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Posts Tagged ‘space’

Awe Arousing Appearance of Aurora

September 17, 2011 Leave a comment

I love aurorae. Possibly one of the most beautiful and spectacular natural phenomena to grace this planet.

Astronaut Ron Garan recently posted a fantastic photo of an aurora from Earth’s orbit on his Twitter feed:

One of the last pictures I took #FromSpace #Aurora - southern lights - dancing with #Orion 9/14/11 18:48 GMT

Makes me feel like a 9 year old kid again, wishing he could be an astronaut when he grows up.

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Last Shuttle Launch and A Comet Across the Sun’s Bow

July 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Some cool stuff happening in and around space these last couple days.

This video from the Solar Dynamics Observatory shows a comet streaking across the face of the Sun!!

And of course, the final shuttle launch EVER happened earlier today.

Screen grab of video from NASA website.

No More Tears in Heaven

May 25, 2011 Leave a comment
File:Astronaut-EVA.jpg

Photo: NASA/JPL

Drew Feustel, an astronaut currently in space with the crew of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, had a small problem with his spacewalk on Wednesday.

Some anti-fog solution he had rubbed onto his visor started to flake off during the spacewalk. Since the anti-fog solution is really just dish soap, it caused a problem because it flaked off into his eye.

If you have ever gotten soap in your eye, you know its terrible, terrible sting.

Aside: I used to put dish soap on my glasses when I played hockey so they wouldn’t fog up. I didn’t realize this was a “space-age” solution.

So poor Drew’s eyes started to water. But because of the lack of gravity, the tears would not fall down, they just sort of hung around on his eyeball.

“Tears in space don’t run down your face,” he said, according to lead spacewalk officer Allison Bollinger

“They actually kind of conglomerate around your eyeball,” Bollinger recounted.

Eventually, he was able to rub his eye on a device inside his helmet to release the fluid from the surface of his eye.

So disaster averted. This indeed sounds like one of the ultimate #firstworldproblems

Sweet Photo of Shuttle Launch Goes Viral

May 19, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve been out of the loop for a few days, and look at the cool stuff I miss!

Stefanie Gordon was on a plane heading from New York to Florida on Monday, May 16. She was fortunate enough to look out her window and see an amazing sight: the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour.

Space Shuttle Endeavor from Delta flight 2285 - Photo by Stefanie Gordon

The photo has since appeared in a plethora of news outlets, including MSNBC, Time, and CBS.

You can also see a short video of the launch by Stefanie on TwitVid. 

She has written about the experience and the ensuing media barrage of attention on her blog, ‘Not a Typical Girl’, which you should definitely check out. In short, the experience sounds quite overwhelming,

This whole viral situation has completely caught me off guard. I never thought anything of the magnitude my photo would have when I sent an innocent tweet moments after I landed in West Palm Beach. I am still in shock about it all.

Well congratulations to Stefanie for her internet notoriety. Hopefully it will lead to good things for her!

Keep those cell phone cameras handy, cause you never know…

Mars Rover ‘Opportunity’ Seen From Orbit

March 10, 2011 Leave a comment

I thought this was pretty cool.

The Mars Exploration Rover ‘Opportunity’ was captured in this image from the Mars Reconnasaince Orbiter while it was studying a crater.

The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter acquired this color image on March 9, 2011, of "Santa Maria" crater, showing NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity perched on the southeast rim. - Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Click for High-Resolution Version - Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Opportunity has been working on Mars since 2004, even though its initial mission length was only supposed to be 3 months.

Pretty damn impressive if you ask me.

What Does NASA Have to Say about the Meteorite “Bacteria”?

March 7, 2011 Leave a comment

If you’ve been following the drama around the Richard Hoover article in the Journal of Cosmology about fossilized alien bacteria in a meteorite, you may have been wondering what NASA thinks about all this.

I mean, Hoover works for NASA. They should have said something, right? Wouldn’t they want to get in on this publicity if they could?

Well the reaction has been less than positive. My review of the paper is that it is flimsy at best, and crap at worst.

But NASA did release a statement today about the paper. Via Spaceref:

“NASA is a scientific and technical agency committed to a culture of openness with the media and public. While we value the free exchange of ideas, data, and information as part of scientific and technical inquiry, NASA cannot stand behind or support a scientific claim unless it has been peer-reviewed or thoroughly examined by other qualified experts. This paper was submitted in 2007 to the International Journal of Astrobiology. However, the peer review process was not completed for that submission. NASA also was unaware of the recent submission of the paper to the Journal of Cosmology or of the paper’s subsequent publication. Additional questions should be directed to the author of the paper.” – Dr. Paul Hertz, chief scientist of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington

So they are basically saying that Hoover tried to publish this work a few years ago, and it didn’t make the cut. So NASA is distancing themselves from this claim as much as possible.

No one would be happier than me if evidence of alien life was discovered. But it hasn’t.

Faux Mars Mission Makes it into Orbit of the Red Planet

February 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Group photo of the Mars500 crew. (Photo: ESA)

Since June 2010, 6 men have been sealed inside a science experiment. It is called the Mars500 mission, run by the European Space Agency (ESA) and is designed to test the physiological and psychological effects of isolation on a long-term voyage to Mars.

So after an 8 month journey, the crew is preparing for their landing and first “Mars-walk”, which will take place on February 14. After spending 30 days on the “surface”, they will depart the fake Martian terrain (which is actually just a sandy room near their living quarters) and begin the 240 day trip back to Earth.

So it’s actually 520 days that the experiment runs, not 500. But Mars500 just sounds cooler.

The mission, so far, has gone off pretty well. As reported in the BBC,

“So far, I must say we’ve had no major problems,” said Martin Zell, who heads up the Esa scientific programme on the International Space Station (ISS).

“There is permanent monitoring, so we understand their health very well. We have a lot of data now on their mental state and on how their bodies are reacting. That’s important because there is a link between the two,”

The crew seems to be doing well too. They have enough space on board to walk around and receive emails from home. They are even able to check Twitter now and then:

Being in the same small space with the same 6 people for 500 days I can only imagine would be quite taxing. I think the danger of interplanetary spaceflight is secondary to the danger of killing one another, so it is always important to break up the drudgery of every day living with some fun.

The Mars500 crew celebrating Halloween. Science rules. (Photo: ESA)

 

Fascinating!

January 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Want to make your day better? Watch Spock say “fascinating” 46 times in 91 seconds.

NASA Announces Discovery of First Rocky Planet Outside Solar System

January 10, 2011 Leave a comment

The Kepler Spacecraft. Photo: NASA

It seems every couple weeks there is another story regarding exoplanets.

Oh well, they always seem exciting to me.

In a statement released today, NASA said

NASA’s Kepler mission confirmed the discovery of its first rocky planet, named Kepler-10b. Measuring 1.4 times the size of Earth, it is the smallest planet ever discovered outside our solar system.

The discovery of this so-called exoplanet is based on more than eight months of data collected by the spacecraft from May 2009 to early January 2010.

The Kepler mission is designed specifically to search for exoplanets roughly the size of Earth. It does this through a technique called the Transit Method.

Essentially, Kepler will watch a star for several hours. If a planet orbits that star, it may pass in front of the star and briefly reduce the apparent brightness. By measuring how much dimmer the star gets, and how often it happens, it is possible to determine the size and orbit period of the planet.

While this is a pretty cool discovery, don’t get your hope up about habitable planets yet.

Kepler is the first NASA mission capable of finding Earth-size planets in or near the habitable zone, the region in a planetary system where liquid water can exist on the planet’s surface. However, since it orbits once every 0.84 days, Kepler-10b is more than 20 times closer to its star than Mercury is to our sun and not in the habitable zone.