Boing Boing 

Aurora Award nominees, including a performance from actual outer space

Brooke Abbey writes, "The 2014 Prix Aurora Award nominees have been announced! [Ed: this is the Canadian popular science fiction prize]. I am one of the nominees, in the fan music category, which this year also includes A MOTHERFUCKING ASTRONAUT - Chris Hadfield's awesome Space Oddity cover IN ACTUAL SPACE is nominated. Canadian SF fans, please take a moment to look smug about how cool we all are. Canadians with $10 can join CSFFA to get the voter package with delicious literature & more, coming out soon, and to, y'know, vote."

Satellite launch debris found in Brazillian Amazon

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A fisher on northern Brazil's remote Uriandeua river stumbled on a huge chunk of detritus dropped from a UK Space Agency satellite launch. "It is the launch vehicle payload shroud from the Alphasat launch last year," a UK Space Agency spokesperson told the BBC. "It probably landed in the Atlantic and then floated inland." Brazil has asked the UK to come collect their space garbage.

Watch this awesome time-lapse video of the total lunar eclipse

Video: Gorgeous time-lapse of the recent total lunar eclipse (April, 2014) by Adam Block, Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, U. Arizona.

An explanation, from NASA's Astronomy Pic of the Day:

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The Space Project: contemporary space music infused with Voyager recordings

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The Space Project is true space music, a lovely new compilation of songs made in part from samples culled from electromagnetic radiation fluctuations recorded by the Voyager 1 and 2 space probes, launched in 1977. The tracks by contemporary artists like Spiritualized, Beach House, Youth Lagoon, and The Holydrug Couple range from ambient soundscapes to modern prog to noisy space pop. The Space Project is available in multiple formats, including 12" vinyl and a beautiful 7" box set that was released on Record Store Day this past weekend by Lefse Records/Fat Possum. Seek out your preferred format at your local indie record shop! Sadly for me, I couldn't locate the 7" box set in my orbit.

The Space Project (Lefse Records)

Stream the whole album at NPR Music: First Listen: "The Space Project"

'Blood moon' lunar eclipse may or may not signal end times; watch it online with NASA tonight


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.

Zero-gee cocktail robotics


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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Weird light photographed on Mars

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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.

Meteoroid just misses skydiver

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."

Doubleclicks celebrate the paperback of Scatter, Adapt, and Remember with a new song

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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Space history auction on Tuesday

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RingOn 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

Peaceful Panda Planet


'shoop: @xeni. We've been @darth'd.

Excerpt: first two chapters of Karl Schroeder's Lockstep

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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Lockstep: Karl Schroeder's first YA novel is a triumph of weird science, deep politics, and ultimate adventure


As I've written before, 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 Big Ideas.

Now he's written his first young adult novel, Lockstep, and it is a triumph.

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NASA Centaur art competition

413px Centaur rocket stage

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

How do Muslims pray in space?

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!)

Fatwa against one-way trip to Mars

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”.

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.”

One-way trip to Mars prohibited in Islam

India sending spacecraft to Mars for about 75% of 'Gravity' film budget


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]

Like a zombie, China's Jade Rabbit lunar rover hops to life again after malfunction


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.

Victorian mansion for sale with spaceship attic


There are lots of £3,250,000 mansions around London's Crystal Palace, but there aren't many whose attics have been converted to spaceship control rooms. The estate-agent-ese in the posting is enough to melt your eyeballs, but I gather that this place is has 8 bedrooms, is about 7,000sqft, and is both Gothic Grade II and Victorian Grade II listed (or possibly these are interchangeable).

11 bedroom detached house for sale (via Geekologie)

Digitized items from the Carl Sagan archive go live on the Library of Congress site


The Library of Congress has acquired The Seth MacFarlane Collection of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive, and has begun to catalog and digitize the materials in it, posting them to the library's website. The scanned materials include Sagan's personal papers, and are divided into three categories: models of the cosmos throughout history; history of the possibility of life on other worlds; Carl Sagan's life and contributions to science and society."

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Model spaceships inspired by classic science fiction paperback covers

Grant Louden is an artist in Milton Keynes who is working on a series of incredible sculptures based on the spaceships from classic sf pulp covers. The first one is Star Dwellers, based on Colin Hay's cover for James Blish's novel. Louden collaborated with Hay on the piece, and officially licensed it. The build is an amazing mix of Fimo, model parts, car body filler, and custom castings in rubber and resin. Needless to say, the detail is fantastic.

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Remembering the space shuttle Challenger disaster, 28 years later

[Click for large size.]

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HOWTO wash your hair in space

NASA flight engineer Karen Nyberg shot this video aboard the International Space Station, showing how she washes her hair in space. I love the escaping, mischievous blobs of water, and the awesome spectacle of Nyberg's hair rising up in a might, vertical pillar. Best part, though, is how the space station itself is a huge hair dryer that sucks the moisture out of her hair and recycles it into drinking water.

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Lunar panorama stitched from Chinese Chang'e lander images

Jeffrey sez, "Our esteemed interplanetary panorama enthusiast, Andrew Bodrov, has done it again (previously, this time being the first to stitch a 360 from the new Chinese moon lander!

Lunar panorama: Chang'e 3 lander (Thanks, Jeffrey!)

Everyday wear spacesuit jacket


Chris from Betabrand sez, "While humanity waits for the space industry to hurry the hell up and allow it to freely travel through the cosmos, the fashion industry is already prepared. Today, Betabrand released the Space Jacket by Steven B. Wheeler -- a Tyvek and silver nylon masterpiece that's inspired by astronaut EVA suits and satellite insulation."

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Virgin Galactic reaches new supersonic heights, completes third powered flight


Feathered Flight during SpaceShipTwo's third powered flight on 10 January 2014 over the Mojave desert. .This image was taken by MARS Scientific as part of the Mobile Aerospace Reconnaissance System optical tracking system..More infomation on MARS Scientific and the Mobile Aerospace Reconnaissance System can be found at: www.MarsScientific.com

Richard Branson's commercial spaceline Virgin Galactic today completed the third rocket-powered supersonic flight of its passenger carrying reusable space vehicle, SpaceShipTwo (SS2). Here's the company's news brief, from Mojave:

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Canada's former defense minister: aliens will give us tech if we quit wars

Paul Hellyer was Canada's Minister of Defense in the mid-1960s. He is now a critic of the United States' willingness to trigger an interstellar war with aliens—aliens who might give us more advanced technology if only we were less belligerent.

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What the Chinese Moon landing teaches us about American lunar orbiter

NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer was watching as China's Chang'e 3 landed on the Moon. But the landing didn't register on any of LADEE's sensors. Why? The answer teaches us a lot about both the orbiter and the Moon itself.

Astronauts prepare for spacewalk Tuesday to finish ISS repairs


NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins is seen during the spacewalk in this photo courtesy of NASA.

"Astronauts aboard the International Space Station are planning a second and final spacewalk to fix the outpost's cooling system early on Tuesday." More at Reuters. Also, read our earlier post on Saturday's successful spacewalk.