They can’t yet display Princess Leia’s message to Obi Wan but it looks like it’s just a matter of resolution, not principle: These Lasers Can Create 3D Signs in Mid-Air – Popular Mechanics
The Lunar and Planetary Laboratory on the University of Arizona campus recently hosted The Art of Planetary Science, an
See the slideshow of the artworks and this video:
More about the exhibition:
Sunday Oct 26th we flew six high altitude balloon to the top of the stratosphere. We carried over 1700 PongSat student experiments, two MiniCubes, twelve HD cameras and a host of in house experiments. We also flew the reward signs for our Kickstarter effort that raised the funds for the flights. The last flight of the day was our 171st mission.
Some of the photos from the flights:
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A message from the Challenger Center:
STEM education organization continues to inspire and
educate students around the globe
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Challenger Center for Space Science Education (Challenger Center), the international science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education organization, unveiled a newly designed Challenger Learning Center at San Antonio College. The state-of-the-art Center has quickly become Challenger Center’s flagship facility. It is the first completely new design since the organization was founded nearly 30 years ago and represents the future look and feel of Challenger Center’s simulated STEM education experience.
“Today’s students have different expectations than students did years ago,” said Dr. Lance Bush, president and CEO, Challenger Center. “We know our model works, and the concept of Mission Control and the Space Station will always be our foundation. But it was time to take that classic Challenger Learning Center to a new level.”
The new Center features a futuristic look and a more functional design while incorporating the best parts of the organization’s original Challenger Learning Center. A revamped open floor model gives students more room to work together in the Space Station. Each student has the chance to interact with at least one hands-on lab during the mission. Large monitors above each work station display emergency alerts and videos throughout the sequence, providing additional engagement and interactivity. Mission Control now resembles what current Mission Control rooms look like with collaborative work stations, large high-definition screens to enhance the visual experience, and computer monitors that drop down into the tables to allow for more flexibility.
The Center is part of the Scobee Education Center, a state-of-the-art 22,000 square foot facility combining the school’s planetarium with the new Challenger Learning Center. The completed Scobee Education Center is named in honor of Challenger Space Shuttle Commander Dick Scobee and his widow June Scobee Rodgers who attended the college together. June Scobee Rodgers along with the other Challenger crew families founded Challenger Center after the shuttle tragedy.
“We are so very grateful for the opportunity to open our first next generation Challenger Learning Center, a design that represents the future of Challenger Center, in San Antonio” said Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, founding chair, Challenger Center. “It is especially meaningful for it to be part of the Scobee Education Center, extending the relationship between my family, the Challenger astronauts, and San Antonio College.”
Building on students’ natural enthusiasm for space, Challenger Center uses simulated space missions to strengthen knowledge and excitement about STEM subjects. The newest educational missions, Earth Odyssey and Lunar Quest, were developed with the help of NASA and NOAA so that students would be given the opportunity to analyze real-life data. In addition to applying the knowledge they have learned in the classroom, the missions allow students to practice important skills like problem-solving, communication and teamwork. Today, Challenger Center has more than 40 Challenger Learning Centers around the globe in 26 states and three other countries.
About Challenger Center for Space Science Education (Challenger Center)
As a leader in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, Challenger Center and its international network of Challenger Learning Centers use space simulations to engage students in dynamic, hands-on opportunities. These experiences strengthen knowledge in STEM subjects and inspire students to pursue careers in these important fields. Centers reach hundreds of thousands of students each year. Founded in 1986, Challenger Center was created to honor the crew of shuttle flight STS-51-L: Dick Scobee, Gregory Jarvis, Christa McAuliffe, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, and Michael J. Smith. Learn more about Challenger Center at www.challenger.org and connect with us on facebook.com/challengerctr, twitter.com/challengerctr and youtube.com/ccsse.
Yale grad student Joseph R. Schmitt says that the discovery of a new exoplanet was enabled by the work of volunteers in the Planet Hunters citizens science program. Schmitt is first author on a paper about the discovery:
We’re happy to announce the discovery of a new planet discovered by Planet Hunters volunteers, which is now published in The Astrophysical Journal. You can read the article for free on the arXiv here.
The star (PH3/Kepler-289/KOI-1353/KIC 7303287) is young and Sun-like. Two planets in the system, with periods of 35 and 126 days, had been previously validated statistically, the outer planet being a gas giant. However, Planet Hunters volunteers discovered a third transit signal between these two planets at a period of 66 days (PH3 c).
A quirk in the system allowed us to actually measure the mass of all the planets using only the exact times that each planet transited. The outer two planets, PH3 c and d, do not have a constant period like most planets do. Instead, it oscillates around an average value in a regular manner, which meant that it had been missed by computer algorithms but was easy to find for human eyes. In particular, the period of PH3 c changes by 10.5 hours in just 10 orbits due to the gravitational influence of the outer gas giant tugging on the middle planet. If Earth experienced such large changes, then if 2014 were 365 days long, 2024 would be 367.4 days long, almost two and a half days longer than 2014.
The new planet is about 2.7 times the radius of Earth and 4 times as massive. Its low density means that, despite its low mass, a large chunk of the planet must be composed of hydrogen and helium: 2% by mass and 50% by radius. The outer planet, on the other hand, is like a warm version of our Saturn, while the inner planet’s mass is poorly known. It could be mostly rocky, watery, or gassy.
We would like to thank all of the people involved in the project and all of the Planet Hunters volunteers for making this possible. We hope to find more gems like this in the future.
The AeroMobil 3.0 Flying car looks weirdly elegant in the air: Watch the AeroMobil 3.0 Flying Car Take to the Skies – Popular Mechanics
From the caption:
The current flying car prototype AeroMobil 3.0 incorporates significant improvements and upgrades. It is now being tested in real flight conditions since October 2014. Initially certified by the Slovak Federation of Ultra-Light Flying, it now entered a regular flight-testing program.
The AeroMobil 3.0 prototype is very close to the final product. It is predominantly built from the same materials as the final product, such as advanced composite materials for the body shell, wings, and wheels. It also contains all the main features that will be incorporated into the final product, such as avionics equipment, autopilot and an advanced parachute deployment system.
The Chinese Chang’e 5 T1 spacecraft was launched on October 23rd as a technology test for a lunar sample return mission planned for 2017. The T1 has done a fly-by of the Moon and will re-enter the earth’s atmosphere on Friday and land in Mongolia.
Some great pictures taken from the fly have been posted at xinhuanet.com. More about the images at
- China’s lunar test spacecraft take photos of Earth and Moon together – People’s Daily Online
- Chang’e 5 T1 rounds the lunar farside, returns lovely photo of Earth and the Moon together – The Planetary Society
- Chang’e 5: Photo of Moon and Earth – Slate
The Rosetta spacecraft continues to take amazing photos of comet 67P/C-G as it gets closer and closer to it. Check out these image galleries:
- Space in Images – Missions – Rosetta
- CometWatch – 26 October | Rosetta – ESA’s comet chaser
- A feast of comet features from Rosetta at Churyumov-Gerasimenko – The Planetary Society
Here are three recent images:
Four-image mosaic comprising images taken by Rosetta’s navigation camera from a distance of 9.8 km from the centre of comet 67P/C-G – about 7.8 km from the surface. The corresponding image scale is about 66 cm/pixel, and the mosaic covers roughly 1200 x 1350 metres.
The individual image frames and more information is available via the blog: CometWatch – 26 October
Four-image montage comprises images taken by Rosetta’s navigation camera from a distance of 9.8 km from the centre of comet 67P/C-G – about 7.8 km from the surface. The corresponding image scale is about 66 cm/pixel, so each 1024 x 1024 pixel frame is about 676 m across. In this orientation the larger lobe occupies the upper frames, with the neck filling the lower frames. The smaller lobe of the comet is out of view towards the right.
The individual image frames and more information is available via the blog: CometWatch – 24 October
Rosetta OSIRIS wide-angle camera image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 10 September 2014, showing jets of cometary activity along almost the entire body of the comet.
The latest finding from the European Southern Observatory (ESO):
Planet-forming Lifeline Discovered in a Binary Star System
ALMA Examines Ezekiel-like “Wheel in a Wheel” of Dust and Gas
For the first time, researchers using ALMA have detected a streamer of gas flowing from a massive outer disc toward the inner reaches of a binary star system. This never-before-seen feature may be responsible for sustaining a second, smaller disc of planet-forming material that otherwise would have disappeared long ago. Half of Sun-like stars are born in binary systems, meaning that these findings will have major consequences for the hunt for exoplanets. The results are published in the journal Nature on 30 October 2014.
This artist’s impression shows the dust and gas around the double star system GG Tauri-A. Researchers using ALMA have detected gas in the region between two discs in this binary system. This may allow planets to form in the gravitationally perturbed environment of the binary. Half of Sun-like stars are born in binary systems, meaning that these findings will have major consequences for the hunt for exoplanets.
A research group led by Anne Dutrey from the Laboratory of Astrophysics of Bordeaux, France and CNRS used theAtacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to observe the distribution of dust and gas in a multiple-star system called GG Tau-A . This object is only a few million years old and lies about 450 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Taurus (The Bull).
Like a wheel in a wheel, GG Tau-A contains a large, outer disc encircling the entire system as well as an inner disc around the main central star. This second inner disc has a mass roughly equivalent to that of Jupiter. Its presence has been an intriguing mystery for astronomers since it is losing material to its central star at a rate that should have depleted it long ago.
While observing these structures with ALMA, the team made the exciting discovery of gas clumps in the region between the two discs. The new observations suggest that material is being transferred from the outer to the inner disc, creating a sustaining lifeline between the two .
“Material flowing through the cavity was predicted by computer simulations but has not been imaged before. Detecting these clumps indicates that material is moving between the discs, allowing one to feed off the other,” explains Dutrey. “These observations demonstrate that material from the outer disc can sustain the inner disc for a long time. This has major consequences for potential planet formation.”
Planets are born from the material left over from star birth. This is a slow process, meaning that an enduring disc is a prerequisite for planet formation. If the feeding process into the inner disc now seen with ALMA occurs in other multiple-star systems the findings introduce a vast number of new potential locations to find exoplanets in the future.
The first phase of exoplanet searches was directed at single-host stars like the Sun . More recently it has been shown that a large fraction of giant planets orbit binary-star systems. Now, researchers have begun to take an even closer look and investigate the possibility of planets orbiting the individual stars of multiple-star systems. The new discovery supports the possible existence of such planets, giving exoplanet discoverers new happy hunting grounds.
Emmanuel Di Folco, co-author of the paper, concludes:
“Almost half the Sun-like stars were born in binary systems. This means that we have found a mechanism to sustain planet formation that applies to a significant number of stars in the Milky Way. Our observations are a big step forward in truly understanding planet formation.”
This wide-field view shows the sky around the young multiple star system GG Tauri, which appears very close to the centre of this picture. This view also shows a dust cloud and evidence of star formation near the top of the picture. This, like GG Tauri itself, is part of the Taurus Dark Cloud complex, one of the closest star-forming regions to Earth. Credit: ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin
A SETI Institute discussion of the Comet Siding Springs fly-by of Mars and other comet encounters:
Andy Weir, author of the highly acclaimed novel, The Martian, gave at talk at Google earlier this year:
An announcement about the High Frontier space settlement simuator:
New Video Game Blends Science, Fun
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Oct. 27, 2014 – A small family business launched a KickStarter campaign today for a space settlement simulation game. The game, called “High Frontier“, allows the player to design their own free-floating orbital colony. Players will then be able to go “inside” their colony, and manage the city in detail.
The game is being developed by Strout and Sons, a small company based in Fort Collins, Colorado (USA). Joe Strout, the lead developer, has previously coauthored two scientific papers on real space settlement designs. That experience is now being applied to the new video game, which features a custom physics engine to accurately simulate how large rotating bodies behave in space. Other parts of the simulation cover energy balance and population dynamics.
“High Frontier is already the most accurate, detailed space colony simulator ever made,” Strout said in a statement Monday. Work on the game has led to several relevant scientific insights, including the realization that inverted endcaps (like the bottom of a soda can) improve the stability of cylindrical space colonies, and recognition of the advantages of building early space colonies in low-Earth orbit.
“The idea of orbital space colonies has been around since the 1970s,” Strout explains, “but hasn’t received much attention in recent years. With High Frontier, we hope to change that.”
High Frontier has been following the incremental release model popularized by such games as Minecraft and Kerbal Space Program. The team has released ten versions so far, completing the “design” and “build” phases of the game. The third phase of the game, managing the colony, is still in progress; so far only an external view is available. To support the internal city-management view, the company has launched a KickStarter campaign (www.kickstarter.com/projects/1045364912/high-frontier). The team hopes to raise $10,000, which will be used primarily to fund custom artwork for the city simulation.
“We hope this game will help people realize the vast potential of the solar system,” Strout says. “High Frontier is designed to both entertain and inspire.”
The KickStarter campaign continues until November 26.
1. Monday, Oct. 27, , 2014: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome back MARK BRAY. Mark works on SLS as a NASA contractor in Huntsville . He is also an independent candidate running for congress. We want to explore the role of space in a political campaign. Is it an issue, even in Huntsville or do other issues significantly trump space.
2. Tuesday, Oct. 28 2014:,7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT): No show as I am away on non-space business. I am playing a Golden Oldie from Space Show archives so check the website newsletter for details on this show and to see when it is available for listening.
3. Friday, Oct. 31:, 2014, 9:30 -11 AM PDT (12:30-2 PM EDT; 11:30-1 PM CDT): TBD. I may not be back so check the website newsletter to see if there is a live show today..
4. Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014, 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): TBD. Please check the website newsletter for details for this program.
The Space Show is a project of the One Giant Leap Foundation.
From its long history of launching rockets and operating spaceships, NASA has posted a big collection of sound-clips that are suitable for ringtones, computer warnings, etc. : NASA’s stream on SoundCloud
Here’s a collection of NASA sounds from historic spaceflights and current missions. You can hear the roar of a space shuttle launch or Neil Armstrong’s “One small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind” every time you get a phone call if you make our sounds your ringtone. Or, you can hear the memorable words “Houston, we’ve had a problem,” every time you make an error on your computer
(There is also this page at NASA: Connect Sounds – NASA.)
Here’s a sampling:
The latest on activities on board the Int. Space Station and upcoming traffic of spaceships coming and going:
A very impressive short film in tribute to ESA’s Rosetta mission to 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko: Rosetta: the ambition to turn science fiction into science fact – ESA
Ambition is a collaboration between Platige Image and ESA. Directed by Tomek Bagiński and starring Aiden Gillen and Aisling Franciosi, Ambition was shot on location in Iceland, and screened on 24 October 2014 during the British Film Institute’s celebration of Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder, at the Southbank, London.
Here’s a video about the making of Ambition: