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April 5, 2010
[space] Neptune May Have Eaten A Planet And Stolen Its Moon‘Neptune may have polished off a super-Earth that once roamed the outer solar system and stolen its moon to boot. The brutal deed could explain mysterious heat radiating from the icy planet and the odd orbit of its moon Triton.’
March 24, 2010
[mars] Abstract And Affecting, The New Mars Pictures Are A Confrontation With The Sublime … Sam Leith On Photographs Of Mars… ‘These photographs inspire not only awe and wonder, but also a sort of longing. None of us alive at this moment – possibly no human ever – will see these landscapes with our own eyes. And yet here are the pictures. For me, they have the same effect as great paintings or photographs – a feeling that something impossible has been made present, while remaining just out of reach.’
March 15, 2010
[ufo] First Contact: The Man Who’ll Welcome Aliens … Jon Ronson meets the chairman of Seti’s Post-Detection Taskgroup

…you can tell the abductees are lying or delusional because their descriptions of the aliens and their craft are always so unimaginative. As he writes in The Eerie Silence, the giveaway is the banality of the aliens’ putative agenda, which seems to consist of grubbing around in fields or meadows, chasing cows or cars like bored teenagers, and abducting humans for Nazi-style experiments.

February 5, 2010
[space] Spectacular Hubble View Of The Aftermath Of An Asteroid Collision … Asteroids collide or spacecraft? You decide…
November 4, 2009
[space] The Average Color of the Universe‘The answer, depicted above, is a conditionally perceived shade of beige.’
October 27, 2009
[space] How Many People Are In Space Right Now?‘6 – all on ISS’
September 24, 2009
[space] The Hunt for Extraterrestrial Life Gets Weird‘For instance, Leitner said, we can send rovers to Mars carrying antibodies that detect traces of chemicals and bacteria that would indicate life. But because we can only make antibodies to known substances, this method will be limited to finding Earth-like life. “When we try to find a definition for life, in most cases, such a definition is more a summary of the specific properties of terrestrial life,” Leitner said. Because life on Earth requires water, most of the search for extraterrestrial life thus far has focused on the “habitable zone,” or the relatively narrow region around a star where liquid water could exist.’
August 7, 2009
[funny] NEIL BEFORE ZOD!

neil before zod

August 3, 2009
[moon] To the Moon – with extreme engineering … a look at the story behind The Lunar Orbiter programme – a series of missions which mapped the moon’s surface before the Apollo landings … ‘The Lunar Orbiter astonishes even today. It had to take pictures, scan and develop the film on board, and broadcast it successfully back to earth. Naturally, the orbiter had to provide its own power, orient itself without intervention from ground control, and maintain precise temperature conditions and air pressure for the film processing, and protect itself from solar radiation and cosmic rays – all within severe size and weight constraints. This was far beyond the capabilities of the newest spy satellites, which back then returned the film to earth in a canister, retrieved by a specially kitted-out plane. The Orbiter challenge was the Apollo challenge in miniature.’
July 21, 2009
[space] Abandoned Space Technology … photos of neglected earthbound US and Russian Apollo Era hardware … ‘Abandoned Russian Shuttle found in Arabian Desert’ [via more(ish)]
July 20, 2009
[apollo] The Giant Apollo 11 Post … Kottke does a big round up of Apollo 11 links of interest on the internet.
July 19, 2009
[apollo] How Michael Collins became the forgotten astronaut of Apollo 11 … profile of Michael Collins and his experience of Apollo 11‘Minutes later, Columbia swept behind the Moon and Collins became Earth’s most distant solo traveller, separated from the rest of humanity by 250,000 miles of space and by the bulk of the Moon, which blocked all radio transmissions to and from mission control. He was out of sight and out of contact with his home planet. “I am now truly alone and absolutely alone from any known life. I am it,” he wrote in his capsule. […] Such solitude would have unnerved most people. But not Collins. He says the emotion that he experienced most during his day alone in lunar orbit was that of exultation.’
July 17, 2009
[apollo] Remembering Apollo 11 … fantastic – as always – photo gallery from The Big Picture.
July 12, 2009
[apollo] Haynes Owners’ Workshop Manual To Apollo 11 … fun idea – a Apollo 11 manual done as a DIY Car Maintenance Guide … More on the manual from the Register: ‘Of course, the book doesn’t actually invite you to wander down to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC and pop the spark plugs out of the original command module, but it does offer “an insight into the hardware from the first manned mission to land on the moon”.’
July 3, 2009
[apollo] Apollo 11 Moon Landing … another collection of material on the Moon Landing – this time from the Guardian … Tim Radford: ‘Above all, it was a moment of human drama, played out with fragile, gleaming technology against a backcloth of infinity.’
June 25, 2009
[moon] The Moon Landings … The BBC Archive looks back at the Apollo Moon Landings … ‘This BBC Archive collection tells the story of the Apollo moon missions, how they got off the ground and why the missions came to an abrupt end. Through over 40 years of radio and TV broadcasts, we meet some of the men who made that incredible journey and the reporters who brought their stories into our homes.’
May 26, 2009
[space] First TV Image of Mars Ever Was Made With Crayons‘The people at the JPL were so excited to receive the images that they couldn’t wait for them to be processed by the lab’s imager. As the first picture was beamed down as a stream of 8-bit numbers—each point indicating a brightness point—they thought of a quick way to get an image straight away: Print the numbers indicating brightness in paper strips, put them together, and color them with pastel crayons.’ [via As Above]
April 26, 2009
[space] Cassini’s continued mission … The Big Picture on Cassini’s six year voyage around Saturn‘The spacecraft continues to operate in good health, returning amazing images of Saturn, its ring system and moons, and providing new information and science on a regular basis.’
January 13, 2009
[space] Go look: In the Shadow of Saturn‘The robotic Cassini spacecraft now orbiting Saturn recently drifted in giant planet’s shadow for about 12 hours and looked back toward the eclipsed Sun. Cassini saw a view unlike any other…’
October 19, 2008
[space] Ten Mysteries of the Solar System‘Why does Uranus rotate on its side? Strange planet is Uranus. Whilst all the other planets in the Solar System more-or-less have their axis of rotation pointing “up” from the ecliptic plane, Uranus is lying on its side, with an axial tilt of 98 degrees.’ [via Robot Wisdom]
September 4, 2008
[space] 31 Million Miles from Planet Earth‘On July 4th, 2005, the Deep Impact spacecraft directed a probe to impact the nucleus of Comet Tempel 1. Still cruising through the solar system, earlier this year the robotic spacecraft looked back to record a series of images of its home world 31 million miles (50 million kilometers) away.’
June 12, 2008
[space] How long could you survive in the vacuum of space?‘In the first 30 seconds any fluid on the surface of your body would begin to boil due to lack of ambient pressure, this includes the saliva on your tongue and the moisture in your eyes. Your eardrums would most likely burst due to the pressure in your body trying to equalize with the vacuum outside. Unlike what some science fiction films have suggested, your body would not explode…’ [via Metafilter]
May 17, 2008
[tech] Data Recovered From Melted Columbia Disk Drives … Is is more crazy that you can drop a melted hard drive from orbit and still recover data from it or that they still use DOS on the Space Shuttle? ‘…at the core of the drive, the spinning metal platters that actually store data were not warped. They had been gouged and pitted, but the 340-megabyte drive was only half full, and the damage happened where data had not yet been written. Edwards attributes that to a lucky twist: The computer was running an ancient operating system, DOS, which does not scatter data all over drives as other approaches do.’
April 15, 2008
[apollo] Hollywood Hunts Star to Play First Man on the Moon‘[Neil] Armstrong was 38 when he and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon. Matt Damon, star of the Bourne trilogy, will be 38 this year, while Eric Bana, whose credits include Hulk and the next Star Trek movie, is 39. Christian Bale, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jake Gyllenhaal could also be in the running.’
April 8, 2008
[space] YouTube: Buzz Aldrin punches Lunar Landing Conspiracy Theorist Bart Sibrel in the Face.
March 3, 2008
[apollo] The Moon Museum — Apparently, there is a small museum of art on the Moon hidden in the leg of the Apollo 12 lander … ‘[Andy] Warhol’s contribution, which is obscured by the thumb above, is described as “a calligraphic squiggle made up of the initials of his signature. Actually, it’s a drawing of a penis.’ [via Kottke]
February 12, 2008
[space] An astronaut from NASA describes the smell of space: ‘At first I couldn’t quite place it. It must have come from the air ducts that re-pressed the compartment. Then I noticed that this smell was on their suit, helmet, gloves, and tools. It was more pronounced on fabrics than on metal or plastic surfaces. It is hard to describe this smell; it is definitely not the olfactory equivalent to describing the palette sensations of some new food as “tastes like chicken.” The best description I can come up with is metallic; a rather pleasant sweet metallic sensation. It reminded me of my college summers where I labored for many hours with an arc welding torch…’
December 22, 2007
[space] Astronomy Pictures of the Year for 2007 — another end of the year list from the always worth visiting APOD.
October 14, 2007
[space] NASA Announces Plan To Bring Wi-Fi To Its Headquarters By 2017‘NASA has suffered from a public credibility crisis in recent years due to perceived incompetence, a failed mission to Mars, the damaged and dormant Hubble telescope, and its inability to procure a long enough USB cable to reach all the way over to engineer William Chen’s cubicle. But NASA officials argue that a secure high-speed line could prevent disasters such as a 2005 incident in which an employee attempting to download the movie trailer for Cheaper by the Dozen 2 crashed the Mission Control Center mainframe computer for two weeks.’ [via Qwghlm]
September 9, 2007
[movies] In the Shadow of the Moon — trailer for a documentary about the Apollo Moon Missions.
November 23, 2006
[movies] The Top 10 Movie Spaceships‘The Nostromo is little more than a space tugboat, pulling a giant ore refinery through space. Though it has no weapons, when given the (famously complex) command to self-destruct, it really goes off with a bang. An underrated ship, it could land on planets and scope out foreign lifeforms… which turned out to be not such a great idea after all.’
October 29, 2006
[space] Ask Metafilter: What happens after you’re tossed out of the airlock into Space?‘I agree with the mummy idea. Slow leatherizing of the skin and a very very slow loss of moisture over many years. It would end up in 10 or 50 years a shrivelled (and by how much is a debatable factor) mummy, burnt or burnished on the outside and frozen-ish on the inside. It could take thousands of years to be obliterated completely.’
October 23, 2006
[space] Warren Ellis: Amazing Pictures of a Space Shuttle Launch seen from the International Space Station.
October 9, 2006
[space] Ask Metafilter: Has anyone ever had sex in space? From the comments: ‘I had a friend who worked with NASA, and he had this conversation with them at some sort of official place (I actually think he has a paper out on it). The main issue was birth control and pregnancy, with concerns about the effects on the embryo of radiation on re-entry being the biggest issue. He said that hearing officials in the space industry seriously debate enacting a “anal sex only” rule to be one of the most surreal moments of his life.’
August 1, 2006
[wiki] My Wikipedia Contrail: Fallen Astronaut‘Fallen Astronaut is an 8.5-cm (slightly over 3″) aluminum sculpture of an astronaut in a spacesuit. It is the only piece of art on the Moon.’
February 11, 2006
[google] The Register: 40-Metre Profanity Spotted from Space‘It beats crop circles for crowd-pleasing entertainment value. Quite who Eddie is and why his name is writ large in rural England, we’ll leave that to readers to explain.’
December 25, 2005
[xmas] Happy Christmas Everybody.
July 28, 2005
[python] How accurate is Eric Idle’s Galaxy Song?Song: Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars. Comment: While there have been some estimates that are a bit higher than 100 billion stars, this is still a pretty good estimate.’ [via Badly Dubbed Boy]
April 20, 2005
[space] What a Little Moon Dust Can Do — if I went to the Moon I’d still need Loratadine‘”Dust is the No. 1 environmental problem on the moon,” said Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt, who reported having a severe allergic reaction to moon dust during his mission in 1972. “We need to understand what the (biological) effects are, because there’s always the possibility that engineering might fail.” Moon dust is much more jagged than dust on Earth because there’s no water or wind on the moon to toss it around and grind down its edges. It’s created when meteorites, cosmic rays and solar winds slam into the moon, turning its rocks into powdery topsoil.’
April 2, 2005
[science] 13 things that do not make Sense — from the New Scientist … ‘IF YOU travel out to the far edge of the solar system, into the frigid wastes beyond Pluto, you’ll see something strange. Suddenly, after passing through the Kuiper belt, a region of space teeming with icy rocks, there’s nothing. Astronomers call this boundary the Kuiper cliff, because the density of space rocks drops off so steeply. What caused it? The only answer seems to be a 10th planet. We’re not talking about Quaoar or Sedna: this is a massive object, as big as Earth or Mars, that has swept the area clean of debris…’
July 21, 2004
[apollo] July 21st 1969: Neil Armstrong – The Awful Truth

‘TRANQUILITY: I abso-fucking-lutely am standing on the surface of the fucking moon. I am talking to you from the goddammed fucking moon. Jesus H. Christ in a chicken basket.

HOUSTON: Holy Shit.

TRANQUILITY: Holy mother of fuck. The fucking moon. Over. ‘

June 9, 2004
[venus] A piece of History Passes By and 350 years on the Sun Shines for Jeremiah the Genius — Simon Hoggart spent yesterday up a Hill in Lancashire with 92 astronomers as the Transit of Venus happened …

‘…it is the unity between our own past and the immensity of the universe which is skin-tingling. Just after the last transit, in 1882, Robert Ball wrote: “The next time people will see it is when the flowers are in bloom, in June 2004.” It was good to be there with the flowers.’

December 24, 2003
[mars] Beagle 2’s Weblog — hopefully updating with good news tomorrow morning. Landing on Mars sounds pretty difficult: ‘At 2.47am on Christmas Day it will slam into the upper atmosphere at 13,000mph, creating friction that will bring the heatshield up to 1,600C, but slow the probe to about 750mph. Sensors on the tiny craft will blow off the shield and the back cover of Beagle 2 and fire a mortar to release a pilot chute, which should reduce the descent to around 200mph. A 10m parachute will then be used to drag the Beagle back to a relatively gentle 35mph. By this time, an altimeter will be measuring the distance to the ground. At 200m, it will trigger the inflation of three gas bags that will form segments around the lander and cushion its impact as it hits the deck…’
December 4, 2003
[blogs] Beagle 2: Weblog — a blog for British Mars Lander which is now approaching the Red Planet‘Since 17 November the onboard software has been ‘frozen’ after several updates and the spacecraft is now quietly proceeding to its destination.’ [thanks Graybo]
August 18, 2003
[moon] Neil Armstrong – The Awful Truth — Blogjam presents what Armstrong really said when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon … ‘This is Tranquility Base. The Eagle has landed. Jesus H. Christ, Houston. We’re on the fucking Moon. Over.’ [Related: Onion – Holy Shit. Man Walks on Fucking Moon | via Sore Eyes]
July 21, 2003
[space] The Moon, July 21st. 1969

‘The lunar module curved gently down over the Sea of Tranquility, the drama heightened by the calm, almost casual voices of the astronauts and the mission controller at Houston.The casualness was deceptive: from 500 ft. above the surface and all too aware that an error could lead to irretrievable disaster, Aldrin brought the spacecraft down under Armstrong’s direction. At the moment of approach Armstrong’s heartbeat rose from its normal 70 to 156. Yet his voice was calm and flat: “Contact light: engines stopped? The Eagle has landed.” The landing was perfect.’

March 7, 2003
[science] You Ask The Questions — Sir Patrick Moore‘Q: Have you ever seen a UFO while gazing into space? Would you be surprised if an alien landed in your garden? A: Yes, I have spotted a UFO. I was in my observatory one night, looking at the Moon. Then I saw dozens of flying saucers swirling around. I thought: “The Martians have arrived!” But then I realised I was looking at pollen slightly out of focus. The moonlight was playing tricks on me! Of course, aliens could visit Earth — after all, there are 100 billion stars in our galaxy. And I’d be delighted if they landed in my garden. I’d say, “Good afternoon. Tea or coffee?”‘
February 8, 2003
[shuttle] Shuttle Tiles had History of Glitches — backgrounder on the history of Space Shuttle tiles … ‘It took forever to glue on the thermal tiles that shielded the space shuttle from the scorching heat of reentry — nearly two man-years of work for every flight — and the glue dried so fast that technicians had to mix a new batch after every couple of tiles. But they came up with a solution: spit in the glue so it took longer to harden.’ [via Robot Wisdom]
February 4, 2003
[shuttle] Beam Me Out Of This Death Trap, Scotty — article from 1980 about problems within NASA’s Space Shuttle program … ‘The main cause of [problems] is currently the shuttle’s refractory tiles, which disperse the heat of reentry from the ship’s nose and fuselage. Columbia must be fitted out with 33,000 of these tiles, each to be applied individually, each unique in shape. The inch-thick tiles, made of pyrolized carbon, are amazing in two respects. They can be several hundred degrees hot on one side while remaining cool to the touch on the other. They do not boil away like the ablative heat shieldings of capsules and modules; they can be used indefinitely. But they’re also a bit of a letdown in another respect–they’re so fragile you can hardly touch them without shattering them.’ [via Metafilter]
February 3, 2003
[shuttle] Net History… First Mention of the 1986 Challenger Disaster on Usenet. ‘…it appears that the first inflight disaster of the NASA space program has claimed the lives of six astronauts and NASA’s first passenger. The disaster occured 17 years and 1 day after the Apollo I tragedy.’

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