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.
By now, you've seen the amphibian invariably referred to in the press as "an unfortunate frog" being lifted towards the heavens after it wandered too close to a NASA launch pad in Virginia. But did you know that this frog was not the first to try (and fail) to reach space?
At The Guardian, Jason Goldman writes about the history of frogs in space (or, at least, frogs that were briefly pointed at space), which dates all the way back to September 19, 1959, when the US Air Force attempted to send up two frogs on board a Jupiter AM-23 rocket. Why frogs? Goldman explains:
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This stunning animation of the Moon's rotation was made from images captured by NASA's Lunar Reconissance Orbiter's Wide Angle Camera (WAC). "A Unique View of the Moon" (Arizona State University)
Rogue librarian Megan Prelinger is co-founder of the incredible Prelinger Library, an independent, public research library of outré ephemera, (un)popular culture, curious maps, forgotten periodicals, and other 19th and 20th century high weirdness on paper. Megan is also a space geek who explored her offworld interests by examining the mid-20th century space race through its impact on advertising, corporate messaging, and graphic design. Megan synthesized that research into a magnificent book titled Another Science Fiction: Advertising the Space Race 1957 - 1962. That book served as the launch pad for Megan's fascinating, inspiring, and beautiful talk at our Boing Boing: Ingenuity theatrical event in San Francisco on August 18.
Boing Boing: Ingenuity in partnership with Ford C-Max.
Don Petit is one of my favorite American astronauts. He's made some great science videos during three different trips to the International Space Station. This video was made on Planet Earth, but it's still fascinating. When Pettit's fellow astronaut Mike Massimino found himself with a broken BBQ grill, he called up Pettit to come help fix it. Why call an astronaut to fix your BBQ? Because experiments in understanding the fundamentals of combustion and space station safety gave Pettit an edge in figuring out how to make the Earth-bound grill work.
That's one giant leap for a frog beside NASA's LADEE spacecraft lifting off last Friday at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. (via @NASA on Instagram)
In 1910, Walter Goodacre published a map of the Moon, created over the course of several decades using nothing more high-tech than a good quality backyard telescope. Goodacre was an amateur astronomer. He didn't have access to top-of-the-line observatory. But he did have a knack for detail and willingness to painstakingly record his observations of the Moon with pen and paper, eventually producing a map that's accurate to a few kilometers. (In contrast, the high-definition images that we get today from lunar orbiters show details at a scale of a few meters.)
University College London has an explorable version of Goodacre's map on their website, along with scans from his 1910 book that broke the map up into sections. (As art, the sections are almost more intriguing than the full, stitched-together image.) It's all part of a larger collection of historic space images, photos from the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, and Venus.
Since October of 2010, "What's Up In the Solar System" has provided monthly updates on the various locations of humanity's many space probes. The picture above is for September 2013. It's a nice reminder of two sort of mind blowing facts. First, we have a LOT more probes out there than you probably remember off the top of your head, all collecting data and representing on behalf of this planet. Second, almost half those probes are clustered around two places — the Earth and Mars. We have come so far. We still have so far to go.