NASA videos on the harshness of space and a cool new space suit for exploring the Moon

We're going back out there, but it's dangerous out there and y'all better know it.

Space travel is hard and unforgiving, but we have never been more ready to meet the unknown.

Team members from NASA’s #Artemis program share the risks and rewards of this next era of exploration. Artemis will push the boundaries of human exploration and send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024, preparing for missions to Mars and beyond.

SO. How about an awesome new space suit for exploring the polar south pole?

At NASA Headquarters on Oct. 15, 2019, Administrator Jim Bridenstine introduced the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU) and Orion Crew Survival System suit which will be will be worn by first woman and next man as they explore the Moon as part of the #Artemis program.

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Fantastic marching band tribute to the Apollo 11 moon landing

In celebration of this year's 50th anniversary of the first humans on the moon, the Ohio State Marching Band staged this wonderful performance on Saturday.

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Girl Scouts can now earn badges in space sciences like astronomy and the search for ET

Through a collaboration with NASA and the SETI Institute, Girl Scouts can now earn badges in space science, from astronomy to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

“Part of science literacy is understanding our place in the big world, in the solar system, in the universe," Pamela Harman, the director of education at the SETI Institute, told Air & Space Magazine. "Once we realize that, I think it’s easier to think about protecting our planet.”

From Air & Space:

Girl Scout cadettes (grades 6-8) can earn the space science researcher badge by investigating properties of light and observing the night sky; seniors (grades 9-10) can obtain the space science expert badge by classifying stars and studying their life cycles; and ambassadors (grades 11-12) seeking the space science master badge will explore exoplanets through activities such as designing a habitat for an alien world.

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20 mini-moons spotted orbiting Saturn

Saturn "has overtaken" Jupiter as the planet with the most satellites, at least in our own system: 82 to the larger world's 79. A team "discovered a haul of 20 new moons" around the ringed gas giant, as the BBC puts it, putting it in the lead.

The moons were discovered using the Subaru telescope on Maunakea, Hawaii.

Each of the newly discovered objects in orbit around Saturn is about 5km (three miles) in diameter; 17 of them orbit the planet "backwards".

This is known as a retrograde direction. The other three moons orbit in a prograde direction - the same direction as Saturn rotates.

I suspect they were there all along. Read the rest

Listen to 'dinks and donks,' Marsquakes, and other weird sounds from the Red Planet

The NASA Insight lander on the Martian surface is equipped with an ultrasensitive seismometer to detect and record vibrations, from marsquakes to soft breezes to other unidentified vibrations. Listen below. From Space.com:

If we were on Mars with our ears to the ground, our ears wouldn't be sensitive enough to detect marsquakes. Even the recordings taken by Insight are too low to be audible to humans, but by speeding up the audio and lightly processing it, you can listen to marsquakes that Insight captured earlier this year...

As of now, Insight has heard and recorded over 100 events on Mars. But while scientists are fairly certain that 21 of these events are marsquakes, the remaining could be quakes — or something else. Scientists think these remaining events could also be caused by other sources of vibration on the planet.

Being so sensitive, the SEIS instrument detects just about everything, from the movement of the lander's robotic arm to Martian wind gusts.

The Insight team has noticed that, particularly at night, the instrument picks up strange sounds that they refer to as "dinks and donks," according to the statement. They think that these strange sounds could be caused by the instrument cooling down.

More: "NASA's InSight 'Hears' Peculiar Sounds on Mars" (NASA)

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Space Nerds in Space: a free/open co-op multiplayer spaceship landing simulator with combat, NPCs and more

Space Nerds in Space is a free/open source team game where players take on the roles of Navigation, Weapons, Engineering, Communications, Damage Control and work their controls to safely land a spaceship on a variety of planets, each with their own challenge -- and once your team is practiced, you can use a multi-team server to compete against other teams, NPCs, and even engage in multi-team, player-to-player combat. Read the rest

This space geek built a DIY radio telescope for $150

David Schneider built his own radio telescope out of roof flashing, an empty paint thinner can, a free software-defined radio app, USB receiver, and a length of coaxial cable. The whole project cost him less than $150 and he's already used it to detect galactic hydrogen and monitor the motion of our Milky Way galaxy's spiral arms. (With a radio telescope, you look for and measure radio-frequency radiation emitted by astronomical objects.) From IEEE Spectrum:

Point at Cygnus and you’ll receive a strong signal from the local arm of the Milky Way very near the expected 1420.4-MHz frequency. Point it toward Cassiopeia, at a higher galactic longitude, and you’ll see the hydrogen-line signal shift to 1420.5 MHz—a subtle Doppler shift indicating that the material giving off these radio waves is speeding toward us in a relative sense. With some hunting, you may be able to discern two or more distinct signals at different frequencies coming from different spiral arms of the Milky Way.

Don’t expect to hear E.T., but being able to map the Milky Way in this fashion feels strangely empowering. It’ll be $150 well spent.

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Watch the trailer for "Snoopy In Space"

Snoopy has been a NASA mascot for more than 50 years going back to the Apollo missions. Now, Snoopy is headed to the International Space Station for a new cartoon series, Snoopy In Space, launching November 1 on Apple TV+.

NASA image below: "Headed for the launch pad, Apollo 10 Commander Tom Stafford pats the nose of a stuffed Snoopy held by Jamye Flowers (Coplin), astronaut Gordon Cooper’s secretary."

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Incredible photo from the space station that astronaut Christina Koch took of her best friend headed to meet her in orbit

NASA astronaut Christina Koch, currently on board the International Space Station, took this stunning image of her pal Jessica Meir launching into space toward the ISS.

"What it looks like from @Space_Station when your best friend achieves her lifelong dream to go to space," Koch tweeted. From Space.com:

NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and United Arab Emirates spaceflight participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan today (Sept. 25) at 9:57 a.m. EDT (1457 GMT or 6:57 p.m. local time). They were bound to join a crew of six currently living and working on board the International Space Station, including Meir's astronaut training classmate, Christina Koch.

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Distant gas giant challenges our understanding of planetary formation

A giant exoplanet orbits a tiny star, upending scientists' understanding of planetary formation. The newly-discovered world and its pathetic little sun were announced in the latest issue of Science.

"It's exciting because we've wondered for long a time whether giant planets like Jupiter and Saturn can form around such small stars," said Prof Peter Wheatley, from the University of Warwick, UK, who was not involved with the latest study.

"I think the general impression had been that these planets just didn't exist, but we couldn't be sure because small stars are very faint, which makes them difficult to study, even though they are much more common than stars like the Sun," he told BBC News.

These things are all relative; the M-type red dwarf is still has 270 times the mass of the planet, which has about half the mass of Jupiter.

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Solar eclipse on Jupiter

The shadow of the Jovian moon Io was captured by NASA's Juno probe. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill) Read the rest

Evidence of water observed on exoplanet

A superearth 111 light years away shows evidence of water vapor in its stratosphere, reports National Geographic. Water on another world.

The discovery, announced this week in two independent studies, comes from years of observations of the exoplanet K2-18b, a super-Earth that’s about 111 light-years from our solar system. Discovered in 2015 by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, K2-18b is very unlike our home world: It’s more than eight times the mass of Earth, which means it’s either an icy giant like Neptune or a rocky world with a thick, hydrogen-rich atmosphere.

Even at a tenth of the speed of light, that's a thousand-year trip.

The illustration is by ESA artist Martin Kornmesser. Read the rest

NASA is going to Europa

NASA announced today that the agency is moving ahead with a planned mission to Jupiter's moon Europa. In this next phase, engineers will complete the final design, construction, and testing of the Europa Clipper spacecraft for a launch as soon as 2023. Why the icy moon Europa? From NASA:

NASA's Europa Clipper mission will conduct detailed reconnaissance of Jupiter's moon Europa to see whether the icy moon could harbor conditions suitable for life. The mission will carry a highly capable, radiation-tolerant spacecraft that will perform repeated close flybys of the icy moon from a long, looping orbit around Jupiter.

The payload of selected science instruments includes cameras and spectrometers to produce high-resolution images of Europa's surface and determine its composition. An ice penetrating radar will determine the thickness of the moon's icy shell and search for subsurface lakes similar to those beneath Antarctica. The mission also will carry a magnetometer to measure strength and direction of the moon's magnetic field, which will allow scientists to determine the depth and salinity of its ocean.

"This is a giant step in our search for oases that could support life in our own celestial backyard," says Europa program scientist Curt Niebur.

That's all well and good, assuming we attempt no landing there.

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See the Perseids meteor shower through August 24

The Perseid meteor shower peaked last night (8/13) but you'll still be able to spot them streaking across the sky through August 24. The meteors are particles left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle. From NASA's Perseids page:

How to Observe Perseids

If it’s not cloudy, pick an observing spot away from bright lights, lay on your back, and look up! You don’t need any special equipment to view the Perseids – just your eyes. (Note that telescopes or binoculars are not recommended.) Meteors can generally be seen all over the sky so don’t worry about looking in any particular direction.

While observing this month, not all of the meteors you’ll see belong to the Perseid meteor shower. Some are sporadic background meteors. And some are from other weaker showers also active right now, including the Alpha Capricornids, the Southern Delta Aquariids, and the Kappa Cygnids. How can you tell if you’ve seen a Perseid? If you see a meteor try to trace it backwards. If you end up in the constellation Perseus, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a Perseid. If finding constellations isn’t your forte, then note that Perseids are some of the fastest meteors you’ll see!

Pro tip: Remember to let your eyes become adjusted to the dark (it takes about 30 minutes) – you’ll see more meteors that way. Try to stay off of your phone too, as looking at devices with bright screens will negatively affect your night vision and hence reduce the number of meteors you see!

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Astonishing new portrait and video of Jupiter

NASA has just released this incredible image of Jupiter taken by the Hubble Space Telescope on June 27, 2019. From NASA:

This new Hubble Space Telescope view of Jupiter, taken on June 27, 2019, reveals the giant planet's trademark Great Red Spot, and a more intense color palette in the clouds swirling in Jupiter's turbulent atmosphere than seen in previous years. The colors, and their changes, provide important clues to ongoing processes in Jupiter's atmosphere. The new image was taken in visible light as part of the Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy program, or OPAL. The program provides yearly Hubble global views of the outer planets to look for changes in their storms, winds and clouds. Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 observed Jupiter when the planet was 400 million miles from Earth, when Jupiter was near "opposition" or almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky....

This animation (below) of a rotating Jupiter was assembled from a Hubble Space Telescope photographic mosaic of almost the entire planet. The resulting flat map was computer-projected onto a sphere to create a rotating globe (excluding the polar regions above 80 degrees latitude). Jupiter completes one rotation every 9.8 hours. The giant planet's trademark Great Red Spot is the orange-colored oval that is as big as Earth. Distinct parallel bands of roiling clouds dominate our view above Jupiter's deep hydrogen/helium atmosphere. The colorful cloud bands are confined by jet streams blowing in opposite directions at different latitudes. A characteristic string of white oval-shaped anticyclones appears along one latitude band in the planet’s southern hemisphere.

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Wonderful new Snoopy astronaut watches from Timex

Snoopy has been a NASA mascot for more than 50 years going back to the Apollo missions. Now, Timex has released a wonderful "Snoopy In Space" collection of wristwatches. The watches in the line start at $89. Here's NASA on the space agency's history with the Peanuts gang:

NASA has shared a proud association with Charles M. Schulz and his American icon Snoopy since Apollo missions began in the 1960s. Schulz created comic strips depicting Snoopy on the Moon, capturing public excitement about America’s achievements in space. In May 1969, Apollo 10 astronauts traveled to the Moon for a final checkout before lunar landings on later missions. Because the mission required the lunar module to skim the Moon’s surface to within 50,000 feet and “snoop around” scouting the Apollo 11 landing site, the crew named the lunar module Snoopy. The command module was named Charlie Brown, Snoopy’s loyal owner.

'All Systems Are Go!' with Timex 'Snoopy In Space' watch collection (collectSPACE)

NASA image below: "Headed for the launch pad, Apollo 10 Commander Tom Stafford pats the nose of a stuffed Snoopy held by Jamye Flowers (Coplin), astronaut Gordon Cooper’s secretary."

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Explore 100,000 stars in the browser

100,000 stars has apparently been around for years, but I loved how much fun it makes zooming in and out of the Milky Way and checking out nearby stars. I could name a half-dozen recent video games that attempt this exact UI and don't do it as well! They should update it with all the lovely planets we've found since 2012. Read the rest

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