UPDATE: NASA says probably not. (NYT)
On Saturday, a falling meteorite is thought to have killed V. Kamaraj, a bus driver at Bharathidasan Engineering College in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
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.
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."
Here are NASA Administrator Charles Bolden's remarks on his death:
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).
Studio Brussels asked astronomers at Belgium's MIRA Public Observatory to select stars that would make a fitting asterism in memory of David Bowie. (Of course, only the International Astronomical Union can officially name stars and other astronomical objects, and it's almost always with a number.)
Three strange metal spheres fell from the sky in Vietnam's Tuyen Quang province. They range in size and weight, with the smallest at 250 grams and the largest at 45 kilograms. According to the Ministry of Defense, they are likely compressed air tanks from an aircraft or rocket. That said, Nguyen Khoa Son of the National Research Program on Space Science and Technology suggests that they could be debris from a failed satellite launch. Apparently the balls were made in Russia.
Every other week, it seems, an exciting new discovery crops up in a distant star system. The latest is Wolf 1061c, the closest Earth-like world yet found, barely a probe's throw away at 14 light years. But this got me thinking: which is the least interesting exoplanet yet discovered?
To my inexpert eye, OGLE 2005 BLG-390Lb looks like a terrifically boring world. Though it was scientifically interesting early in the exoplanetary race due to its tiny size and vast distance from Planet Earth, this merely makes it the Rand Paul of planets.
It's at least 18,000 light years away, so we're not getting there until we can reach billions of other, more interesting worlds. And when someone does get there, they'll find what appears to be rocky blob well out of its star's habitable zone.
It's covered in abundant elements such as ammonia and nitrogen, all frozen solid because it's so cold. Its star is believed to be a red dwarf, which is to say, very boring in its own right.
"I wish I'd had a chance to visit OGLE 2005 BLG-390Lb," no-one will ever say.
But I could, of course, be completely wrong. I'm not an astronomer, after all. Tell us in the comments which exoplanet you are most bored by!
You can now view NASA rocket launch videos in 4K high-definition glory, online.
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:
Read the rest
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.
Did Ridley Scott plan the most brutally delicious revenge against JPL or am I just making this stuff up? Read the rest
The Kepler telescope has found 685 systems with 1705 exoplanets, and you can watch them whirr around together in this mesmerizing animation by astrocubs.
The fact that the worlds and systems we've observed are so different from our own is a limitation of our observations, not of the universe.
The orbits are shown to scale, but the planets are much larger than the orbits would suggest. Otherwise you wouldn't be able to see them. The planets are not to scale with one another, either. Also, the orbits wouldn't be perfectly circular, though I guess the animator might have made the simulation adhere to the laws of planetary motion an all the observed worlds have roughly-circular orbits. Of course the solar systems aren't this close tog—look, sshhhh, just watch it, it's pretty. Read the rest
Mirror Lake will make a procedurally generated bowl for you. Sometimes the bowl is empty, which sounds like a parable, but mostly it is just a bowl. Sometimes it is in space.
Click again, and you'll be greeted with another bowl. Other features of its landscape may include: mountains, trees, stones, ponds, birds, comets, planets, stars.
Mirror Lake was created by Katie Rose Pipkin for the recent Procedural Generation Jam, which encouraged people to make generative games, tools and art—to "make something that makes something." In this case, hauntingly pretty monochromatic space bowls.
If you want to see Mirror Lake in all its odd glory, trying expanding it to full screen; make sure the sound is up so you can hear the ambient hum. Even the bugs are nice to look at:Read the rest
"Rocket" is not one of the 1,000 most common words in the English language, so it's called an "up goer" in the excellent xkcd video that explains space travel in simple terms. It's adapted from xkcd creator Randall Munroe's book, Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words." Read the rest
Astronomers have spied a cold world three times as distant from the Sun as Pluto. Read the rest