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Sunita Williams was in charge of the International Space Station for six months. On her last day in space, she made this 25-minute video — a much more in-depth tour of the ISS than I've personally ever seen before. This is the first time I've actually been able to get a sense of the whole interior layout of the ISS, rather than just seeing one place and then another with no understanding of how they connect. What's more, you really get a sense of the unearthly weirdness of moving through this space where walls are never just walls and "up" and "down" are essentially meaningless.

The video includes a detailed (but safe for work) demonstration of how to use the ISS bathroom; a behind-the-scenes peek of the pantry (with separate pantries for Russian and Japanese food); a visit to the Soyuz craft waiting to take Williams home; and the vertigo-inducing horror pod where all the really great pictures of Earth get taken.

Money quote: "I haven't sat down for 6 months now."

Also, for some reason, it bothers me that she refers to the "left" and "right" side of the Space Station, instead of port and starboard.

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First time accepted submitter GinaSmith888 writes "This is a deep dive in the BP protocol Vint Cerf developed that is the heart of NASA's Delay-Tolerant Networking, better known as DTN. From the article: 'The big difference between BP and IP is that, while IP assumes a more or less smooth pathway for packets going from start to end point, BP allows for disconnections, glitches and other problems you see commonly in deep space, Younes said. Basically, a BP network — the one that will the Interplanetary Internet possible — moves data packets in bursts from node to node, so that it can check when the next node is available or up.'"


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As the next residents of the International Space Station--Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin of Russia and Joe Acaba from the USA--prepared for takeoff on May 15th, an Orthodox priest blessed the Soyuz rocket at the Baikonur Cosmodrome Launch pad on Monday, May 14, 2012, in Kazakhstan.

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First time accepted submitter null action writes "Want to have your code run on a satellite in space? Take a look at this. MIT Space Systems Laboratory and TopCoder are hosting a DARPA competition to create the best algorithm for capturing a randomly tumbling space object. Contestants in the Zero Robotics Autonomous Space Capture Challenge will compete in online simulations, and four finalists will have their algorithms tested aboard the International Space Station on small satellites called SPHERES. 'In this challenge, you have no advance knowledge of how it will be rotating. We're pushing the limits of what we can do with SPHERES and we hope to break new ground with this challenge,' said Jake Katz of MIT."


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astroengine writes "NASA had 5,408 computer security lapses in 2010 and 2011, including the March 2011 loss of a laptop computer that contained algorithms used to command and control the International Space Station, the agency's inspector general told Congress Wednesday. According to his statement (PDF), 'These incidents spanned a wide continuum from individuals testing their skill to break into NASA systems, to well-organized criminal enterprises hacking for profit, to intrusions that may have been sponsored by foreign intelligence services seeking to further their countries’ objectives.'"


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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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