iPhone saves high-profile photo shoot

By

iphone flashlight photo
The flashlight mode on an iPhone helped the photographer light the simulated workspace of European astronaut Paolo Nespoli.
Photo: Alessandro Barteletti

We’ve all used the iPhone flashlight to shine on a keyhole or search for change dropped in a dark room. Alessandro Barteletti used his to land a cover picture for National Geographic.

Barteletti’s photo of an astronaut training in a Soyuz launch simulator graces this month’s cover of the Italian edition of the venerable publication.

The shot almost didn’t happen.

Bored at your job? NASA is looking for new astronauts

By

The job of astronaut may require some travel.
The job of astronaut may require some travel.
Photo: NASA/Flickr CC

When companies list “frequent travel may be required” in their job postings, they usually mean flying business class to the annual convention in Omaha and staying at the airport Ramada.

It’s a good business practice to let candidates know this up front — especially when the company doing the hiring is NASA and the openings are for astronauts.

NASA announced Monday it is looking for people with the Right Stuff for work aboard the International Space Station and flights in new commercial spacecraft and well-traveled Russian Soyuz ships. Oh yeah, a trip to Mars is said to be in the works.

You could own 4,096 bits of space history when computer chip goes up for auction

By

This computer chip is from the first computer ever used in a spacecraft.
This computer chip is from the first computer ever used in a spacecraft.
Photo: Heritage Auctions

A memory chip that originated from the first digital computer on a manned space flight will be up for auction next month in Dallas. For those calling in a bid, the smartphone in their hand has more than 250 million times the capacity of this chip.

The onboard computer for Gemini 3 aided astronauts Gus Grissom and John Young with several phases of their March 1965 mission, including prelaunch and re-entry. The 4.25-inch chip, a Random Access Non-Destruction Readout Memory Plane contains 4,096 bits of information, equal to about half of a K.

SpaceX abort system can carry astronauts to safety in five seconds

By

SpaceX is a step closer to manned flights after a successful test of a launch pad abort system. Photo: Space X
SpaceX is a step closer to manned flights after a successful test of a launch pad abort system. Photo: Space X

When the rocket you are about to ride has 3.9 million pounds of thrust under the seat, it’s comforting to have an exit strategy should something go wrong.

The private company SpaceX recently had a successful test of a launch abort system as it moves closer to having manned flights on its manifest.

Astronauts inside a Dragon spacecraft can be propelled a third of a mile away from the rocket in five seconds in the event of an emergency. SpaceX already has had seven successful unmanned cargo missions to the International Space Station and hopes to start carrying astronauts into space by 2017.

This toilet demo shows how astronauts boldly go in space

By

Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti took time out from her work aboard the International Space Station to explain how astronauts go to the bathroom in zero gravity. Photo: ESA/YouTube
Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti took time out from her work aboard the International Space Station to explain how astronauts go to the bathroom in zero gravity. Photo: ESA/YouTube

We have a reinvigorated interest in the mysteries of space. Astronaut Scott Kelly is just beginning a record-breaking stint in zero gravity, a space probe is about to fly by Pluto and manned missions to an asteroid and Mars are in the pipeline.

There is also the ongoing science on how to go to the bathroom in space, where things tend to float.

Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti explained that mystery over the weekend, when she took time from her work on the International Space Station to give a video tour of the bathroom (see below) and delicately describe going Numbers 1 and 2 in zero gravity.

NASA salutes Nimoy for taking us boldly where no one had gone before

By

Astronaut Terry Virts tweeted from the International Space Station this special salute to the late Leonard Nimoy. Photo: Terry Virts/Twitter
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.

Need a vacation? Try a NASA Kepler exoplanet

By

Retro travel posters issued by NASA celebrate some of the discoveries of the Kepler Space Telescope. Illustrations: NASA
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.”

See four minutes of jaw-dropping space travel in this sci-fi short

By

A group of people await the arrival of a few dirigibles at the edge of the Victoria Crater on Mars in Erik Werquist's short film
People await the arrival of dirigibles at the edge of Mars' Victoria Crater in Erik Werquist's short film Wanderers.

You can wait until the 2030s when NASA hopes to land astronauts on Mars. Or, if you have four minutes to spare right now, you can see what it is like to stand on the edge of the red planet’s Victoria Crater or catch a Martian sunset.

Erik Wernquist will even throw in a side of rings — Saturn’s that is — for watching his awe-inducing short film, Wanderers, which is embedded below.

“I am always inspired by reading about astronomy, and planetary astronomy in particular,” Wernquist told Cult of Mac. “And when I read about, or see pictures from places, I often fantasize about what it would … feel like to actually be there.”

Orion test flight launches humans one step closer to Mars

By

Orion on the launch pad set for an unmanned test flight.  Photo by Kim Shiflett/NASA
Orion on the launch pad set for an unmanned test flight. Photo by Kim Shiflett/NASA

When the final Space Shuttle flight landed in July 2011, there was a sadness that America’s future involvement in space exploration would be nothing more than one of our astronauts occasionally hitching a lift on a rickety Russian rocket.

But NASA, partnered with various aerospace companies, has been quietly designing and building a new program that could eventually take humans into deep space.