Philae May Have Grazed Crater Rim

An anonymous reader writes: The European Space Agency is gradually sorting through the data collected during the brief window Philae was alive and transmitting on the surface of a comet. Analysis of that data has provided another interesting clue about what happened to the probe as it bounced across the comet’s surface. According to results from the on-board magnetometer, immediately after the first touchdown, the lander’s spin rate increased somewhat. It continued to spin for about 36 minutes until another event dramatically changed its spin rate. This suggests it collided with something, because there was no corresponding vertical deceleration to indicate it had landed once more. Scientists think Philae likely grazed the rim of a crater with one of its landing legs. 65 minutes later, it landed again, and bounced to its final resting place just a few minutes later. The ESA’s article has some interesting graphs showing how the data changed as the lander progressed through these different events.

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NASA gives shoppers a nerdy alternative with #BlackHoleFriday



The pull for bargain prices is so strong that there’s often no escape for shoppers on Black Friday — and NASA cheekily decided to take that concept one step further.

While many are clamoring for the best post-Thanksgiving deals at stores, NASA is encouraging people to instead look to space, using the hashtag #BlackHoleFriday.

It’s #BlackFriday, but for us, it’s the 2nd annual #BlackHoleFriday. Today, we’ll post pics & info about black holes

— NASA (@NASA) November 28, 2014

The space agency’s Twitter account has been sharing stunning photographs and educational facts about black holes to its followers on Friday — regardless of whether or not they’re currently elbowing through massive crowds to buy holiday gifts Read more…

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Swiss Scientists Discover DNA Remains Active After Space Journey and Re-entry

Zothecula writes: It may sound like the first chapter of a Quatermass thriller, but scientists from the University of Zurich have discovered that DNA can survive not only a flight through space, but also re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere and still remain active. The findings are based on suborbital rocket flights and could have considerable impact on questions about the origins of life on Earth and the problems of terrestrial space probes contaminating other planets.

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Spend Your Black Friday Funds Helping Crowdfund A Mission To The Moon

Lunar Mission One You have enough towels already. And owning more gadgets just means more under-utilized stuff gathering accusatory dust. So why not spend the Black Friday funds you’d set aside to spend on sales tomorrow helping to crowdfund a mission to The Moon instead? Read More

British novelist sends lamb chop into the stratosphere



LONDON — A British novelist and graphic artist have posted some amazing footage of a tandoori lamb chop making its way towards space.

Nikesh Shukla and Nick Hearne attached a hunk of meat from East London’s famous Tayyabs restaurant to a helium balloon, added a video camera, and released it into the air.

The balloon then rose at 325 metres (1,000 ft) per minute for 95 minutes before bursting, severing GPS contact with ground control.

The team thought they’d never recover the video from the intrepid mission.

Five months later, though, they were approached by a farmer in Dorset who had found the wreckage of their flying machine and they discovered 100 minutes of jaw-dropping footage from the balloon’s 25,000 metre (32,000 ft) ascent, showing its journey from a diner’s plate to the skies Read more…

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Complex Life May Be Possible In Only 10% of All Galaxies

sciencehabit writes The universe may be a lonelier place than previously thought. Of the estimated 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe, only one in 10 can support complex life like that on Earth, a pair of astrophysicists argues. Everywhere else, stellar explosions known as gamma ray bursts would regularly wipe out any life forms more elaborate than microbes. The detonations also kept the universe lifeless for billions of years after the big bang, the researchers say.

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Study: Space Rock Impacts Not Random

sciencehabit writes When it comes to small space rocks blowing up in Earth’s atmosphere, not all days are created equal. Scientists have found that, contrary to what they thought, such events are not random, and these explosions may occur more frequently on certain days. Rather than random occurrences, many large airbursts might result from collisions between Earth and streams of debris associated with small asteroids or comets. The new findings may help astronomers narrow their search for objects in orbits that threaten Earth, the researchers suggest.

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NASA Remasters 20-Year-Old Galileo Photographs of Jupiter’s Moon, Europa

An anonymous reader writes with news that NASA has released remastered pictures of Europa taken by the Galileo spacecraft. “Scientists have produced a new version of what is perhaps NASA’s best view of Jupiter’s ice-covered moon, Europa. The mosaic of color images was obtained in the late 1990s by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft. This is the first time that NASA is publishing a version of the scene produced using modern image processing techniques. This view of Europa stands out as the color view that shows the largest portion of the moon’s surface at the highest resolution. An earlier, lower-resolution version of the view, published in 2001, featured colors that had been strongly enhanced. The new image more closely approximates what the human eye would see. Space imaging enthusiasts have produced their own versions of the view using the publicly available data, but NASA has not previously issued its own rendition using near-natural color.”

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Elon Musk Talks "X-Wing" Fins For Reusable Rockets, Seafaring Spaceport Drones

An anonymous reader writes Elon Musk sent a number of tweets recently in which he detailed a program to test the function of “X-Wing” style grid fins that could help spacecraft navigate upon re-entry. The tweets describing how it would work, also include an autonomous seafaring platform, which can hold its position within three meters even in a heavy storm, that would act as a landing pad. From the article: “The SpaceX reusable rocket program has been progressing with varying results, including an explosion over Texas back in August. While the incident didn’t result in any injury or even ‘near injuries,’ Musk conceded in a tweet that this was evidence that ‘[r]ockets are tricky.’ An earlier test flight from this summer involving an ocean splashdown was considered more successful, proving that the Space X Falcon 9 booster could re-enter earth’s atmosphere, restart its engines, deploy its landing legs and make a touch down at ‘near zero velocity.’”

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Spaceport America Loses $1.7 Million Due To Virgin Galactic Delays

An anonymous reader writes “Officials of New Mexico’s Spaceport Authority were grilled by lawmakers about the now vacant Spaceport America following the deadly crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo. The spaceport was built as a hub for commercial space flights. Its immediate future is uncertain since Virgin Galactic has indefinitely pushed back the launch date of its space tourism flights. From the article: “Christine Anderson, the authority’s executive director, learned last week that she might have to do so one legislator at a time. Anderson was called out by Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, for handing members of an interim legislative finance committee a presentation filled mostly with photographs. Lundstrom and other lawmakers wanted hard numbers and more details about what plan the authority has to get past the Virgin Galactic mishap and get the taxpayer-financed spaceport off the ground. ‘It just made all of us look like idiots, like we don’t do our homework,’ Anderson said. ‘That’s not the case whatsoever.’”

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