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Rebecca Horne

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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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One of the better images from the transit of Venus to emerge this week comes from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. It shows a detailed view of the face of the Sun with Venus approaching on June 5th, 2012.

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Photographer Stan Gaz's lastest work is presented in "Ensnared," a multimedia exhibition of sculptures, video and photographs at ClampArt Gallery. As the title suggests, "Ensnared" explores the roles of the hunter and the hunted...

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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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Parts of the Cygnus Loop nebula can be seen in visible light, but this image was taken in ultraviolet. The nebula is the afterglow of a massive supernova that exploded 5000 to 8000 years ago—the shockwave from the blast is still spreading outwards...

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Last week Boeing Company successfully completed a parachute drop test of the Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft over a dry lake bed near Alamo, Nevada. The test is heralded as another step towards commercial transportation that could take people back and forth from low-Earth orbit..

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NASA has released a new three-part composite image of 30 Doradus created to celebrate the Hubble telescope’s 22nd anniversary in orbit. It combines one image each from NASA’s great observatories; Chandra, Spitzer and Hubble. 30 Doradus is a large star-creating region in our neighboring galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud. Smack in the middle of 30 Doradus, thousands of stars are producing radiation and intense winds. Super hot gases from these winds and explosions are detected by the Chandra X-ray Observatory–here you can see these as blue. The Hubble image is green and shows the light of these huge stars and stages of star births. The Spitzer image can be seen in red, and shows cooler gas and dust formed by the powerful winds at the center.

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The rare transit of Venus across the face of the Sun in 2004 was photographed widely from Europe, to Asia to Africa and North America by professionals and amateurs. North Carolina based photographer David Cortner explains how he made the photograph, which was featured on Astronomy Picture of the Day: “I made this photo on a rainy morning from an overlook above North Carolina’s Catawba River. The sky was clear for only a few minutes, just long enough to grab this photo with a Nikon DSLR and a 5-inch Astro-Physics refractor. I wouldn’t have bothered to get up at all except for the thought that if James Cook would sail halfway around the world to see a transit of Venus, who was I not to at least set up the telescope and hope for the best.”

The next transit of Venus will be in on June 5 or 6, depending on your location. You may want to pencil it in, because the one after June 2012 is not until December 2117. Venus transits come in pairs, eight years apart, then don’t come again for more than 100 years. To see a NASA simulation of the coming transit, click here.

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