International Space Station Gets Special Delivery: Japanese Whiskey – For Science

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Marcia Dunn reports: Spirits arrived at the International Space Station on Monday. Not the ghostly ones, but the kind you drink — distilled spirits.

“The six astronauts won’t be sneaking a sip. It’s all for science.”

A Japanese company known for its whiskey and other alcoholic beverages included five types of distilled spirits in a space station cargo ship. The station’s big robotic arm — operated by Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui — grabbed onto the supply craft launched Wednesday by his homeland. Flight controllers helped anchor it down.

The supply ship contains nearly 10,000 pounds of cargo, including the six liquor samples. Suntory Global Innovation Center in Tokyo wants to see if alcoholic beverages mellow the same in space as they do on Earth.

[Also see – うん!Suntory Plans Space-Aged Whiskey]

The samples will be used for experiments and will spend at least a year in orbit before being returned to Earth. An identical set of samples will be stored on the ground in Japan. Read the rest of this entry »


Canada Participates in Just 3% Coalition Airstrikes Against ISIL in Iraq and Syria

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Fight Doesn’t Match Tory Rhetoric: Canadian military aircraft have flown 1,320 sorties, or individual missions, over Iraq and Syria since last year. That accounts for 2.7 per cent of the 47,705 total sorties flown by coalition aircraft since the war against ISIL started.

Despite Conservative warnings about the “horrific” threat posed by the ISIL, new figures show Canadian military aircraft have conducted less than three per cent of all coalition missions in Iraq and Syria.

“Comparing Canada’s contribution to other allies is difficult because each participating country reports differently. But defence expert David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute says Canadian aircraft flew about six per cent of all coalition missions during the war in Libya, and about 10 per cent in Kosovo.”

The war against ISIL figured prominently on the campaign trail Monday as Prime Minister Stephen Harper used a stop in Markham, Ont. to pledge that a re-elected Conservative government would provide more assistance for religious minorities and refugees in the Middle East.

Harper went on to criticize Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and NDP leader Tom Mulcair for promising to end Canada’s participation in the U.S.-led bombing campaign against ISIL, saying that humanitarian aid alone won’t solve the crisis.

“What is happening in the areas controlled by (ISIL) is really something we have not seen in millennia. It’s just beyond horrific,” he said, adding, “We are a country that can contribute militarily and in the humanitarian sense, and we are doing both.”

But a Citizen analysis raised questions about whether Canada’s military contributions in the fight against ISIL match Harper’s warnings.

Defence Department figures show Canadian military aircraft have flown 1,320 sorties, or individual missions, over Iraq and Syria since last year. That accounts for 2.7 per cent of the 47,705 total sorties flown by coalition aircraft since the war against ISIL started.

Comparing Canada’s contribution to other allies is difficult because each participating country reports differently. But defence expert David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute says Canadian aircraft flew about six per cent of all coalition missions during the war in Libya, and about 10 per cent in Kosovo. Read the rest of this entry »


Moon Rocket, Battery Powered

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GOVERNMENT PAPERWORK: Buzz Aldrin’s Customs Form After Arriving from the Moon

Aldrin

via reddit


[VIDEO] MH370 Mystery: Officials Confirm Fragment Is From Missing Flight


The Malaysian prime minister confirmed Wednesday that the airplane fragment that washed up on an island last week came from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 — the first definitive clue to the greatest mystery in modern aviation.

The fragment, a 6-foot-long, barnacle-encrusted wing flap, was discovered July 29 by a crew cleaning the beach on Reunion Island, a French territory in the Indian Ocean off the southern tip of Africa.

Investigators had already determined that it came from a Boeing 777, and Flight 370 was the only plane of that model missing in the world.

But the confirmation on Wednesday provided the first concrete physical evidence of what became of the plane after it disappeared from radar on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board. Read the rest of this entry »


[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?

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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

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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

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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’

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 via Twitter


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

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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

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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 »


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