[PHOTO] Lyndon Johnson and Spiro Agnew Watch the Apollo 11 Liftoff

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Science Fiction Cover: ‘A is for Astronaut’

A-Astro


[VIDEO] Dubai World Record Eagle Flight

Click the link to watch the uncut, 5 minutes long flight version of this video


うん!Suntory Plans Space-Aged Whisky

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The bad news: There are no plans to make the space-aged whisky available for purchase. The samples will be studied in labs once they return to Earth and whisky blenders will taste them to compare them with those aged on the ground.

Jun Hongo reports: Not content with having the best whisky in the world, Suntory Holdings Ltd. plans to take its whisky out of this world and into space.

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The Japanese brewing and distilling company said this week it would send a total of six samples of its whiskies and other alcoholic beverages to the International Space Station, where they will be kept for at least a year to study the effect zero gravity has on aging.

space-whiskey

“The samples will be carried to the space station on Aug. 16 on Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s transfer vehicle Kounotori.”

According to a spokesman at the company, the samples, which will be carried in glass flasks, will include both a 21-year-old single malt and a beverage that has just been distilled. Research has shown that whisky aged in an environment with little temperature change, convection of fluids and shaking tends to be become “mellower,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »


What Kind of Ice Cream do Astronauts Eat?

astro-ice-cream

What kind of ice cream do astronauts eat? The regular kind. Freeze-dried “astronaut ice cream,” while popular with our visitors to the National Air and Space Museum, was not popular with actual astronauts (too crumbly). The real deal has been taking off since 2006. Here astronaut Sunita Williams enjoys some with fall apples in 2012.

More about eating dessert in space here.

Air and Space’s blog


Full Moon on Friday Is a Blue Moon

On Friday, much of the world will have the opportunity to observe a Blue Moon: A somewhat rare occurrence that doesn’t have anything to do with the moon’s color.

During most years, the Earth experiences 12 full moons, one in each month. But some years, such as 2015, have 13 full moons, and one of those “extra” lunar displays gets the label of Blue Moon.

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“The full moon appears to last for at least the length of one night, but technically speaking, it is an instantaneous event: It occurs when the sun, Earth and moon fall close to a straight line. It takes place at the same instant everywhere in the world, whether the moon is above or below the horizon.”

The lunar or synodic month (full moon to full moon) averages 29.530589 days, which is shorter than every calendar month in the year except for February. Those extra one-half or one-and-one-half days accumulate over the year, causing some years to have 13 full moons rather than 12.

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[Video: What’s a Blue Moon, Is It REALLY Blue?]

To see what I mean, here is a list of full-moon dates in 2015: Jan. 5, Feb. 3, March 5, April 4, May 4, June 2, July 2, July 31, Aug. 29, Sept. 28, Oct. 27, Nov. 25 and Dec. 25. In 2016, the first full moon falls on Jan. 23, and each calendar month has only one full moon.

The expression “once in a blue moon” has a long history of being used to describe rare events; but it was also used in the Maine Farmers’ Almanac to describe the third full moon in a season that has four (normally, a three-month season will only have three full moons).

Image: vintagefuture.tumblr.com

In 1946, Sky & Telescope magazine published an article that misinterpreted the older definition, defining a Blue Moon as the second full moon in a calendar month. This has become the most recent and perhaps most widely accepted definition of a Blue Moon. And hence, the full moon on July 31 is referred to as a Blue Moon, because it was preceded by the full moon on July 2. By this definition, a Blue Moon occurs roughly once every 2.7 years. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Comedy of Errors: Trespassing Kids Freak Out When Spotted by Drone

Stephen Coyle was flying his DJI Phantom 3 drone near a Letterkenny, Ireland, school when he spotted a few kids running on the roof and seemingly up to no good. In a video posted to YouTube, Coyle writes that the kids spotted the drone and mistakenly assume it was after them, causing a comedy of errors that led the kids to where he was piloting the drone….(read more)

[TIME]


Apollo 11 Astronauts Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong Returned Safely from the Moon, 46 Years Ago Today

Apollo 11 returned

As Dave in Texas notes, it was a mere 66 years from Kitty Hawk to the moon.


[PHOTO] NASA: Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center Celebrates the Safe Return of Apollo 11, July 24, 1969

Apollo


NASA’s Kepler Mission Discovers Bigger, Older Cousin to Earth: NASA Press Release

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While Kepler-452b is larger than Earth, its 385-day orbit is only 5 percent longer. The planet is 5 percent farther from its parent star Kepler-452 than Earth is from the Sun. Kepler-452 is 6 billion years old, 1.5 billion years older than our sun, has the same temperature, and is 20 percent brighter and has a diameter 10 percent larger.

NASA’s Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the “habitable zone” around a sun-like star. This discovery and the introduction of 11 other new small habitable zone candidate planets mark another milestone in the journey to finding another “Earth.”

“On the 20th anniversary year of the discovery that proved other suns host planets, the Kepler exoplanet explorer has discovered a planet and star which most closely resemble the Earth and our Sun.”

— John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate

The newly discovered Kepler-452b is the smallest planet to date discovered orbiting in the habitable zone — the area around a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of an orbiting planet — of a G2-type star, like our sun. The confirmation of Kepler-452b brings the total number of confirmed planets to 1,030.

“We can think of Kepler-452b as an older, bigger cousin to Earth, providing an opportunity to understand and reflect upon Earth’s evolving environment.”

— Jon Jenkins, Kepler data analysis lead at NASA’s Ames Research Center

“On the 20th anniversary year of the discovery that proved other suns host planets, the Kepler exoplanet explorer has discovered a planet and star which most closely resemble the Earth and our Sun,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “This exciting result brings us one step closer to finding an Earth 2.0.”

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“We’ve been able to fully automate our process of identifying planet candidates, which means we can finally assess every transit signal in the entire Kepler dataset quickly and uniformly.”

Kepler-452b is 60 percent larger in diameter than Earth and is considered a super-Earth-size planet. While its mass and composition are not yet determined, previous research suggests that planets the size of Kepler-452b have a good chance of being rocky.

“This gives astronomers a statistically sound population of planet candidates to accurately determine the number of small, possibly rocky planets like Earth in our Milky Way galaxy.”

— Jeff Coughlin, Kepler scientist at the SETI Institute

While Kepler-452b is larger than Earth, its 385-day orbit is only 5 percent longer. The planet is 5 percent farther from its parent star Kepler-452 than Earth is from the Sun. Kepler-452 is 6 billion years old, 1.5 billion years older than our sun, has the same temperature, and is 20 percent brighter and has a diameter 10 percent larger.

“We can think of Kepler-452b as an older, bigger cousin to Earth, providing an opportunity to understand and reflect upon Earth’s evolving environment,” said Jon Jenkins, Kepler data analysis lead at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, who led the team that discovered Kepler-452b. “It’s awe-inspiring to consider that this planet has spent 6 billion years in the habitable zone of its star; longer than Earth. That’s substantial opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet.”

“It’s awe-inspiring to consider that this planet has spent 6 billion years in the habitable zone of its star; longer than Earth. That’s substantial opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet.”

— Jon Jenkins, Kepler data analysis lead at NASA’s Ames Research Center

To help confirm the finding and better determine the properties of the Kepler-452 system, the team conducted ground-based observations at the University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory, the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory on Mt. Hopkins, Arizona, and the W. M. Keck Observatory atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii. These measurements were key for the researchers to confirm the planetary nature of Kepler-452b, to refine the size and brightness of its host star and to better pin down the size of the planet and its orbit.

The Kepler-452 system is located 1,400 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus. The research paper reporting this finding has been accepted for publication in The Astronomical Journal.

In addition to confirming Kepler-452b, the Kepler team has increased the number of new exoplanet candidates by 521 from their analysis of observations conducted from May 2009 to May 2013, raising the number of planet candidates detected by the Kepler mission to 4,696. Candidates require follow-up observations and analysis to verify they are actual planets. Read the rest of this entry »


NASA Just Discovered an Earth-like Planet

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In addition to the discovery of Kepler-452b, the scientists announced 11 more newly-found Earth-sized planets.

 reports: Some scientists believe we’re most likely to find life outside of Earth if we look beyond our solar system. Life, they think, could be present on some Earth-like planet orbiting a different sun thousands of light years away.

These earth-like planets do exist. Called exoplanets, they were discovered 20 years ago. But scientists haven’t found a planet that’s similar in size to Earth, orbiting a star similar to our sun, and traveling in a habitable zone (which means the planet is at the right temperature to harbor liquid water).

That is, until now.

Kepler 452b will forever be remembered as the first, second Earth or what NASA refers to as “Earth 2.0” ever discovered:

Here’s what we know so far about Earth 2.0:

  • It’s 60 percent larger than Earth.
  • It’s most likely rocket, meaning it has a solid surface as opposed to a gaseous one, like Jupiter.
  • It’s about 1,400 light years from Earth.
  • The star it’s orbiting is about 6 billion years old — 1.5 billion years older than our sun.
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NASA/JPL-CalTech/R. Hurt

Using NASA’s planet-hunting space telescope, called Kepler, a team announced today that Kepler 452b is the most Earth-like planet every discovered in history.

“This is about the closest, so far,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, during the announcement. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] New #ISSCrew member @Astro_Kjell waves during ascent to space. R2D2 doll hangs inside #Soyuz

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Intl. Space Station via Twitter


Buzz Aldrin: ‘I have 3 words to describe why this photo Neil took of me is so iconic: Location, location, location’

Armstrong-moon

 via Twitter


Costly Spanish ‘Ghost Airport’ Receives Only One Bid at Auction

ghost-airport

MADRID—One of Spain’s “ghost airports”—expensive projects that were virtually unused—received just one bid in a bankruptcy auction after costing about €1.1 billion ($1.2 billion) to build. The buyer’s offer: €10,000.

Ciudad Real’s Central airport, about 235 kilometers south of Madrid, became a symbol of the country’s wasteful spending during a construction boom that ended with the financial crisis of 2008, the year the airport opened. The operator of the airport went bankrupt in 2012 after it failed to draw enough traffic.

Chinese group Tzaneen International tabled the single bid in Friday’s auction, Spanish news agency Europa Press said. The receiver had set a minimum price of €28 million. If no better bid is received by September, the sale will go through, the news agency said. Read the rest of this entry »


Pundit Planet Command Center

rocket-lab

Source: 


#PlutoFlyby: Latest Updates

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  1.  Historic results from the New Horizons mission are due to be revealed in a briefing at 20:00 BST
  2.  They will include close-up photos of Pluto and its biggest moon Charon
  3.  Nasa’s spacecraft soared past Pluto on Tuesday and first “phoned home” at 01:52 BST Wednesday
  4.  The image taken just before the flyby already shows the dwarf planet in unprecedented detail

#PlutoFlyby: Latest updates

[BBC News]


[VIDEO] Pluto Is Larger Than Thought, Has Ice Cap, NASA Probe Reveals

LAUREL, Md. — Nola Taylor Redd reports: With less than 24 hours to go before NASA’s New Horizons probe makes its close flyby of Pluto, scientists are already learning more about the dwarf planet than ever before, including the fact that it is bigger than previously thought.

New Horizons’ latest views of Pluto have shown the dwarf planet to be 1,473 miles (2,370 kilometers) across, making it the largest body in the icy Kuiper Belt at the edge of the solar system. The observations also confirmed the presence of a polar ice cap on Pluto, and measured three of the dwarf planet’s moons.

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“Pluto is not disappointing,” said principal investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, during a NASA briefing here today (July 13).

[See a video of Alan Stern discussing Pluto’s size]

As New Horizons closes in, the spacecraft made the most precise measurements to date of Pluto’s size using methods similar to those employed by NASA’s Voyager spacecraft. The new diameter of the dwarf planet makes it larger than fellow Kuiper Belt denizen Eris, which is 1,445 miles (2,326 km) in diameter.

Previous estimates for the size of Pluto had put its radius at 1,430 miles (2,301 km). But Pluto now stands as the undisputed king of the Kuiper Belt.

“This settles the debate about the largest object in the Kuiper Belt,” Stern said. Read the rest of this entry »


On This Day, 1957: Dwight Eisenhower Became the First President to Fly in a Helicopter

heli


[PHOTO] Pluto By Moonlight

Image converted using ifftoany

It’s Antarctic winter on Pluto. The sun has not been visible for twenty years in this frigid south polar region; it will not shine again for another 80 years. The only source of natural light is starlight and moonlight from Pluto’s largest moon, Charon.

“The only way for New Horizons to observe Pluto’s elusive night region is to see it in ‘Charonshine. It’s almost time for the big reveal, and I couldn’t be more excited.”

— Cathy Olkin, New Horizons deputy project scientist

On July 14, New Horizons mission scientists will soon obtain the first images of the night region of Pluto, using only the light from Charon, itself softly illuminated by a Sun 1,000 times dimmer than it is at Earth. The images will provide New Horizons’ only view of Pluto’s lesser-known south polar region, currently in the midst of a numbingly-long winter. The pictures will be made with the LORRI and Ralph instruments, shortly after New Horizons passes its point of closest approach to Pluto.

If you stood on the night region of Pluto at that moment of closest approach by New Horizons – looking up at a distinctly gray Charon – it would appear seven times larger in the sky than Earth’s moon. Charon, although three billion miles from the sun, is so close to Pluto and so ice-covered that it would be only five times dimmer than the full moon seen from Earth. At your feet, the icy surface – resembling a sooty snow bank – would be bathed in Charon’s faint glow. The area around you would be dim, but not so dark that you would bump into things.

On your moonlight stroll on Pluto you’d notice that your shadow, cast by Charon, is much less defined than your shadow from moonlight on Earth. A wisp of cloud might even pass in front of Charon as you look up. Read the rest of this entry »


NASA Picks Four Astronauts to Fly First Commercial Space Missions

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“These distinguished, veteran astronauts are blazing a new trail, a trail that will one day land them in the history books and Americans on the surface of Mars.”

— NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA has selected four veteran astronauts to lead the way back into orbit from U.S. soil.

On Thursday, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden named the four who will fly on capsules built by private companies — SpaceX and Boeing. Each astronaut has test pilot experience and has flown twice in space.

The commercial crew astronauts are: Air Force Col. Robert Behnken, until recently head of the astronaut office; Air Force Col. Eric Boe, part of shuttle Discovery’s last crew; retired Marine Col. Douglas Hurley, pilot of the final shuttle crew; and Navy Capt. Sunita Williams, a two-time resident of the International Space Station.

“These distinguished, veteran astronauts are blazing a new trail, a trail that will one day land them in the history books and Americans on the surface of Mars,” Bolden said on his blog.

SpaceX and Boeing are aiming for test flights to the space station by 2017. It will be the first launch of astronauts from Cape Canaveral, Florida, since the space shuttles retired in 2011.

In the meantime, NASA has been paying Russia tens of millions of dollars per ride on Soyuz spacecraft to ferry astronauts; the latest tab is $76 million.

Bolden noted that the average cost on an American-owned spacecraft will be $58 million per astronaut, and each mission will carry a crew of four versus three, in addition to science experiments.

The four — who will work closely with the companies to develop their spacecraft — range in age from 44 to 50, and have been astronauts for at least 15 years. Each attended test pilot school; Williams specializes in helicopters. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Mercury Atlas Launch Vehicle

Mercury Atlas

Mercury Atlas launch vehicle

by Ian E. Abbott


[VIDEO] Why Did NASA Drop This Plane?

Research for giving rescuers a better chance at locating plane wrecks.


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