Posts tagged as: space


Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Life on Mars? Amazing photos from Nasa probe reveal mystery figure on Red Planet

‘Perched on a rock, she could be waiting for a bus.

But if so, she could be in for an awfully long wait.

This photo of what looks remarkably like a female figure with her arm outstretched, was taken on Mars.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it has set the Internet abuzz with claims that there really is life on the red planet.

Others may well feel that it is simply an optical illusion caused by a landscape.’


Tuesday, January 22, 2008


NASA Moon Rocket May Shake Too Much

‘NASA is wrestling with a potentially dangerous problem in a spacecraft, this time in a moon rocket that hasn’t even been built yet.

Engineers are concerned that the new rocket meant to replace the space shuttle and send astronauts on their way to the moon could shake violently during the first few minutes of flight, possibly destroying the entire vehicle.

“They know it’s a real problem,” said Carnegie Mellon University engineering professor Paul Fischbeck, who has consulted on risk issues with NASA in the past. “This thing is going to shake apart the whole structure, and they’ve got to solve it.” [..]

Professor Jorge Arenas of the Institute of Acoustics in Valdivia, Chile, acknowledged that the problem was serious but said: “NASA has developed one of the safest and risk-controlled space programs in engineering history.”‘

.. that last comment means almost nothing when engineering history has so few space programs in it. 🙂

Origami spaceplane to launch from space station

‘Researchers from the University of Tokyo have teamed up with members of the Japan Origami Airplane Association to develop a paper aircraft capable of surviving the flight from the International Space Station to the Earth’s surface.

The researchers are scheduled to begin testing the strength and heat resistance of an 8 centimeter (3.1 in) long prototype on January 17 in an ultra-high-speed wind tunnel at the University of Tokyo’s Okashiwa campus (Chiba prefecture). In the tests, the origami glider — which is shaped like the Space Shuttle and has been treated to withstand intense heat — will be subjected to wind speeds of Mach 7, or about 8,600 kilometers (5,300 miles) per hour.

A large spacecraft such as the Space Shuttle can reach speeds of up to Mach 20 (over 15,200 mph) when it re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere, and friction with the air heats the outer surface to extreme temperatures. The much lighter origami aircraft, which the researchers claim will come down more slowly, is not expected to burn up on re-entry.’


Sunday, January 13, 2008


White dwarf

‘[..] when Ernst Öpik estimated the density of a number of visual binary stars in 1916, he found that 40 Eridani B had a density of over 25,000 times the Sun’s, which was so high that he called it “impossible”. As Arthur Stanley Eddington put it later in 1927:

“We learn about the stars by receiving and interpreting the messages which their light brings to us. The message of the Companion of Sirius when it was decoded ran: ‘I am composed of material 3,000 times denser than anything you have ever come across; a ton of my material would be a little nugget that you could put in a matchbox.’ What reply can one make to such a message? The reply which most of us made in 1914 was — ‘Shut up. Don’t talk nonsense.'”‘

Friday, January 11, 2008


Biggest black hole in the cosmos discovered

‘The most massive known black hole in the universe has been discovered, weighing in with the mass of 18 billion Suns. Observing the orbit of a smaller black hole around this monster has allowed astronomers to test Einstein’s theory of general relativity with stronger gravitational fields than ever before.

The black hole is about six times as massive as the previous record holder and in fact weighs as much as a small galaxy. It lurks 3.5 billion light years away, and forms the heart of a quasar called OJ287. A quasar is an extremely bright object in which matter spiralling into a giant black hole emits copious amounts of radiation.

But rather than hosting just a single colossal black hole, the quasar appears to harbour two – a setup that has allowed astronomers to accurately ‘weigh’ the larger one.’


Thursday, January 10, 2008


Drinks From Space

‘The craze for bottled water and energy drinks has reached new heights. An Albuquerque, New Mexico company has created specialized drinks made from ingredients that have been flown to space. Microgravity Enterprises, Inc. (MEI) says the demand for their drinks has grown and they are expanding their distribution base.

Antimatter(TM) Energy Drink and Space2O(TM) Purified Water include ingredients that have been launched on board suborbital UP Aerospace rockets. Successful launches of the ingredients occurred in April and June of 2007 at Spaceport America in New Mexico. Antimatter(TM) includes numerous vitamin additives and energy extracts, while Space2O(TM) has special spaceflown electrolytes. Previously, the drinks were only available in the Albuquerque area, but MEI is now expanding distribution to include more cities in New Mexico, West Texas, Maryland, Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia. The products are also available online.’

Waste of rocket fuel, really. I should start selling sub-orbital dildos to yo momma.


Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Fredric Brown – “Answer”

‘Dwan Ev ceremoniously soldered the final connection with gold. The eyes of a dozen television cameras watched him and the subether bore throughout the universe a dozen pictures of what he was doing.

He straightened and nodded to Dwar Reyn, then moved to a position beside the switch that would complete the contact when he threw it. The switch that would connect, all at once, all of the monster computing machines of all the populated planets in the universe — ninety-six billion planets — into the supercircuit that would connect them all into one supercalculator, one cybernetics machine that would combine all the knowledge of all the galaxies.

Dwar Reyn spoke briefly to the watching and listening trillions. Then after a moment’s silence he said, “Now, Dwar Ev.”

Dwar Ev threw the switch. There was a mighty hum, the surge of power from ninety-six billion planets. Lights flashed and quieted along the miles-long panel.
Dwar Ev stepped back and drew a deep breath. “The honor of asking the first question is yours, Dwar Reyn.” [..]’

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


Space rock on way, but don’t panic yet

‘Scientists have identified an asteroid that has a faint chance of ploughing into the Earth, leaving a two-kilometre-wide crater and wiping out life for 6000 square kilometres.

The asteroid measures 130 metres across and is travelling at 70,000 km/h. It would cause huge devastation if it hit the planet.

Called 2007 VK184, the space rock is 90 million kilometres from Earth and could hit in 2048. It has earned a rare hazard rating of “one” on the Torino scale, the international barometer of space object impact risk.’

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


moonbuggy – Google Search

I’m not sure how it is in rest of the world, but if you do a Google search for “moonbuggy” from within Australia, you may find that NASA is no longer at the top. 🙂


Sunday, December 23, 2007


The problem with physics

‘I was recently talking with a colleague who was a fellow theoretical physics graduate student at Princeton University back in the early 1980s. He had been thinking about an obscure academic physics journal he would occasionally skim in the library during those years. This journal was filled with bizarre extra-dimensional models of particles and forces, esoteric ideas about cosmology, and a slew of highly speculative theorising, with little in common other than a lack of any solid evidence for a connection with reality.

“You know,” he said, “at the time I thought these things were a joke, but now when I look at mainstream physics papers, they remind me a lot of what was in that journal.”

Why is it that central parts of mainstream physics have started to take on aspects that used to characterise the outer fringes of the subject? At the very centre of the physics establishment, things have been getting more and more peculiar.’

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Asteroid on track for possible Mars hit

‘An asteroid similar to the one that flattened forests in Siberia in 1908 could plow into Mars next month, scientists said Thursday.

Researchers attached to NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program, who sometimes jokingly call themselves the Solar System Defense Team, have been tracking the asteroid since its discovery in late November.

The scientists, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, put the chances that it will hit the Red Planet on Jan. 30 at about 1 in 75.

A 1-in-75 shot is “wildly unusual,” said Steve Chesley, an astronomer with the Near-Earth Object office, which routinely tracks about 5,000 objects in Earth’s neighborhood.

“We’re used to dealing with odds like one-in-a-million,” Chesley said. “Something with a one-in-a-hundred chance makes us sit up straight in our chairs.”‘


Monday, November 26, 2007


Astronomers Discover Stars with Carbon Atmospheres

‘Astronomers have discovered white dwarf stars with pure carbon atmospheres. These stars possibly evolved in a sequence astronomers didn’t know before.

They may have evolved from stars that are not quite massive enough to explode as supernovae but are just on the borderline. All but the most massive two or three percent of stars eventually die as white dwarfs rather than explode as supernovae.

When a star burns helium, it leaves “ashes” of carbon and oxygen. When its nuclear fuel is exhausted, the star then dies as a white dwarf, which is an extremely dense object that packs the mass of our sun into an object about the size of Earth. Astronomers believe that most white dwarf stars have a core made of carbon and oxygen which is hidden from view by a surrounding atmosphere of hydrogen or helium.

They didn’t expect stars with carbon atmospheres.’


Thursday, November 8, 2007


Huge Fridge Colder Than Outer Space

‘Construction on a cooling system for the world’s biggest science experiment that produces temperatures colder than outer space was completed today.

The mammoth chill factory can generate temperatures as low as 1.9 degrees above absolute zero (-456 degrees Fahrenheit) for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a circular particle smasher 17 miles (27 kilometers) wide that is being built at the CERN physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland.

The cooling system uses more than 10,000 tons of liquid nitrogen and 130 tons of liquid helium.’


Sunday, October 28, 2007


Aliens caused Sicily fires, say officials

‘Aliens were responsible for a series of unexplained fires in fridges, TV’s and mobile phones in an Italian village, according to an Italian government report.

Canneto di Caronia, in northern Sicily, drew attention three years ago after residents reported everyday household objects bursting into flames. [..]

Locals were quick to blame supernatural forces and at the time the Vatican’s chief exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth backed up their fears and said: “I’ve seen things like this before. Demons occupy a house and appear in electrical goods. Let’s not forget that Satan and his followers have immense powers.”

Now in an interim leaked report published by several Italian newspapers it has emerged that the Civil Protection Department has concluded the most likely cause was “aliens”.’

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Why our time dimension is about to become space-like

‘It don’t get much weirder than this. The universe is about to lose its dimension of time says a group of theoretical astrobods at the University of Salamanca in Spain. And they got the evidence to prove it.

The idea comes from the study of braneworlds: the thinking that the universe we see around us is a 4-dimensional cosmos called a braneworld embedded in a multidimensional universe. The “signature” of our universe is the number of space and time-like dimensions it has: in our case we got 3 space-like dimensions and one time-like dimension. It’s what astrobods call a Lorentzian universe. So far so good: lots of astronutters think the same thing.

But our universe may not always have been like this. Some theorists think it may once have had a Euclidean signature meaning that all the dimensions were space-like. Now Marc “Bars” Mars and a few pals in Spain say that the Universe’s signature might be about to flip from Lorentzian to Euclidean. In other words, our dimension of time is about turn space-like. Gulp!’


Monday, October 1, 2007


Secrets of 1957 Sputnik launch revealed

‘When Sputnik took off 50 years ago, the world gazed at the heavens in awe and apprehension, watching what seemed like the unveiling of a sustained Soviet effort to conquer space and score a stunning Cold War triumph.

But 50 years later, it emerges that the momentous launch was far from being part of a well-planned strategy to demonstrate communist superiority over the West. Instead, the first artificial satellite in space was a spur-of-the-moment gamble driven by the dream of one scientist, whose team scrounged a rocket, slapped together a satellite and persuaded a dubious Kremlin to open the space age.

And that winking light that crowds around the globe gathered to watch in the night sky? Not Sputnik at all, as it turns out, but just the second stage of its booster rocket, according to Boris Chertok, one of the founders of the Soviet space program.’

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Germs taken to space come back deadlier

‘It sounds like the plot for a scary B-movie: Germs go into space on a rocket and come back stronger and deadlier than ever. Except, it really happened.

The germ: Salmonella, best known as a culprit of food poisoning. The trip: Space Shuttle STS-115, September 2006. The reason: Scientists wanted to see how space travel affects germs, so they took some along — carefully wrapped — for the ride. The result: Mice fed the space germs were three times more likely to get sick and died quicker than others fed identical germs that had remained behind on Earth. [..]

After 25 days, 40 percent of the mice given the Earth-bound salmonella were still alive, compared with just 10 percent of those dosed with the germs from space. And the researchers found it took about one-third as much of the space germs to kill half the mice, compared with the germs that had been on Earth.

The researchers found 167 genes had changed in the salmonella that went to space.’


Thursday, September 20, 2007


Contact lost with Aussie satellite

‘A scientist thinks Australia’s only non-commercial satellite may have run out of battery power.

The 58-kilogram FedSat has been operating since 2002.

It was only supposed to last for three years.

The University of South Australia has been responsible for its day-to-day operation and says it has lost contact with the public satellite.

Scientist Andrew Parfitt says it could orbit Earth for another century before burning up.’


Scores ill in Peru ‘meteor crash’

‘Hundreds of people in Peru have needed treatment after an object from space – said to be a meteorite – plummeted to Earth in a remote area, officials say.

They say the object left a deep crater after crashing down over the weekend near the town of Carancas in the Andes.

People who visited the scene have been complaining of headaches, vomiting and nausea after inhaling gases.

But some experts have questioned whether it was a meteorite or some other object that landed in Carancas.’

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Japan launches first lunar probe

‘Japan’s space agency has successfully launched its first lunar probe on a mission to explore the Moon.

A rocket carrying the orbiter blasted off from the space centre on the remote southern island of Tanegashima.

Over the course of a year, the orbiter will gather data on the Moon’s origin and evolution.

Japanese scientists say it is the most complex lunar mission since Nasa’s Apollo programme in the 1960s and 70s, when astronauts walked on the Moon.’

Record sea ice loss opens Northwest Passage

‘Sea ice in the Arctic has sunk to its lowest level since satellite record-keeping began, fully opening the most direct route through the Northwest Passage, the European Space Agency said Friday.

The much-coveted shortcut connecting Asia to Europe through the Canadian Arctic has been historically impassable.

The European Space Agency says sea ice continues to melt year after year, but a drastic drop this year has made the direct route “fully navigable” for the first time since satellite records began in 1978.

“We have seen the ice-covered area drop to just around three million square kilometres,” said Leif Toudal Pederson from the Danish National Space Center.

Over the past decade, he says, a drop of about 100,000 square kilometres per year is the average.

“So a drop of one million square kilometres in just one year is extreme,” said Toudal.’


Google sponsors $30 million Moon landing prize

‘Web search leader Google Inc. will sponsor a $30 million competition for an unmanned lunar landing, following up on the $10 million Ansari X Prize that spurred a private sector race to space.

Like the Ansari X Prize, which was claimed in 2004 by aircraft designer Burt Rutan and financier Paul Allen for a pair of flights by SpaceShipOne, the Google Lunar X Prize is open to private industry and non-government entities worldwide, organizers said on Thursday.

First prize is $20 million for the group that can land a lunar rover – an unmanned robotic probe – on the Moon, take it on a 500-metre trek and broadcast video back to Earth by 31 December 2012.’

Thursday, September 13, 2007


SABLE-3 Balloon Launch

‘SABLE-3 was launched on Saturday, August 11th, 2007, at 9:31 AM with a payload, consisting of a Nikon Coolpix P2 digital camera set to take 1 image every minute and a Byonics MicroTrak 300 APRS Tracker, that the Kaysam 1200 gram balloon carried to over 117,597 feet. The last payload camera photo from the ground was just before it was launched, at 9:31 AM, and the last photo before the balloon burst was the photo above, at 12:01 PM, exactly 2½ hours or 150 images later. And what a photo. The composition couldn’t have been better or the horizon more level and out of the 196 images taken during the flight, only 1 other image is as good. What are the chances?’


Wednesday, September 5, 2007


DIA Conspiracies Take Off

‘”Have you ever been through the Denver airport? It’s strange. It’s one of the busiest, but I’m telling you, it’s weird. There’s a firestorm of people talking about this thing.”

Especially on June 11, when George Noory devotes all four hours of Coast to Coast, his nationally syndicated talk-radio program dedicated to the “paranormal, extraterrestrial and other topics typically overlooked by more mainstream media outlets,” to a discussion of Denver International Airport. Broadcast on more than 500 affiliate stations, including KHOW, the popular overnight show is the 60 Minutes of conspiracy theories, often with self-educated experts expounding on such subjects as the occult, psychic visions, crop circles, Skull and Bones and apocalyptic predictions. And almost all of these conspiracies intersect at DIA.’


Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Oops, another top secret exposed

‘A man looking for a new home on an online mapping service has stumbled across an aerial image of a US nuclear-powered submarine in dry dock showing a part of the vessel that wasn’t meant to be seen.

The image – which appears on Microsoft’s Virtual Earth mapping service – is of the seven-bladed propeller used on an Ohio class ballistic missile submarine.

The vessel was being worked on at a dry dock at the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Washington State, in the north-west of the United States. The base is part of Bangor’s Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific which houses the largest nuclear weapons arsenal.

Propeller designs have been closely guarded secrets since the days of the Cold War. It is still common for them to be draped with tarps or removed and covered when a submarine is out of the water.

The propeller design is an integral part of a submarine’s ability to remain undetected during operations, ensuring that it can patrol the seas in stealth without giving its position away to surface ships.’


Scientists Sue NASA, Caltech Over New ID Checks

‘Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists and engineers sued NASA and the California Institute of Technology on Thursday, challenging extensive new background checks that the space exploration center and other federal agencies began requiring in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

The lawsuit says NASA is violating the Constitution by calling on employees – everyone from janitors to visiting professors – to permit investigators to delve into medical, financial and past employment records, and to question friends and acquaintances about everything from their finances to sex lives. Those who refuse could lose their jobs, the suit says.

“They don’t tell you what they’re looking for, they don’t tell you when they’re looking for it, they won’t tell us what they’re doing with the data,” said plaintiff Susan Foster, a technical writer and editor at JPL for nearly 40 years.’

Sunday, September 2, 2007


The 10 Strangest (Real) Things in Space

‘I recently saw a Digg article which linked to a page about the 10 Strangest Things in Space. All but 2 of the items were not pictures at all but computer simulations, or artists impressions. So here to correct this injustice to phenomena everywhere I present the REAL 10 Strangest Things in Space – or at least in my opinion.’


Friday, August 31, 2007


Einstein’s Warping Found Around Neutron Stars

‘Einstein’s predicted warping of space-time has been discovered around neutron stars, the most dense observable matter in the universe.

The warping shows up as smeared lines of iron gas whipping around the stars, University of Michigan and NASA astronomers say. The finding also indicates a size limit for the celestial objects.

The same distortions have been spotted around black holes and even around Earth, so while the finding may not be a surprise, it is significant for answering basic questions of physics, said study team member Sudip Bhattacharyya of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. and the University of Maryland, College Park.’

Saturday, August 25, 2007


One Small Step For Mail

‘There are few who would call postal delivery exciting. The reasons for this attitude are difficult to pin down, but it seems there is something inherent about the meticulous sorting and distribution of various pieces of paper that fails to capture the imagination. Nevertheless, over the last century there have been those who have wanted to change that: visionaries who looked beyond the truck and mailbag and imagined a means of delivering credit card bills and erotic magazines that would defy the heavens and shake the very Earth itself. Rarely has history seen a concept so grand, and so impractical, as Rocket Mail. [..]

This success was met with great excitement. While naysayers quibbled over such details as the wisdom of launching intercontinental cruise missiles to deliver postcards during the height of the Cold War, others were already mapping out a bright future for rocket mail. [..]’


Friday, August 24, 2007


Astronomers find gaping hole in the Universe

‘University of Minnesota astronomers have found an enormous hole in the Universe, nearly a billion light-years across, empty of both normal matter such as stars, galaxies and gas, as well as the mysterious, unseen “dark matter.” While earlier studies have shown holes, or voids, in the large-scale structure of the Universe, this new discovery dwarfs them all. [..]

Astronomers have known for years that, on large scales, the Universe has voids largely empty of matter. However, most of these voids are much smaller than the one found by Rudnick and his colleagues. In addition, the number of discovered voids decreases as the size increases.

“What we’ve found is not normal, based on either observational studies or on computer simulations of the large-scale evolution of the Universe,” Williams said.’