Despite all the attention lavished on Moon dust, we still don't know what effect the stuff has on human lungs ... which is kind of a big deal, considering the fact that the dust has busted through every vacuum seal its ever faced. And eaten through layers of moon boots. Basically, you can imagine Moon dust as those tiny shards that get left on the floor when you break a glass and inevitably end up embedded in your foot four days later. At The New Yorker
, Kate Green writes about efforts to better understand the effects of Moon dust on various materials
and how engineers are trying to find new ways to control it before humans return to the lunar surface.
I got to see a bunch of the lovely, retro-futuristic themed housewares and jewelry from Musuem of Robots at a show last week, and they're beautiful, well-crafted, and really up my street. Especially lovely are the rocketship and planet pendants (above), made with naturally swirled agates and adorable pewter rocketships. They also do rayguns, and, of course, robots
Museum of Robots
Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Dennis Overbye, in the New York Times: "Astronomers reported that there could be as many as 40 billion habitable Earth-size planets in the galaxy, based on a new analysis of data from NASA’s Kepler spacecraft."
The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle lifts off at 0908 GMT (4:08 a.m. EST; 2:38 p.m. local time) from India's Satish Dhawan Space Center. Photo: ISRO
Today, India makes space history: its low-cost Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle blasted off with the nation's first mission to Mars. More at Spaceflight Now
BB colleague Ariel Waldman, creator of Spacehack and global instigator of Science Hack Day says:
I'm an appointed National Academy of Sciences committee member of a congressionally-requested study on the future of human spaceflight. The Committee on Human Spaceflight has been tasked with a study to review the long-term goals, core capabilities, and direction of the U.S. human spaceflight program and make recommendations to enable a sustainable U.S. human spaceflight program. Committees regularly request white papers as a way of soliciting public input - however, I'm leading the charge on the NAS's first ever endeavor to solicit public input via Twitter!
#HumansInSpace at Twitter
On Tuesday, October 29, any tweets with the hashtag #HumansInSpace will be used as *direct input* to the Committee on Human Spaceflight. Specifically, we'd like people to respond to: "What are your best ideas for creating a NASA human spaceflight program that is sustainable over the next several decades?". The official website for the campaign is here.
To me, this is a huge (and more accessible) way to make sure we hear from a wide array of people, and I'd absolutely love to make sure to get everyone who follows Boing Boing to have their voice be included.
Esquire Kazakhstan features photos of the country's decaying Soviet space murals, which do not have protected status, and are coming to bits. They're still towering, heroic Soviet Realist paeans to space travel, sorrowful as they may be.
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Jellyfish born in space have "massive vertigo" when they are brought to Earth, and apparently lack the gravity-sensing capabilities that their terrestrial cousins develop early on. They display "abnormal pulsing and movement" in gravity, apparently due to a malfunctioning of a mechanism that uses small calcium sulfate crystals to sense up and down (similar to our own otoliths). This does not bode well for human babies born in space.
Plus, as JWZ notes, "Space-Born Jellyfish Hate Life On Earth" is the greatest science headline ever.
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The SpaceX Grasshopper's latest launch—and graceful descent!—captured by a drone-mounted camera. Grasshopper was most recently seen terrifying the cows.
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Afate is a Togolese hacker who uses the WoeLab makerspace in Lome, Togo (the first makerspace in west Africa). He's invented a 3D printer made out of the ewaste that is piled high in neighborhood-sized ewaste dumps in Agbogbloshie, near Accra, Ghana. He's raised money on Ulule to standardize the printer, called the W.AFATE, so that anyone can turn ewaste into a 3D printer. The W.AFATE design has already won NASA's Space App challenge with a concept for building trashbot 3D printers on distant planets.
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Holy. Smokes. Randall "XKCD" Munroe has had an asteroid named after him. Good old 4292 is big enough to wipe out life on Earth, but alas, its Mars/Jupiter orbit is boringly stable. Still, there's hope it will decay eventually, and create the splash Randy deserves!
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The good news: There's a contingency plan for this sort of thing
, involving the use an emergency jetpack that can (hopefully) stabilize you and help you maneuver back to the ISS. The bad news: If the jetpack fails, you're pretty much screwed. And you've got 7.5 hours
of breathable air to consume while you think about that fact.
This lovely stuffed toy dinosaur was created by ISS/Nasa flight engineer Karen Nyberg for her three year old son, created from scraps left aboard the station. She uploaded the pic to Pintrest. As Collectspace recounts, this may be the first stuffed toy made in space.
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At 3:00 Eastern today, science journalist Lee Billings will be doing a Reddit Ask Me Anything
. Lee has been a guest blogger at BoingBoing
in the past. His specialty is exoplanets, the worlds that exist beyond our own solar system. Bring him your questions about the Kepler space telescope, human exploration of the galaxy, the likelihood of alien life (and of us finding it), and more.
First, neither the authors of the paper, nor the journal its published in, have the best track record for careful work, well-documented research, or non-hyperbolic results. More important, the actual paper, itself, makes claims it can't back up
. Case in point, says Phil Plait, the alien in question is a particle the authors assume is part of a diatom — a single-celled plant. The paper actually says "assume", and, from the sounds of things, they haven't even checked out that basic, important idea with a diatom expert.
If a Saturn V rocket had ever exploded on the launchpad, it would have been a catastrophic event. NASA engineers once calculated that the resulting fireball would have been 1048 feet wide and would have hit temperatures as high as 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. In the hopes of not losing astronauts or launch crew to the inferno, NASA tricked out the Apollo launchpad with some safety systems that still exist today, including an underground, rubber-lined bunker that was accessible from the launch platform via a 200-foot twisty slide. (Which almost sounds like fun, until you consider the context.)
Amy Shira Teitel is one of the few people who have been inside the rubber room recently. In the video above, and she shares photos and stories about it in the video above, at her blog, and on Discovery.com.
Are you the kind of person who could lie in bed for 70 days for science? If so, you could make $18,000 in a NASA study of microgravity
. The catch (because lying on your back for 70 days wasn't already enough of a catch): The bed will be tilted 6 degrees towards your head, forcing bodily fluids upwards and replicating what happens to your cardiovascular system in microgravity environments.
Whether or not Voyager I has actually left the solar system, one thing is certain — it never would have made it far enough to have a debate if it weren't for the help of plutonium-238. The isotope has been crucial for powering spacecraft — there's 10 pounds of the stuff in the batteries of Curiosity. But supplies are very, very limited. In fact, the US scientific stockpile is down to 36 pounds. All of it spoken for. What happens to space exploration when there's no more plutonium-238?
Dave Mosher investigates at Wired.