69th moon discovered orbiting Jupiter

Jupiter has at least 69 natural moons, reports Scientific American, with the latest distant dots of joy uncovered via images taken by NASA's Juno spacecraft.

Until recently the cataloged satellites totaled 67 in number. But only the innermost 15 of these orbit Jupiter in a prograde sense (in the direction of the planet's spin). The rest are retrograde, and are likely captured objects - other pieces of the solar system's solid inventory that strayed into Jupiter's gravitational grasp.

That population of outer moons is mostly small stuff, only a few are 20-60 kilometers in diameter, most are barely 1-2 kilometers in size, and increasingly difficult to spot.

Now astronomers Scott Sheppard, David Tholen, and Chadwick Trujillo have added two more; bringing Jupiter's moon count to 69.

Perfect for your pirate base/villain lair/secret Space CIA prison/unsettling scientific experiments lab/taco stand. Read the rest

Time-lapse of Juno's Jupiter fly-by

Composited by Sean Doran from images taken by NASA's Juno probe.

Previously: Jupiter's south pole. Read the rest

The south pole of Jupiter

From Nasa's Juno probe:

This image shows Jupiter’s south pole, as seen by NASA’s Juno spacecraft from an altitude of 32,000 miles (52,000 kilometers). The oval features are cyclones, up to 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) in diameter. Multiple images taken with the JunoCam instrument on three separate orbits were combined to show all areas in daylight, enhanced color, and stereographic projection.

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Stunning short film about the Apollo moon landing made from astronauts' photos

Motion designer Christian Stangl and composer Wolfgang Stangl created this gorgeous short film, titled LUNAR, from thousands of NASA photographs taken by astronauts. From the film description:

In the year 1957 the cold war expands to space. The Soviet-Union sends Sputnik as the first manmade object into earth-orbit.

2 years later Yuri Gagarin enters space as the first man in space. The so called "Space Race" seems to be decided.

But in 1961 President Kennedy promised to send American Astronauts to the moon. The Apollo Project was born. A space ship had to be built that is strong enough to escape earth's gravitation, land on the moon and bring the crew safely back to earth.

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The true color of Saturn's north pole is a stunning blue

Astroparticle physicist Sophia Nasr posted a gorgeous photo of Saturn's north pole, processed to account for a luminance layer. Instead of a reddish hue, it is a breathtaking cerulean blue. Jason Major replicated the results. Read the rest

Lego's new Saturn V/Apollo Mission model rocket set

Lego just announced its new NASA Apollo Saturn V model rocket set. It's based on a Lego Ideas submission by a builder named saabfun, it's a 1:110 scale model of the real thing. Of course the Saturn V was the workhorse rocket that took astronauts to the moon beginning in 1969 and delivered Skylab to orbit in 1973. and The 1,969 piece set will sell for $120 starting in June. It looks fantastic but I'll wait (and hope) for a Voyager Mission set complete with the Golden Record!

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How to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in space

Astronaut Shane Kimbrough, commander of the Expedition 50 expedition to the International Space Station, explains how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in space. He returned from the ISS earlier this month after six months in orbit.

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Here’s how NASA tests Mars rovers on Earth

YouTube host Tom Scott explores the “Mars Yard” at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory where NASA simulates what it’s like on Mars for its rovers. Read the rest

New photo of Earth between Saturn's rings can shift your perspective on our reality

That point of light between Saturn's rings is Earth, captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on April 12. More about the image here at NASA JPL. It reminds me of the last photo taken by the Voyager I spacecraft before engineers shut off its imaging systems. Carl Sagan had persuaded NASA to turn Voyager I’s cameras back toward the sun on Valentine's Day 1990 and take the first ever "portrait of our solar system" from outside of it. Earth is just a speck in that photo too, a "pale blue dot" as Sagan called it. His beautiful words remind me how a single image can alter one's perspective in an instant:

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there...

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Astronaut says flight to Space Station felt like “burrito of awesomeness smothered in awesome sauce“

"It’s so beautiful," U.S. astronaut Jack Fischer described today's trip to the ISS to his wife. The experience, he said, was "a burrito of awesomeness smothered in awesome sauce."

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NASA's new "space fabric"

This is NASA's new "space fabric" in development at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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NASA's revamped image and video library makes searching fun

Get ready to fall into a black hole of non-productivity once you open NASA's new Image and Video Library. Lots of great tags and captions to find what you want! Read the rest

Watch how NASA trains astronauts with VR

NASA has always been an early adopter of technology like virtual and augmented reality for training. Here's a cool glimpse into how they train future ISS and landing party astronauts. Read the rest

Bill Nye urges Trump to recommit to the U.S. Space Program

Bill Nye and The Planetary Society released a direct appeal to the Trump administration, asking that the government continue to focus on Mars and support commercial space industry. Trump proposed a reduction in the NASA budget. Read the rest

Astronaut unknowingly brought souvenir flags to the moon and now you can buy one

When Apollo 15 astronaut David Scott hopped across the lunar surface in 1971, he was carrying a pouch of tiny US flags in his spacesuit. The stash of flags was such a secret that Scott didn't even know they were there at the time. Now one of the souvenir flags, the pouch, and the bracket where it was attached are up for auction. The flag is estimated to go for $15,000 and the bracket/pouch for $30,000, but I definitely think you need both lots. From Collect Space:

"This [hidden pouch] was apparently unknown to anybody else until the (Portable Life Support System's Oxygen Purge System where the pouch was stowed were) disassembled after the mission by some other member of the CSD (Crew Systems Division) and the flag package was discovered," wrote Scott.

The identity of the original CSD member who hid the flags, or the person who found them afterward, is unknown...

Scott was presented with some of the flags and the 7.5 by 4 inch (19 by 10 cm) bracket as mementos of his flight by his management at the same meeting where he was told of their existence. A law passed in 2012 reaffirmed Apollo-era astronauts' title to the items they retained as souvenirs of their missions...

The hidden flags were not the only secret souvenirs on the Apollo 15 mission. Scott and his two crew mates also took postmarked envelopes, a memorial statue, and timepieces that NASA later labeled as unauthorized. The hidden flags were not associated with those items, though.

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Mimas in Saturnlight

Today's Astronomy picture of the day is Saturn's moon, Mimas, bathed in light from both the planet and the sun. The image has had the darker side brightened somewhat; click through for the unenhanced original.

Explanation: Peering from the shadows, the Saturn-facing hemisphere of Mimas lies in near darkness alongside a dramatic sunlit crescent. The mosaic was captured near the Cassini spacecraft's final close approach on January 30, 2017. Cassini's camera was pointed in a nearly sunward direction only 45,000 kilometers from Mimas. The result is one of the highest resolution views of the icy, crater-pocked, 400 kilometer diameter moon. ... Other Cassini images of Mimas include the small moon's large and ominous Herschel Crater.

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Lego announces "Women of NASA" minifigs

Last year, MIT News editor Maya Weinstock submitted her Women of NASA minifigures design to LEGO Ideas. LEGO has just approved the idea and laster this year or early 2018 will release an official minifig set of these five inspiring women in science:

Margaret Hamilton, computer scientist: While working at MIT under contract with NASA in the 1960s, Hamilton developed the on-board flight software for the Apollo missions to the moon. She is known for popularizing the modern concept of software.

Katherine Johnson, mathematician and space scientist: A longtime NASA researcher, Johnson is best known for calculating and verifying trajectories for the Mercury and Apollo programs — including the Apollo 11 mission that first landed humans on the moon.

Sally Ride, astronaut, physicist, and educator: A physicist by training, Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983. After retiring as a NASA astronaut, she founded an educational company focusing on encouraging children — especially girls — to pursue the sciences.

Nancy Grace Roman, astronomer: One of the first female executives at NASA, Roman is known to many as the "Mother of Hubble" for her role in planning the Hubble Space Telescope. She also developed NASA's astronomy research program.

Mae Jemison, astronaut, physician, and entrepreneur: Trained as a medical doctor, Jemison became the first African-American woman in space in 1992. After retiring from NASA, Jemison established a company that develops new technologies and encourages students in the sciences.

(via Laughing Squid) Read the rest

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