SpaceX's Dragon space capsule launched into space today, March 1, 2013, toward the International Space Station on its second cargo mission for NASA. It launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 10:10 a.m. ET. Space.com reports that
a thruster problem "has engineers scrambling to identify the cause, forcing a delay in the spacecraft's arrival at the International Space Station by at least a day." — Xeni
The latest episode of the Engadget Show is about space, and it's terrific. It's co-hosted by Brian Heater, senior editor at Engadget and our own Comics Rack reviewer!
We kick things off with a profile of LiftPort, a commercial space endeavor operating out of a small garage in rural Washington State that has been funding its dreams of space elevators through crowdfunded Kickstarter campaigns. Next, we head out to Cape Canaveral in Florida, where Swamp Works has set up shop in an old Apollo training facility. NASA scientists will tell us about some of the organization's far-out plans for getting to Mars and back and 3D printing structures on lunar and planetary surfaces once we arrive.
The Engadget Show 41: 'Space' with NASA, SETI, Liftport and Mary Roach
If your mental image of futuristic human colonies in space involves tubular ships, rolling hills, and a population seemingly plucked from a cocktail party in Sausalito in 1972, chances are good that you've been influenced by the art of Rick Guidice and Don Davis — illustrators commissioned by NASA to envision human homes among the stars. At Discover.com, Veronique Greenwood writes about these artists and the lasting impact they've had on science and science fiction
. — Maggie
trains astronauts for NASA
. At Quora, he answered an interesting question about what happens when astronauts cry. It's certainly happened, Frost says. But it's pretty uncomfortable. Without the aid of gravity to send tears streaming down your face, they just ball up around your eyes — Maggie
The bizarre explosion in the skies over in Russia on Feb. 15, 2013 left scientists dumfounded. The asteroid 2012 DA14 was expected
to pass some 17K miles over Indonesia, but the Russian impactor wasn't foreseen: it flew from the direction of the sun where telescopes couldn't see it, and surprised everyone hours before the more-publicized asteroid's flyby.
A NASA news item today explains how scientists are piecing together what happened, using infrasound sensors operated by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).
Read the rest
Last week, asteroid 2012 DA14 flew relatively close to Earth. The asteroid is about 150 feet in diameter and passed about 17,000 miles above Earth's surface. NASA has just released a movie compiling 72 radar images of DA14 captured over 8 hours with the Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, California. I had no idea that DA14 was built in Minecraft. "NASA Releases Radar Movie of Asteroid 2012 DA14" (JPL)
Here's Boing Boing pal Jasmina Tesanovic performing "Kepler Aria," with lyrics by Bruce Sterling:
"Kepler Aria," the Belgrade punk rock version,
from "Ground Control: An Opera in Space
Mylutin and Bag of Dicks:
vocals: Jasmina Tesanovic
guitar: Milutin Petrovic
bass: Filip Cetkovic
drums: Vladimir Markoski
mixed by Vlatko Dragovic
Kepler Aria lyrics by Bruce Sterling
Kepler Aria:Punk Rock Star
Gravity isn't uniform. Denser planets and objects in space — that is, things with more mass to them — experience a stronger pull of gravity. But even if you zoom in to the level of a single planet (or, in this case, our Moon), gravity isn't uniform all the way around. That's because the mass of the Moon isn't uniform, either. It varies, along with the topography. In some places, the Moon's crust is thicker. Those places have more mass, and thus, more gravitational pull.
This map, showing changes in density and gravity across the surface of the Moon, was made from data collected by Ebb and Flow — a matched set of NASA probes that mapped the Moon's gravitational field before being intentionally crashed on its surface last December. By measuring the gravitational field, these probes told us a lot about how the density of the Moon varies which, in turn, tells us a lot about topography.
You can read more about the probes (and see some videos they took of the lunar surface) at the NASA Visualization Explorer.
In the late 1950s, American scientists very publicly readied a crew of monkeys for a series of trips into Earth orbit and back. As far as the researchers knew, Project Discoverer was an actual, honest-to-Ike peaceful scientific program. Naturally, they were wrong about that. In reality, their work was part of an elaborate cover-up masking a spy satellite program
. At The Primate Diaries, Eric Michael Johnson reports on some fascinating space history. — Maggie
Chris Hadfield will be doing his first live Reddit AMA
(ask me anything) Sunday, February 17 at 9:00 GMT/UTC (4 pm ET). The Canadian astronaut and current commander of the International Space Station will answer all your questions about life in space, and whatever else you care to ask. Recently, Hadfield spoke with
fellow Canadian and space-lover William Shatner; their conversation is above.
Living on Mars time is making Katie Worth fat.
The journalist is attempting to live, on Earth, as if she's operating in a Martian time zone and blogging about the experience for Scientific American. On the 15th day of her experiment, she writes about how Mars time has changed her eating habits ... and made her drinking habits a whole lot sketchier-sounding. — Maggie
Marc Fries, a research associate in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, is doing a Reddit AMA to answer questions about meteorites. There's a briefQ&A on the Smithsonian Science website with Fries, too.
And while you're at it, check out this video with Smithsonian meteorite experts Cari Corrigan and Linda Welzenbach: a look inside the Smithsonian's new Antarctic meteorite storage facility in Suitland, MD., where all Antarctic meteorites in the national collection are kept under close security and tight airlocks.
A meteor has exploded over
, a remote part of Russia 150km north of Kazahstan. The meteor's descent was captured by many video cameras (largely the ubiquitous Russian dashboard cams, it seems). There are no reports of deaths, but apparently there are now 400 reported injuries. At least one large building, a zinc factory, had its roof demolished by the explosion.
A witness in Chelyabinsk reported hearing a huge blast early in the morning and feeling a shockwave in a 19-storey building in the town centre.
The sounds of car alarms and breaking windows could be heard in the area, the witness said, and mobile phones were working intermittently. "Preliminary indications are that it was a meteorite rain," an emergency official told RIA-Novosti. "We have information about a blast at 10,000-metre altitude. It is being verified."
"I was driving to work, it was quite dark, but it suddenly became as
bright as if it was day," said Viktor Prokofiev, a 36-year-old resident of
Yekaterinburg in the Urals mountains.
"I felt like I was blinded by headlights," he told Reuters.
Meteorite explosion over Russia injures hundreds [The Guardian]
€60 is a lot to spend on your kid's duvet cover, but there's no denying that this astronaut bedding from Snurk is pretty wonderful.
(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)
What would happen if scientists suddenly stumbled upon a message from outer space? There's not actually a formal plan. No international body has ever decided whether we reply or not, and, if so, how we do it and what we say. But in 1967, we did get a dry run at a close encounter and, in the process, worked out a system of how confirm and report an alien communication that's still used today. Technology review has the story. — Maggie