Image: mreclipse.com, via NASA.gov
Stay up tonight online to watch an awesome lunar eclipse with our astronomer pals at NASA:
Spring is here and ready to capture the world's attention with a total lunar eclipse. The eclipse will begin early on the morning of April 15 at approximately 2 a.m. EDT. If you have questions about the eclipse, this will be your chance! NASA astronomer Mitzi Adams and astrophysicist Alphonse Sterling will also answer questions in a live web chat, beginning on April 15 at 1 a.m. EDT and continuing through the end of the eclipse (approximately 5 a.m. EDT). The chat module will go live on this page at approximately 12:45 a.m. EDT. Convert to your local time here.
A live Ustream view of the lunar eclipse will be streamed on this page on the night of the event, courtesy of Marshall Space Flight Center. The feed will feature a variety of lunar eclipse views from telescopes around the United States.
Samuel writes, "At Yuri's Night World Space Party in Los Angeles on April 11th 2014, my team and I will be announcing the Zero Gravity Cocktail Project. It's been nearly ten years in the making, and we still have a ways to go, but we have 3D printed glass designed to work in weightlessness. As part of the system we are also developing a 'drinkbot' which will mix and dispense a variety of drinks without the need for gravity."
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A strange light was visible in photos of Mars like the one above taken by the Curiosity rover last week. Is it a beacon from an underground extraterrestrial base as some UFO researchers suggest, or simply sunlight glinting from a shiny rock? NASA claims it's likely the latter, but what do they know.
A video recently posted on YouTube appears to show a falling meteoroid just missing a skydiver in Norway. Fast forward to 1:31 to see it streak past.
"If you work out the mathematics, the odds of a 1-kilogram- rock (2.2 lbs.) passing within some 30 feet (9.1 meters) of a person on Earth's surface within 10 minutes is about 1 in 500 billion," Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office told Space.com. "You have a 1,000 times greater chance of winning the Powerball lottery."
UPDATE: Over at Slate, Phil "Bad Astronmy" Plait wrote, "It is entirely possible that what the video shows is a smaller rock that fell out of the skydiver’s parachute."
The paperback edition of Annalee Newitz's excellent Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction comes out today, and to celebrate, Annalee has commissioned a song about the book from nerd rockers the Doubleclicks. It's terrific.
Here's my original review from the hardcover's publication last May:
Scatter's premise is that the human race will face extinction-grade crises in the future, and that we can learn how to survive them by examining the strategies of species that successfully weathered previous extinction events, and cultures and tribes of humans that have managed to survive their own near-annihilation.
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On Tuesday, Bonhams auction house will put a massive collection of space history items on the block for sale. The Space History Sale features patches, signed ephemera, autographed lunar globe and actual hardware that made it to the moon. For example, at right, the polarizing camera filter used by Apollo 15 astronaut James Irwin is expected to go for $20,000 to $30,000. Above, one of only three known castings of Buzz Aldrin's moon boot, also valued at around $20,000 to $30,000. There's also a Mercury period spacesuit estimated at $8,000 to $12,000.
"We have items that came directly from astronauts, items that they carried into lunar orbit with them, items that went to the lunar surface and items that have lunar dust on them," says Bonhams space history expert Cassandra Hatton.
"Space history auction includes Apollo items, Mercury spacesuit" (AP) (Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!)
Bonhams: The Space History Sale
Yesterday, I reviewed Karl Schoeder's first YA novel, Lockstep, which combines genuinely brilliant techno-social speculation with a driving, exciting adventure plot.
Today I'm delighted to present the first two chapters of Lockstep, courtesy of Tor Books, so you can get a taste for this book yourself. As I wrote yesterday: Buy a copy for your favorite kid -- and another for yourself. And remember, Schroeder is launching the book at Toronto's Bakka Phoenix Books this Saturday at 3PM.
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As I've written
Karl Schroeder is one of the sharpest, canniest thinkers about
technology and science fiction I know. In the nearly 30 years I've
know him, he's introduced me to fractals, free software, Unix,
listservers, SGML, augmented reality, the Singularity, and a host of
other ideas -- generally 5-10 years before I heard about these ideas
from anyone else. What's more, he's a dynamite novelist with
a finely controlled sense of character and plot to go with all those
Now he's written his first young adult novel, Lockstep,
and it is a triumph.
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Above is the Centaur rocket, "America's Workhorse in Space," that NASA used in more than 200 missions, from Voyager to Viking, Cassini to New Horizons. To celebrate the Centaur's 50th anniversary, NASA and our friends at Ingenuity Cleveland are holding an art competition to creatively convey the unique engineering and features of the Centaur Program. The prizes include tours of NASA, viewing of rocket test-fires, and display at IngenuityFest 2014 and NASA Glenn Research Center. Artists of all disciplines and ages are encouraged to submit proposals or finished work! More details: NASA Centaur Art Challenge
Pesco's post earlier today
about a cleric who issued a fatwa against one-way trips to Mars got me wondering about how Muslim prayer works off-planet. After all, the timing and orientation of those daily prayers are based on Earth time and Earth geography. Fascinatingly, the Malaysian Space Agency actually convened a conference of 150 Islamic scientists and scholars
to answer those very questions back in 2006. In a video, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, the first Malaysian astronaut, explains how life on the ISS changed (and didn't change) his religious life. (Thank you, Ty!)
Muslims aren't permitted to take a one-way trip to Mars, at least according to a Khaleej Times report about a fatwa they say was issued by the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment in the United Arab Emirates. “Such a one-way journey poses a real risk to life, and that can never be justified in Islam... there is a possibility that an individual who travels to planet Mars may not be able to remain alive there, and is more vulnerable to death.” From the Khaleej Times:
Whoever opts for this “hazardous trip”, the committee said, is likely to perish for no “righteous reason”, and thus will be liable to a “punishment similar to that of suicide in the Hereafter”.
One-way trip to Mars prohibited in Islam
The committee, presided by Professor Dr Farooq Hamada, said: “Protecting life against all possible dangers and keeping it safe is an issue agreed upon by all religions and is clearly stipulated in verse 4/29 of the Holy Quran: Do not kill yourselves or one another. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful.”
The Mangalyaan Mars Orbiter Spacecraft mounted in a rocket at the Satish Dhawan Space Center in India. Photo: Indian Space Research Organization, via NYT.
Saritha Rai, reporting for the New York Times on India’s recent launch of a spacecraft to Mars: "It is the $75 million mission’s thrifty approach to time, money and materials that is getting attention. Just days after the launch of India’s Mangalyaan satellite, NASA sent off its own Mars mission, five years in the making, named Maven. Its cost: $671 million. The budget of India’s Mars mission, by contrast, was just three-quarters of the $100 million that Hollywood spent on last year’s space-based hit, Gravity.” [NYTimes.com]
A photograph of the giant screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center shows photo of the Yutu, or "Jade Rabbit" lunar rover taken by the camera on the Chang'e 3 probe during the mutual-photograph process, in Beijing December 15, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer
Earlier this week, it looked like China's malfunctioning lunar rover might be headed for the junk pile. But the week ends with great news: "Yutu has come back to life!" spokesperson Pei Zhaoyu told a Chinese state-run news agency. The probe " went into sleep under an abnormal status," he added.
The rover isn't out of the space woods yet: While normal signal reception capabilities have reportedly been restored, the cause of the initial issues remains unclear -- as does whether they can be fixed. But Pei says Jade Rabbit "stands a chance of being saved now that it is still alive."
A well-linked roundup at the Washington Post