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Shuttle Docking

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Fly me to the moon! Company offers lunar holidays (but it could cost you £100 million)

We all want our holidays to be out of this world – but don’t be surprised if you come back without a suntan from the latest exotic break to hit the tourism market. One British company is offering seats to adventurers willing to go the extra mile on a historic journey to the moon. Read more here.

Elon Musk on the Business Case for Mars

Elon Musk of SpaceX recently spoke at a symposium on space travel and outlined his vision for the colonization of Mars.

I think he’s right on the money.

Crazy Awesome Video of a Massive Solar Flare

From NASA:

When a rather large-sized (M 3.6 class) flare occurred near the edge of the Sun, it blew out a gorgeous, waving mass of erupting plasma that swirled and twisted over a 90-minute period (Feb. 24, 2011). This event was captured in extreme ultraviolet light by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft .

Some of the material blew out into space and other portions fell back to the surface. Because SDO images are super-HD, we can zoom in on the action and still see exquisite details. And using a cadence of a frame taken every 24 seconds, the sense of motion is, by all appearances, seamless. Sit back and enjoy the jaw-dropping solar show.

The Soviets Were Closer to the Moon than We Thought

Space.com has an excellent article about the Space Race to the Moon. They’ve been able to peer into the Soviet archives and reveal the details on the super rocket that would ferry Soviets to the moon.

Here’s an excerpt:

Research that digs back over the decades is providing an illuminating look at the former Soviet Union’s failed bid to send cosmonauts to the moon.

Between February 1969 and November 1972, Soviet space engineers repeatedly saw any dream of landing a cosmonaut on the moon literally go up in flames.

A succession of four failures of the Soviet-built N-1 mega-booster led to the project’s cancellation by decree of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

A fifth launch of the super-booster was slated in the fourth quarter of 1974, one that gleaned lessons learned from the earlier unsuccessful flights.

Up in smoke and millions of rubles spent, the terminated N-1-L3 space project was to be topped by a lunar system to support a two-cosmonaut crew on a maximum flight time of 13 days to the moon and back to Earth, with one crew member setting foot upon the lunar surface.

Read the rest of this excellent article here.

Mars: Sands Dunes Shift with Time

NASA probes surveying Mars have noticed something very interesting – the sand dunes they’ve photographed have been changing the longer they’ve been monitoring.

Here’s a picture of what’s happening:

mars sand dunes]

From the BBC:

Vast sand dunes near the northern pole of Mars are not frozen relics of a distant past, but shift and change every Martian year, data have shown.

A hi-tech camera aboard Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has spotted UK-sized dune fields that are among the most dynamic on the Red Planet.

Causes, says a report in Science, include carbon dioxide gas that freezes solid onto the dunes each winter.

As it thaws in spring, the gas released destabilises, causing sand avalanches.

Source.

Very cool!

Nasa probes capture first panoramic images of Sun

Two probes from Nasa’s Stereo mission have beamed back the first ever 360-degree panoramic images of the Sun.

Fun Animation of the Phases of the Moon

Amazing animation of the complete phases of the moon.

NASA – The Frontier Is Everywhere (Video)

This inspiring fan video, featuring Carl Sagan’s famous “Pale Blue Dot” narration, is made by Reid Gower and he has this to say about NASA’s current public image:

I got frustrated with NASA and made this video. NASA is the most fascinating, adventurous, epic institution ever devised by human beings, and their media sucks. Seriously. None of their brilliant scientists appear to know how to connect with the social media crowd, which is now more important than ever. In fact, NASA is an institution whose funding directly depends on how the public views them.

In all of their brilliance, NASA seems to have forgotten to share their hopes and dreams in a way the public can relate to, leaving one of humanity’s grandest projects with terrible PR and massive funding cuts. I have a lot of ideas for a NASA marketing campaign, but I doubt they’d pay me even minimum wage to work for them. I literally have an MSWord document entitled NASAideas.doc full of ideas waiting to share. I thought maybe, just maybe someone might be able to work their magic for me on that. But the primary point of this post is to vent my frustration with NASA. Sure, they’ve fallen victim to budget cuts but I honestly think cutting media will seal NASA’s own fate. Unless they can find a way to relate to the general public, support for their projects will always be minimal, and their funding will follow suit. A social media department would easily pay for itself in government grants because it could rekindle the public interest in the space program.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oY59wZdCDo0&hd=1

Here’s hoping NASA takes a cue from this!

Guide to Meteor Showers in 2011 – List of 2011 Meteor Showers

Meteor showers are an easy thing for most people to see and a great way to experience the events our universe has to offer.

Here’s a list of meteor showers that will be taking place in 2011. This list is geared towards visibility in the USA.

The moon can seriously affect meteor visibility so we’ve listed when the moon will cause problems for you.

If you’re wondering what the best meteor shower to view is – plan on watching the Perseids in August. They usually have the most meteors and are easy to see.

Name Date of Peak Moon
Name: Quadrantids
Peak: night of January 3
Moon: New

Name: Lyrids
Peak Night: night of April 21
Moon: Rises after midnight

Name: Eta Aquarids
Peak Night: night of May 5
Moon: Sets in early evening

Name: Perseids
Peak Night: night of August 13
Moon: Full

Name: Draconids
Peak Night: night of October 8
Moon: Sets around midnight

Name: Orionids
Peak Night: night of October 21
Moon: Rises after midnight

Name: Leonids
Peak Night: night of November 17
Moon: Rises around midnight

Name: Geminids
Peak Night: night of December 13
Moon: Just past full