Tim McGraw gets out-of-this-world response from NASA astronaut and ISS



“Live Like You Were Dying” crooner Tim McGraw and live-like-you-are-in-space NASA astronaut Scott Kelly are trading tweets Monday after the country star shared his upcoming song “Top of The World” with NASA. Kelly is aboard the International Space Station

The ISS account also responded to McGraw’s message, including a link in the tweet that directs people to NASA’s Spot the Station sightseeing website.

“Maybe you’ll fly over my next concert,” McGraw tweeted back at ISS. “We love what you’re doing up there, pushing humanity forward. Keep up the great work!” Read more…

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This cleanup satellite is designed to gobble up space debris like Pac-Man



A team of engineers has been at work for the past three years to develop a space cleanup satellite. The intent is to eliminate threatening, human-made orbital debris.

The worry is not new — there’s lots of clutter to pick and choose from, be it broken down satellites to tossed away rocket stages.

A new entry to de-litter Earth orbit is the CleanSpace One project, spearheaded by researchers from eSpace, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne’s (EPFL) Center for Space Engineering and Signal Processing 5 Laboratory and HES-SO University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland. Read more…

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Pictures of a Comet From 9 Meters Away

An anonymous reader writes: Back in November, the European Space Agency triumphantly put a lander on the surface of a comet and then tragically lost contact with it when it failed to anchor and couldn’t harvest enough energy to stay operational. In June, the lander awoke and for a short time was able to send more data back. Now the ESA has published a bunch of pictures and scientific papers about the data gleaned from Philae’s short windows of activity, including images of its descent to the surface. Phil Plait summarizes and analyzes the release. The most impressive image is from a mere 9 meters over the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. An animated gif shows the lander’s descent near the surface through a handful of pictures. Two shots of the same area from the Rosetta probe show where Philae bounced off the surface, ejecting an estimated 180kg of material in the process. It’s a fascinating, close-up look at a very distant and unusual world.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Breathtaking photos capture rare blue moon



Friday night’s blue moon wasn’t blue, but its grandeur still prompted many to look up to the night sky in awe. People from all over the world gawked at the lunar rarity

A blue moon is when two full moons rise in one month and on Friday night, we saw the second full moon of July. We don’t often get two full moons in one month. In fact, the next double feature won’t be until 2018. The last was in 2012

For breathtaking photos of the blue moon from New Jersey to Brazil, keep scrolling.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments. Read more…

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Japanese distillery will send its whisky to age in space



Suntory, Japan’s distillery whose whisky was crowned as world’s best in 2014, is sending its beverages into space

In a surprisingly down-to-earth press release, the company focused on its scientific efforts, calling this endeavor an “experiment on the development of mellowness in alcoholic beverage through the use of a microgravity environment.”

In practice, this means Suntory will send five types of its whisky (as well as a bottle of 40% ethanol) into space in August, leave it to mature for one, two or more years, and see how mellow it gets. The whisky will be stored at the International Space Station, while an identical set of samples will be stored in Japan for the same period of time. Read more…

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Philae lander sniffs out organic molecules on comet’s surface



The first-ever human-made probe to soft-land on a comet has managed to send home a treasure trove of data despite its short life on Comet 67P.

The European Space Agency’s Philae lander descended to the surface of the comet from the Rosetta probe in November 2014, making a bumpier-than-expected landing on the icy and dusty body

It survived on battery power for about 60 hours before falling silent, but in that time, Philae managed to collect a fair amount of data from the surface of the comet.

This research, detailed in a special issue of the journal Science, includes new information about the comet’s composition and even the discovery of organic compounds, often referred to as the building blocks of life, on the comet itself. Read more…

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Building a radio telescope with robots on far side of the moon



BOULDER, Colorado — Researchers are making strides on a radio telescope array that would be unfurled on the far side of the moon by an unmanned rover operated by nearby astronauts.

The rover would be commanded by astronauts in NASA’s Orion spacecraft, which would be hovering in a gravitationally stable spot near the lunar far side called Earth-moon Lagrange Point 2 (L2). Now, a university team has developed a system that mimics rover control to recognize potential problems with human-telerobotic operations, such as time lags and communication quality.

Read more…

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New Cassini photos show unusual red streaks on Saturn’s moon Tethys



A new false color photo of a mysterious moon of Saturn shows strange red streaks running for miles on the surface of the natural satellite

The new image — taken using a series of color filters on NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on April 11 — shows the red streaks, which look like narrow lines that are several hundred miles long but only a few miles thick on the moon Tethys‘ surface.

Scientists don’t yet know what is causing the strange red streaks, though it is possible that the red coloration is “exposed ice with chemical impurities, or the result of outgassing from inside Tethys,” NASA wrote in a statement. Read more…

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Strong aurora spotted on object outside solar system for 1st time



A brown dwarf light-years from Earth plays host to the strongest aurora ever detected, marking the first time scientists have discovered an aurora on an object outside our solar system.

A new study published in the journal Nature details the red aurora found on the brown dwarf LSR J1835+3259, a dim object 20 light-years from Earth that likely has a mass that is about 70 times that of the planet Jupiter

Brown dwarfs, sometimes called “failed stars,” are too large to be considered planets, but too small to produce nuclear fusion in their cores, which would make it a star

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1960s moon landing training was rigorous and goofy-looking



Dec. 11, 1963

A test subject is suited up for studies on the Reduced Gravity Walking Simulator. The angled position meant a person’s legs experienced only one-sixth of their weight, the equivalent of being on the lunar surface.

Image: NASA

As long as you are in rational control of your movements, zero gravity is the realization of a dream. A little push sends you gliding, just like the characters in science fiction stories.
Fred Best, Director of NASA Center for Space Power at Texas A&M University

Before an astronaut is granted the rare privilege of spaceflight, she or he must undergo years of education and training Read more…

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