Look at this comet's terrifically chaotic surface

Landru79 created this spectacular GIF from images captured in 2016 on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko by the European Space Agency lander Philae deployed by the Rosetta probe. The video is significantly sped up, compressing 25 minutes into a few seconds of intense action. But what exactly are we looking at in this pandemonium? From New Scientist:

Much of this apparent “snow” wouldn’t actually be visible if you were standing on 67P’s surface. It is made of cosmic rays – charged subatomic particles that flit across the universe. As they hit the camera’s sensors, they register as streaks of light.

Some of bright specks are actually snow – dust and ice particles floating above the comet’s surface. And many of them are stars behind the rocky cliffside on 67P’s surface.

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Launching today: NASA's new satellite seeking "alien" Earths

Today, SpaceX expects to launch a Falcon 9 rocket to deliver NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) into orbit. Scientists expect TESS to find thousands of exoplanets by detecting when they pass in front of their host stars, briefly blocking the light of those suns.

“A few months after TESS launches, we will be able to point out the first ones of these familiar stars, which host planets that could be like ours,” says Cornell University astronomer Lisa Kaltenegger, director of the Carl Sagan Institute.

From Nadia Drake's excellent FAQ on TESS in National Geographic:

The search for life beyond Earth is necessarily constrained by what we know. Life as we don’t know it could be anywhere, and it doesn’t care that we haven’t deigned to imagine it yet. To help focus the hunt, astronomers are starting by looking for something familiar. And we know that at least once, life evolved on a warm, rocky planet orbiting a relatively stable star.

That being said, many of the stars TESS will scrutinize will be smaller and dimmer than our own: the cool, reddish M dwarfs that are the most common types of stars in the Milky Way. Planets orbiting these stars at a distance that’s neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist are going to be snuggled in quite close—orbiting near enough to their stars for scientists to find them on months-long time scales.

In addition, the worlds TESS expects to find will be better situated for observations that could reveal whether alien metabolisms are churning away on their surfaces, beneath their seas, or in their clouds.

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Public goods are REALLY good: thousands of years later, the Roman roads are still paying dividends

Social scientists often promote the value of public provision of infrastructure as a sound, long-term investment in development and prosperity, pushing back against the neoliberal tendency to abandon public goods in favor of private development. Read the rest

3D realtime map of objects in Earth orbit

stuffin.space is a real-time 3D map of all the crap floating in circles around planet Earth, much of it put there by us.

The website updates daily with orbit data from Space-Track.org and uses the excellent satellite.js Javascript library to calculate satellite positions.

About the author

My name is James Yoder; I'm an alumnus of FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Team 624 and an incoming Electrical and Computer Engineering freshman at the University of Texas at Austin.

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India ironically loses communications with new communications satellite

If you were to ask the Indian Space Research Organization, they'd tell you that space is hard: the IRSO has lost communications with one of its satellites mere days after launching it into orbit.

According to The Times of India, the IRSO launched the GSAT-6A communications satellite into orbit on March 29. Indian ground control was able to command the satellite to alter its orbit on two separate occasions. Smooth sailing! Then, on Saturday, things went south:

After remaining incommunicado the whole of Saturday, ISRO, on Sunday said: “The second orbit raising operation of GSAT-6A satellite has been successfully carried out by LAM Engine firing for about 53 minutes on March 31, 2018 in the morning. After the successful long duration firings, when the satellite was on course to normal operating configuration for the third and the final firing, scheduled for April 1, 2018, communication from the satellite was lost. Efforts are underway to establish the link with the satellite.”

That's got to be disappointing. It's worth mentioning that just because they've lost communications with the GSAT-6A doesn't mean that it's lost forever – yet. There have been plenty of instances where long-range communications have been lost by ground control and then restored. Given the satellite's mission, providing mobile communications for the people of India over the next decade, it'd be nice if the ISRO could get the thing back online.

If they fail, however, a permanent loss of communications with the satellite would mark the second mission failure for the space agency in less than a year. Read the rest

Thursday 4/5 at San Francisco's Cal Academy of Sciences: Space Age NightLife with the Voyager Golden Record

Please join me this Thursday evening April 5 at San Francisco's California Academy of Sciences NightLife event celebrating the Space Age! At 8:30pm, I'll be speaking about the Voyager Golden Record, the iconic message for extraterrestrials launched into space that my friends Tim Daly, Lawrence Azerrad, and I released on vinyl for the first time here on Earth. I'm honored to be joined in conversation by my friend and mentor Timothy Ferris, the bestselling science author who produced the original Voyager Record back in 1977.

There's a stellar lineup of other presenters and happenings at the museum that night too: NASA astronaut Ed Lu, a workshop with the Vintage Synthesizer Museum, a panel on NASA computing technology, space-themed pinball machines, Vetiver's Andy Cabic and DJ Daniel T on the turntables, plenty of far-out art, and much more. I hope to see you there: California Academy of Sciences NightLife: Space Age

The Voyager Golden Record 3xLP Vinyl Box Set and 2xCD-Book edition will be for sale at the event and also available from OzmaRecords.com.

Here's an audio sampler:

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China's falling space station burned up last night just north of the Spacecraft Cemetery

Last night, China's Tinagong-1 space station, about the size of a school bus, burned up as it fell over the Pacific Ocean. The Fraunhofer Institute for High Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques captured this hot image as the satellite was just 270 kilometers (170 miles) above Earth's surface. Kenneth Chang writes in the New York Times:

The demise of the station, Tiangong-1, became apparent when radar stations no longer detected it passing overhead. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries; the likelihood that pieces would land on someone was small, but not zero.

The station may have landed northwest of Tahiti, Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said on Twitter. That location is north of the Spacecraft Cemetery, an isolated region in the Pacific Ocean where space debris has frequently landed.

For the past few weeks the fate of Tiangong-1 has provided some drama. The Chinese lost control of the spacecraft a couple of years ago and thus could not guide it to the middle of an ocean. Because of the drag of air molecules bouncing off Tiangong-1, the station’s altitude dropped, and the descent accelerated quickly in the last few days.

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Watch a Chinese space station fall to earth

Launched in 2011, Tiangong-1 was China's first space station. In the past seven years, it hasn't gotten a lot of use – only two crews of astronauts have spent time on it, in 2012 and 2013. Despite this, Tiangong-1 remained fully operational until, in 2016, China's space agency, the China National Space Administration, lost contact with it. As you read this, Tiangong-1 is falling towards earth. Each orbit it takes brings it closer to our atmosphere. Soon, gravity will finish the job it started, pulling Tiangong-1 back to earth.

No one's quite sure where the eight-ton piece of space junk is going to land yet, but thanks to the Virtual Telescope Project, it's possible to watch it as it comes down.

From Space.com:

As Tiangong-1 makes its last few orbits of Earth before burning up in the atmosphere in a few days, you can watch the Chinese space station live online through a robotically controlled telescope at The Virtual Telescope Project.

Live coverage of the event will start Wednesday (March 28) at 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT), but the organizers said the timing could change closer to the event. You can visit this page on The Virtual Telescope Project's website to see updates.

 

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Yuri's Night L.A., April 7: Bill Nye, astronaut Nicole Stott, David Pescovitz and the Voyager Golden Record

On Saturday April 7, celebrate the wonder of space exploration during the Yuri's Night bash taking place under the Space Shuttle Endeavor at the California Science Center! Special guests include astronaut Nicole Stott, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and many more. Among dozens of far out talks and stellar interactive experiences, I'll be there playing the Voyager Golden Record, the iconic message for extraterrestrials launched into space 40 years ago. (My friends Tim Daly and Lawrence Azerrad and I co-produced the first ever vinyl release of the Voyager Record and we were honored with a 2018 Grammy award.)

I hope to see you there! Tickets: Yuri's Night L.A.

And of course if you're not in Los Angeles, there are Yuri's Night happenings all over the planet!

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SF Bay Area on Thursday: Meet Frank Drake, the father of SETI, at Institute for the Future's "Voyager Record" celebration!

A reminder that this Thursday (3/22), Institute for the Future, the nonprofit thinktank where I'm a researcher, is hosting an event celebrating the Voyager Golden Record at our Palo Alto, California offices/gallery! Joining me in conversation will be legendary astronomer Frank Drake, the father of the scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence and technical director of the original Voyager Record in 1977. Tickets are $10 and RSVP is required: "The Voyager Golden Record: Celebrating a Journey Through Space and Time" I hope to see you there!

Image above: Frank and I scrying with the Voyager Record cover.

Here's the full announcement...

IFTF's The Future Presents... "The Voyager Golden Record: Celebrating a Journey Through Space and Time" Thursday, March 22, 2018, 5:30 to 7:30pm 201 Hamilton Ave. Palo Alto, CA RSVP is required.

Please join Institute for the Future for a reception celebrating the Voyager Golden Record, the iconic message for extraterrestrials, launched into space by NASA in 1977 and released on vinyl for the first time in the 2017 Grammy-winning boxed set, “Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition,” created by IFTF researcher David Pescovitz, Timothy Daly, and Lawrence Azerrad. At this special event, Pescovitz, also a co-editor of Boing Boing, will be host a conversation with legendary astronomer Frank Drake, the father of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) and technical director of the original Voyager Record.

Forty years ago, NASA launched two Voyager spacecraft on a grand tour of the solar system and into the mysteries of interstellar space.

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How a photographer captured Elon's Tesla hurtling through space a million miles from earth

Deep-sky photographer Rogelio Bernal Andreo did the calculations, then managed to catch footage of Starman and the Tesla Roadster that were launched via the Falcon Heavy rocket. Read the rest

Hypnotic animation of how a star-forming galaxy forms

IllustrisTNG, a next-gen simulator for cosmological events, created this beautiful animation of a "late-type" star-forming galaxy. It's fascinating to watch how mind-boggling mass and energy on a mind-boggling time scale looks familiar to observable phenomena on earth. Read the rest

Humans have left 400,000 pounds of "garbage" on the moon

Humans have left approximately 400,000 pounds (181,000 kilograms) of "trash" on the lunar surface. That includes probes, rovers, landers, a metallic olive branch, a hammer and falcon feather (for a gravity experiment, image below), two golf balls, a javelin, a urine collection assembly (small), various rakes and hammer, a portrait of James Irwin, 100 $2 bills, flags, and so many more items. In fact, here is NASA's list of manmade objects on the moon, although it hasn't been updated in 6 years. From Space.com:

Although many people might call the odds and ends humans have left on the moon "garbage" (what else would you call a used urine-collection assembly?), NASA takes a kinder view.

Researchers can study these objects to see how their materials weathered the radiation and vacuum of space over time, (NASA chief historian William) Barry said. Moreover, some of the objects on the moon are still being used, including a laser-range reflector left by the Apollo 11 crew. [What Does the Top of the Moon Look Like?]

Researchers on Earth can ping this reflector with lasers, which allows them to measure the distance between Earth and the moon, according to NASA. These experiments helped scientists realize that the moon is moving away from the Earth at a rate of 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) a year, NASA reported.

The so-called trash left on the moon also has archaeological merit, Barry said. Future lunar visitors may want to view the old Apollo sites and see gear from NASA, the European Space Agency, the Russian space agency Roscosmos and other countries, Barry said.

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Colorized photo of Pluto

From Nasa; check out the space agency's 3D Pluto globe. Read the rest

Vodafone and Nokia building 4G network for the moon

Vodafone Germany and Nokia are designing a 4G network for the moon. The network is meant to support PTScientists's "Mission to the Moon" that involves the Berlin-based company launching a lunar lander and two moon rovers aboard a SpaceX rocket in 2019, the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. (PTSScientists was one of the teams competing in the Google Lunar XPRIZE that's ending this month without a winner.) From Space.com:

Vodafone picked Nokia to build a space-worthy version of its Ultra Compact Network, one that will be the lightest ever made, at just 2.2 lbs. (1 kilogram) — no heavier than a bag of sugar, Vodafone representatives said in a statement.

"This project involves a radically innovative approach to the development of mobile network infrastructure," Vodafone Germany CEO Hannes Ametsreiter said in the same statement. "It is also a great example of an independent, multi-skilled team achieving an objective of immense significance through their courage, pioneering spirit and inventiveness."

Under the plan, PTScientists' ALINA lander will use the 4G network to beam the first live HD video feed from the surface of the moon. The signal, which will operate in the 1,800-MHz frequency band, "will be broadcast to a global audience via a deep space link that interconnects with the PTScientists server in the Mission Control Centre in Berlin," according to the statement.

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Silicon Valley: Voyager Golden Record celebration at Institute for the Future, March 22

On March 22, Institute for the Future, the nonprofit thinktank where I'm a researcher, is hosting an event celebrating the Voyager Golden Record at our Palo Alto, California offices/gallery! Joining me in conversation will be legendary astronomer Frank Drake, the father of the scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence and technical director of the original Voyager Record in 1977. Tickets are $10 and RSVP is required: "The Voyager Golden Record: Celebrating a Journey Through Space and Time" I hope to see you there! Here's the full announcement...

IFTF's The Future Presents... "The Voyager Golden Record: Celebrating a Journey Through Space and Time" Thursday, March 22, 2018, 5:30 to 7:30pm 201 Hamilton Ave. Palo Alto, CA RSVP is required.

Please join Institute for the Future for a reception celebrating the Voyager Golden Record, the iconic message for extraterrestrials, launched into space by NASA in 1977 and released on vinyl for the first time in the 2017 Grammy-winning boxed set, “Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition,” created by IFTF researcher David Pescovitz, Timothy Daly, and Lawrence Azerrad. At this special event, Pescovitz, also a co-editor of Boing Boing, will be host a conversation with legendary astronomer Frank Drake, the father of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) and technical director of the original Voyager Record.

Forty years ago, NASA launched two Voyager spacecraft on a grand tour of the solar system and into the mysteries of interstellar space. Attached to each of these probes is a golden phonograph record containing Earth's greatest music from myriad peoples and eras, natural sounds, spoken greetings in dozens of human languages, and more than 100 encoded images that depict who, and what, we are.

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Build the LEGO Space Shuttle

This LEGO Space Shuttle kit is pretty awesome!

My daughter really loved the LEGO Women of Nasa set, so this $29 Space Shuttle was a no-brainer.

285 pieces and several recommendations for things to build other than a Space Shuttle.

LEGO says you are go with throttle up.

LEGO Creator Space Shuttle Explorer 31066 Building Kit (285 Piece) via Amazon

Image via Amazon Read the rest

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