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]
Remember the Chelyabinsk meteor that exploded over Russia earlier this year, injuring hundreds and giving us dozens of spectacular dashcam videos? It may have friends.
"The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet." Before we get into terraforming, what about the space between worlds? NASA has a website dedicated to discussions of space settlements (previously), many going back to the 1970s, as seen in the CoEvolution Book on space settlement and the NASA Ames/Stanford 1975 Summer Study. There is also concept art from the 1970s by Don Davis (prev: 1, 2, 3) and Rick Guidice. Escaping from that orbit, there's also a toroidal space colony as imagined in the 1982 book Walt Disney's EPCOT, and more recently, a ton of neat imagery on Bryan Versteeg's Spacehabs website. [more inside]
World's first talking robot sent into space Japan has launched the world's first talking robot into space to serve as companion to astronaut Kochi Wakata who will begin his mission in November. [more inside]
Ever Upward isn't just a blog about space but a love letter to the wonder and beauty lurking in the science of space. It is written, and occasionally drawn, by MeFite Narrative Priorities [more inside]
Enjoy 200,000 images of Saturn, its rings and moons taken by NASA's Cassini over 8 years compressed into 4 minutes of video.
“Imagine having a fishbowl on your head with a half a litre of water sticking to your face, ears and nose. Then imagine you can’t take the fishbowl off your head for a minimum of 20 minutes, feel the panic?”
ISS astronaut Luca Parmitano developed a water leak in his helmet shortly after beginning a spacewalk, but is fine now.
ISS astronaut Luca Parmitano developed a water leak in his helmet shortly after beginning a spacewalk, but is fine now.
Tekhnika Molodezhi was the Popular Mechanics of the Soviet Union. The magazine, whose name means Technology for the Youth, had illustrations of everything from space stations, computerized farming, transport of the future, friendly robots, to more abstract images. If you don't want to hunt through the archive, Mythbuster's Tested website has a gallery of 201 great images from the magazine.
The first official trailer of In Saturn's Rings (formerly Outside In) has been released to universal acclaim. The movie (to be completed in 2014) is made exclusively from real photos taken by spacecraft, mostly Cassini-Huygens.
What would the night sky look like if the other planets were as close as the moon?
Samuel Aston Williams shows maps of the spread of urban sprawl in several American and international cities over 30 years, as seen from space.
"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!
The Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB), on behalf of The National Academies, is seeking input papers on human spaceflight until July 9th, 2013. You can also read the current submissions. [more inside]
Cosmography of the Local Universe. From the comments: "Best video display of our Universe and our exact position in it to date.... [more inside]
Fifty years ago today, Valentina Tereshkova became the first textile factory worker, first civilian and of course first woman in space. She completed 48 orbits, in the process amassing more space time than any of the American astronauts had logged. It would be almost twenty years before a second female astronaut got into space, slightly more than that for the first American woman. In total, fiftyseven women have flown into space, or roughly ten percent of the total number of astronauts.
Project Kronos: is a documentary film set in the not too distant future, following a mission to achieve interstellar space travel. As the mission unfolds with extraordinary results, the scientists find themselves dealing with a much bigger agenda.
The Welsh Space Campaign. The suit is made of the fabric woven in the last remaining wool mills in Wales. The astronaut boots are traditional Welsh clogs crafted by a traditional clog maker. The whole pressure system that will enable the astronaut to sustain life in outer space was built by a Welsh plumber. The aim of the designer is to reveal that Wales has the capacity to explore space, and to show that off-world culturalisation can be achieved through a collective communitarian effort; as a way to allow the people involved to reconsider their role and skill in relation to these cosmic contexts. -- We Make Money Not Art
CSA Astronaut Chris Hadfield discusses how senses change aboard the International Space Station: Sound, Sight, Taste, Smell, and Touch. [previously]
Kosmos allows you to explore a virtual, computer-generated 3-d universe from your browser. Background, screen shots and hardware requirements. (Requires WebGL and a little time to load on slower computers.) [more inside]
UFO is a 1970 British science fiction television series about a secret military organization which defends the Earth from Alien invaders. The series was created by Gerry & Sylvia Anderson, who previously created the "Supermarionation" puppet TV series in the 1960's (Thunderbirds, Fireball XL-5), and would later create Space: 1999. The production is highly stylized, from the cars, hair styles, and future fashions to Ebert-worthy parties of the future, mesh space shirts and groovy theme music. [more inside]
Watch Near Earth Asteroid 1998 QE2 live as it makes its closest approach to Earth. Basically NOW. [more inside]
Chris Hadfield has captured the world's heart, judging by the 14m YouTube views of his free-fall rendition of David Bowie's "Space Oddity", recorded on the International Space Station (ISS). The Canadian astronaut's clear voice and capable guitar-playing were complemented by his facility in moving around in the microgravity of low-earth orbit. But when the man fell to Earth in a neat and safe descent a few days ago, after a five-month stay in orbit, should he have been greeted by copyright police?
"It was one of those things that was a gift to humanity... We’re all going to lose for sure." Kepler's career is over, but not before answering one of mankind's most profound questions.
Skylab, NASA's budget space station, launched 40 years ago today. Designed as an orbiting optical laboratory, she served as a cold war weapon, underwent an historic salvage job, and was the site of America's first space mutiny before landing hard in Australia while waiting for the Space Shuttle to be invented.
Today. the day after astronauts detected and repaired a "serious but not life-threatening" ammonia leak on the space station, Commander Chris Hadfield has passed over command of the space station. Planet earth is blue and there's nothing left to do ... except to release this video. Sorry, Tilda Swinton does not make an appearance. Video is suitable for all audiences. Hadfield previously on MeFi.
Serene and hypnotizing video of a Russian Progress spacecraft docking with the International Space Station.
Last fall, the Canadian Space Agency asked students to design a simple science experiment that could be performed in space, using items already available aboard the International Space Station. Today, Commander Chris Hadfield conducted the winner for its designers: two tenth grade students, Kendra Lemke and Meredith Faulkner, in a live feed to their school in Fall River, Nova Scotia. And now, we finally have an answer to the age-old question, What Happens When You Wring Out A Washcloth In Space? [more inside]
No big deal, just found an abandoned space shuttle.
Ladies and gentlemen, for your pleasure please behold Leviathan [click image to advance to next image], a work by Anish Kapoor at the Grand Palais in Paris. Contemporary Art Blog link here. [more inside]
There once were two planets, new to the galaxy and inexperienced in life. Like fraternal twins, they were born at the same time, and took roughly the same shape.
How NASA brought the monstrous F-1 "moon rocket" engine back to life - "The story of young engineers who resurrected an engine nearly twice their age." [more inside]