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International Space Station

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Original author: 
Carl Franzen

Fire-space-station-frames-hed_large

Still frames showing a piece of cotton-fiberglass, similar to the cotton civilian clothing worn by astronauts, burning from bottom-to-top during a space station experiment (Credit: Paul Ferkul/NASA/BASS).

High above the Earth, astronauts aboard the International Space Station are playing with fire — very carefully. By lighting controlled fires and watching them burn, the Expedition 35 team is learning how to prevent accidental blazes from breaking out aboard the station and other spacecraft — a nightmare scenario that could put not only lives, but the very future of human spaceflight at risk. "We can certainly make things not flammable on Earth, but in space, that changes," said Dr. Paul Ferkul, a NASA scientist whose experiment...

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Original author: 
Cory Doctorow


Moustetronaut is a lovely picture book by Mark Kelly, a former Space Shuttle pilot and husband of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. It tells the story of Meteor, an experimental NASA mouse who saves a shuttle mission by scurrying into a tight control-panel seam and retrieving a critical lost key. The story is very (very) loosely based on a true story -- there was a Meteor, but he never left his cage, but he did indeed display delight and aplomb in a microgravity environment. The whole rescue thing is a fiction, albeit an adorable one.


What really makes this book isn't its basis in "truth," but rather the amazing illustrations by CF Payne, who walks a very fine line between cute and grotesque, with just enough realism to capture the excitement of space and just enough caricature to make every spread instantly engaging. There's also a very admirable economy of words in the book itself (which neatly balances a multi-page afterword about the space program, with a good bibliography of kid-appropriate space websites and books for further reading). It's just the right blend of beautifully realized characters -- Meteor is particularly great -- and majestic illustrations of space and space vehicles.

Moustetronaut

    

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jrepin writes "On day two of the 2013 Embedded Linux Conference, Robert Rose of SpaceX spoke about the "Lessons Learned Developing Software for Space Vehicles". In his talk, he discussed how SpaceX develops its Linux-based software for a wide variety of tasks needed to put spacecraft into orbit—and eventually beyond. Linux runs everywhere at SpaceX, he said, on everything from desktops to spacecraft."

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MarkWhittington writes "NASA engineers at the Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Ala., are building a mockup of what appears to be a deep space habitat, though it could also be part of an interplanetary spacecraft. The purpose is to do human factors studies to find out how to sustain astronauts on lengthy deep space missions."


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Since astronauts must learn to adjust to dark, isolated and confined spaces, scant equipment, privacy and supplies--where better to practice for the deprivations of life in space than deep underground? Because navigating safely in a cave requires tethering, 3D orientation, with no-touch areas (statlactites, stalagmites) and treacherous no-go zones, it can provide many of the same technical challenges as a spacewalk.

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TEDxSalford - Col. Ronald Garan - Launch of Unity Node

Ron Garan is a NASA astronaut recently returned from a six month mission of exploration and scientific research onboard the International Space Station as a flight engineer for Expeditions 27 and 28, traveling 65340224 miles in 2,2624 orbits around the Earth during 164 days in space. During his mission, Garan participated in his fourth spacewalk, working outside in the vacuum of space for six and one half hours. He completed his first spaceflight in 2008, as a Mission Specialist on Space Shuttle Discovery, when he accumulated 20 hours and 32 minutes in three spacewalks. A retired Colonel in the United States Air Force, Garan is a decorated fighter pilot, a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, Engineers Without Borders, and founder of the Manna Energy Foundation. In addition to being a space explorer, Ron has a strong belief in the ability of social entrepreneurship and appropriately targeted philanthropy to solve many of the problems we face here on Earth. His life is committed to using the perspective of living and working in space to improve life for all. AboutTEDx, x = independently organized event In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event <b>...</b>
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A nighttime view of Western Europe taken by the Earth-orbiting International Space Station crew shows the ISS’s robotic arm and solar arrays in the foreground. Belgium and the Netherlands can be seen at bottom center, the North Sea at left center, and Scandinavia at right center. ISS crew member Don Petit fleshes out the reality of life in space by sharing physical details–including the smells, sounds and mind-boggling views on his Letters to Earth blog. Mr. Petit shares his privileged viewpoint in a recent entry:

“From orbit, the more you know about our planet, the more you can see. You see all the geological features described in textbooks. You see fault zones, moraines, basins, ranges, impact craters, dikes, sills, braided channels, the strike and dip of layered rocks, folding, meanders, oxbow lakes, slumps, slides, mud flows, deltas, alluvial fans, glaciers, karst topography, cirques, tectonicplates, rifts zones, cinder cones, crater lakes, fossil sea shores, lava flows, volcanic plumes, fissures, eruptions, dry lakes, inverted topography, latteric soils, and many more.

You see clouds of every description and combination: nimbus, cumulus, stratus, nimbo-cumulus, nimbo-stratus, cirrus, thunderheads, and typhoons, sometimes with clockwise rotation, sometimes with counter-clockwise. You notice patterns: Clouds over cold oceans look different than clouds over warm oceans. Sometimes the continents are all cloud-covered, so you have no recognizable land-mass to help you gauge where you are. If you see a crisscross of jet contrails glistening in the sun above the clouds, you know you are over the United States.”

You can keep up with the current six-member expedition crew on board the ISS by following the ISS blog on NASA.gov, or by following @NASA_Astronauts on Twitter.

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NASA

Many auroral displays appear green, but sometimes, as in this Sept. 26 image from the International Space Station, other colors such as red can appear.

Alan Boyle writes

"Red sky at night, sailor's delight": That's one of the oldest sayings in the book when it comes to weather prediction, but this picture adds a new twist. The red sky is an aurora, seen from above by astronauts on the International Space Station. And the weather that's causing this phenomenon is space weather from the sun.

Auroras arise when electrically charged particles from the sun interact with atoms in the upper atmosphere, sparking emissions of light at various wavelengths. The displays are most likely to be visible around Earth's magnetic poles, where the interaction is strongest. The sun has been going through an upswing of activity over the past couple of months, which has generated a colorful series of northern and southern lights.

North or south, the most common shade of auroral light is green. That's the wavelength that's typically emitted when solar particles mix it up with oxygen atoms. But if there are lower-energy collisions with oxygen atoms or nitrogen atoms, the emissions edge toward the reddish end of the spectrum. That's what's happening in this picture, captured on Monday. You should be able to make out the space station's solar panels toward the upper left corner of the photo.

Space weather can create disruptions for satellite communication systems as well as electric grids on Earth, but so far the most noticeable effect from this year's solar storms has been a string of glorious auroras. We weathered the latest geomagnetic storm overnight, and SpaceWeather.com is offering up a glorious selection of snapshots from the event — including this red-and-green stunner from Russia's Kola Peninsula.

To learn more about the colors of the aurora, check out this "Causes of Color" explanation. And if you live in northern or southern climes, there's always a chance of seeing the lights for yourself. Last night, the aurora was visible from Minnesota, Germany and Poland in the north, as well as New Zealand in the south. The University of Alaska at Fairbanks provides this handy-dandy online guide to aurora-watching.

More auroral glories:

Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter or adding me to your Google+ circle. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for other worlds.

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When Atlantis touched down yesterday at Cape Canaveral, Fla., the high-flying era of the space shuttles came down to earth as well. After 30 years, the shuttle program, which began on April 12, 1981 with Colombia, has ended with the 135th mission. Atlantis delivered the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module packed with supplies and spare parts to the International Space Station, and retrieved a failed pump unit and other items for the return trip. Atlantis went aloft 33 times, logging over 125 million miles. The last shuttle will become a museum exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center. -- Lane Turner (41 photos total)
The space shuttle Atlantis flies over the Bahamas prior to a perfect docking with the International Space Station on July 10, 2011. Part of a Russian Progress spacecraft docked to the station is in the foreground. (AP Photo/NASA)

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