What I learned about our moon tonight?

December 22, 2012 12:13am
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Well, for starters – we left poop on it when Neil Armstrong and his buddies walked on the moon back in 1969…

Also, apparently we left a bunch of other stuff, too, including some neat laser reflectors that are still used to this day to accurately calculate the distance from the earth to the moon!

I guess even when you’re out in space, when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go! 😉

So Long and Thanks for All the Whales…

November 14, 2012 4:20pm
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Ever wonder what it would be like if a meteor the size of a humpback whale hit the Earth??? Well, wonder no more…

Impact: Earthcreated by Purdue University

This thing is kinda cool – it lets you set a whole bunch of different variables about your object, including size, density, impact velocity, and then spews out a bunch of data based on your selections. My whale apparently was too porous and pretty much just splattered without even leaving a crater, but your results may vary, so have fun virtually chucking things at our planet with absolutely no catastrophic side effects whatsoever!

Why Mars?

August 29, 2012 11:32pm
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“…our human horizon popped out 200,000 miles. Forever, we would see the Earth differently, because we had seen it from someplace truly foreign.”

I thought this was a neat article about the significance of exploring Mars, in a time when plenty of people are keen to argue that NASA is a huge waste of tax dollars, despite all of the awesome scientific advances that are a direct result, because the importance of re-assessing mankind’s perspective of where it stands in the universe every so often is one that you can’t put a price tag on, but will no doubt be of the few truly notable points of progress when you look back on our civilization hundreds or even thousands of years from now…

The Man in the Moon
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/28/opinion/the-man-in-the-moon.html

Cool Mars Links

August 17, 2012 4:15pm
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I honestly didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the Mars rover landing a couple of weeks ago simply due to being completely and utterly overwhelmed with this whole moving thing, but here are a small handful of neat links that I’ve come across in the last few days when I did have a few free moments here and there…

First up – this incredibly touching video put together by one of the engineers who helped to design the rover:

Next, an Ask Me Anything Reddit thread with a group of scientists and engineers from the mission:
http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/ybmmh/we_are_engineers_and_scientists_on_the_mars/

And finally, I found this both interesting and funny as I waited for Windows to update itself this morning:

NASA Pulls Off 160-Million Mile Software Patch
http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2012/08/nasa-patch/

Welcome to Mars, Curiosity – hope your fate is a little better than that of the last rover… 😉

I thought that this looked like a pretty cool documentary – I’m certainly not too thrilled myself with how politics have sidetracked space exploration here in America over the last few years, and I enjoy listening to informed people talk about just how much the space industry has given back to society and why it’s so important to our future.

This is another neat, creative venture that I discovered via Kickstarter – I’ve been finding a lot of worthwhile projects worth kicking a few bucks on there lately, so if space is your fancy and you’d like to hear more from the likes of Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye, consider backing them yourself. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this one turns out!

135 Rockets’ Red Glare…

July 9, 2012 11:28pm
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Now consider yourself warned that the audio is extremely out of whack with this video, so be prepared to start low and go even lower before you’re done, but it’s a pretty incredible spectacle nonetheless – footage from all 135 space shuttle liftoffs synced up to launch simultaneously – now that’s a proper fireworks show for the 4th of July!!!

This is really cool.

I came across it when I was surfing for random tidbits about SpaceX’s launch this week and their plans for the future … as it turns out, in addition to all of the regular supplies being shuttled up to the ISS by Dragon, the craft is also carrying a number of science experiments created by grade school (and above) science students to give classrooms a unique opportunity to test the effects of microgravity without ever having to leave the comfort of Earth themselves! The program actually started two years ago and included the last two flights of the shuttle program, and is now continuing with SpaceX’s and other crafts as well to transport these experiments that kids are creating in their classrooms up to the space station for actual astronauts to complete and then send the results back to Earth for the kids to analyze!

I mean, talk about an awesome way to suck kids into science class – not only are there a myriad of new ways with the Internet to monitor activities on the ISS itself and talk about them in class, but just think – teachers can even see their students enrolled in this competition to design something of their own to send out into space I would’ve eaten something like that up when I was 12 years old.  😮

Launch of SpaceX’s Dragon is a Success!!!

May 22, 2012 11:48am
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So how many other people found themselves up super late last night/this morning to watch SpaceX’s historic launch?!

To be honestly, it was completely accidental that I just happened to still be up around 3:30am finishing up some writing, and when I saw the reminders of the 3:44am launch coming through on Twitter and Facebook, it seemed kinda silly to not stay up another half hour to watch. And talk about cool – admittedly in the past I’ve been a bit of a skeptic as the shuttles were being decommissioned, but it really felt good to watch SpaceX officially picking up the reigns where NASA had left off and having something to show for it … not just a prototype ship in a hangar in the desert, but taking another leap towards being the first private company in history to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station is kinda huge!

Anyways, so it looks like Dragon will be in orbit for a couple of days now before it’s actually able to dock with the ISS – looking forward to watching that, too! – but in the meantime, here’s a collection of screenshots that I took from the webcast that I thought turned out kind of cool. You can actually also go watch the original videos of each stage of the launch over on Vimeo as well.

Granted, I never looked to see if NASA did the same thing with some of its launches, but how cool is it that not only we live in a time when we’re watching a new industry erupt into space, but also communications technology is to the point where we can watch videos of the launch both from the ground and also from the rocket itself streamed live over the Internet in real-time?!  8)

As much as I’m still disappointed that our own government doesn’t really seem to have very good plans for space exploration in the future right now, this announcement of the first private spacecraft to visit the ISS next month is still kind of cool…

SpaceX Plans Historic First Flight on May 7
http://news.yahoo.com/spacex-plans-historic-first-flight-may-7-032605200.html

Admittedly I didn’t realize on the first pass that this is a cargo-only mission – no astronauts will be traveling in the Dragon at this point, but the plan is essentially to carry 1,149 pounds of space stuff up to the six astronauts currently in residence at the ISS. The capsule itself has a much different look than we’re used to from the traditional space shuttles, so it’ll be interesting to see what it actually looks like on the inside once it’s actually ready to haul both cargo and crew … maybe more closely resembling sort of a Space Taxi than the shuttle was!

So I guess that would make this version a Space UPS or something???  😉

It still seems a little weird to now see private industry taking over what NASA has driven thus far, although the more I read into things apparently private companies have been used to toss satellites into space – both their own and for government agencies that don’t have the means themselves – for a while, so hopefully this will still somehow turn into a step in the right direction and the end result will be more space stuff coupled with the assumptions that private entities should be able to simply do things faster and cheaper than our government has in the past. I’m already finding a lot of really interesting info on SpaceX’s website and they seem pretty enthused about the whole project, so I suppose if this is the future of space flight and at least it means that we’ll still be doing something other than arguing about whether NASA is even a good investment, then I guess I just need to accept the past for what it is and instead learn to embrace the next step into the final frontier.  8)

Seriously, though – some of this stuff does look pretty freaking sweet. Maybe space tourism actually is closer than we think!

Space Shuttle Discovery’s Retirement Flight

April 17, 2012 2:49pm
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So anyone who follows sciencey news and whatnot was probably already aware that today was the day for the Space Shuttle Discovery to take its commute up to Washington DC to find its new retirement castle at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. Sure, it’s kind of a bittersweet topic, but just for today let’s try to focus on the awesome and keep our fingers crossed that Florida’s Space Coast will still see its share of exploration long after the shuttle program is behind us…

Here’s a cool video of the shuttle and its carrier 747 in its final descent over the National Mall in DC:

Along with a nice, close-up view of the pair still on the ground from yesterday after NASA finalized securing the two for flight:

And finally, this one is thanks to National Geographic – click through the image below to pull up an incredibly detailed panoramic view of the entire orbiter’s cockpit, allowing you to zoom all the way in so that you can even check out the individual dials and buttons across the massive control center! Not sure how close guests will be able to get up to the shuttle once they get it situated at the museum, but I’m kinda guessing probably not this close…  😉

Pretty awesome stuff – happy exploring!

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