SpaceX reveals first moon passenger: Yusaku Maezawa, Japanese fashion billionaire

Elon Musk's SpaceX revealed the name of the person who is set to become the first private space tourist to travel to the moon: Yusaku Maezawa. Read the rest

Bioartist is breeding flies adapted for life on Titan

Since 2011, Andy Gracie has been selectively breeding flies to thrive under the harsh environmental conditions on Titan, Saturn's largest moon: dark, cold (-179.2C), and with very low atmospheric pressure. Read the rest

How to build a lunar base today!

Design studio Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell animated how it may be possible to build a lunar base with today's technology. They based the video on articles in New Space: The Journal of Space Entrepreneurship and Innovation. See you on the dark side?

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Hurricane Florence in 3D, as seen by NASA's MISR onboard the Terra satellite

Get your red-blue 3D glasses out. NASA today shares a stunning stereo anaglyph 3-D image of Hurricane Florence, captured from the MISR instrument flying on-board the Terra satellite, which carries nine cameras that observe Earth at different angles. Read the rest

Case of the missing moon rocks

After the Apollo 11 moon landing nearly 50 years ago, the White House gifted tiny samples of moon rocks to all the 50 states and 135 countries. They were encased in acrylic and mounted on a wooden plaque. In 2002, Joseph Gutheinz, then a NASA investigator, realized that nearly all of them had vanished. Thanks to his persistence since then, there are only two missing lunar souvenirs of the 50 distributed in the US. From the AP:

NASA did not track their whereabouts after giving them to the Nixon administration for distribution, said chief historian Bill Barry, but added the space agency would be happy to see them located.

Gutheinz began his career as an investigator for NASA, where he found illicit sellers asking millions for rocks on the black market. Authentic moon rocks are considered national treasures and cannot legally be sold in the U.S., he said.

Many of the Apollo 11 rocks have turned up in unexpected places: with ex-governors in West Virginia and Colorado, in a military-artifact storage building in Minnesota and with a former crab boat captain from TV’s “Deadliest Catch” in Alaska.

In New York, officials who oversee the state museum have no record of that state’s Apollo 11 rock. In Delaware, the sample was stolen from its state museum on Sept. 22, 1977. Police were contacted, but it was never found.

"Moon rock hunter closes in on tracking down missing stones" (AP, thanks Bob Pescovitz!) Read the rest

Mysterious repeating radio bursts from distant galaxy could be sign of extraterrestrial technology

Researchers from extraterrestrial research initiative Breakthrough Listen, the SETI Institute, and UC Berkeley used machine learning to detect mysterious repeating radio bursts from a galaxy 3 billion light years from Earth. As of now, the source of the fast radio bursts (FRBs) is unknown and, yes, the bursts "could be the signatures of technology developed by extraterrestrial intelligent life," according to the scientists. From the SETI Institute:

In August of 2017, the Listen science team at the University of California, Berkeley SETI Research Center observed FRB 121102 for five hours, using digital instrumentation at the GBT. Combing through 400 TB of data, they reported (in a paper [pdf] led by Berkeley SETI postdoctoral researcher Vishal Gajjar, recently accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal) a total of 21 bursts. All were seen within one hour, suggesting that the source alternates between periods of quiescence and frenzied activity.

Now, (UC Berkeley doctoral student Gerry) Zhang and collaborators have developed a new machine learning algorithm, and reanalyzed the 2017 GBT dataset, finding an additional 72 bursts that were not detected originally...

Additional FRB research may provide clues about whether or not they are signatures of extraterrestrial technology.

More at UC Berkeley news: "AI helps track down mysterious cosmic radio bursts" Read the rest

Saturn has northern lights, too

Earth shares a cool phenomenon with Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune, and Saturn: all have observable auroras. NASA created a lovely animation of Saturn's, as well as some cool still images. Read the rest

Happy anniversary, Voyager 1 and the Voyager Golden Record!

On this day in 1977, NASA launched Voyager 1 on a grand tour of the solar system and into the mysteries of interstellar space. (It followed the launch of Voyager 2 a few weeks earlier.)

Attached to each of these probes is a beautiful golden record containing a message for any extraterrestrial intelligence that might encounter it. This enchanting artifact, officially called the Voyager Interstellar Record, may be the last vestige of our civilization after we are gone forever.

Curated by a committee led by Carl Sagan, the Golden Record tells a story of our planet expressed in sounds, images, and science: Earth’s greatest music from myriad peoples and eras, from Bach and Beethoven to Blind Willie Johnson and Chuck Berry, Benin percussion to Solomon Island panpipes. Natural sounds—birds, a train, a baby’s cry, a kiss—are collaged into a lovely audio poem called "Sounds of Earth." There are spoken greetings in dozens of human languages—and one whale language—and more than 100 images encoded in analog that depict who, and what, we are.

Two years ago, my friends Timothy Daly, Lawrence Azerrad, and I released the Voyager Record to the public on vinyl for the first time as a lavish box set. Our project's resonance with the public, and the Grammy that we were honored to receive for it, are really a testament to the majesty of the original record and the entire Voyager mission. As the original Golden Record's producer, Timothy Ferris, wrote in the liner notes for our box set, the Voyagers are on a journey not just through space but also through time. Read the rest

NASA's gorgeous music video for Claude Debussy's "Clair de Lune"

The scientist/artists in NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio created this magnificent video to accompany a recent performance by the National Symphony Orchestra Pops of Claude Debussy's "Clair de Lune." From NASA:

The visuals were composed like a nature documentary, with clean cuts and a mostly stationary virtual camera. The viewer follows the Sun throughout a lunar day, seeing sunrises and then sunsets over prominent features on the Moon. The sprawling ray system surrounding Copernicus crater, for example, is revealed beneath receding shadows at sunrise and later slips back into darkness as night encroaches...

The visualization uses a digital 3D model of the Moon built from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter global elevation maps and image mosaics. The lighting is derived from actual Sun angles during lunar days in 2018.

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Nailed it: Milton Glaser's 'Space Force' logo

Bloomberg Businessweek asked eight designers to come up with logos for Trump's inane "Space Force." Milton Glaser nailed it.

The image represents the relentless intrusion of our president in every aspect of our lives and future. The image can be read as his next conquest or simply that there is very little inside that skull.

I <3 Milton Glaser.

Previously: A 'Space Force' recruitment video via Jimmy Kimmel

(Daring Fireball, One Foot Tsunami) Read the rest

Photos from space of the northern California fires

Astronaut Alexander Gerst captured the above photo of Northern California's Carr and Ferguson fires five days ago. Below is the blanket of smoke from the Mendocino Complex Fire, the largest fire in California's history, as imaged by the Aqua satellite. Horrifying and tragic no matter how you see it.

From NASA:

Details of the actual fire as well as the ground are obscured in NASA's Aqua satellite image due to the heavy smoke coming off the Mendocino Complex fires as well as several other extremely large fires across California.

Today's total of acreage consumed by the River and Range fires is 300,086 and the fires are 47% contained. The Mendocino Complex Fire doubled in size over the last few days and the Ranch and River Fires combined near Clear Lake to form the largest fire in California history. Weather concerns continue with a warm and dry ridge of high pressure continuing over the fire areas today. Fuel moisture recovery continues to be poor overnight. A red flag warning is predicted from Thursday through Saturday. This is the 13th day of this ongoing blaze. Over 4,000 firefighters have been involved in fighting this fire. There are still over 10,000 structures that are in danger. Yosemite National Park has been closed indefinitely due to the fire.

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Will Martian colonists need to be bioengineered?

Bioengineering future Martian colonists may be easier than taking the many difficult steps to reduce radiation exposure. But is it ethical? Read the rest

Modified ground telescope captures this remarkable Neptune photo

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) got this cool shot of Venus by using new adaptive optics that ignore earth's atmosphere while imaging celestial phenomena.

Via Universe Today:

In astronomy, adaptive optics refers to a technique where instruments are able to compensate for the blurring effect caused by Earth’s atmosphere, which is a serious issue when it comes to ground-based telescopes. Basically, as light passes through our atmosphere, it becomes distorted and causes distant objects to become blurred (which is why stars appear to twinkle when seen with the naked eye).

Head over to the article to see a remarkable before and after shot.

This is a photo of Neptune, from the ground! ESO's new adaptive optics makes ground telescopes ignore the earth's atmosphere (Universe Today)

. Read the rest

Scientists find strong evidence for an underground lake on Mars

Deep below a mile of ice at the Martian south pole lies a lake of liquid water, according to a team of Italian scientists led by Roberto Orosei. Read the rest

The world's first trillionaire may be an asteroid miner

Extracting earth's natural resources created some of the world's greatest fortunes. Many believe that trend will continue in space, as mining three types of asteroids leads to enormous material yields. Read the rest

Hear the sounds of the Sun

NASA scientists listen to the low-frequency pulsing hum of the Sun to gain insight into the star's atmosphere over time. The raw data comes from the ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) launched back in 1995. Researchers from Stanford Experimental Physics Lab then process and filter the data and speed it up "a factor 42,000 to bring it into the audible human-hearing range."

From NASA:

“Waves are traveling and bouncing around inside the Sun, and if your eyes were sensitive enough they could actually see this,” said Alex Young, associate director for science in the Heliophysics Science Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland...

Data from SOHO, sonified by the Stanford Experimental Physics Lab, captures the Sun’s natural vibrations and provides scientists with a concrete representation of its dynamic movements.

“We don’t have straightforward ways to look inside the Sun. We don’t have a microscope to zoom inside the Sun,” Young said. “So using a star or the Sun’s vibrations allows us to see inside of it..."

These vibrations allow scientists to study a range of complex motions inside the Sun, from solar flares to coronal mass ejections.

“We can see huge rivers of solar material flowing around. We are finally starting to understand the layers of the Sun and the complexity,” Young said. “That simple sound is giving us a probe inside of a star. I think that’s a pretty cool thing.”

Read the rest

This 3D printed titanium fuel tank part shaved 18 months off spacecraft production schedule

Lockheed Martin just made the largest 3D printed part they've ever ever built for space. The titanium domes used to take a couple of years to make from scratch, but this was completed in about three months. Read the rest

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