Science

Science

Comments (0)

Permalink

Shuttle Launch from Airliner

I guess if you can’t be there in person, you can watch the video. If you have a fast connection, you might want to view this full-screen, with “720p” selected.

There’s a low rumble that starts about a minute into this video. Maybe it doesn’t mean anything, but I wonder whether that’s the sound of the shuttle.

Airy Persiflage
Science

Comments (0)

Permalink

To Orbit, Then to Mars

If you’re like me, you’re probably never going to get into space, even though it’s something you’ve dreamed about your whole life. I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to settle for IMAX movies and amusement rides for your space experience.

But NASA is offering to send your face and name into earth orbit on one of the two final Space Shuttle missions.

If earth orbit isn’t ambitious enough for you, NASA is also offering to send your name to Mars, encoded on a microchip on a future lander.

Listen, I once felt a little thrill, during a long distance phone call, at the thought that my electronically-encoded voice might be bouncing off a communications satellite. If this the only way this space nut gets into space, it will do.

(Thanks to dealmac.)

Science

Comments (0)

Permalink

Shuttle Launch, In Detail

Via Slashdot: NASA does a huge amount of photography on every Space Shuttle launch in order to assist in detecting problems and analyzing system behavior. Here’s a 45-minute video narrated by a couple of NASA engineers.

You may want to click the little four-arrow icon in the lower right corner of the video to view this full-frame.

And if that’s not enough for you, here’s another ten minutes worth:

Science

Comments (0)

Permalink

Space Men

A couple weeks ago I attended a NASA panel with Mercury astronaut John Glenn, Apollo 17 moon-walker Harrison Schmitt, and Space Shuttle astronaut John Grunsfeld. After the panel discussion, I got to actually step up and meet Schmitt and Grunsfeld.

NASA Panel: John Glenn, Harrison Schmitt, John Grunsfeld

Grunsfeld is probably not as famous as the other two, but he’s flown on five Shuttle missions. He’s been to the Russian Mir space station, and to the International Space Station (ISS). He’s visited the Hubble Space Telescope three times, doing eight separate space walks to perform maintenance and repairs on the telescope.

I asked something I’ve been curious about for years: did he think of the Hubble Telescope more as a thing, or as a place? Grunsfeld said that, strange as it sounded, he thought of it almost as a person. He had spent years studying the telescope, and felt it almost had a personality — perhaps the way some of us earthbound types think of our cars or our computers. He said the Mir and the ISS both felt like places.

While Schmitt took one of NASA’s most requested photographs, Blue Marble, I told Grunsfeld he deserved credit as a co-author of many of the amazing Hubble images which wouldn’t have been possible without the work he did to repair and upgrade the telescope.

Which brings us to the Boston Globe’s 2010 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar: 25 photos, with one new photo revealed each day until Christmas. (They include links to the advent calendars from past years.)

It’s a big universe out there.

Science

Comments (0)

Permalink

The View from the Night Sky

I like to go out some nights to watch the International Space Station (ISS) pass overhead. (NASA has a site to help track the ISS from almost anywhere on earth.) It looks like a very bright star or planet, always moving west to east, sometimes trending northward, other times southward.

What do astronauts see when they look out the window on the ISS? How about this, via the Astronomy Picture of the Day site:

Night on the Space Station

A docked Russian Soyuz spacecraft and parts of the ISS are visible in the foreground, apparently lit by a quarter moon. Above one of the solar panels of the Soyuz are the lights of New Orleans.

North (left) of New Orleans, a line of lights tracing central US highway I55 connects to Jackson, Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee. Of course, the lights follow the population centers, but not everyone lives on planet Earth all the time these days. November 2nd marked the first decade of continuous human presence in space on board the International Space Station.

Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.

Science

Comments (1)

Permalink

Take a Ride on a Solid Rocket Booster

Via Boing Boing:

NASA attached a video camera to a Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) on a 2008 Space Shuttle launch. At the beginning of the video, we’re looking at part of the Shuttle’s external fuel tank and the underside of the Shuttle’s nose. We get a wider view when the boosters separate about two minutes into the flight. The video continues until the booster splashes down.

To me, the most astonishing thing about this video is the audio track, which grows quieter as the air grows thinner, and then louder again as the booster falls into denser air.

Spaceflight isn’t magic. Spaceships are physical things, built by humans. That becomes really apparent when you hear the creaking and clanking of the booster as it settles into the water.

Science

Comments (0)

Permalink

Sky, Viewed from Above

For space nuts like myself, this is a famous photo. Astronaut Bruce McCandless is testing a self-contained jet backpack called the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), designed to allow astronauts to perform extra-vehicular activities (EVAs) untethered from their spacecraft.

NASA’s official title for this photo was “EVAtion”, but when the photo was posted on another blog a few months ago, I suggested a different title, which I still like: Sky, Viewed from Above.

Bruce McCandless Untethered EVA

Fairly amazing, isn’t it?

Science

Comments (0)

Permalink

Christmas Stars

Hard to feel enthusiastic about outdoing the neighbor’s Christmas lights after viewing this: Boston.com has the Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar — a new photo will be revealed every day until Christmas.

If you look at the photos and can’t wait to see more, you can check out last year’s calendar while you wait.

Science

Comments (0)

Permalink

Goodnight, Earth

Crescent Earth from Space

NASA’s Astronony Picture of the Day had this farewell photo of the earth from the European Space Agency’s comet-chasing spacecraft, Rosetta.

Airy Persiflage
Science

Comments (0)

Permalink

You’re in the Pepsi Generation

The world of the future? It’s on the way:

The first-ever video advertisement will be published in a traditional paper magazine in September.

The video-in-print ads will appear in select copies of the US show business title Entertainment Weekly.

The slim-line screens – around the size of a mobile phone display – also have rechargeable batteries.

The chip technology used to store the video – described as similar to that used in singing greeting cards – is activated when the page is turned.
Each chip can hold up to 40 minutes of video.

I think Jetsons. BBC thinks Harry Potter. Either way, Pepsi will be getting a lot of buzz, and not just from poorly-connected batteries.

Science

Comments (0)

Permalink

In the Shadow of the Moon

Via Pink Tentacle, the recent solar eclipse, as seen by a Japanese weather satellite:

Science

Comments (0)

Permalink

Watch the Skies

I just got back from a park near here. I stood out in the middle of a dark softball field and watched the International Space Station (ISS) fly over.

It looked like a bright star, but it was moving. If I hadn’t known what it was, I might have assumed it was a high-flying jet. But it was too high, and too bright, to be a jet. The sun had set more than an hour before. The ISS, orbiting 220 miles above the earth, could still catch sunlight.

I knew where and when to watch thanks to NASA’s ISS tracker site, and this Space Fellowship article, which I found thanks to Slashdot.

The marathon of space station flybys won’t stop until mid-to-late July (depending on your location). That gives space shuttle Endeavour, currently scheduled to launch on July 11th, time to reach the space station and join the show. As the shuttle approaches station for docking, many observers will witness a memorable double flyby — Endeavour and the ISS sailing side by side across the starry night sky.

So, watch the skies, and remember to wave.

Science

Comments (0)

Permalink

Oh, Chute!

The same orbiting camera that captured yesterday’s photo of the Earth and the Moon from Mars got this photo of the Phoenix spacecraft descending toward Mars under its 30-foot wide parachute. That’s the Martian surface in the background.

Phoenix lander under parachute

(How it was done.)

Science

Comments (0)

Permalink

Earth from Mars

Earth and the Moon as seen from MarsVia Stranger Fruit, the planet Earth and its Moon, as seen from Mars. To the naked eye, Earth would be nothing more than a bright blue point of light in the Martian night sky. This photo was taken by a very high-resolution camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, like looking through a powerful telescope.

Today’s a big day for Earth-Mars relations. The Phoenix lander is scheduled to touch down in the far north at 7:53 PM EDT tonight. Scientists believe there is water ice under the surface there, and Phoenix is equipped to dig for it. (Speculation that Phoenix will bring the ice back to earth to counteract global warming is a pretty good joke, I think.)

If you are a space nut, Space Nut Central (better known as The Planetary Society) suggests places where you can follow the landing live.

Update: Photos from the Phoenix lander.

Movies
Science

Comments (0)

Permalink

Perspective

Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean, on returning to earth after walking on the moon:

Since that time, I have not complained about the weather one single time. I’m glad there is weather. I’ve not complained about traffic. I’m glad there’s people around.

One of the things that I did when I got home, I went down to shopping centers, and I’d just go around there, get an ice cream cone or somethin’, and just watch the people go by, and think: “Boy, we’re lucky to be here. Why do people complain about the earth? We are living in the Garden of Eden.”

(This is from the documentary In the Shadow of the Moon.)