Ed Belbruno is a mathematician who worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the 1980s. While he was there, he devised a way to use chaos theory to help change the course of spaceships and put satellites into orbit for far less fuel than had ever been used before. His inspiration came from painting
. Painting the Way to the Moon
is a documentary, currently raising money on Kickstarter, that hopes to tell Belbruno's story and help people understand the links between art and science. — Maggie
On March 1, SpaceX ran a test launch of Dragon, the capsule in which it hopes to someday transport human beings into space. Dragon was due to connect with the International Space Station, but very quickly into the launch things started to go all wrong. This is a short summary of the SpaceX team managed to stop their capsule from tumbling out of control
. — Maggie
From our friends at surreal clothier Imaginary Foundation, Panel Tees
with high-res sublimated graphics on the front and back! Imaginary Foundation
Here's a video of a successful test of a rocket engine designed by Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin commercial space program. Eventually, this technology is supposed to provide the thrust necessary to send a manned capsule into space. For now, I just like seeing all that fire up close. (Thanks, Tim!)
The Van Allen Belts are donut-shaped rings of radioactive particles that encircle the Earth. They can damage satellites and pose a bit of a risk for human astronauts who venture outside our planet's protective magnetic field and into the regions of the belts. Back in high school, you probably learned that there were two of them. But, it turns out, under certain situations, this planet actually has three Van Allen Belts
. The story about this at Nature News, written by , is a joy to read. You really get a sense of how totally scientists' minds were blown by this discovery
. — Maggie
Minnesota Public Radio is hosting a live Science Night on May 21st in St. Paul
, featuring John Grotzinger, the head of the NASA Curiosity mission. And I get to join him on stage to talk about outer space, Mars, and all sorts of awesomeness. If you're an MPR member, you can buy tickets now. Otherwise, they go on sale on March 12.
Dawn on Saturn is greeted across the vastness of interplanetary space by the morning star, Venus, in this image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft.
, Cassini Imaging Team Leader and director of CICLOPS
Every so often, our cameras on Cassini digitally record, either intentionally or incidentally, other celestial bodies besides those found around Saturn. The Cassini Imaging Team is releasing a pair of images that did just that. Venus, a lovely shining beacon of light and Earth's `twin' planet, was recently sighted amidst the glories of Saturn and its rings.
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The Inspiration Mars team planning to send a couple on a fly-by mission to Mars in 2018 have an idea of how to protect the astronauts from cosmic rays on the long journey: pack the walls of the spaceship with food, shit, and piss. "Dehydrate (the human waste) as much as possible, because we need to get the water back," team member Taber MacCallum told New Scientist
. "Those solid waste products get put into a bag, put right back against the wall… (Also,) food is going to be stored all around the walls of the spacecraft, because food is good radiation shielding." The food he adds, would block the cosmic rays but wouldn't become radioactive itself.
Last week, "Inspiration Mars
" announced its search for a male and female couple to do a Mars flyby mission, requiring the pair to spend 501 days alone together. Sailors/adventurers Deborah Shapiro and Rolf Bjelke have some experience doing just that, at least terrestrially. More than twenty years ago, Shapiro and Bielke had 9 months of alone time on the Antarctic Peninsula. By choice. Shapiro wrote about their experience in a book called Time On Ice
. Over at BBC News, Shapiro answers the question: "Why didn't you two kill each other?"
One has to be able to give the other person mental elbow room. During our winter, when a person settled into the sofa in the salon with a book and started reading, he or she was not interrupted.
Keeping quiet when the person is close enough to practically read one's thoughts, is a matter of self-discipline, fuelled by caring.
The only exception to our silence rule was for boat-related safety issues. The boat, for obvious reasons of survival, always came first.
"How to get along for 500 days alone together
SpaceX's Dragon space capsule launched into space today, March 1, 2013, toward the International Space Station on its second cargo mission for NASA. It launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 10:10 a.m. ET. Space.com reports that
a thruster problem "has engineers scrambling to identify the cause, forcing a delay in the spacecraft's arrival at the International Space Station by at least a day." — Xeni
The latest episode of the Engadget Show is about space, and it's terrific. It's co-hosted by Brian Heater, senior editor at Engadget and our own Comics Rack reviewer!
We kick things off with a profile of LiftPort, a commercial space endeavor operating out of a small garage in rural Washington State that has been funding its dreams of space elevators through crowdfunded Kickstarter campaigns. Next, we head out to Cape Canaveral in Florida, where Swamp Works has set up shop in an old Apollo training facility. NASA scientists will tell us about some of the organization's far-out plans for getting to Mars and back and 3D printing structures on lunar and planetary surfaces once we arrive.
The Engadget Show 41: 'Space' with NASA, SETI, Liftport and Mary Roach
If your mental image of futuristic human colonies in space involves tubular ships, rolling hills, and a population seemingly plucked from a cocktail party in Sausalito in 1972, chances are good that you've been influenced by the art of Rick Guidice and Don Davis — illustrators commissioned by NASA to envision human homes among the stars. At Discover.com, Veronique Greenwood writes about these artists and the lasting impact they've had on science and science fiction
. — Maggie
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 — Maggie
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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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)