Everyone knows the birth of the Space Race: Sputnik and Vostok gave the Soviets a huge start while the US floundered about with the odd tiny satellite making it through a cavalcade of explosive fiasco. Most would say that the first voice from space was that of Yuri Gagarin in 1961. They'd be wrong. [more inside]
The successor to the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), the NASA/JAXA Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) spacecraft is preparing for launch at the Japanese Tanegashima Space Center. GPM will be the newest international Precipitation Measurement Mission and will be the core observatory of the GPM Constellation. The two sensors on-board GPM are the GPM Microwave Imager (GMI) and the Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR). The GPM/DPR team has produced a fantastic anime about the DPR instrument. [more inside]
"In 'Somebody Will' I wanted to get across why I see sci-fi and fantasy fandom as a more positive, productive world than many of the hobbies and communities common in our culture. [...] The hardest part of the piece is singing it to the end without crying."[more inside]
In 1972, Tom Wolfe was assigned to do a piece for Rolling Stone on Apollo 17, NASA's last moon mission (Google book preview). That turned into a four-part series on the astronauts, written in a frantic three weeks. From there, he thought he could quickly expand the piece into a book (Gbp). But that book, on what makes an astronaut, ended up taking a much broader scope and more time. In 1979, The Right Stuff was published, and later was made into a well-regarded 3 hour movie. A few years later, Andrew Chaikin started on a similar path to Wolfe, more broadly documenting the US moon missions in his book, A Man on the Moon. The book was published in 1994, and HBO used it as the basis of a 12-part mini-series that they aired in 1998, titled From the Earth to the Moon. [more inside]
During the 1950's, Wernher von Braun served as technical adviser for three space-related television films produced by Disney: Man in Space, Man and the Moon and Mars and Beyond. [more inside]
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!
The Sculpture on the Moon. "Scandals and conflicts obscured one of the most extraordinary achievements of the Space Age."
China’s Space Program Is Taking Off — "Its engineers have caught up with Europe when Europe was 20 years behind the space-racing superpowers. But by 2020 or a little thereafter, when the International Space Station (ISS) may be on its last legs, Chinese space managers expect to have a Mir-class space station in orbit. ... As was the case with the Cold War space powers, China's leaders are using human spaceflight to signal the world—and the long-suffering Chinese people—that Beijing's state-capitalism approach has won modern superpower status for their ancient society." From Aviation Week & Space Technology, November 25, 2013.
On September 13, 1999, nuclear waste from Earth stored on the far side of the Moon exploded in a catastrophic accident. The explosion knocked the Moon out of orbit and sent it, and the 311 inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha, hurtling uncontrollably into space. Their subsequent trials and adventures were chronicled... in Space: 1999. [more inside]
"I’ve always loved space and the planets. I’ve seen a few 'human planets' sets done by other artists and most of them are pretty literal in the human department. I wanted to try making something more androgynous and godlike." [more inside]
The World Outside My Window - Time Lapse of Earth from the ISS (SLYT, make sure to play it in the highest resolution you can)
Installed solar capacity is growing by leaps and bounds, led by Walmart and Apple, and helped by bonds backed by solar power payments,[*] which have sent industry stocks soaring, even as molten salt and new battery technologies come on line to generate storage for use when the sun doesn't shine. Of course we could always go to geostationary orbit -- or the moon -- as well we may (if politics allow it) as thirst from the developing world grows beyond the earth's carrying capacity. [more inside]
Today marks 25 years since Buran, the enigmatic Soviet Space Shuttle clone, made her single unpiloted 2-orbit flight before an inglorious retirement like her known siblings.
13 Facts About Space That Will Make Your Head Explode. [SLCrackedVideo | Disclaimer: will not make your head explode. But is still interesting!]
Theoretically sound model for metallic carbon found. Researchers from Peking University, Virginia Commonwealth University and Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics employed state-of-the-art theoretical methods to show that it is possible to manipulate carbon to form a three-dimensional metallic phase with interlocking hexagons. “Unlike high-pressure techniques that require three terapascals of pressure to make carbon metallic, the studied structures are stable at ambient conditions and may be synthesized using benzene or polyacenes molecules." The new metallic carbon structures may have important applications in lightweight metals for space applications, catalysis and in devices showing negative differential resistance or superconductivity. The research is supported by grants from China and the US Department of Energy.
Boldly sitting next to the gift shop in the basement of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum one finds NCC one seven O one. No bloody A, B, C, or D. WAMU's Metro Connection provides a story about curating the the original model of the iconic star ship, Enterprise. [more inside]
Bras in Space: The Incredible True Story Behind Upcoming Film "Spacesuit"
When we think of the Apollo 11 moon landing, what do we think of? President Kennedy’s bold vision. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s heroism (unfortunately we rarely think about Command Module Pilot Michael Collins). Perhaps we even think of the incredible engineers, rocket scientists, astrophysicists and all the other geniuses at NASA who made it possible. Now we want you to think about your grandma’s bra.[more inside]
Astronaut Chris Hadfield (previously) reflects on his career, life on the International Space Station, and the challenges of returning home (as well as commercial spaceflight and the film Gravity) in an interview with the Guardian.
Simultaneous video and selectively played audio of every Apollo lunar landing on one screen. (via Collect Space) [more inside]
What's it like to plummet to Earth when your starting point is 24 miles above Earth's surface? What's it like to free-fall at 833.9 mph — 140 mph faster than the speed of sound? New footage shows Felix Baumgartner's record-breaking freefall from the stuntman's point of view. via The Atlantic
Scott Carpenter has died at 88. As the commander of Aurora 7 in 1962, Carpenter was the second Mercury astronaut to orbit the Earth. He is best known for having wished his friend John Glenn "Godspeed" as the latter launched into orbit. [more inside]
Here's three minutes of giant telescopes shooting lasers into space. (Also on Youtube). [more inside]
While profiling Dogfish Head's new 'Celest-Jewel-Ale' moon dust brew, Outside online took a look at some of the good and bad scientific innovations in beer containment recently:: Beck's playable Edison bottle • Natty Light in 'space' • Budweiser's bowtie beercan • Heineken's lightsaber bottle.
Joan Roosa, wife of Apollo 14 Lunar Module Pilot Stu Roosa, recalled "I was at a party one night in Houston. A woman standing behind me, who had no idea who I was, said 'I've slept with every astronaut who has been to the Moon.' ...I said 'Pardon me, but I don't think so'".
Rob Meline always dreamed of being an astronaut. He became a teacher instead. But the beloved faculty member at Camas Prairie Elementary in Spanaway, Washington kept a family secret. When he fell victim to it in October 2012, he became the symbol of a flawed judicial system. What his students did next was out of this world.
Chandra Sky Map - Joe DePasquale runs through the process of creating the map and some helpful tips for using the interactive tool.
"Voyager's main transmitter shines at a feeble 22 watts, which is comparable to a car-mounted police radio or -- in visible light -- a refrigerator light bulb. Though incredibly weak by the standards of modern wireless communications, Voyager's signal is astoundingly bright when compared to most natural objects studied by radio telescopes." -- Even as Voyager 1 has left the Solar System (again), it can still be easily detected by telescopes on Earth, showing once again there ain't no stealth in space.
"It is made out of velcro-like fabric that lines the Russian food containers [that are] found here on the International Space Station."
New Scientist magazine has posted a nifty interactive infographic that illustrates how many Earth-like planets might exist, based on observations from the Kepler Space Telescope. The orbital observatory has catalogued 151 exoplanets based on examination of 0.28% of the sky. [more inside]
Educators, prepping for World Space Week, Oct 4-10? Be sure to include the very excellent space documentary The Mars Underground in your plans. It's free! [more inside]
As the Cygnus cargo spacecraft makes its initial demostration flight to the International Space Station, the question arises, what is the ISS for?
How often does a great story dominate the headlines, only to be dropped from the news cycle? How often do journalists tell us of a looming danger or important discovery – only to move quickly to the next new thing? What really happened? How did these events change us? And what are the lingering consequences that may affect our society to this day? These are the questions we are answering at Retro Report, an innovative documentary news organization launched in 2013 as a timely online counterweight to today’s 24/7 news cycle. Combining documentary techniques with shoe-leather reporting, we peel back the layers of some of the most perplexing news stories of our past with the goal of encouraging the public to think more critically about current events and the media in ~10 minute segments. [more inside]
The Smithsonian's National Air and Space museum is running an exhibit showing the ingenuity of design inherent in the spacesuits used by NASA astronauts. It includes some very cool x-ray photographs of the equipment by Mark Avino. [via]
It's 1963. You're in a cold war with Russia. You want to keep up communication capabilities globally. Communication satellites haven't come into their own. The ionosphere is fickle and jammable. What do you do? You fire 480 million tiny copper wires into space to create an artificial dipole antenna belt around the earth. You call it Project West Ford. It works. [more inside]
"Imagine being alone, in space. Just you and your shiny spacesuit and your tiny metal capsule, the world splayed beneath you in swaths of blue and swirls of white. The only immediate link to the humans below you being a faint, crackling radio line back to Earth. ... [Leroy Gordon Cooper, Jr.], the seventh member of the "Original Seven," spent a total of one day, 10 hours, 19 minutes, and 49 seconds in space, making 22 full orbits of the planet before splashing down in the Pacific on May 16, 1963. (His flight overall took 34 hours.) Over the course of his long voyage, Cooper had a dinner of "powdered roast beef mush" washed down with water. He captured mesmerizing pictures of the Earth below. He became the first American to sleep in space. The story doesn't end there, though: Cooper also ran into some trouble." Imagine being alone in space ... and almost not making it back.
Dreams are real [YT, 3:01, cats]
A few weeks ago, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano (@astro_luca) almost drowned during a spacewalk when his helmet started uncontrollably filling with water, possibly from a leaky spacesuit cooling system. (See previous MeFi discussion on the incident.) A week later, his fellow ISS astronaut Chris Cassidy posted two videos online showing the actual spacesuit and using it to illustrate the problem. All future US and European spacewalks have been halted while the incident is being investigated, although the Russian ones are continuing, as they use different suits. Yesterday, Luca published a scary new entry on his in-orbit blog, where he not only gave all the horror-movie details, but also revealed that he nearly chose to depressurize his suit outside the ISS in order to survive.
A Black Hole Mystery Wrapped in a Firewall Paradox - "A paradox around matter leaking from black holes puts into question various scientific axioms: Either information can be lost; Einstein's principle of equivalence is wrong; or quantum field theory needs fixing." [more inside]
Syd Mead's Stanford Torus Illustrations for National Geographic got him the job, 40 years later, of designing Elysium for Neill Blomkamp. Mead calls the unique visual effect of these interior drawings, in which the horizon wraps up and over the viewpoint, 'inverse perspective'. This effect, and others like it, have been explored in the concept art for large, rotating, space habitats at least since the early 1960s. [more inside]
Twelve Months in Two Minutes; Curiosity's First Year on Mars. Happy First Anniversary, Curiosity! [Previously]