ruin a whole lot more science fiction with real science (and wonderful examples) at Atomic Rocket. Don't follow the links if you want to read Heinlein or watch Battlestar Galactica with a light heart.
Under alien skies: Start with the simply stunning Exosolar, a flash-based interface for navigating through 2,000 nearer stars in 3-D, including all discovered planets outside our solar system. See what the skies would look like from other planets and suns. Explore star maps from many science fiction universes, from Star Trek to Dune. Watch the Big Dipper change its shape over a hundred thousand years. Zoom into a face-on map of the Milky Way that would cover 16 square meters if printed, and see the Atlas of the Universe. [prev. on extrasolar planets, prev. on star maps]
Knowing that Sputnick went up in 1957, when would you guess the first photo from space was taken? If your answer is "more than 10 years earlier", you'd be right. (Previously 1 and 2)
Welcome, space brothers, from representatives of planet earth! It's the Unarius Academy of Science. (wp)
RIP Wally Schirra, 1923-2007. One of the original Mercury Seven "Right Stuff" astronauts (just two left now), Schirra flew on Sigma 7, Gemini 7, and Apollo 7. From there on, it's stationkeeping.
To celebrate the 17th birthday of the Hubble Space Telescope, please feast your eyes on a very detailed (Flash) picture of the Carina Nebula.
Spacefilter: ESA telescope detects planet 20 lightyears away with a temperature between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius, dubbed "most Earth-like planet yet."
The first was found just fifteen years ago, after centuries of speculation. As of today, we're up to 227 and counting. Most are just wobbles in data, but we have pictures and exotica too. And we are looking for more (although some think we shouldn't look very hard and others are drawing some surprising conclusions). The science and technology of finding the most fascinating and elusive types demands some of the cleverest engineering, yet you can even have a go for yourself. Previously on Metafilter
This Saturday, April 21, 2007, is Astronomy Day 2007. This annual promotion of astronomy started in California (pdf) in 1973 and has since spread around the country and the world. Science museums and observatories all over are hosting special events to celebrate Astronomy Day. Find a local club near you and start enjoying the night sky!
Staring at the sun. YouTube video of solar flares, made from images captured by the SOHO satellite. Yes, there is more.
Bay Area Yuri's Night 2007 Bay Area Yuri's Night 2007 Yuri's Night Bay Area will be held at Moffett Field in the NASA Ames Research Center's massive SOFIA hangar, home to the world's largest aerial observatory. Our host for the evening is pioneering space traveler Anousheh Anasari, the first privately funded female to reach orbit. She is joined by Dr. Chris McKay, world renowned expert in astrobiology and terraformation with the Space Science Division of NASA Ames Research Center, as they welcome you to a dazzling array of interactive art installations and science demos, interwoven with musical and acrobatic performances by some of the world's finest entertainers. Complete write up. Partially via MeFi's own lannanh.
“When a few of the space pioneers sat down to sketch out how a practical space camera should look one of them had suddenly exclaimed: ‘That's starting to look like my Hasselblad’." NASA originally didn’t think much of space photography until Walter Schirra brought his Hasselblad 500C along on his Sigma 7 Mercury flight. Impressed by the results, NASA responded by commissioning the Hasselblad Data Camera, a stripped-down HasselBlad 500EL that accompanied all Apollo missions to the moon. In the hands of moonwalking astronauts, the Data Camera’s custom medium format film and Zeiss Biogon 5.6/60mm lens captured images of remarkable clarity, color, and sometimes composition. What's your favorite? [warning: frameset - try the "Full Hasselblad Magazines" link].
Max Q, named after the aeronautical engineering term, is the only astronaut rock band (but not the only musical astronauts). Not to be confused with the barbershop quartet.
It's like Google Maps...for space. Wikisky is a draggable, zoomable, web-based star map. And if you click on a star or other object, it brings up a page with all the information you could want on it, including recent articles and astrophotos that contain that object. And it does lots more. Go explore.
Have you ever wondered what a solar eclipse would look like from space? The STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) has just sent back its view (awe-inspiring video included). It has also sent back some gorgeous pictures of our sun (and the McNaught Comet). For more media, check out the other galleries (including some 3D images). For more about the project, see NASA's STEREO homepage. Be sure to also stop by the Johns Hopkins University STEREO Page, where you can download a mission guide (pdf), view animations, watch a video of the launch, or even make your own papercraft STEREO model (pdf). You can also learn more in six minute segments with their series of short educational videos.
Stephen Hawking in space. "On April 26, Dr. Hawking, surrounded by a medical entourage, is to take a zero-gravity ride out of Cape Canaveral on a so-called vomit comet, a padded aircraft that flies a roller-coaster trajectory to produce periods of weightlessness." [NY Times article]
Space volcano. The New Horizons space probe, en route to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, captures an amazing image of the Tvashtar volcano on Jupiter's moon Io.
ESA's Rosetta probe just flew by Mars en route to a deep space rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. During the 200 km close flyby, the Rosetta's Philae Lander camera got this lovely view of the craft's solar panel backdropped by the Martian arc, plus an animation of the moon Phobos' shadow on the Martian surface, and more lovely Mars imagery.
We could wait for NASA to build that permanent moon base they keep promising. Or we could just turn our apartments on earth into our own moon bases, space ships, or spy pads.
Tales of Future Past* — It's been a looong Monday. Do you want to get off the planet and out of the city to a place where you can really live? Well, here's some food for thought on the way home down life's highways. First, take a break from all this depressing war talk. Then empower yourself by giving yourself some space and maybe taking off for a few days. Drive just a bit slower, turn up the volume and imagine that your mechanic will say the tranny's OK after all. Once you're in the front door, take time to get slightly wired and forget all about politics. Get recharged for tomorrow: have a nice long bath, put your mind at ease, watch Ur Fave shOw, and listen to some soothing music. Now, don't things look a lot better? [*Note the 'Start the Tour' links at the bottom of each page.]
Super-sized cosmic double helix For all the many different (sometimes ignominious) ways in which we imitate nature, sometimes it is nice to see the dynamic change a bit - this time, in the guise of something at the heart of our essence found at the heart of our local island miniverse.
Dr. Jeannine Mosely finishes building a level-3 Menger sponge from business cards. You can also build your own, though Dr. Mosely warns, "[a] level 4 sponge would require almost a million cards and weigh over a ton. I do not believe it could support its own weight — so a level 3 is the biggest sponge we can hope to build." (related)
Where did you want to live when you grew up? If you're like me, you read Clarke's SF classic, Rendezvous with Rama (soon to be a major motion picture?). Donald E. Davis took what we dreamed about and illustrated it, for NASA. His depictions of O'Neill Cylinders, Stanford Tori, and Bernal Spheres are in the public domain (and make excellent desktop wallpaper).
In Mission Control, while the loss of signal was a cause for concern, there was no sign of any serious problem
Four years ago today the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated shortly upon reentry. Here is a sad, but, fascinating real time video recreation of the final moments, compiled from various sources including Nasa radio transmissions.
Interview with 36-yo entrepreneur Elon Musk of SpaceX and Tesla Motors (22min, video or audio, Jan 3 2007).
Tired of missing astrological events such as comets, eclipses, or meteor showers? With Spaceweatherphone's service, when auroras appear over your hometown, your phone will ring. When the space station is about to fly over your back yard, your phone will ring. When planets align ... you get the idea.
If you thought the video of Neil Armstrong setting foot on the Moon was rather blurry, it might interest you to know that this was never broadcast as well as it could have been. The original video quality was much better. You can't view the original video today, because NASA has lost the bleepin tape. Nobody seems to care, but the guys who once made the transmission possible are looking for it. An Australian minister is on their side. If the tape hasn't been accidentally degaussed, there's only one machine left that is able to read it.
Amazon founder test-launches spacecraft. Want to get a job at Blue Origin? For some reason, he didn't use the relatively nearby and somewhat innacurately-named Spaceport America...
Dr Alice Gorman is on a mission (pdf) to preserve our heritage items in space. Plans to clean space junk orbiting Earth could result in the loss of irreplaceable historical artefacts, Gorman warns. Among the items that should recognised for their heritage value are the Vanguard One satellite, launched in 1958 and the oldest human object in space. Preserving items like these could provide evidence of a nation's presence in space or help reconstruct a history of space exploration.
Universe Today is a news site for astronomy geeks. Don't miss its sibling, the Bad Astronomy Forum, which not only features examples of bad astronomy, but also discussions of space exploration and astrophotography. (If you like astrophotography, you're probably already aware of NASA's astronomy photo of the day.) But my favorite part of the whole site is the free astronomy eBook, What's Up 2007: 365 Days of Skywatching. If only it would only stop raining, maybe I'd grab some binoculars and go outside for some stargazing...
Planetocopia - have some new planets for the New Year.
Future ones; tilted ones; wrong ones.
Plus instructions on how to make your own.
via Making Light.
Future ones; tilted ones; wrong ones.
Plus instructions on how to make your own.
via Making Light.
France launches planet-hunting probe "Corot", the first spacecraft able to detect rocky planets down to about twice Earth's size. Its 2.5 year mission will be to seek out new planets from a field of about 200,000 nearby stars.
Have you ever wondered what cosmonauts eat? What ISS astronauts do all day? What we can see from orbit? Ed Lu, The first American to launch and land on a Soyuz spacecraft, kept what is arguably the first space blog while spending an 184 days on the International Space Station with cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko in 2003.
Meteorfilter: Meteorite's Organic Matter Older Than The Sun.
The government of Canada has just turned down a request that would have seen Canada build the European Space Agency's Mars Rover, even though no additional funding was required. Saying it hasn't made up it's mind about the future of Canada's space role, the government has also let the position of president of the Canadian Space Agency remain vacant for more than a year (after Marc Garneau resigned to run for the Liberal party. The decision has left the ESA scrambling to find a new partner and already has some wondering whether the uncertainty will lead to another Avro Arrow-esque brain drain.
Mr. Smith Goes to Venus — part 1CC and part 2CC. Legendary space artist Chesley Bonestell shows us what family vacationsCC should have been like in Coronet Magazine, March 1950. [Click thumbnails for LARGE images.]
Voyager's Golden Record This is life on earth 1977 as it will appear when Voyager 1 meets life (ETA 40.000 years from now)... and finds a turntable. Pioneers 10 and 11, which preceded Voyager, both carried small metal plaques identifying their time and place of origin for the benefit of any other spacefarers that might find them in the distant future. With this example before them, NASA placed a more ambitious message aboard Voyager 1 and 2-a kind of time capsule, intended to communicate a story of our world to extraterrestrials. The Voyager message is carried by a phonograph record-a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth. Hello, ET!
Please let it be true. NASA announces something pretty major, further prompting David Bowie's nagging question.
NASA Plans Permanent Moonbase. The base, a potential stepping stone for further Mars exploration, will likely be situated near one of the poles. The advantages of a polar site (pdf) include a relatively moderate climate, possible hydrogen and oxygen resources, unexplored terrain and abundant solar power. They have apparently abandoned plans to use nuclear reactors, which is probably for the best.