"Soviet Christmas card" sounds like a mere kitschy improbability, but what if I told you that they were space-race-themed Soviet Christmas cards? It's a Christmas miracle, dude.
Old Soviet Christmas card collection
(via Richard Kadrey)
If Sotirios Papadopoulos's "Full Moon" credenza is half as cool in real life as it is in this rendering, well, it'll be pretty cool. This'd be a fun remake/refurb project for junk-shop furniture:
A striking credenza, with a photo-realistic, luminous image of the moon printed on its surface.
Coated with ELI (Eco Light Inside), an eco-friendly material developed by the designer, which creates a realistic, glowing effect when the lights go out.
LIMITED EDITION* / Furniture / Full Moon
Best one yet, guys! NASA Johnson Style
is a volunteer outreach video project created by the students
's Johnson Space Center
. It was created as an educational parody of Psy's Gangnam Style
. The lyrics and scenes in the video have been re-imagined in order to inform the public about the amazing work going on at NASA and the Johnson Space Center. Lyrics and "making of" information here
! (thanks, Aileen Graef)
Courtesy of Zombie37 in the Boing Boing Flickr pool, a photo of a smashing pasteup of Edgar Allan Poe as an astronaut, by TOVEN at Station North in Baltimore.
Poe Astronaut on Howard St.
This article from the British Medical Journal
should give aspiring space tourists some food for thought. The basic gist: Traveling into the heavens is not really comparable, physically and medically, to Earth-bound travel. In fact, up until now, extreme physical fitness has been a major factor in how we select space travelers. What happens when less-fit people start flying? What happens to sick people? These are questions that matter a lot, given the fact that current astronauts report everything from reduced eyesight to potentially dangerous immune system changes. (Via The Inkfish blog) — Maggie
Possibly, according to some scientists who are trying to understand the early days of Sol and friends.
One way that researchers study events like the creation of the solar system is to model what might have happened using computer software. The basic idea works like this: We know a decent amount about the physical laws (like gravity) that govern the creation of planets and the formation of a solar system. So scientists can take those laws, and program them into a virtual universe that also includes other real-world data ... like what we know about the make-up of the Sun and the planets orbiting it. Then, they recreate history. Then they do it again. Over and over and over, thousands of times, the scientists witness the creation of our solar system.
It doesn't happen the same way each time. Just like you can get a very different loaf of bread out of multiple attempts and baking the same general recipe. But those recreations start to give us an idea of which scenarios were more likely to have happened, and why. If our solar system tends to form in one way and resist forming in another, we have a stronger basis for assuming that the former way was more likely to be what really happened.
That's what you're seeing in this study, which Charles Q. Choi writes about for Scientific American.
Computer models showing how our solar system formed suggested the planets once gravitationally slung one another across space, only settling into their current orbits over the course of billions of years. During more than 6,000 simulations of this planetary scattering phase, planetary scientist David Nesvorny at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., found that a solar system that began with four giant planets [as ours currently has] only had a 2.5 percent chance of leading to the orbits presently seen now. These systems would be too violent in their youth to end up resembling ours, most likely resulting in systems that have less than four giants over time, Nesvorny found.
Instead, a model about 10 times more likely at matching our current solar system began with five giants, including a now lost world comparable in mass to Uranus and Neptune. This extra planet may have been an "ice giant" rich in icy matter just like Uranus and Neptune, Nesvorny explained.
Read the rest
It was forty years today (at 22:54:37 UT) that human beings left the moon for the last time. Miles O’Brien remembers Commander Gene Cernan’s last words from the moon, lofty, rehearsed and memorized: “as we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return: with peace and hope for all mankind.”
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The Geminids Meteor shower is coming! Space reporter Miles O’Brien speaks with AtronomyNow.com’s night sky consultant, Mark Armstrong.
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Two days ago, astronomers spotted a new asteroid. Early this morning, the sonofabitch nearly hit our planet
. — Xeni
How Many People Are in Space Right Now is a single-serving site that manages to be depressing and awe-inspiring at once.
How Many People Are In Space Right Now?
(via Making Light)
Apollo 17: Last on the Moon. Photo: NASA.
An announcement of note this morning about The Golden Spike Company, a new private space travel venture, backed by private investors. Their tag line? "Extend Your Reach." Snip from today's press release:
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 17, the last human exploration of the Moon, Former Apollo Flight Director and NASA Johnson Space Center Director, Gerry Griffin, and planetary scientist and former NASA science chief, Dr. Alan Stern, today unveiled “The Golden Spike Company” – the first company planning to offer routine exploration expeditions to the surface of the Moon.
At the National Press Club announcement this afternoon, Dr. Stern, Golden Spike’s President and CEO, and Mr. Griffin, chairman of Golden Spike’s board of directors, introduced other members of Golden Spike’s leadership team and detailed the company’s intentions to make complete lunar surface expeditions available by the end of the decade.
Their board of directors (PDF) is an interesting hodgepodge, and includes Newt Gingrich, Esther Dyson, and the set designer for the movie Star Trek.
The company says it plans to "maximize use of existing rockets" and market the resulting system to "nations, individuals, and corporations with lunar exploration objectives and ambitions," promising "prices that are a fraction of any lunar program ever conceived until now." A tall order, to be certain. Those I've spoken to in the space biz are skeptical, but of the mind that the more entrepreneurial efforts and private sector innovation we see in the Space space, the better.
More background on the company in a Wired News article from a few days ago, and from this New Scientist piece back in November.
The company is registered as a business in Colorado, where marijuana was just made legal. COINCIDENCE? I THINK NOT.
Here's more from today's press release from Golden Spike:
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Last week, an American and a Russian — Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko — were selected to spend a year living continuously in space, aboard the International Space Station. Only four other people have done this before. All them were Russian, so Scott Kelly is going to break the American record for time spent in space.
The mission won't start until 2015, and it's part of a much longer term goal — sending people to Mars. We know that spending time in space does take a toll on the human body. For instance, hanging out without gravity means you aren't using your muscles, even the ones that you'd use to support your own weight on Earth. Without use, muscles deteriorate over time. Bone density also drops. Basically, after a few months in space, astronauts return to Earth as weak as little kittens. Which is, to say the least, a less than ideal situation for any future Mars explorers.
Having Kelly and Kornienko stay up for a year will give scientists more data on what happens to the human body in space, give them a chance to test out preventative treatments that could keep astronauts stronger, and allows them to see how the amount of time spent in space affects the amount of time it takes to physically recover from the trip. As an extra research bonus, Kelly is the identical twin brother of Mark Kelly, the astronaut married to former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Which means that there will be a built-in control to compare Kelly to when he comes back from his mission.
In honor of that upcoming experiment, here's an old video that will give you an idea of what we knew (and didn't know) back at the dawn of the space age. Science in Action was a TV show produced by the California Academy of Sciences. In this 1956 episode, they explore the then-still-theoretical physiology of space travel ... with a special guest appearance by Chuck Yeager!
Wikipedia page on the effects of space travel on the human body
Science in Action: Aero Medicine — Part 1 and Part 2 at the Prelinger Archives.
Seen above is the Fallen Astronaut, a tiny aluminum figurine that on August 1, 1971 the Apollo 15 crew placed on the Moon's surface with a plaque listing the names of 14 astronauts and cosmonauts who had died. Belgian artist Paul Van Hoeydonck created the figure and later took a ton of shit from NASA for making replicas that he intended to sell. The space agency felt the commercialization went against their original understanding with Van Hoeydonck. "Fallen Astronaut" (Wikipedia, via Weird Universe)
Starting tomorrow, you can visit the Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar
for daily pictures of the cosmos. — Maggie
Researchers from the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University have built a 3D printer that can use sorted (simulated) Lunar regolith (moon dust) to print out "crude" objects. This is the premise of a novella I'm working on, so it's pretty exciting to see:
Amit Bandyopadhyay and Susmita Bose, using simulated lunar regolith that are analogies to moon rocks, have used 3D printing to create a number of crude objects. The simulated regolith, found on Earth and supplied by NASA, contains silicon, aluminum, calcium, iron and magnesium oxides but behaves like silica when melted by a laser. Once the regolith is melted, a 3D printer creates objects out of it layer by layer.
Using moon rocks shaped by 3D printers as building material or simple spare parts and tools would vastly decrease the expense of building and maintaining a lunar settlement. 3D printing also has considerable promise for Earth bound construction.
Researchers build objects with 3D printing using simulated moon rocks [Examiner]