Excellent animation comparing the rotations of the planets in our solar system

James O'Donoghue, a planetary scientist at JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), made this excellent clip comparing the rotations, tilts, and sidereal day lengths of the eight planets and two of the dwarf planets in our solar system.

There are many more dwarf planet candidates, but they aren't mapped so aren't included," O'Donoghue writes. "More space missions would be a good idea."

Agree!

Below, another one of O'Donoghue's fantastic videos:

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Astronaut Helen Sharman: extraterrestrials exist and they may be here now

Helen Sharman was the first British astronaut and in 1991 became the first woman to visit the Soviet Mir space station. In an interview published in The Guardian yesterday, she made a comment about extraterrestrials, the latter part of which is an eyebrow raiser:

"Aliens exist, there’s no two ways about it. There are so many billions of stars out there in the universe that there must be all sorts of different forms of life. Will they be like you and me, made up of carbon and nitrogen? Maybe not. It’s possible they’re here right now and we simply can’t see them."

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Video made from 400,000 photos of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67p) taken by ESA's Rosetta spacecraft

In 2016 an exciting mission was ended. The Rosetta spacecraft made its final maneuver. A controlled hard-landing on the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67p).

Before that, Rosetta accompanied the comet for more then 2 years. It researched valuable scientific data, brought a lander on to the comets surface, and took a vast number of pictures.

In 2017, ESA released over 40,0000 images from Rosetta's comet mission. Based on this material, Motion Designer Christian Stangl and Composer Wolfgang Stangl worked together to create this short film. The sequences are digitally-enhanced real-footage of the probe.

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Listen to the Christmas Eve message from the first humans orbiting another world (1968)

On Christmas Eve, 1968, astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders, the first humans to orbit another world, delivered a Christmas Eve message from above the lunar surface. From NASA:

"We were told that on Christmas Eve we would have the largest audience that had ever listened to a human voice," recalled Borman during 40th anniversary celebrations in 2008. "And the only instructions that we got from NASA was to do something appropriate." "The firs

t ten verses of Genesis is the foundation of many of the world's religions, not just the Christian religion," added Lovell. "There are more people in other religions than the Christian religion around the world, and so this would be appropriate to that and so that's how it came to pass."

The mission was also famous for the iconic "Earthrise" image, snapped by Anders, which would give humankind a new perspective on their home planet. Anders has said that despite all the training and preparation for an exploration of the moon, the astronauts ended up discovering Earth.

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Astonishing stabilized time-lapse showing the Earth's rotation from the ground

Photographer Eric Brummel created this magnificent time-lapse video of the Milky Way in which the sky is stabilized so you can experience the Earth's rotation. He captured the footage at Font's Point, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California. From Universe Today:

Eric created this time-lapse by using a star-tracker with his camera. A star-tracker rotates the camera at the same speed as the Earth, but in the opposite direction. It has the visual effect of stabilizing the sky. Usually, star-trackers are used to stabilize the camera during a long exposure, to avoid blurry or streaked stars in the image.

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Happy Hanukkah from space

Yesterday was the first night of Hanukkah. From the International Space Station, astronaut Jessica Meir tweeted the image above and the following: "Happy Hanukkah to all those who celebrate it on Earth! #HappyHanukkah"

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Randall "XKCD" Munroe has a New York Times column where he answers weird science questions

Randall Munroe's "Good Question" column in the New York Times is in the vein of his How To and What If books, in which he answers weird science questions with equally weird thoroughness. Read the rest

How to (maybe) see the Leonid meteor shower before dawn on Monday

This year's episode of the grand meteor shower the Leonids will peak on Monday morning before dawn. The meteors are bits of debris dropping off the comet Tempel-Tuttle that intersects Earth's orbit every November. Unfortunately, it may be tough to see many shooting stars because activity this year will be low and the waning gibbous moon will shine brightly. Still, it's always fun and meditative to watch the skies. From EarthSky:

In 2019, no matter where you are on Earth – and no matter when you watch, on the morning of the peak itself, or on the morning leading up to the peak – the best hours of the night for meteor-watching will be hindered by the bright moon. Those hours are between midnight and dawn, when Earth’s forward motion through space has carried your part of Earth head-on into the meteor stream.

Also in 2019, there’s really no way to avoid the moon. You’ll have to find a way to work around it. Try observing in a shadow of a large structure (like a barn), or in a mountain shadow. Just try to keep the moon out of view. Let your eyes adjust to the darkness for a period, say, 15 minutes to half an hour. Just wait and watch, don’t expect too much, and see what you see.

We hear lots of reports from people who see meteors from yards, decks, streets and especially highways in and around cities. But the best place to watch a meteor shower is always in the country.

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Company's goal is to build orbiting space hotel by 2025

The Gateway Foundation is a private company that claims they could build the first orbital space hotel by 2025. According to their site, the Von Braun Rotating Space Station is designed "to accommodate both national space agencies conducting low gravity research and space tourists who want to experience life on a large space station with the comfort of low gravity and the feel of a nice hotel" large enough for 450 visitors. From Space.com:

Gateway Foundation officials acknowledge that the station might not be entirely finished by 2025, but the group aims to develop the station's main structure and basic functions by then. "We expect the operation to begin in 2025, the full station will be built out and completed by 2027. … Once the station's fully operational, our hope, our goal and our objective is to have the station available for the average person," (lead architect Timothy) Alatorre said. "So, a family or an individual could save up reasonably … and be able to have enough money to visit space and have that experience. … It would be something that would be within reach...

Alatorre said that the Gateway Foundation feels that such a project is now possible because the growing success of commercial aerospace companies like SpaceX has made launch options more affordable.

He added that the company admits that it's possible its timeline is pushing it somewhat. "We completely understand that delays are almost inevitable with aerospace, but based on our internal projections and the fact that we're already dealing with existing technology, we're not inventing anything new.

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Enjoyable website presents the size of space

Neal Agarwal made this website about the size of space. You click through it one page at a time, starting with a single astronaut and ending with the observable universe. Read the rest

Voyager 2's new messages home illuminate the mysteries of interstellar space

In 1977, NASA launched two spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, on a grand tour of the solar system and into the mysteries of interstellar space. Famously attached to each of these probes is the Voyager Golden Record containing a message for any extraterrestrial intelligence that might encounter it, perhaps billions of years from now. Voyager 1 entered interstellar space in 2012. Last year, Voyager 2 joined its twin beyond the heliosphere, described by NASA as "the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by our Sun." Today sees the publication of several scientific papers analyzing the data that Voyager 2 has sent back since its crossing. Congratulations to the inspiring scientists and engineers behind these latest papers and the incredible Voyager mission, still going strong 40+ years later! From NASA:

Each paper details the findings from one of Voyager 2's five operating science instruments: a magnetic field sensor, two instruments to detect energetic particles in different energy ranges and two instruments for studying plasma (a gas composed of charged particles). Taken together, the findings help paint a picture of this cosmic shoreline, where the environment created by our Sun ends and the vast ocean of interstellar space begins.

The Sun's heliosphere is like a ship sailing through interstellar space. Both the heliosphere and interstellar space are filled with plasma, a gas that has had some of its atoms stripped of their electrons. The plasma inside the heliosphere is hot and sparse, while the plasma in interstellar space is colder and denser.

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Samsung satellite crashes in family's yard

Nancy Mumby-Welke lives in rural Saginaw County, MI; yesterday morning she was about to let her horses out when she discovered the crashed, humming remains of a Samsung satellite on her property. Read the rest

International Space Station's "Plastic Recycler" machine will crank out 3D printer feedstock in orbit

Next Saturday, Made In Space's Plastic Recycler will be delivered to the International Space Station (ISS) to convert certain waste plastic into feedstock for the company's Additive Manufacturing Facility, a 3D printer operating aboard the ISS (image below). From Made In Space:
The Plastic Recycler was developed through a partnership with Brazil-based, Braskem, Americas’ largest thermosplastic resin producer. The partnership adopted Green Plastic, a bio-based resin made from sugarcane, for the printing of tools and spare parts by astronauts. GreenTM polyethylene is made from ethylene derived from sugarcane ethanol.

From Braskem's prior description of the device:

The machine consists of a plastic crushing and extrusion system that produces a filament that can be used by the 3D printer already installed on the ISS. The recycler will allow astronauts to, among other applications, use the Green Polyethylene tools and parts previously fabricated by the 3D printer, as well as other plastic materials already on the ISS that no longer are being used, such as food packaging.

More at Space.com: "Plastic Recycler Will Turn Space Station Trash into 3D Printing Stock"

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LIVE: Watch the first all-woman spacewalk

NASA is streaming the first all-woman spacewalk from 8 a.m. eastern time. Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir are fixing a failed power controller on the International Space Station.

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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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