If all else fails, hit it with a hammer…

Or, as I was tempted to title this post, “Floating in a tin can…”  ANYhoo…  Having eventually fixed the toilet in the US segment, last weekend [31 July] the crew of the International Space Station were forced to reduce power, and suspend scientific experiments, when half their cooling system suddenly shut down. Trouble arose on Saturday night when one of the two ammonia-fed cooling loops shut down, triggering alarms throughout the ISS. The two ammonia lines ensure that all the station’s electronic …

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“One small step for [a] man…”

Last year saw the 40th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11.  Four days later, on 20th July 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon.  And, as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter discovered, the evidence is still there. The BBC have some clips online, including this fascinating interview with Neil Armstrong from The Sky at Night in 1970. And, looking forward, the BBC’s Spaceman blog has a post on a potential compromise over President Obama’s proposed new policy for Nasa, the Nasa …

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“The eyes of WISE have not blinked since launch”

Nasa marks the completion of the first survey of the entire sky by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer [WISE] with the release of a new image from the survey – a seven square degrees region including the Pleiades cluster.  Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA. WISE was launched in December last year and saw first light in January.  Here’s a short video medley of previously released images. More images, including this one of Tycho’s supernova remnant, at Nasa’s WISE image gallery.  Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA Pete …

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See beautiful Ontario Lacus!

Using radar data from the Cassini spacecraft’s flybys on June 22, 2009, July 8, 2009, and Jan. 12, 2010, Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have produced this animated flyover of a potential future holiday destination – the lakes of Titan.  Just don’t forget to pack the thermal underwear…  Video credit: JPL News From the JPL press release Ontario Lacus, the largest lake in the southern hemisphere of Saturn’s moon Titan, turns out to be a perfect exotic vacation spot, provided you can handle the frosty, subzero …

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LRO celebrates one year in orbit

Launched on 18 June 2009, Nasa’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter sent back its first images of the lunar surface shortly afterwards and has just completed its first full year in orbit.  To celebrate Nasa has put together a short video of ten cool things its found – some of which I may have noted at the time. Image credit: Nasa/Goddard/Arizona State University. Video credit: NASA/Goddard. Pete Baker

“Asteroids Rock!”

As the BBC notes, Japanese scientists are confident they have successfully retrieved the first samples ever grabbed from the surface of an asteroid, Itokawa, after recovering a capsule from the Hayabusa spacecraft in the Australian outback. The Japanese space agency (Jaxa) says the capsule looks to be intact. The return was the culmination of a remarkable seven-year adventure, which saw Hayabusa visit asteroid Itokawa in 2005 and attempt to pluck dust from its surface before firing its engines for home. The …

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Last Flight of Atlantis

After almost 25 years in service, at 7.20pm [BST] tonight Nasa’s Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to lift-off from Kennedy Space Center on its last ever flight – Mission STS-132.  There’s Nasa’s launch blog and the usual online NasaTV coverage. Only two more missions remain in the Space Shuttle programme. Meanwhile Congress continues to hear from opponents of US President Obama’s new policy for Nasa, including, in a rare public appearance, moonwalker Neil Armstrong. Adds Via NASAtelevision And perhaps I should have said First Last Flight…  …

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Herschel’s anniversary and Dawn’s destinations

As I mentioned when noting a previous wondrous image, ESA’s cool infrared Herschel observatory sent its first images back in October last year, just after its launch companion, the even cooler Planck observatory achieved first light. Both are twittering away – Planck and Herschel. And ESA have released another stunning image as Herschel nears its first anniversary in orbit. There’s also an ESA video to mark the anniversary The BBC’s Spaceman, Jonathan Amos, has been contemplating Herschel’s images.  He recommends the …

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Solar Dynamics Observatory First Light

STEREO isn’t the only spacecraft staring at the sun right now. Nasa’s new Solar Dynamics Observatory has successfully achieved first light and they’ve released some stunning videos of recent solar activity as a result. Including this one of an erupting solar prominence on March 30. BBC report here. Also from the SDO YouTube Channel This movie starts with a magnetogram from HMI (Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager) and moves on to 7 different wavebands observed by AIA’s (Atmospheric Imaging Assembly) telescopes. …

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