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.
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.
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.
Ariel Waldman is an open science pioneer, and we are delighted she will speak at our Boing Boing: Ingenuity theatrical experience on Sunday, August 18, in San Francisco! Not only that, but Ariel has been tirelessly working with us to orchestrate the Boing Boing Ingenuity: Data Driven hack day taking place the day before the live show.
As creator of Spacehack, lead instigator of the global Science Hack Day, and a "Future for Good" Fellow at Institute for the Future, Ariel is dedicated to instilling a sense of wonder, curiosity, and passion about science, and empowering everyone to get involved in scientific research. Ariel was recently honored by the White House as a "Champion of Change" dedicated to "increasing public engagement in science and science literacy." Above, watch Ariel talk open science in a recent interview for the Syfy channel.
Not going to be at Boing Boing: Ingenuity in person? We'll be sharing both days of the Boing Boing: Ingenuity experience through video and other media on the site starting this weekend and continuing over the coming weeks!
Boing Boing: Ingenuity in partnership with Ford C-Max.
At Kelly's house, I had the chance to ask him a question about the first landing on the moon that provoked a response that seemed poignant and awe-inspiring.
I asked him, of all of the systems and stages of the mission, which did he worry about the most? He had spoken about the frequently failing autopilot... the reliance on a global network of astronomers to spot solar flares in time to get the warning out... the onboard computers being less powerful than a Furby...
One year ago today, a one-ton, SUV-sized spacecraft "blasted into the Mars atmosphere at more than 13,000 miles an hour, deployed a supersonic parachute, fired eight rocket engines, unfurled a giant sky crane and lowered itself to the Martian soil." PBS NewsHour's Jenny Marder has a post up today looking back at that incredible milestone. Yours truly was there, and it was an amazing thing to witness. (HT: Aileen Graef)
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Congressional Republicans are fighting Obama's plan to put a base on the moon and use it to launch an asteroid-capture program which would give NASA some practice in deflecting future asteroid-strikes -- as well as setting the stage for more ambitious missions, such as one to Mars. This whole kerfuffle was predicted by the Onion, two years ago, in a story called "Republicans Vote To Repeal Obama-Backed Bill That Would Destroy Asteroid Headed For Earth."
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Cakecrumbs, creator of the amazing Earth Cake, has topped that marvel with a Jupiter layer cake whose layers reveal the theoretical makeup of the gas giant. Its multiple layers represent "a core comprised mostly of rock and ice... surrounded by a layer liquid metallic hydrogen, and the outer layer is composed of molecular hydrogen."
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