Showing posts with label exploration technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label exploration technology. Show all posts

Ad Asstra Per Aspera: Will Space-Based Pornography Blast Off?

For everyone who has ever marveled at the sight of a rocket launch, or enjoyed the victorious thrill of watching a moon landing or spacewalk, we know that the excitement of space travel is deeply ingrained in the human psyche.  Even just checking out pictures from space (or reading Space Station Sunday) can encapsulate some of that enticement.  Now, the spirit of space adventure and another popular pasttime - porn consumption - are teaming up to go where no man (and woman) have gone before.

Like it or not, these two may make some very hot history.
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Countdown To Liftoff: Virgin Galactic Claims Space Tourism Will Commence In Two Years Or Less

With SpaceX successfully ferrying cargo to the International Space Station on the regular, and space tourism plans from Russia well in the works, the world's financial elite are starting to slaver over the speculation of a vacation in space.  Virgin Galactic have now thrown in their spacesuit-gauntlet, claiming they will be actively operating outside of the atmosphere in as little as two years.

These are what spacesuit gauntlets look like, BTW.
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Hack In Black: Turn Your Smartphone Into A Portable Blacklight

Since your smartphone already can seem like something out of the future, why not give it an extra superpower?  You can now act like a criminal investigator (handcuffs optional) and scan for clues using your smartphone as a blacklight...

And then, adorning everything in blacklight ink becomes your new graffitti...
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Way To Go: New Apple Maps Launch To Include Public Transit, Indoor Maps & More Flyovers

It's a feature that has benefited humanity tremendously since its inception, and now, it's even more comprehensive.  Apple Maps is upgrading their app to include subways, trains, new flyover views, and even robotically-determined floorplans inside of buildings.

Plot your commute or view your dream vacation, all in the palm of your hand.
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Secret Space Plane Mission REVEALED! (Sorry, No Aliens Involved...Yet.)

Of all the cool top-secret schwag that the United States government keeps under wraps, it's the ones we occasionally get glimpses or hints of that seem to be the most intriguing (we're looking at you, SR-71 Blackbird.)  Since "top secret" generally means stuff gets hidden, it's often only the reports of funky, flagrant aircraft that allow for speculation on sweet secrets.  However, now the US has allowed at least a little bit of insight into the operations of one of its coolest "secrets" in space...

The secret is out (well, up):  the X-37B preps for launch.
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The Biggest Skyscraper Yet: U.A.E. Sets Sights On Mars

Worldwide, many people have looked to the skies, considering if humanity's future could lead us there.  The planet Mars has recently gained attention as a possible attractive option for this.  Some people want to rush into a Martian endeavor with no real means of achieving it, while others ask for ideas and offer rewards so that good plans may be formulated.  And now, there's a new player in interplanetary politics...

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Message Received: NASA's Messenger Probe Crashes Into Mercury After Four Years In Orbit

Having served admirably as an interplanetary diplomat between Earth and Mercury, NASA's Messenger probe went out in a blaze of glory yesterday, crashing into the planet it had spent years documenting...

Composite shots of Mercury, courtesy the Messenger.  Colors added for awesomeness.
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Answers To All Of Your Searches: Now, You Can Download Your Entire Google History

As humans, it is an ineffable part of our nature to search.  Searching for meaning, searching for love, searching for a place to call our own...we do love a good quest - sometimes, even if we don't really know what we're searching for.  That fascination has only escalated with the advent of search engines, which require only mere, vague, and often strange commands to set us out onto our next journey.  And now, all that you've searched for can be found again...

Search from your perch...
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Clock 'N Roll: It's Almost Time For The Apple Watch!

Heads up...the next shiny chunk of future is about to fall of the tech tree and land on your wrist.  The much-heralded Apple Watch will go on sale next Friday, April 10th...

Anything with "space" in the color title has got to be interesting.
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True Story: New "StoryCorps" App Aims To Preserve Diverse Histories

Since the dawn of mankind, humans have passed down traditions, songs, legends, folklore, family history, and more via the medium of storytelling.  In modern day, transcribed oral histories have lent insight into some of the most important events of recorded time.  Now, a method to preserve these tales for the ages has been made easy in app form.

"That's how much of my intestinal tract the German bomb eviscerated,
but I still bayoneted five of 'em before I passed out."
-"Uh...Dad, weren't you born in Ecuador?  In 1950?"
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Rocket From Russia: Space Tourism Back In Action For 2018

With the tomorrow's launch of The One Year Crew as an experiment in sustained spacefaring, many civilians are wondering when we get to have a turn.  Fear not, prospective astro-adventurers...Russia may have your ticket to fly...

A Soyuz rocket in action.  Feel like taking a spin?
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Time Travel By Telephone: New App Shows Classic Pics At Scenic "Pivot Points"

Who doesn't enjoy the notion of time travelling to a different era in the past?  Speculating on the places, people, and events that have preceded your life is one of humanity's great fascinations, even as we stretch further into the future.  Now, although we can't physically poke around the past, a new app allows for a different type of this temporal trip...

It's like an inter-era Instagram.
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Mars Barred: "Mars One" Reality Show A Spacefaring Scam

Sure, the idea has tremendous allure: pick a group of random and possibly strange humans, send them to a faraway untouched planet, and record the whole thing for the entertainment of Earthlings.  The "Mars One" reality show intends to do exactly this.  The problem?  Science isn't on their side...

Because Buzz! Master Moonman's New Space Race Game Debuts

Buzz Aldrin has had an amazing life:  West Point cadet, pilot, NASA astronaut, second man on the moon, and current Martian space initiative devotee.  Now, you can share some of his astro-adventures thanks to Aldrin's new iPad game, Space Program Manager - Road To The Moon...

Saddle up, rocket jockeys!
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Thinking Green On The Red Planet: Dry Ice Engine Could Propel Spaceships To Mars

Mars has emerged as a major spacefaring destination for the coming decades, but ideas on how to get there are still up in the air (well, lack of air, technically.)  Now, a new idea that would utilize sustainable Martian resources for fuel has got scientists gassed to head to the red planet...

An image from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) shows abundant dry ice deposits.
Could this be the new rocket fuel?
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Planes On The Brain: Non-Aviatrix "Flies" An F-35 Simulator Thanks To Neural Signalling

Ever have one of those dreams where you're flying?  What if you could do the next best thing in real life and control a plane with your mind?  Now, the U.S. military has designed a way to make this possible...

Forget flying by the seat of your you can fly by the seat of your mind!
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On The Fly: "World's Smallest Aircraft" Seeking To Launch Later This Year

If you thought the electric unicycle that we wrote about last week was cool, wait until you see this new prototype portable flying device...

It's the love child of a Segway and a Hovercraft.
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Shared Space: Is China Poised To Have Earth's Superior Space Program?

With plans germinating to launch a major new telescope and buzz that we possibly might make it to Mars by the 2030s, NASA has been no slouch lately.  Thanks to commercial spacecraft like the SpaceX Dragon being capable of ferrying supplies and personnel to the International Space Station, we've proved that private space companies and America's own space division can work excellently together.  But what about our working relationship with international space organizations, namely, China?

Surely there must be enough space for the both of us...
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Moon Loot! Neil Armstrong's Widow Finds Stashbag Of Apollo 11 Parts

It's not uncommon to have elements of your job wind up following you home...maybe some pens from the office, a cupcake from the bakery, or a limited-edition craft brew bottle from the bar (or maybe two.)  But recently, a whole new level of work-treasure was unearthed (unmooned?) when Neil Armstrong's widow discovered a cache of original Apollo 11 equipment...stowed in a bag at the back of a closet.

"Time to conquer the moon.  But first, a selfie."
Armstrong, pictured near some of the power cables found in his moon-stash.
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As reported by, the amazing and historically rich find had been either forgotten or kept a secret by Armstrong, who died in 2012.  His wife Carol reported the find to Alan Needell, the curator of the Apollo collection at the Smithsonian Air And Space Museum, and it was instantly recognized to be of "priceless historical value", according to NASA.

Known as the "McDivitt Purse", the bag was a readily-available container kept accessible inside the lunar Eagle module, where it was used to keep small parts from floating away in micro-gravity.  "The Purse" was named for Apollo 9 commander Jim McDivitt, who had emphasized the importance of a stowable bag for for the front of the spacecraft.  The one-of-a-kind collection is now being prepared for display by the Smithsonian.

Allen Wrench?  Maybe on Earth.  Offplanet, that's the door key to a moonship!
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Inside, all manner of Apollo artifacts had been preserved by Armstrong.  Power cables, hand tools, a valve cover, a mounting bracket, and other everyday-type items were in the collection, but the crown jewel of the space stuff was a 16-mm film camera (plus accessories!) that was used to record the descent of the Eagle onto the surface of the moon.

The original Apollo 11 footage (left) as compared to footage from the modern unmanned LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.)  Because moon movies are always awesome. 

Also present was a safety strap that was photographed in use for Buzz Aldrin's EVA ("Extravehicular Activity"...a common term for astronauts, which in this case specifically meant WALKING ON THE FREAKING MOON.)  You he wouldn't get too excited in that 1/6th gravity and just bounce away.

Buzz Aldrin, rocking the waist tether on descent from the Eagle.  Just moon things.
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By the way, if you swoon for some moon, you can check out the LRO's sharp, zoomable moon imagery right here.  Thanks to NASA, more info on the overall LRO project, which is run from the Goddard Spaceflight Center in Maryland, can be found here.  Take your own lunar recon voyage from the comfort of Earth!

Sure, it may just be an orbiting chunk of rock that's mostly comprised of what Buzz Aldrin called "magnificent desolation"...but it's OUR chunk of orbiting rock.  And in an age where we can use a smartphone (that contains more computing power than the Eagle had) to check out close-up snaps of a celestial body, it's cool to recall that even some small steps like helmet straps, power cables, and bits of hardware were critical to making that "giant leap for mankind" come to pass.

One small stash for a man...
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Ballroom Blitzar: Massive Space-Based Radio-Wave Bursts, But No Message...Yet

Like many fascinating things, sometimes a thing that exists only in legend surprises everyone and blasts into reality.  This is even more interesting when it's a scientific event.

According to Gizmodo, this week several massive bursts of energy emitted from deep space  were recorded by scientists at the Parkes Telescope in New South Wales, Australia.  The massive bursts of tightly-banded radio-frequency waves are known as "blitzars", although this is just one term for what could possibly be a variety of explanations for the observed phenomena.  Though blitzars only last a millisecond, they emit the same power as the sun would over an entire day.  So astronomically speaking, this is pretty striking.

"Say it again."  -The Parkes Telescope
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Scientists first began identifying blitzars in 2007 thanks to documented astronomical observations.  Although the data was weeks or even years old, nine blitzars were noted to have occurred.  However, this week's observation happened in real time, and appeared to emanate from the constellation Aquarius.  Little more is known about its origins other than that the source "must be huge, cataclysmic and up to 5.5 billion light years away," according to researcher Emily Petroff.

Speculations on the source include flares or collapse from large, possibly magnetically-charged neutron stars, but these ideas are presently unfounded.  As Keith Bannister from Australia's national science agency told New Scientist, "Nobody knows what to make of it...All the ideas are very exotic so ruling them out is all you can do at the moment."

"Burp."  -a neutron star
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Scientists will continue watching the skies, including in other bandwidths, to see if there are any complimentary blitzar bursts elsewhere. This could help to quantify the density of interstellar mediums via observing the speed and dispersion of the signal through free electrons in space. So we'll perhaps learn how fast and far such energy can travel...even if we don't yet know what it means.

Could creatures at the source be listening to OUR radio waves?  And are they (rightly) disgusted by our terrible pop music?
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