The joke was funny because this was just a tiny, two-year college, with no engineering program. Getting into space was the last thing on the minds of these students; they were just trying to escape poverty. Next thing they knew, NASA was calling them up.
can life survive for billions of years longer than the expected timeline on Earth? as scientists continue to discover older and older solar systems & galaxies, it’s likely that before long we’ll find an ancient planet in a habitable zone. knowing if life is possible on this exoplanet would have immense implications for habitability and the development of ancient life according to researcher Tiago Campante's paper "An Ancient Extrasolar System with Five Sub-Earth-Size Planets". this animation starts by showing us Kepler's field-of-view in the direction of the constellations Cygnus and Lyra, and then we're taken to the vicinity of the Kepler-444 planetary system, located some 117 light years away.
Previously on MetaFilter, we discussed a strange new form of propulsion that NASA was investigating. There are variants to the EM Drive, but the basic principle is the same: put lots of microwaves into the right shaped chamber, and thrust appears. Electricity to motion in free space? Much skepticism. But nearly a year and much more testing later - the story is getting weirder.
After almost 4 years of development, Kerbal Space Program hit version 1.0. Today, Kerbal Space Program reached a major milestone, declaring the release of version 1.0 and the removal of the "Early Access" label. [more inside]
Moving to Mars. "The volunteers perched in the lava fields of Mauna Loa on the HI-SEAS (Hawai'i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) mission are as close as Earthlings will get to Mars in the foreseeable future." [more inside]
This is a video from a spacewalk outside the International Space Station, shot with a GoPro camera and its fucking gorgeous. Here's background on how it happened and what's going on in the video. [more inside]
SpaceX 4K SpaceX launch highlights, in Ultra HD 4K. (SLYT)
NASA posits a larger amount of water in the solar system and beyond. With the recent hypothesis (trigger: bad science) that extra terrestrials might be quite large, how long do we have until the Space Whales come for us? Discuss.
Seth Shostak, director of the Center for SETI Research at the SETI Institute, suggests in a NYT Op-Ed that we should "offer the aliens Big Data."
Such a large corpus — with its text, pictures, videos and sounds — would allow clever extraterrestrials to decipher much about our society, and even formulate questions that could be answered with the material in hand.Previously, Stephen Hawking has disagreed.
"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.
"What is amazing, is that you can see the feature while the rim is still in front of the line of sight". Unreleased images of "feature number 5" aka the bight spots on Ceres suggest it might be an ice plume. Also we're naming everything after agriculture deities and festivals.
Outer Wilds begins around a fire, like so many of the best stories do. When you step towards the crackling flames, you're offered a surprisingly whimsical option: press X to roast a marshmallow. Why not? You transform the sugary orb into a ball of flame. When you step back, however, you see that the world is about to get far, far bigger than a campfire, or even a planet. You're sitting at the base of a rocketship, as a nearby engineer explains that you're the astronaut about to blast off into space.[more inside]
All you need are the launch codes, and after a leisurely detour through your home planet where you pick up a few essential piloting skills, you suit up, buckle in, and launch your craft triumphantly into space, ready to explore the wonders of the universe.
Then the sun explodes.
"As Roche observed the process from an insider’s perspective, his concerns increased. Chief among them: that some leading contenders for the mission had bought their way into that position, and are being encouraged to “donate” any appearance fees back to Mars One — which seemed to him very strange for an outfit that needs billions of dollars to complete its objective." [more inside]
With the discovery of life beneath the Ross Ice Shelf, the abundance of water in our solar system and a huge salty ocean under Ganymede's ice, scientists are rethinking the possibilities of life on other worlds.
NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission is set to lift off today, March 12, at 10:44 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. (NASA TV launch coverage) [more inside]
Astronomers using the Hubble space telescope have discovered four images of the same supernova arranged in an Einstein Cross. They've released pictures and a video to explain what we're looking at. [more inside]
One hundred years ago today, on March 3, 1915, a Naval Appropriations Bill was passed through Congress and signed by president Woodrow Wilson. A small rider was attached to the bill and went through the process almost completely unnoticed. That rider legislated the formation of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. [more inside]
"A press release from Cornell explains how the researchers used some creative chemical modeling to construct a hypothetical, methane-based cell that's stable in Titan's sub-zero oceans. They call their alien life form an "azotosome."" [more inside]
There's an odd bright spot on the dwarf planet Ceres. Scratch that, there's actually two bright spots on the its surface. Cue speculation as the Dawn spacecraft prepares to orbit Ceres.
A statement posted to the Russian space agency’s website said a meeting of the Roscosmos science and technical council considered Russia’s future human spaceflight plans, favoring the continued use of the International Space Station until 2024.
Then Russia plans to remove its modules from the International Space Station to form an all-Russian complex in orbit.
Then Russia plans to remove its modules from the International Space Station to form an all-Russian complex in orbit.
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]
This was the official inauguration of indigenous futurism. The movement is in part about speaking back to the SF genre, which has long used indigenous subjects as the foils to stories of white space explorers hungry to conquer new worlds. Given these continuously re-hashed narratives of “the final frontier,” it is no coincidence that western science fiction developed during a time of imperial and capitalist expansion. Science/speculative fiction author Nalo Hopkinson, known for her use of creole languages and Caribbean oral stories in her works, writes that people of color engaging with SF “take the meme of colonizing the natives and, from the experience of the colonizee, critique it, pervert it, fuck with it, with irony, with anger, with humor and also, with love and respect for the genre of science fiction that makes it possible to think about new ways of doing things.”
The station is called Junction Gate, a colony seed that never fully blossomed. You see plans for mines, habitat modules, research facilities, and shipyards.
The Smithsonian Magazine reminds us that "Barns are painted red because of the physics of dying stars", summing up a more detailed post by Google employee Yonatan Zunger on the nature of stars, the atmosphere, and cheap paint found on barns.
Early Saturday morning, Space-X launched CRS-5, another supply run to the International Space Station. It was also an attempt to land the first stage on a barge in the Atlantic ocean, in hopes of recovering the booster to keep costs down. It failed, but came really close. But the most impressive aspect of this launch were the views from the internal LO2 tank camera of the 2nd stage. [more inside]
3 awesome downloadable NASA designed Travel Posters for places we haven't been to yet NASA's Kepler telescope is still discovering new, distant exoplanets in our corner of the Milky Way, but oftentimes they're hard to visualize and easily forgotten about by some of us normal folk. Now, to get everyone dreaming about these potentially habitable worlds, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has drawn up a trio of beautiful posters by the "Exoplanet Travel Bureau." All three echo the WPA's iconic travel prints from the mid-1930s, with classic typefaces and swathes of flat, contrasting color.
Wheels on Mars. "There are holes in Curiosity wheels. There have always been holes -- the rover landed with twelve holes deliberately machined in each wheel to aid in rover navigation. But there are new holes now: punctures, fissures, and ghastly tears." A detailed look at the condition of the wheels on the Curiosity rover.
5200 Days in Space. From The Atlantic.
A 6-minute video of Earth from space, featuring aurora borealis, cities at night, storms, and other wonders, created by ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst from 12,500 images taken during his ISS Blue Dot mission.
Forty-five years ago, Buzz Aldrin became the second man to walk on the moon. It made him one of the most famous people in the world. And it has haunted the rest of his life.
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), an X-ray telescope designed to observe deep space, has been used to capture images of X-rays streaming off the Sun for the first time. [more inside]
Sultry witches. World-devouring cephalopods. Adorable teddy bears. Smithsonian Magazine takes a look at the fantastical mission patches of the National Reconnaissance Office (via)
CINEMA SPACE TRIBUTE SLVimeo - A beautiful montage of space scenes in big budget movies. Set to Hans Zimmer music (from Interstellar), with Anthony Hopkins reciting Dylan Thomas.
We know space is big, but trying to understand how big is tricky. Say you stare up at the sky and identify stars and constellations in a virtual planetarium, you can't quite fathom how far away all those stars are (previously, twice). Even if you could change your point of view and zoom around in space to really see 100,000 nearby stars (autoplaying ambient music, and there are actually 119,617 stars mapped in 3D space), it's still difficult to get a sense of scale. There's this static image of various items mapped on a log scale from XKCD (previously), and an interactive horizontal journey down from the sun to the heliosphere with OMG Space (previously). You can get a bit more dynamic with this interactive Scale of the Universe webpage (also available in with some variants, if you want the sequel [ previously, twice], the swirly, gravity-optional version that takes some time to load, and the wrong version [previously]), but that's just for the scale of objects, not of space itself. If you want to get spaced out, imagine if If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel, and travel from there (previously). This past March, BBC Future put out a really big infographic, which also takes a moment to load, but then you can see all sorts of things, from the surface of Earth out to the edge of our solar system.
NASA’s new Orion spacecraft will soon blast off on its maiden voyage into space. It’ll be a quick and unmanned flight to test the craft, particularly its innovative heat shield, which will protect Iron man, Captain Kirk, Slimey the Worm and a unnamed Tyrannosaurus Rex from the white hot temperatures as Orion returns to Earth. Watch the launch on NASA TV (Audio only stream) on Thursday, December 4th, at 7:05am EST (1205 GMT) i.e. tomorrow morning for most of the Western world. [more inside]
While talk of a moonbase or terraforming Mars has tended to dominate the discussion for the first step in human colonization of the solar system, another possibility exists: floating habitats above the cloud tops of Venus. [more inside]
Orbits are hard [SLFridayTimeWaster]
Astronaut Marsha Ivins describes her experiences: prelaunch, launch, and zero-g: "It’s a mix of the transcendently magical and the deeply prosaic."
How I Got My Own Area Code: It took the combination of phone phreak and "space cadet" to find a relationship between the number 321 and the countdowns of Cape Canaveral. [more inside]
The resolution of a telescope (how much fine detail it can see) is proportional to the wavelength of light divided by the size of the telescope. Since radio wavelengths are many times larger than optical wavelengths, radio telescopes like the GBT and Arecibo are large compared to optical telescopes. Even so, the resolution of radio telescopes is worse, and you rarely see radio images as beautiful as those produced by the Hubble Space Telscope. That has now changed. [more inside]
An Antares rocket with the Orbital Sciences Corporation Cygnus CRS Orb-3 spacecraft bound for the International Space Station exploded today shortly after liftoff from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. [more inside]