Every new Cecil Castellucci book is cause for celebration around here, and her latest, Tin Star -- the first volume in a new young adult science fiction series -- is no exception. Castellucci's got a gift for characters and dialog (this being part of her success in her extensive work in comics) and a stellar imagination. The story -- researched in part through workshops with NASA for science fiction writers -- is a tale of romance, escape and adventure on a remote space station where the charismatic leader of a colony ship is revealed for a monster.
The first five chapters of Tin Star are a free download (other formats here), so you can make up your own mind. But I know that my copy of Tin Star's going straight into my Christmas holiday reading pile. Read the rest
Jeffrey sez, "360Cities' intrepid member Andrew Bodrov, stitching master of interplanetary awesomeness, has constructed this composite image (i.e. 'fake view') of the Curiosity Rover at night under the Milky Way. You can even see Phobos, Mars' own moon in the night sky."
A little after 8:00 am Eastern Time today, China's Chang'e 3 became the first object to make a soft landing on the surface of the Moon since 1976. That's a shot of the Moon's surface above, taken by the lander after it made touchdown. Emily Lakdawalla has GIFs of the actual landing and continuing coverage. You should also be able to watch some live footage on the Chinese state television streaming website later this afternoon. (Word is that it will pick back up around 4:00 pm Eastern, but Lakdawalla points out that estimated times haven't been precise, so if you're really into seeing the footage live, you should keep checking the site.) NasaSpaceFlight.com has some more technical information about the landing. Read the rest
Norwegian jeweler Miriel Design (AKA Josephine Ryan) has created a bunch of kinetic solar system necklaces, available in her Etsy store. Here's a set of photos of them, and here's her discussion on Reddit. The pieces vary in price, from $380-$500, depending on their complexity, but they're all flat-out gorgeous, and represent a tremendous amount of precision labor. Read the rest
Robert sez, "An Apollo astronaut, looking to keep the 'right stuff' forefront in the public's eye, has recreated his iconic NASA-issued blue flight jacket down to the last button. Al Worden, who in 1971 flew to the moon as the pilot of the Apollo 15 command module Endeavour, wore out his original flight jacket years ago. But working with a space enthusiast out of London, Worden has now reproduced the distinctive NASA outerwear as a museum-quality replica, which is being offered for sale. Read the rest
WASP-19b is an exoplanet whose atmosphere is probably super hot and super poisonous — filled with methane and hydrogen cyanide instead of water. This video explains how astronomers can even begin to guess at the composition of the atmospheres of far away worlds. (Bonus: A soothing elevator music soundtrack!) Read the rest
Alas, poor ISON. The comet that flew too close to the Sun on Thanksgiving Day appears to have suffered the fate of Icarus — if Icarus had been ripped apart by a solar flare. The video above, taken by space probes on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth, provides a great view of the comet hurtling toward the Sun and then disintegrating. Although there's still some discussion over whether or not ISON still survives as a much smaller ball of rock, ice, and dust, NASA has officially declared the comet dead. Astrophysicist Karl Battams wrote a very nice eulogy. Read the rest
The China National Space Administration has launched Chang'e 3, a plutonium-powered lunar lander on-board a 185-foot-tall Long March 3B rocket. The lander is on a four-day trajectory for the lunar surface, and will brake and enter lunar orbit on December 6th. It is scheduled to land on December 14th, in the Bay of Rainbows (Sinus Iridum). The rover masses 140kg, with nuclear heaters to keep systems alive during the two-week-long lunar nights, and will use radar to probe the lunascape as it roves during its mission. It is also outfitted with high-resolution panoramic cameras and telescopes. The Chinese space program's stated goal is to establish a space-station and autonomous landers that can return to Earth with samples. Read the rest
SPONSORED: This post is presented by the Toyota RAV4 EV. Because innovation can be measured in miles, kilowatts and cubic feet. Learn more at toyota.com/rav4ev
When asked what we are here for, Beat writer William S. Burroughs famously answered, "This is the space age, and we are here to go." We can't easily grab a seat to orbit but model rocketry is an excellent space age maker hobby that's stood the test of time. For a good time, call the LUNAR hotline! LUNAR is the Livermore Unit of the National Association of Rocketry, the northern California hub for model rocketry enthusiasts. Every month, LUNAR hosts a legal "sport launch" at NASA's Ames Research Center on the Moffett Federal Airfield in Silicon Valley. Everyone is invited to bring their model rockets, engines, and get ready for lift-off! It's a wonderful, supportive scene for new and old rocket buffs and families. One recent weekend, our sponsor Toyota loaned us a Toyota RAV4 EV and we decided the LUNAR launch was the perfect destination for a new electric car. And we're counting down... Read the rest
You can listen to the interviews or read a transcript here; videos are below.