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
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.
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 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]
€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!)
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.
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]
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]
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.
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!)
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.
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. Read the rest
Read the rest
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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. Read the rest
Read the rest