Stunning photo of NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover seen from orbit

That bright blue object in the center of the photo is NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover as imaged by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter earlier this month. From NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory:

The car-size rover, climbing up lower Mount Sharp toward its next destination, appears as a blue dab against a background of tan rocks and dark sand in the enhanced-color image from the orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera. The exaggerated color, showing differences in Mars surface materials, makes Curiosity appear bluer than it really looks...

When the image was taken, Curiosity was partway between its investigation of active sand dunes lower on Mount Sharp, and "Vera Rubin Ridge," a destination uphill where the rover team intends to examine outcrops where hematite has been identified from Mars orbit.

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Satellite sets distance record for weird "spooky action" quantum communication

Chinese researchers demonstrated quantum entanglement at a record distance, between a satellite and ground stations 1,200 kilometers apart. When objects are quantum entangled, their quantum states are linked. Measuring the state of one affects the state of the other. It's weird shit. So weird that Einstein called it "spooky action at a distance."

The experiment by physicists at Shanghai's University of Science and Technology of China could eventually lead to highly-secure communications technologies in space and back on Earth.

"I'm personally convinced that the internet of the future will be based on these quantum principles," says Anton Zeilinger, a physicist at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna who was not involved in the experiment. "China’s quantum satellite achieves ‘spooky action’ at record distance" (Science)

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Today is the anniversary of the first woman in space

On June 16, 1963, Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space. She orbited the Earth 48 times over a period of three days. Inspired by Yuri Gagarin who in 1961 became the first person in space, Tereshkova applied to the Russian space program and was accepted based on her extensive background as a skydiver. It wasn't until 40 years later that Tereshkova's nearly tragic experience in orbit was made public.

An error in the spacecraft's automatic navigation software caused the ship to move away from Earth. Tereshkova noticed this and Soviet scientists quickly developed a new landing algorithm. Tereshkova landed safely but received a bruise on her face.

She landed in the Altay region near today's Kazakhstan-Mongolia-China border. Villagers helped Tereshkova out of her spacesuit and asked her to join them for dinner. She accepted, and was later reprimanded for violating the rules and not undergoing medical tests first.

Valentina Tereshkova: First Woman in Space (Space.com) Read the rest

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

Grey Gersten's beautiful music video featuring space imagery from Cassini

Grey Gersten, whose work lies at the intersection of avant-garde art, multimedia, and music, has released this interplanetary video for his track "Press Your Heart Against The Screen," from his new album Naked Light out today. The song, about the bridge between humans and machines, is complemented by stunning images captured by NASA's Cassini space probe in 2009. Gersten has explored space in his prior work as well, having composed the soundtrack to Tom Sachs' incredible film A Space Program about the installation artist's Space Program 2.0: MARS project. A force in New York City's experimental art scene, Gersten has collaborated with John Zorn and TV on The Radio, and counts Laurie Anderson as a fan.

Starting at sunset tonight at NYC's 537 Broadway gallery, Gersten is hosting an overnight performance experience with special guests, meditation, experimental films, and a dramatic reading of former FBI Director James Comey's Congress Hearing.

Far fucking out.

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Small space robot launches like a model rocket

This handheld, rocket-powered robot can leap about 30 meters and make a targeted landing. Once it's on the ground, it can then spin up and then abruptly brake its flywheel to jump forward or backward for a bit more mobility. Developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the rocketeer robot could someday liftoff from a planetary or lunar lander or rover. The 450-gram prototype uses an Estes C11 rocket engine like those used in model rocketry! From IEEE Spectrum:

The robot is mounted on an angled rail and when it’s time to fly, it spins up its reaction wheel and sets off the primary rocket. The rocket launches the robot on a parabolic trajectory with a maximum range, in Earth gravity, of up to about 30 meters, which would increase to about 200 meters under lunar gravity. The reaction wheel minimizes the effect of the robot body tumbling during flight, keeping the robot going on a straight line: We held this little thing with the gyro wheel turned on during an interactive session at (the International Conference on Robotics and Automation), and it was impressively powerful: There was a significant amount of resistance to any kind of sideways rotation. Since solid-fuel rocket engines can’t be throttled, the opposing thrust motors are fired when necessary to alter the robot’s trajectory for a targeted landing. It’s a fairly effective technique, and in their tests the standard deviation of a series of launches decreased from 1.2 to 0.29 meters, or four times more precise than without the opposing rockets.

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Adam Savage builds Lego's new Saturn V/Apollo Mission model rocket

In April, Lego announced its fantastic new NASA Apollo Saturn V model rocket set. 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. Watch space geek Adam Savage and his Tested colleagues tackle the assembly!

Lego.com is out of stock but you can buy it from scalpers on Amazon here.

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Legendary rocket scientist's 1949 science fiction novel features a Martian leader named... Elon!

In 1949, pioneering rocket scientist (and Nazi) Wernher von Braun penned a science fiction story called "Project Mars: A Technical Tale" about a human migration to Mars in the 1980s. Turns out though that Mars is already populated by an indigenous civilization led by a government official given the title of... Elon. You'll recall that last year Elon Musk, who is leading the commercial space industry with SpaceX, is very focused on Mars habitation, suggesting we need to get one million people there over the next 50 years. I wonder if Elon is there waiting for Elon. From Project Mars (aka The Mars Project):

The Martian government was directed by ten men, the leader of whom was elected by universal suffrage for five years and entitled "Elon." Two houses of Parliament enacted the laws to be administered by the Elon and his cabinet.

The Upper House was called the Council of the Elders and was limited to a membership of 60 persons, each being appointed for life by the Elon as vacancies occurred by death. In principle, the method was not unlike that by which the College of Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church is appointed. Usually the Elon chose historians, churchmen, former cabinet members or successful economic leaders who could offer lifetimes of valuable experience.

"'WTF? This 1949 Science Fiction Novel by a Legendary Rocket Designer Names the Leader of Martian Civilization as 'Elon'" (Daily Grail)

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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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Kickstarting a replica of the original Pioneer Plaque, manufactured by the original craftsman

You know what would go great with your Voyager Golden Record? A replica of the "galactic greeting card" plaque that rode along with the Pioneer 10 and 11 probes, designed by Frank Drake and Carl Sagan with artwork prepared by Linda Salzman Sagan. Read the rest

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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How many humans and animals have died while on space missions?

Second Thought takes a brisk stroll through the historical death toll for earth creatures sent into space. Let's just say you didn't want to be a space monkey in the mid-20th century. Read the rest

Complete orbit of the moon from NASA Lunar Orbiter

From @LRO_NASA:

"A huge payoff from the longevity of the LRO mission is the repeat coverage obtained by the LROC Wide Angle Camera (WAC). The WAC has a very wide field-of-view (FOV), 90° in monochrome mode and 60° in multispectral mode, hence its name. On the one hand, the wide FOV enables orbit-to-orbit stereo, which allowed LROC team members at the DLR to create the unprecedented 100 meter scale near-global (0° to 360° longitude and 80°S to 80°N latitude) topographic map of the Moon."

See also NASA Goddard's Tour of the Moon, especially if your love for it was formed in the last century:

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Watch 'Dot of Light,' inspiring documentary on female astronauts

This lovely short subject documentary gives some cool insights into the awe-inspiring experience of space travel, as told by several women who have had the honor of doing so. Imagine shedding a tear at the beauty, then laughing as it floats away. Read the rest

Saturn's weird "Flying Saucer" moon

Saturn's moon Atlas is said to look like a flying saucer. The Cassini probe took a close look on its way to Titan, whizzing 7,000km from the tiny world. To me it looks like one of those soft, dusty banana-flavored chews you get in the very cheapest candy bags.

These raw, unprocessed images of Saturn's moon, Atlas, were taken on April 12, 2017, by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The flyby had a close-approach distance of about 7,000 miles (11,000 kilometers). These images are the closest ever taken of Atlas and will help to characterize its shape and geology. Atlas (19 miles, or 30 kilometers across) orbits Saturn just outside the A ring -- the outermost of the planet's bright, main rings.

Here's the full animation, from NASA: Read the rest

Night sky time lapses, but with the ground spinning instead of the stars

If you vomit, do be considerate and try not to let it land on the moon. [via Metafilter] Read the rest

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