On Sunday, NASA launched three PhoneSats into orbit. House in a standard "cubesat" structures, a Google-HTC Nexus One serves as the onboard computer and sensor system, taking photos of Earth. Aamateur radio operators are monitoring the transmissions and picking up data packets that will be recombined here on Earth. According to a NASA press release, the use of commercial-of-the-shelf parts, a minimalist design, and limited mission requirements kept the cost of each satellite as low as $3500. PhoneSat: NASA's Smartphone Nanosatellite
This morning, Marketplace Tech Report had a story on a new cellulose-based building material that could be made by genetically engineered bacteria — altered versions of the bacteria that naturally make stuff like kombucha. This tech sounds like it's got a long way to go from laboratory to the real world, but if they can perfect the process and make it large enough quantities, what you'd end up with a strong, inexpensive goop that could be used to build everything from medical dressings, to digital paper, to spaceships. Yes, you could theoretically use this stuff to make rocket casings, according to R. Malcolm Brown, Jr.
, a professor of cell biology at UT Austin. And if you can build a rocket from this stuff, you could also break the same material back down into an edible, high-fiber foodstuff. — Maggie
Two of the five planets seen circling a distant star may be capable of supporting life, reports the team operating the Kepler Space Telescope. Relatively close to Earth's size and within their sun's habitable zone, the worlds—1200 light years away—are the most tantalizing yet in a search that began in 2009. [The Atlantic]
For hand towels, astronauts get those little vacuum-packed pucks that you kind of have to unravel into a towel. But what happens when you actually put the towels to use?
Two Nova Scotia high school students, Kendra Lemke and Meredith Faulkner, submitted this experiment to Canadian Space Agency and got to see astronaut Chris Hadfield actually test it out on the ISS. The results are seriously extraordinary and you need to see them.
Tonight is Yuri's Night — a holiday celebrating the first human spaceflight. You can throw a Yuri's Night party yourself, or simply join one of the 340 parties that are already scheduled
. Scheduled events range from the ubiquitous "let's drink vodka shots in a Russian restaurant" to more kid-friendly, telescope-centric themes. And this year, you can even virtually join the Mars Curiosity Rover as it throws itself the first Yuri's Night party to be held on another planet
. (Which, frankly, sounds a little lonely and sad, so hopefully people turn up for the virtual side of that shindig.) — Maggie
Want to build a DIY version of the Hubble Space Telescope? I posted last year that the Vehicle Power Interface Console used at the Goddard Flight Center during pre-launch testing of the HST was for sale on eBay for $75,000. Well, now the seller has significantly sweetened the deal by throwing in this stately and elegant two-person HST control console presumably also used during pre-launch testing. "NASA ARTIFACT VPI Vehicle Power Interface Rack & Console Hubble Space Telescope"
Etsy seller Shenova (who also does some nice-looking, science-y leggings), makes these $135 Mars Curiosity rover dresses to order:
This super special space chic fashion forward dress has a real NASA image from the Mars Curiosity Rover, also with a rover "track" print on the other side. It it made from custom printed non-fading, durable Lycra stretch fabric with a cotton stretch black backing for a lovely slimming effect. There is also a cute silver strap detail at the top. Very comfortable fabric, easy fitting.
The Curiosity lettering is hand studded with crystals for extra fanciness. You'll surely impress your friends with this one! Hem is 32" but can be adjusted if you add a note.
NASA Mars Curiosity Print Rover Dress Space Chic
A television company in Holland is seeking volunteers for a one-way trip to Mars. The good news is that the sort of people who would volunteer to be on a reality TV show will be on a one-way trip to Mars.
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: Yet more evidence that (as a society) we aren't very good at prioritizing preventative measures against long-term risks. — Maggie
Photographer Göran Strand created this stunning time-lapse video made from photographs of the aurora borealis as seen from Östersund, Sweden on March 17, 2013. The video consists of 2,464 images taken over four hours. The extreme intensity of the aurora borealis display resulted from a huge solar storm spurred by two solar flares that erupted on March 6.
Canadian Space Agency astronaut and flight engineer Chris Hadfield watches a water bubble float freely between him and the camera in the Unity node of the International Space Station. Hadfield became the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station on March 13. [NASA]
Artist concept of NASA's Voyager spacecraft. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The Voyager 1 space craft, which was launched in 1977 to explore outer planets, has entered a new region on its way out of our solar system.
It's now more than 11 billion miles (18 billion km) away from Earth and it detected "two distinct and related changes in its environment on August 25, 2012," according to a paper published in Geophysical Research Letters today and reported by Reuters earlier this week. "The probe detected dramatic changes in the levels of two types of radiation, one that stays inside the solar system, the other which comes from interstellar space."
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Aerospace contractor Bo Jiang
, who is accused by U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf
(R-VA) of being a spy, made a first appearance in federal court on Monday. The Chinese national worked on contract at NASA's Langley's Research Center in Hampton, VA.
Federal agents grabbed him over the weekend just as he was boarding a flight from Dulles airport (in DC) to Beijing. He is charged with making false statements to U.S. authorities by failing to disclose all of the electronic devices he was carrying on his one-way flight, and has since been jailed.
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Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos has exciting news out today. Apollo mission F-1 enginges have been recovered from the bottom of the sea.
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Technicians complete the primary mirror backplane support structure wing assemblies for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope at ATK's Space Components facility in Magna, Utah. ATK recently completed the fabrication of the primary mirror backplane support structure wing assemblies for prime contractor Northrop Grumman on the Webb telescope. Photo: Northrop Grumman/ATK, via NASA.
Aerospace contractor Alliant Techsystems is building what will be the world's largest space telescope in Magna, Utah. When completed, the James Webb Space Telescope is designed to be at least 100 times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope, and will open our eyes to never-before-seen planets and galaxies. There's a Webb cam (hurr hurr, get it?) on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope website, where you can observe the construction process. They reached one big milestone on Friday, with the completion of a support structure wing, shown in the photograph above. (Thanks, @bwjones!)