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.
Annalee Newitz's Stop pretending we aren't living in the Space Age is a magnificent rant on the incredibly achievements of modern space programs, and a savage indictment of the lack of imagination underpinning complaints about the failure of humans to return to the moon in force.
Read the rest
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.
Hydrazine has powered rockets since WWII. Unfortunately, it's also highly toxic.
Researchers in the U.S. and Sweden are working to create a better alternative, and may have a couple new fuels that could do the same job with less risk.
In an alternate universe — one where Americans had a LOT more enthusiasm for spending money on massive space projects
than we've ever actually demonstrated — the 1970s and 1980s might have been the era of manned missions to Mars and Venus. Amy Shira Teitel writes about how this could have been possible, using only the now-antiquated technology
that got us to the Moon and back.
Call it Schrödinger's space probe: Voyager I may or may not have left our Solar System. Some of the information the probe has collected suggests that it's slipped the surly bonds of the Sun, while other incoming data leaves scientists believing it hasn't yet crossed that boundary. Both Xeni
have written about this in the last couple years. At Nature, Alexandra Witze explains why we probably won't know exactly when Voyager leaves the Solar System
. Instead, we'll only figure it out when the probe is well past the System limits sign.
Who needs coffee when you have this little horror story
to wake you up in the morning? Money quote: "I think the liquid is too cold to be sweat, and more importantly, I can feel it increasing."
Ancient Egyptians made some really nice jewelry out of meteorites
Here's something new for the BoingBoing evil lair collection — NASA is selling the massive platforms that used to move spacecraft from the hangar to the launchpad at Kennedy Space Center. From The Guardian:
The platforms provided power and umbilical connections to Apollo and the shuttles, and had open sections for flames and rocket exhaust to pass through. "At this point Nasa is looking to gauge interest for potential use of the [platforms] and concepts for potential use," spokeswoman Tracy Young said. Proposals are due by 6 September.
I'm sure you all have some good ideas.
EDIT: I previously understood this story to mean that the whole platform/crawler system was for sale. That appears to be incorrect. You can't have the tread-wheeled vehicle. NASA will be using that. But you can buy the platform that sat on top of the vehicle.
Now, to temper this awesome news with a bit of harsh reality: Nova Delphini is not a super
nova and it's not going to be as bright an object as you're probably imagining. Discover's Corey Powell has instructions for how to spot it
(it probably won't be super obvious, especially if you're in a city) and galleries of photos
, just in case you can't see it yourself.
Here's the crew of the Apollo 1 relaxing poolside as they practice their water landings. You shoulda seen Grissom's cannonball.
Apollo 1 crew practicing a water landing in 1966. [Collective History]
I'd never seen this NASA photo of Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan before. It was taken after one of his three moonwalks with crewmate Harrison Schmitt, though you could be forgiven for assuming that Cernan just came in from a shift at the coal mine rather than a jaunt across the surface of the Moon.
At the Life, Unbounded blog, Caleb Scharf writes about the Moon dust you can see clinging to Cernan, describing it as sticky, abrasive, and gunpowder-scented. It's also not something we totally understand yet — at least, we still have a lot to learn about how Moon dust behaves on the Moon. On September 6, NASA is launching a satellite to study this very phenomenon. One thing it might figure out: Whether electrically charged particles of Moon dust might form an extremely thin and vanishingly temporary "atmosphere" that hovers and falls over the Moon's surface.