“Did you have to pass through Customs or some other international checkpoint when you landed in Kazakhstan?”
Hadfield’s answer? Yes! As the Canadian explains it, “NASA kept our passports and visas, and brought them to us at landing, so we had them at the Karaganda airport to leave Kazakhstan.” The whole thing was, he says, “a funny but necessary detail of returning to Earth.”
We live in an age of space-image abundance. Sure, NASA may not be able to continue running its existing missions, but, guys, we have more space photos and videos than we know what to do with.
Well, actually, we do know what to do with them: love them, unreservedly. In a fast-moving world, on a fast-moving Internet, space rises up above the snark, the cynicism, and the inanities. They are little oases of sincerity amid it all.
But how do you sell space in a headline?
Read more. [Image: NASA/Rebecca J. Rosen]
In the fall of 1997, a massive, unmanned rocket—one of the largest ever—took off on American soil, bound to Venus. It swung around that planet, entering deep-space so it could take advantage of the sun’s gravitational pull. Then it took a tour of the solar system, passing Venus again, Earth, and, a day before the new millennium began, Jupiter.
It kept flying and flying—until, on the first of July, 2004, its payload arrived in the orbit of Saturn.
And there the Cassini probe remains, taking observations, collecting data. Launched over a decade and a half ago, the spacecraft still works. It continues its mission of advancing science and informing us of our planetary neighborhood.
Except … except. If sequestration of the U.S. federal budget continues into 2014, NASA’s budget will lose hundreds of millions in funding. Today, according to early reports, agency leaders suggested to their employees that those cuts would come from the planetary sciences division. NASA might have to terminate the Cassini mission while it is still scientifically productive.
Read more. [Image: NASA]
You know what’s less awesome, though? The food. Sure, you can do a lot of things to space food to make it less space-food-y: You can spice it and sweeten it and try to make it simulate, as much as possible, its Earth-bound counterparts. Ultimately, though, the foodstuffs you’re consuming are still desiccated/rehydrated/irradiated/thermostabilized. Which is all compounded by the fact that your taste buds are sort of shot by the whole microgravity thing, anyway.
But it’s Thanksgiving! And we celebrate Thanksgiving with our feasting! So how will the six people currently living on the International Space Station, among them two Americans, give their thanks—not so much for the food as with it? Here, per NASA, are the dishes that will grace the only Thanksgiving table whose crazy tablescape is space.
Read more. [Image: NASA]
Above, there’s a shortened form from a new classical work, the improbably if appropriately named Hubble Cantata by Paola Prestini. The piece, which played on Saturday at the Brookyln Academy of Music’s celebration of “contemporary art song,” celebrates the beauty of the space telescope’s imagery. It was created by four specialists: a composer, a librettist, a filmmaker, and an astrophysicist.
Have you been looking to buy yourself a Constant Wear Garment, manufactured in 1968 by the Atlas Underwear Corp?
No? Would it change your mind to know that the garment—long underwear, essentially—was made for, and worn by, one Buzz Aldrin as he prepared to take his historic trip to the moon?
Read more. [Image: RR Auction]
So, last night, a rocket took off. It launched from an island in Virginia, turned east over the Atlantic Ocean, and sailed into the atmosphere. Aboard were 29 satellites—a record for one launch.
And one of those satellites? It was built by high schoolers.
That satellite—in space right now, whizzing over our heads—is called the TJ3Sat. Built by Virginia high-school students and their teachers, it represents over six years of work. It is the first orbiting spacecraft built by high-schoolers.
You can also interact with it right now. Go outside, bring a short-wave radio, and listen to its specified frequency (437.320 MHz). You’ll hear words spoken by its on-board voice processor, which were converted into waves and beamed back to the ground. Humans submitted those words using an online form—so you’re hearing, via space, the assembled messages of TJ3Sat’s human audience.
Read more. [Image: NASA]
You look up into the night sky. Before you—above you, around you—stretches a pitch-black canvas washed with streaks and studs of brightness. You are, you realize, surrounded by light that has traveled the expanse of the universe to reach your eyes. You feel tiny and enormous at the same time. You are, literally, awed.
But what, actually, is so awesome? How many stars are you actually seeing? Why simply marvel at the majesty and mystery of it all when you can also do some math?
Sure, Soviet cosmonauts had to face the difficulties of space travel, which were tough enough.
But what if they happened to crash land in some unknown territory? At the height of the Cold War? What would they do? How would they survive and contact their countrymen? What if they encountered hostile animals or other humans?
For all these reasons, the cosmonaut survival kit that our friends at The Appendix dug up is remarkable.
Read more. [Image: RuSpace]
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