Stories tagged space

What's bigger? Oprah or the moon?: Tonight will mark the largest, brightest moon of 2008.
What's bigger? Oprah or the moon?: Tonight will mark the largest, brightest moon of 2008.Courtesy vargas2040
Oprah's not the only thing getting bigger this month. Tonight's full moon will be the largest and brighest of 2008. It will be 30 percent brighter and 14 percent bigger than usual full moons. Come to think of it, I think Oprah this month is 30 percent bright and 14 percent bigger, too. Okay, I guess I can give up hopes of ever turning up on her show now.

Ever wondered if black holes really do exist? Most of us, at one time or another, have learned about what I would call the creepy part of outerspace: black holes. The idea of an object with such a strong gravitational force that even light cannot escape it's pull, is absolutely mind-boggling to me. Despite having learned about the concept in school, black holes have remained such a mystery that it's hard for me to really conceptualize their existence. However, today there is even more concrete evidence of a supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way galaxy! Take a look at this website for more information on this story.

Dec
07
2008

International Space Station: To see a really big version of this click on the word NASA (in red).
International Space Station: To see a really big version of this click on the word NASA (in red).Courtesy NASA

Two space vehicles joined Dec. 1998

The Russian-built Zarya module and the U.S.-built Node 1, also called Unity, were connected together ten years ago. Thus began one of the greatest international, technological, political, and engineering achievements in human history.

Ten years later, the station's mass has expanded to more than 627,000 pounds, and its interior volume is more than 25,000 cubic feet, comparable to the size of a five-bedroom house. Since Zarya's launch, there have been 29 additional construction flights to the station: 27 aboard the space shuttle and two additional Russian launches. NASA

Learn more about the space station's past and future

Future launch dates and additions
Computer rendering of future ISS assembly
International Space Station assembly sequence and componant descriptions
Latest news from NASA International Space Station webpage

Nov
20
2008

You can't hear her: But I think I can see the gold foil blistering off of her face guard.
You can't hear her: But I think I can see the gold foil blistering off of her face guard.Courtesy NASA
***Apparently MDR already wrote this post a few days ago. Either he and I are just on the same wavelength here, or I totally copied him without realizing it. Er... oops.***

In space, no one can hear you say G%#@&^$ [email protected]&%&!#^@&!

Remember the modifications planned for the International Space Station that would allow resident astronauts to drink their own pee (among other things)? Well, early this week, visiting astronauts from the space shuttle Endeavor were actually doing that work (among other work) on the ISS. Things went pretty smoothly, over all, except that one of the astronauts dropped her tools. Outside of the station. In space.

Whoops.

Normally this isn’t a big deal, of course. It is estimated that working people across the country spend as much as 30% of their time dropping tools of one variety or another. (It’s only 9:40, and I’ve already dropped a video camera, a laptop computer, and my toothbrush—all in the toilet! How did that happen?) In space, however, things are a little different. It’s not exactly like a Loony Toons situation, where the space tools would fall to Earth in a deadly rain of super-sonic, flaming wrenches—the ISS is in orbit, and so the dropped tools stayed in orbit. That means that the astronaut’s two grease guns, putty knife, and briefcase-sized tool bag have all become space junk.
What happens when space junk hits something?: This happens. This is the "energy flash" from a 17,000 mph projectile hitting  solid surface. This test was performed by NASA to simulate what happens when a piece of space junk hits a spacecraft in orbit.
What happens when space junk hits something?: This happens. This is the "energy flash" from a 17,000 mph projectile hitting solid surface. This test was performed by NASA to simulate what happens when a piece of space junk hits a spacecraft in orbit.Courtesy NASA

“Space junk” is a term for the growing cloud of man-made debris orbiting our planet—everything from flecks of shuttle paint, to spent rocket stages, to grease guns, putty knives, and tool bags. Items like these may sound pretty innocuous, but a grease gun traveling at a few thousand miles an hour is really dangerous. Space debris is so dangerous, in fact, that the ISS is now armored to help protect it from orbiting junk, and that the a planned launch of the space shuttle Atlantis in October, 2008, had a 1 in 185 chance of “catastrophic impact” with debris.

Whoops.

NASA technicians are scrambling to develop new methods of scrubbing the swearwords out of the astronaut’s space suit, but they remain cautiously optimistic that the equipment will eventually be reusable.

India has landed an unmanned probe on the Moon. It's the first probe to land on the Moon since 1976, and is expected to explore the lunar surface for two years.

Dark Matter Might Glow

by Anonymous on Nov. 06th, 2008

Cool article that describes how dark matter will be able to be studied since it might glow.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20081106/sc_space/mysteriousdarkmattermigh...

Oct
23
2008

2 planets and a moon: We keep candy and waterslides on the one on the left, flags on the one in the bottom right, and astronauts on the one in the top right. Simple.
2 planets and a moon: We keep candy and waterslides on the one on the left, flags on the one in the bottom right, and astronauts on the one in the top right. Simple.Courtesy Bluedharma
Way-hey-haaaiit one second there! Why did I write that headline? That seems a little incendiary for a reasonable proposal from a national hero, JGordon. We had better think things out a little more before we write them down.

So, Buzz Aldrin is in the news. The science news, anyway. The 78-year-old former astronaut—the second man to set foot on the moon—is suggesting that the first manned mission to Mars should leave its astronauts on the planet for good. With all of the expense and effort that a Mars mission would take, he believes that even spending a year or a year and a half on the red planet wouldn’t be worth it. The astronauts, he says, should go with the intention of staying for the rest of their lives, like pioneers.

Eventually the first men and women on Mars could be joined by others, forming a colony of perhaps 30 scientists. After a few decades, when they reach 65 or so, they could retire on Mars, or perhaps get picked up by a ship and returned to earth.

What about that, Buzzketeers? Think about spending the rest of your life on Mars, with just a few people to keep you company (except for, you know, radio communication). Kind of a crazy idea, but kind of awesome, I think. Think about what that’d be like—the isolation, low gravity, greater exposure to cosmic rays (that’s bad)… but a whole new planet!

Would any of you guys be willing to go to Mars, if it meant you’d be leaving the earth forever?

Oct
16
2008

I would so not do this: Joseph Kittinger jumps out of the Excelsior III balloon at 102,800 feet.
I would so not do this: Joseph Kittinger jumps out of the Excelsior III balloon at 102,800 feet.Courtesy US Air Force
I attended yet another great Cafe Scientifique event put on by the Bell Museum the other night called: Art and Aeronautics—A Conversation with Tomás Saraceno. Tomás and his teammate Alberto are artists in residence at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and have been working with the Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics department at the University of Minnesota. In short they are building a giant balloon out of reclaimed trash--primarily plastic bags. This talk got me on an balloon science research kick and thought I would share some links:
First off, check out some of the pics of Tomás and Alberto's project, the Museo Aero Solar.

There was lots of talk at the presentation about women's important role in the early days of flight when ballooning dominated. There was even some debate about whether a woman was the first person in space...via balloon...in the 1920s! I couldn't immediately find any information on this claim on ye old internets, but I would love to hear from any buzz readers who might know more information.

Getting to space by balloon might seem crazy, but that's exactly what the Air Force was trying to do before our attempts with rockets. Check out Project Manhigh(yep its really called that) and Project Excelsior. Several of these early space balloons were piloted by Air Force Colonel Joseph Kittinger, the first, possibly only, man to ever break the speed of sound, without a vehicle. He did it by jumping out of a balloon about 20 miles up.

Students are getting into the high altitude balloon game all over the place as well: reusable experiment platform goes to the edge of space, pics at the edge of space, and legos in space.

I think balloons are my new favorite science obsession.

Oct
15
2008

NASA will attempt to revive the $2 billion Hubble Space Telescope on Wednesday, officials say. The telescope was idled two weeks ago by an equipment failure.

Octorber 14,2008

Spacey artists: Alan Bean was the subject of an artistic photo taken on the moon in 1969. The former NASA astronaut now creates space art.
Spacey artists: Alan Bean was the subject of an artistic photo taken on the moon in 1969. The former NASA astronaut now creates space art.Courtesy NASA/Charles Conrad
Here's an interesting story about former NASA astronaut Alan Bean and his new calling as a space artist. If you really want to check out his artwork, go to his website here to see some very cool space art. In some of his works, Bean incorporates actual tools and artifacts from his moon trip. Bean was the lunar module pilot of Apollo 12 and also commanded a Skylab mission.