Boing Boing 

You can cry in space, but it's not recommended

Robert Frost 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

What exploded over Russia? Space researchers explore, with infrasound sensors

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).

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Video of asteroid DA14 near Earth last week

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)

Kepler Aria: Belgrade punks rocking out with lyrics by Bruce Sterling

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

A gravity map of the Moon

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.

A brief history of space monkeys and spies

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.

To do this Sunday: astronaut Chris Hadfield's Reddit AMA

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.

Pizza and beer on Mars

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.

Russian Meteor Q&A with Smithsonian meteor expert, and a peek inside a meteor clean room

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.

Meteor explodes over Russia

A meteor has exploded over Chelyabinsk , 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]

Astronaut duvet cover


€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.

Astronaut (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

1967: The year we thought we made contact

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.

To watch: NOVA's "Earth From Space"

The PBS science program NOVA aired a two-hour special last night with space-based visions of our planet. "Earth From Space" was produced in consultation with NASA scientists, and transforms data from earth-observing satellites into "dazzling visual sequences, each one exposing the intricate and surprising web of forces that sustains life on earth." livescience.com has a Q&A with Executive Producer Paula Apsell. It'll be out on blu-ray in April.

Astronaut and Barenaked Ladies sing together

Members of the Barenaked Ladies performed their song 'I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing)' over a video-link with Chris Hadfield, who is on the International Space Station:

Watch the video above as astronaut Chris Hadfield, from aboard the International Space Station, performs "I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing)" with Ed Robertson, the rest of the Barenaked Ladies and the Wexford Gleeks from Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts, who were all at the CBC studios in Toronto.

The song, which was written by Hadfield and Robertson in partnership with Music Monday, CBC Music and the Canadian Space Agency, explores what it's like to look down on the Earth from outer space. It will also be the official song for the 2013 edition of Music Monday, which takes place on May 6.

blog post Space jam: watch the premiere of 'I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing)'

Freaky face on the International Space Station

In space, no one can hear the pareidolia scream. (NASA footage of the International Space Station.)

Hello Kitty launched into space by 7th grader

12-year-old Lauren Rojas and her dad, Rod, built a balloon-lofted Hello Kitty space-capsule for her science fair project in Antioch, CA, and launched it 17 miles above the Earth's surface, recording its journey with video cameras and various sensors. The video is spectacular, especially the moments right before and right after the balloon burst and the parachutes deployed.

“We spent about one month planning and executing it,” he said. “We used a company called High Altitude Science in Colorado to get the equipment, the weather balloon and flight computer.”

Lauren and her father mounted small video cameras on their rocket-shaped gondola to record Hello Kitty’s journey. The balloon reached an altitude of 93,625 feet (17.73 miles), Rojas said. There, the air was so thin that the balloon burst, sending Hello Kitty from the sky. It landed in a tree 47 miles from the launch site, according to Rojas.

Girl Launches Hello Kitty Doll Into Space [Katie Kindelan/ABC]

(via IO9)

Watch Astronaut Chris Hadfield chat William Shatner live from space

On Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, Astronaut Chris Hadfield will speak with William Shatner live from space. The webcast will be here. Hadfield sounds pretty stoked!

Patent drawing for an X-Wing


Avi Solomon popped this patent-drawing for a hypothetical X-Wing fighter patent into the Boing Boing Flickr pool.

If Star Wars was a patent: X-Wing Fighter

3D printed moon-base


The European Space Agency is contemplating 3D printed moon-bases:

By using the Moon’s loose rocks (regolith) as a base for concrete, robots based on Monolite’s D-Shape 3-D printer will be able to build up a structure that uses as many local materials as possible. The idea is that with a shell made of moon rocks to act as a shield against micro-meteors and similar hazards, the living quarters for moon colonists could be inflatable envelopes protected by these shells.

3-D printing concrete in a vacuum is very, very different from printing it on earth. The teams have been experimenting with simulated moon rock material in vacuum chambers to find methods of construction that work. The problem being that concrete relies on applying liquids and unprotected liquids boil away when there’s no atmosphere. They discovered that by inserting the 3-D printer’s nozzle underneath the regolith, capillary forces kept enough liquid in place long enough to set properly.

This is also the premise of a novella I'm writing for Neal Stephenson/Arizona State University's Heiroglyphyics project. Nice to see reality clipping along!

3-D Printed Buildings Coming Soon to a Moon Near You [Tim Maly/Wired]

Illustrated portraits of woman astronauts


Artist Philip J Bond created a set of illustrations depicting the women who've been to space. They're beautiful and full of personality and style, and really do justice to their subjects. I just showed these to my five year old daughter, and she was as entranced as I was.

Working for months at a time just penciling a comic book I started these portraits to get a bit of inking and colouring out of my system. I shouldn't say 'portraits', I'm not going for much of a likeness. Usually I'll glance at a couple of photographs and then go off and draw a vague impression. Margaret Seddon is blonde, Judith Resnik is a bit barmy looking, that sort of thing.

astronauts

Snap-fit 3D printable airship can also form the base of a Saturn V rocket


RealAbsurdity's "Modular Snap-Fit Airship" on Thingiverse is a 3D-printable toy whose parts can interchangeably form part of a Saturn V rocket. More snap-fit vehicles are planned.

This is a fully modular snap-fit (no glue required) model of an Airship. It is the vanilla base for a series of absurd mashups that currently includes a Trireme and a Saturn V rocket. Designed for 3D print, it comes in two flavors: solid and shell.

Modular Snap-Fit Airship (Thanks, crystlem!)

Meet Curiosity rover's earthbound sibling


Photo: Glenn Fleishman

Go and check out Glenn Fleishman's fantastic set of photos from the Jet Propulsion Lab's sandbox, where the scientists get to hang out and play with one of Curiosity rover's siblings.

Astronaut Chris Hadfield's otherworldly Earth landscapes, from space

"Venezuelan valley framed by misty clouds - mysterious, beautiful and surreal."—Chris Hadfield

As I've blogged before, Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield is currently living in space aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as Flight Engineer on Expedition 34 and he has been tweeting absolutely stunning photographs of Earth. Follow him on Twitter, for daily photo updates. Hadfield has captured some of the devastating floods hitting Australia this week, in images like the one below.

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Notes on making a stitched panorama with a 100,000' balloon-cam

Caleb sends us an article, "Wherein I present the results of and detail the technical feats needed to stitch together imagery from six cameras into interactive fully spherical imagery and video taken from a balloon sent up to nearly 100,000 feet. (*phew*)"

There are some other factors that come into play with panorama stitching. You want to avoid placing control points on objects that move between images taken. Typical panoramas are done with one camera being rotated after each photo is taken. Objects that move between photos taken that have control points on them will severely hinder the stitching process.

You also want to avoid placing control points on objects at largely different distances from the lens. Don’t mix control points between objects a couple feet away and a hundred feet away as the optimizer won’t be able to make them fit to one transform. I’m able to mostly ignore this issue at very high altitudes as everything is so far away that the difference between the closer and the further objects is so slight that it doesn’t do much to negatively impact the optimization. Of course, that means I don’t allow any control points to be placed on anything attached to the camera payload, including the parachute and the balloon.

In order to place control points you have to have common features. That’s why you need the overlap between images. The more overlap the better the result. In the sample images above we have one image, the fourth, that isn’t able to be connected to any of the others. And it’s not because there’s no overlap. There are three issues with the fourth image that presents us from finding control points in it.

Operation StratoSphere – Conclusion (Thanks, Caleb!)

Punk Voyager: when the punks launched their own space-probe

"Punk Voyager" is this week's story on the Escape Pod podcast, and it is fucking amazing. It's Shaenon Garrity story about punks at the twilight of the 1970s who are drunkenly outraged to discover that the Voyager probe has been launched with classical music records for aliens. They build their own Voyager probe out of garbage, razor-blades, beer cans and a surfboard some douchebag left on the beach, filled with all the most important human artifacts that they can find in their van. They forget about it as the 80s roar in, and then the aliens come to Earth and cockpunch Ronald Reagan.

Fuck yeah.

Punk Voyager was built by punks. They made it from beer cans, razors, safety pins, and a surfboard some D-bag had left on the beach. Also plutonium. Where did they get plutonium? Around. Fuck you.

The punks who built Punk Voyager were Johnny Bonesaw, Johnny Razor, Mexican Johnny D-bag, Red Viscera, and some other guys. No, asshole, nobody remembers what other guys. They were Fucking wasted, these punks. They’d been drinking on the San Diego beach all day and night, talking about making a run to Tijuana and then forgetting and punching each other. They’d built a fire on the beach, and all night the fire went up and went down while the punks threw beer cans at the seagulls.

Forget the shit I just said, it wasn’t the punks who did it. They were Fucking punks. The hell they know about astro-engineering? Truth is that Punk Voyager was the strung-out masterpiece of Mexican Johnny D-bag’s girlfriend, Lacuna, who had a doctorate in structural engineering. Before she burned out and ran for the coast, Lacuna was named Alice McGuire and built secret nuclear submarines for a government contractor in Ohio. It sucked. But that was where she got the skills to construct an unmanned deep-space probe. Same principle, right? Keep the radiation in and the water out. Or the vacuum of space, whatever, it’s all the same shit to an engineer.

Fuck that, it wasn’t really Lacuna’s baby. It wasn’t her idea. The idea was Red’s.

“Fucking space,” he said that fateful night. He was lying on his back looking up at space, is why he said it.

“Hell yeah,” said Johnny Bonesaw.

Punk Voyager

Asteroid mining to commence in 2015

It is definitely now the future.

A new venture is joining the effort to extract mineral resources on asteroids. The announcement of plans by Deep Space Industries to exploit the rare metals present in the space rocks turns asteroid mining into a two-horse race. The other venture, Planetary Resources, went public with its proposals last year.

Unloading supplies onto the International Space Station

As Matt Lynley put it, "Meanwhile, in space ..."

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Astronaut Chris Hadfield is photo-tweeting Earth, from space

Huge swirls in the sea off of Mumbai, India. Photo: Chris Hadfield/NASA

Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield, who is currently living in space aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as Flight Engineer on Expedition 34 (and soon to be Commander of Expedition 35 in March 2013), has been tweeting some gorgeous snapshots of earth as seen from space. Follow him on Twitter, for daily photo updates.

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How to clip your fingernails in space

I found this video in Reddit's Learn Useless Talents section. In my reality this won't be useless for long!

Horde of space GIFs

4chan's worksafe GIF board– a treasure trove of excellent content before it hits the social media tracts –has a great thread of space GIFs up now. I've selected a few of the best here.

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