Weird light photographed on Mars

A strange light was visible in photos of Mars like the one above taken by the Curiosity rover last week. Is it a beacon from an underground extraterrestrial base as some UFO researchers suggest, or simply sunlight glinting from a shiny rock? NASA claims it's likely the latter, but what do they know. Read the rest

Meteoroid just misses skydiver

A video recently posted on YouTube appears to show a falling meteoroid just missing a skydiver in Norway. Fast forward to 1:31 to see it streak past.

"If you work out the mathematics, the odds of a 1-kilogram- rock (2.2 lbs.) passing within some 30 feet (9.1 meters) of a person on Earth's surface within 10 minutes is about 1 in 500 billion," Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office told "You have a 1,000 times greater chance of winning the Powerball lottery."

UPDATE: Over at Slate, Phil "Bad Astronmy" Plait wrote, "It is entirely possible that what the video shows is a smaller rock that fell out of the skydiver’s parachute." Read the rest

Space history auction on Tuesday

On Tuesday, Bonhams auction house will put a massive collection of space history items on the block for sale. The Space History Sale features patches, signed ephemera, autographed lunar globe and actual hardware that made it to the moon. For example, at right, the polarizing camera filter used by Apollo 15 astronaut James Irwin is expected to go for $20,000 to $30,000. Above, one of only three known castings of Buzz Aldrin's moon boot, also valued at around $20,000 to $30,000. There's also a Mercury period spacesuit estimated at $8,000 to $12,000.

"We have items that came directly from astronauts, items that they carried into lunar orbit with them, items that went to the lunar surface and items that have lunar dust on them," says Bonhams space history expert Cassandra Hatton.

"Space history auction includes Apollo items, Mercury spacesuit" (AP) (Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!)

Bonhams: The Space History Sale Read the rest

Peaceful Panda Planet

'shoop: @xeni. We've been @darth'd. Read the rest

Excerpt: first two chapters of Karl Schroeder's Lockstep

Yesterday, I reviewed Karl Schoeder's first YA novel, Lockstep, which combines genuinely brilliant techno-social speculation with a driving, exciting adventure plot.

Today I'm delighted to present the first two chapters of Lockstep, courtesy of Tor Books, so you can get a taste for this book yourself. As I wrote yesterday: Buy a copy for your favorite kid -- and another for yourself. And remember, Schroeder is launching the book at Toronto's Bakka Phoenix Books this Saturday at 3PM. Read the rest

Lockstep: Karl Schroeder's first YA novel is a triumph of weird science, deep politics, and ultimate adventure

As I've written before, Karl Schroeder is one of the sharpest, canniest thinkers about technology and science fiction I know. In the nearly 30 years I've know him, he's introduced me to fractals, free software, Unix, listservers, SGML, augmented reality, the Singularity, and a host of other ideas -- generally 5-10 years before I heard about these ideas from anyone else. What's more, he's a dynamite novelist with a finely controlled sense of character and plot to go with all those Big Ideas.

Now he's written his first young adult novel, Lockstep, and it is a triumph. Read the rest

Gallery of space colony art from the 1970s

Here's a terrific gallery of images from NASA's archives imagining life in space colonies. They were made in the 1970s so everything and everyone looks like they are from the 1970s.

Space Colony Art from the 1970s Read the rest

How do Muslims pray in space?

Pesco's post earlier today about a cleric who issued a fatwa against one-way trips to Mars got me wondering about how Muslim prayer works off-planet. After all, the timing and orientation of those daily prayers are based on Earth time and Earth geography. Fascinatingly, the Malaysian Space Agency actually convened a conference of 150 Islamic scientists and scholars to answer those very questions back in 2006. In a video, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, the first Malaysian astronaut, explains how life on the ISS changed (and didn't change) his religious life. (Thank you, Ty!) Read the rest

Fatwa against one-way trip to Mars

Muslims aren't permitted to take a one-way trip to Mars, at least according to a Khaleej Times report about a fatwa they say was issued by the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment in the United Arab Emirates. “Such a one-way journey poses a real risk to life, and that can never be justified in Islam... there is a possibility that an individual who travels to planet Mars may not be able to remain alive there, and is more vulnerable to death.” From the Khaleej Times:
Whoever opts for this “hazardous trip”, the committee said, is likely to perish for no “righteous reason”, and thus will be liable to a “punishment similar to that of suicide in the Hereafter”.

The committee, presided by Professor Dr Farooq Hamada, said: “Protecting life against all possible dangers and keeping it safe is an issue agreed upon by all religions and is clearly stipulated in verse 4/29 of the Holy Quran: Do not kill yourselves or one another. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful.”

One-way trip to Mars prohibited in Islam Read the rest

India sending spacecraft to Mars for about 75% of 'Gravity' film budget

The Mangalyaan Mars Orbiter Spacecraft mounted in a rocket at the Satish Dhawan Space Center in India. Photo: Indian Space Research Organization, via NYT.

Saritha Rai, reporting for the New York Times on India’s recent launch of a spacecraft to Mars: "It is the $75 million mission’s thrifty approach to time, money and materials that is getting attention. Just days after the launch of India’s Mangalyaan satellite, NASA sent off its own Mars mission, five years in the making, named Maven. Its cost: $671 million. The budget of India’s Mars mission, by contrast, was just three-quarters of the $100 million that Hollywood spent on last year’s space-based hit, Gravity.” [] Read the rest

Like a zombie, China's Jade Rabbit lunar rover hops to life again after malfunction

A photograph of the giant screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center shows photo of the Yutu, or "Jade Rabbit" lunar rover taken by the camera on the Chang'e 3 probe during the mutual-photograph process, in Beijing December 15, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

Earlier this week, it looked like China's malfunctioning lunar rover might be headed for the junk pile. But the week ends with great news: "Yutu has come back to life!" spokesperson Pei Zhaoyu told a Chinese state-run news agency. The probe " went into sleep under an abnormal status," he added.

The rover isn't out of the space woods yet: While normal signal reception capabilities have reportedly been restored, the cause of the initial issues remains unclear -- as does whether they can be fixed. But Pei says Jade Rabbit "stands a chance of being saved now that it is still alive."
A well-linked roundup at the Washington Post. Read the rest

Victorian mansion for sale with spaceship attic

There are lots of £3,250,000 mansions around London's Crystal Palace, but there aren't many whose attics have been converted to spaceship control rooms. The estate-agent-ese in the posting is enough to melt your eyeballs, but I gather that this place is has 8 bedrooms, is about 7,000sqft, and is both Gothic Grade II and Victorian Grade II listed (or possibly these are interchangeable).

11 bedroom detached house for sale (via Geekologie) Read the rest

Digitized items from the Carl Sagan archive go live on the Library of Congress site

The Library of Congress has acquired The Seth MacFarlane Collection of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive, and has begun to catalog and digitize the materials in it, posting them to the library's website. The scanned materials include Sagan's personal papers, and are divided into three categories: models of the cosmos throughout history; history of the possibility of life on other worlds; Carl Sagan's life and contributions to science and society." Read the rest

Model spaceships inspired by classic science fiction paperback covers

Grant Louden is an artist in Milton Keynes who is working on a series of incredible sculptures based on the spaceships from classic sf pulp covers. The first one is Star Dwellers, based on Colin Hay's cover for James Blish's novel. Louden collaborated with Hay on the piece, and officially licensed it. The build is an amazing mix of Fimo, model parts, car body filler, and custom castings in rubber and resin. Needless to say, the detail is fantastic. Read the rest

Remembering the space shuttle Challenger disaster, 28 years later

[Click for large size.] Read the rest

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