The Big Dipper rises behind the Catalina Sky Survey telescope. Photo: Catalina Sky Survey/University of Arizona
There are millions of asteroids in the Solar System and relatively few astronomers to track them. They’d hate to miss that one dangerous rogue headed on a collision course with Earth.
So NASA has made it easier for the amateur stargazer to record and compare their discoveries and put extra eyes on the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
NASA and Planetary Resources Inc. have developed a computer program that is based on an algorithm that analyzes images for potential asteroids. The new asteroid hunting application, available for free download here, was announced Sunday by NASA at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.
Astronaut Terry Virts tweeted from the International Space Station this special salute to the late Leonard Nimoy. Photo: Terry Virts/Twitter
Leonard Nimoy’s portrayal of unflappable calm and logic during dangerous space travels on TV and in movies inspired those whose stage is actual space.
NASA is mourning the loss of Nimoy as if Mr. Spock was one of their own. Since news of Nimoy’s passing Friday, astronauts have tweeted, uploaded a YouTube video tribute and issued statements, thanking the iconic Star Trek actor for the courage to “boldly go” into professions involving space exploration.
One of the more touching tributes came from astronaut Terry Virts, who tweeted a photo of his hand in Spock’s iconic “Live Long and Prosper” gesture at a window in the International Space Station looking over Earth.
Astronaut Terry Virts as he works on a robotic arm outside the International Space Station Wednesday. Photo: NASA
Wardrobe malfunctions can happen with every style of clothing. It’s just a little terrifying when it happens to an astronaut on a spacewalk.
NASA astronaut Terry Virts reported a floating blob of water inside his helmet Wednesday after completing a six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk to perform cable and lube work outside the International Space Station.
What would a Jony Ive spacesuit look like? Photo: Sotheby’s
When you’ve designed some of the most successful consumer electronics in modern history, where else can you look but up?
One of the many interesting tidbits in The New Yorker’s 17,000-word profile of Jony Ive surrounds his fascination with the Apollo space program and, yes, designing spacesuits. It doesn’t sound like the spacesuit itself was what inspired Apple’s top designer as much as the process that went into it.
Ive mentions he’s been watching the old Discovery channel series Moon Machine about the challenges facing the Apollo program. NASA designers had no idea what goals they even needed to meet for the suit, but built up to the final design with invention after invention until they got it right.
An anecdote from The New Yorker’s time in Ive’s hallowed design studio (emphasis added):
An artist’s concept shows Dawn reaching the dwarf planet Ceres. Illustration: NASA
The dwarf planet named after the Roman goddess of motherly relationships will soon have a new friend. And scientists and space-exploration geeks here on Earth can’t wait for that friend, the space probe Dawn, to start dishing.
Dawn, launched in 2007 to visit two bodies within the asteroid belt past Mars, is scheduled to enter an orbit of the dwarf planet Ceres on March 6. Ceres is the largest mass in the asteroid belt and has an icy mantle that may harbor an internal ocean of water under its surface. Talk of water on a planetary body always leads to questions of life.
Ceres has long been a curiosity to astronomers and space observers, and its status — is it an asteroid? a dwarf planet? — has been hotly debated ever since its discovery in 1801 by Giuseppe Piazzi.
Retro travel posters issued by NASA celebrate some of the discoveries of the Kepler Space Telescope. Illustrations: NASA
The exoplanet known as Kepler-16b is a gas giant near the outer limits of the habitable zone, but why should that discourage you from paying it a visit?
NASA has issued a set of three retro space-tourism posters to celebrate the discoveries of the Kepler Space Telescope, which has laid eyes on more than 1,000 confirmed exoplanets and more than 400 stellar systems.
If 16b — which is said to have a temperature similar to dry ice — doesn’t sound appealing, honeymooners might be drawn to the promise of romance with a double sunset. Kepler-16b orbits a pair of stars, like Luke Skywalker’s native planet Tatooine, and the travel poster serves up this selling point: “Where Your Shadow Always Has Company.”
Two views of the Eagle Nebula from the Hubble Space Telescope, one from 2014, left, and the first in 1995. Photo courtesy of NASA and the European Space Agency
The muse of the Hubble Space Telescope is even more alluring 20 years later.
Of all the breath-taking photos from the telescope’s camera, the blooming pillars of gas of the Eagle Nebula from 1995 became Hubble’s most iconic image, depicted on stamps, tee-shirts and in several cameos for film and television.
Hubble recently took another look at the star-lit towers of gas and cosmic dust – dubbed the Pillars of Creation — with a newer camera (installed in 2009) and captured greater detail that should give astronomers a chance to see how the clouds of oxygen, hydrogen and sulphur have changed since the first photograph.
Flatworms are headed to the International Space Station. Their sacrifice in the name of research gets a salute on the Kentucky Space mission patch. Photo: Kentucky Space
Flatworms are the darlings of the molecular biology field. What scientist doesn’t love a species that can lose an organ or body part — even its head — and grow it back?
It’s quite a trick. We’ll see if they can do it in space.
About 150 planarian flatworms, creatures that are happiest living in rivers or under a log, have first-class tickets aboard the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship, which will take them to the International Space Station for an experiment that could unlock the key to human immortality.
A dance line of NASA interns from a scene in their parody music video called “All About That Space.” From NASA video
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to make a music video, and maybe you shouldn’t be. Turns out, rocket scientists can’t dance. NASA released a parody video on YouTube Thursday called “All About That Space,” designed to raise excitement about Orion’s recent first test flight.
The lyrics of Meghan Trainor’s monster hit “All About That Bass” were re-engineered by the Pathways Interns of NASA’s Johnson Space Center to lead the viewer on a behind-the-scenes look at the men and woman hard at work on space travel.