Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell, 6th man on the moon, dies at age 85

Astronaut Edgar D. Mitchell, Apollo 14 lunar module pilot stands by the deployed U.S. flag on the lunar surface during the early moments of the mission's first spacewalk. Photo: NASA

NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell has died. He was 85 years old.

Mitchell was the sixth human to walk on the moon. He died Thursday night after a short illness. It was exactly one day before the 45th anniversary of the day he landed in the Moon's hilly Fra Mauro region, with crewmate Alan Shepard.

Mitchell was into the paranormal, and the possibility that ESP (psychic communication) could help humans stay connected out in space.

From Bill Harwood at CBS News:

Famous for attempting an experiment in extra-sensory perception on his way back from the moon, Mitchell founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences in 1973 "to support consciousness research and promote awareness of evolving human consciousness," the family said in a statement released by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.

Andrew Chaikin, author of "A Man On The Moon -- The Voyages Of The Apollo Astronauts," said in a recent interview with CBS News that Mitchell was "super bright" and "an intellectual."

"Just a real lover of ideas," Chaikin said. "It shows in his post-NASA career because he pursued this question of consciousness and the nature of consciousness. On his flight, he had kind of a mountain-top experience where on the flight home, looking at the Earth, he felt that he was experiencing the universe as an intelligent entity, almost an organism. And that really changed him."

Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell in front of a graphic of the mission patch. [NASA]

Here are NASA Administrator Charles Bolden's remarks on his death:

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Watch an astronaut play liquid ping pong in space

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly demonstrates ping pong with a sphere of water on the International Space Station. From NASA:

The paddles are polycarbonate laser etched so that the surfaces are actually arrays of 300 micrometer posts (0.3mm). The surfaces were then spray coated with a Teflon coat. The combined effects of surface roughness and non-wettability produce a super-hydrophobic surface capable of preventing water adhesion in dynamic processes. The larger the drop, the less force it takes to break it up. The smaller the drop, the harder you can hit it. Scott is demonstrating about a 4 mL drop (over 100 times larger than a rain drop).

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SpaceX releases new video of Falcon 9 launch and landing

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SpaceX today published some wonderful new footage of its recent successful Falcon 9 launch and landing.

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You can now watch NASA rocket launches in 4K high-def video online

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You can now view NASA rocket launch videos in 4K high-definition glory, online.

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Look at Saturn's magnificent moon Titan!

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NASA just released this beautiful composite infrared view of Saturn's moon Titan. The Cassini spacecraft captured the image last month during its flyby about 6,200 miles above the moon's surface. From NASA:

The view looks toward terrain that is mostly on the Saturn-facing hemisphere of Titan. The scene features the parallel, dark, dune-filled regions named Fensal (to the north) and Aztlan (to the south), which form the shape of a sideways letter "H."

Several places on the image show the surface at higher resolution than elsewhere. These areas, called subframes, show more detail because they were acquired near closest approach. They have finer resolution, but cover smaller areas than data obtained when Cassini was farther away from Titan.

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Awesome space photo of a volcano in action: Indonesia's Mount Rinjani, erupting

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NOAA just released this awesome NASA image of a volcanic eruption in action. Read the rest

NASA looks directly at the sun so you don't have to, and it's gorgeous

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NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) in orbit keeps a constant vigil on the Sun to help us understand how solar variations impact life on Earth. Launched in 2010, the SDO is part of NASA's Living With a Star (LWS) Program. NASA just released this magnificent 4K video shot by the SDO of our star's nuclear fire. It's titled "Thermonuclear Art."

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Astronomer, NASA advisor, and serial sexual harasser Geoff Marcy to resign from UC Berkeley

Geoffrey Marcy, possibly contemplating his next victim. [NASA photo]

Geoff Marcy, a famous and respected American astronomer, has announced his intention to step down as a faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley, according to an email obtained by BuzzFeed News.

Marcy also works with NASA on the search for extraterrestrial life, via the NASA Kepler Mission.

Buzzfeed first broke today's news of Marcy's plans to step aside. It is the first real fallout he's facing from sexual harassment claims that the reported victims say were ignored for years.

Why would those claims be ignored by UC Berkeley? Because Marcy is kind of a big deal in the field of astronomy, and his name meant money for the struggling California academic institution. Read the rest

Far out space film made from NASA Apollo Archive images

Tom Kucy dug into the incredible motherlode of NASA's Project Apollo Archive of photos released last week to create this beautiful short film "Ground Control." Read the rest

NASA rocket launch to be visible along U.S. East Coast Wednesday night

Predicted visibility map for NASA rocket launch Oct. 7.

If you're on the East Coast, keep your eyes on the skies this evening--you might see something rare up there.

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Over 8,400 NASA Apollo moon mission photos just landed online, in high-resolution

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Space fans, rejoice: today, just about every image captured by Apollo astronauts on lunar missions is now on the Project Apollo Archive Flickr account. There are some 8,400 photographs in all at a resolution of 1800 dpi, and they're sorted by the roll of film they were on. Read the rest

Rush Limbaugh: water on Mars is a leftist conspiracy

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Who needs the Onion? "Don't know how long it's going to take, but this news that there is flowing water on Mars is somehow going to find its way into a technique to advance the leftist agenda." Read the rest

Water on Mars, NASA reveals

Dark narrow streaks called recurring slope lineae emanate from the walls of Garni crater on Mars. [NASA]

NASA says these streaks are proof that water flows on Mars. NASA

Well, this is big. NASA today revealed that new findings from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide “the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars.” Read the rest

Latest Pluto image is most amazing yet

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From NASA's New Horizons Image Gallery, this is described as a "high-resolution enhanced color view" of the distant world. Read the rest

What happens to an astronaut's body during a year in space

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NASA astronaut and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko are halfway through the year they are spending in space. Above is a NASA chart with some fun facts about what Kelly will experience.

“I think the legacy of this mission will be based on the science of having us in space for a year,” Kelly said. “The great data we collected, what we learned about being in space for this long and how that will help our journey to Mars someday.”

Below, NASA's mini-documentary "A Year In Space" narrated by Lando, er, Billy Dee Williams:

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A better solution for astronauts who drink their own piss

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Aquaporin A/S made this new small and lightweight filter that uses aquaporins, membrane proteins, to turn urine, sweat, and wastewater into drinkable water. Read the rest

New close-ups from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft show off Pluto's mysterious complexity

NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

The New Horizons spacecraft sent back new close-up images of Pluto, and they are stunning. Read the rest

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