Posts Tagged: NASA

Cosmic Moans, Ranked

10. Neptune moan 9. Earth moan 2 ("song") 8. Uranus moan 7. Saturn ring moan 6. Jupiter moan 5. Saturn moan 4. Earth moan 1 ("voice") 3. Miranda moan 2. IO moan (moon-moan) 1. Uranus ring moan

(via Consequence of Sound)


Did NASA Send This Ground Squirrel To Mars?

Guess what people on the Internet have discovered? Life on Mars! But it is not, according to current theories, Martian. It's a … ground squirrel, or perhaps a regular Martian rock that looks a little like a ground squirrel from a certain angle and a certain light. The very large NASA image from the rover Curiosity is here, so you can spend the next hour or so looking for Waldo the Martian Ground Squirrel, or you can just accept the conclusion of this UFO blog:

A lot of people are emailing me saying that this squirrel was part of a NASA experiment to test how long it [...]


Voyager 1 Leaving Our Solar System To Infect Universe

The year 1977 is perhaps best remembered for a televised incident in September, when "a tube top-clad woman named Yolanda Bowsley is called into Contestant's Row on 'The Price is Right,' and while running down her breasts pop out of her shirt." But also that month, Voyager 1 launched from Cape Canaveral.

The awkward-looking collection of antennas, science instruments and a nuclear power supply has been zooming through space on its grand tour of the solar system for 35 years now. Its sister craft, Voyager 2, was launched two months earlier but took a slightly longer route on its way toward interstellar space. The Voyager missions are now [...]


Soon The Robot We Sent To Mars Will Start Blasting Things With A Laser Beam

"ChemCam’s analysis begins when the rover’s mast-mounted laser fires a pulse at an area the size of a pinhead, vaporizing part of its target from several meters away. The laser can fire three pulses per second. The first few will remove dust that would otherwise obscure the target surface, enabling scientists to better observe the underlying sample. Curiosity then uses a telescope to view the glowing flash of plasma left behind and record the colors of light within that flash. A spectrometer analyzes the colors, allowing scientists to determine the elemental composition of the vaporized material." —Those guys at NASA might be real brains and all, but they [...]


"UARS!" Will Probably Be the Last Thing You Say Before Satellite UARS Crashes on You

Tomorrow, the watch begins for incoming 13,000-pound satellite UARS. Who would have thought the future would be so much fun? A world-wide alert for plunging space trash! Oh right, almost every science fiction author. "If you do come across what you suspect is a satellite piece, NASA doesn't want you to pick it up. The space agency says there are no toxic chemicals present, but there could be sharp edges." Yeah, NASA doesn't want you to SUE THEM for cutting your finger on their pointy space trash (after it lands on your house). In other news, UARS has done a lot of science up there in the last twenty [...]


The Space Shuttle: Goodbye To A Slacker Space Program

Characterization of the NASA's Space Transportation System, what we commonly call the Space Shuttle program, as nothing but a glorified Greyhound—even better yet, "space carpooling"—is common. Even today, as the shuttle program wraps up for good, it’s hard to escape a certain feeling of underwhelmed-ness, especially if you try to review all of the accomplishments of the program. (Give it a try.) What did the Space Shuttle do besides carry things back and forth? Well, obviously carrying things back and forth has its importance, but considering that our space program has long been a point of pride, what are the high points to which we can point proudly?

The [...]


The Frontier Is Everywhere

I have always been an amateur cosmologist at heart; the mathematical rigors of real physics have always bored and vexed me, but the conceptual ideas surrounding our universe are, well, more interesting than anything we could ever possibly invent ourselves. The trouble with storytelling is, I suppose, that all stories are like many other stories, and even the most extraordinary ones are so familiar that, by all rights, we shouldn't ever be in awe of them. Still, what seems the most pedestrian, the most quotidien, the most mundane has, somewhere in it, the threads of the fantastic. No matter how dull a life and its story seem, it is, [...]


Superstorm Nemo Eats Half of North America

You're not going to escape this one. According to this NASA satellite photo, the best thing to do is buy ALL the booze and cigarettes and pizza and batteries from the very nearest bodega and then just hope to Christ that Netflix Streaming doesn't go out. But it will go out, along with the power.

In positive news, it will be very beautiful after the storm. Just be careful not to step on frozen people and frozen stray pets, under the foot or three of fresh snow. What are your storm-coping tips?


The Week of Huge Things Flying Uncomfortably Close To Earth

With just over a week remaining before the Mayan Apocalypse, the situation around Planet Earth has been anything but calm. If you've been busy getting drunk at Christmas parties, you may be blissfully unaware of the huge flying mountains that have very nearly obliterated our world. But the asteroids are only half of the story: broken comets, secret meteor storms and a mysterious robot space shuttle are also haunting our skies this week.


Billionaire Kindly Sends Food Rocket To Starving Astronauts

Old fashioned people may continue to argue "public vs. private," but here in the actual future, the world's richest people have solemnly taken on the task of solving our lucrative problems. At this moment, a rocket launched by space industrialist Elon Musk is bringing ice cream to the sad astronauts aboard the faltering International Space Station. NASA would've probably sent freeze-dried "pink slime" to the ISS, if the welfare-state space agency still knew how to launch rockets.


NASA Dorks Win Dork World Series

They did it! The Curiosity Mars Rover survived the "seven minutes of terror!" They are awesome dorks!


A Thoroughly Scientific Investigation Of NASA's Sci-Fi Future

Last week, it was announced that NASA is partnering with Tor/Forge to put more science in their science fiction. We like the idea of keeping the brilliant NASA engineers busy now that they’re no longer firing shuttles into the cosmos, but we see more than one potential problem with this arrangement.


I Can't Believe They Want to Mine the Moon

In the great story of the privatization of all Americans services industries, we tend to pay more attention to things like health care and prisons. But a bit more than a year ago, the administration began budgeting to privatize space flight: "Obama’s plan calls for funneling money to private companies that are jockeying for NASA contracts," is how that was described. And now here they are, getting their cash: six companies have gotten $30 million each, including new startup "Moon Express," which apparently wants to help people go mine the moon. They basically think they can go dig platinum out of the moon, and I feel [...]


The NASA Announcement: A New Form of Life? Maybe!

After several days of hoo-ha brought on by a vague NASA press release about mysterious life forms that will change how we see alien life, the story finally was published in Science and announced by NASA and so, okay, I'll bite. It turns out that a geomicrobiologist found a bacterium in a California lake full of arsenic, and the bacterium was full of arsenic too. The arsenic atoms were being used by the bug in place of phosphate atoms; and if you'd paid attention back when you were supposed to, you'd know that phosphate atoms are crucial to 1) DNA which is the molecule that makes up [...]


Gigantic Spiral Galaxy Another Reminder Of Our Measly Existence

We live on a small-ish planet orbiting a standard G-type main-sequence star floating through the inner rim of the Orion Arm of the Milky Way, which is itself a standard barred-spiral galaxy among so many others in the Virgo Supercluster. But it's a nice planet, even if there are probably 17 billion just like it, just within our own minor galaxy. And NASA has just announced that another galaxy has been confirmed as the biggest measured so far, at five times' the size of our own puny galaxy.

The spectacular barred spiral galaxy NGC 6872 has ranked among the biggest stellar systems for decades. Now a [...]


Seven Amazing Videos From the Last Lunar Mission, 40 Years Ago

It was 40 years ago when humans last made the effort to visit another heavenly sphere, on the Apollo 17 mission that launched on this day in 1972. But astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison "Jack" Schmitt didn't just walk on the lunar surface—they also drove around in a dune buggy, and also skipped around while singing songs. Nixon was so angry about this expression of joy that humans were banned from every visiting the moon again.


The Mars Pyramid Mystery (Conspiracy?)

You know that Rubik's Pyramid you lost in 1983? The one that Chris Pack could solve in like 30 seconds but that you could never solve without taking all the little trianguler pieces apart and reassembling them with all the colors in the right places? You thought it got lost in the closet, right? In one of the plastic bins behind your D&D manuals and the full-size Millenium Falcon that you could never bring yourself to give to your younger cousin like your mom wanted you to, even though you hadn't played with it in like three years. Nope. Turns out, it was on Mars.


NASA's Going To South Pole Of Moon Off Saturn For Dinner Tonight

"This flyby is primarily designed for Cassini's ion and neutral mass spectrometer, which will attempt to 'taste' particles from the jets. Scientists using this spectrometer will utilize the data to learn more about the composition, density and variability of the plume. The Cassini plasma spectrometer, which team members worked to return to service so it could gather high-priority measurements during this flyby, will also be analyzing Saturn's magnetic and plasma environment near Enceladus and sampling the plume material near closest approach." —Anthony Bourdain, the ion and neutral mass spectrometer on NASA's Cassini spacecraft laughs at you and your provincial palette.


So Long, Space!

Today the brave and wasteful decades of the American space program as we have known it come crunching to a halt. From its beginnings as wildly adventurous jaunts to its ghastly end as porters and bellboys to the International Space Station, 30 years and 135 space shuttle missions later, we are officially Done With Space Shuttling. We'll always have our little laboratory on the Station, and corporations are happy to do our transit for us, but space is now for the Europeans, the Japanese and the Russian nerd heartthrobs—goodbye, pencil-necked cutie Sergei Volkov, you second-generation cosmonaut! Now our machines are going to go to some asteroid and to the [...]


We're The Aliens, Man, Says Nasa, We're The Savages

Were you ever at, I don't know, a Rite Aid or Penn Station or a Grateful Dead concert or a family gathering where you looked around and got to feeling like everyone else there was an alien from outer space? Well, you were probably right, according to Science.