Monthly Archives: October 2012

A Spooky Space Ghost for Halloween!

A portion of vdB 141, aka the “Ghost Nebula”

Looking like something out of a Tim Burton movie, the eerie shapes seen above are part of a cloud of gas and dust located 1,200 light-years away in the constellation Cepheus. First identified in 1966, the human-like figures with “arms” raised give the nebula its spooky nickname: the “Ghost Nebula”.

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Earth-Sized Alien Planet Found Around the Stars Next Door

Artist’s impression of a planet discovered orbiting Alpha Centauri B, a member of the triple star system that is the closest to Earth. Our Sun is visible to the upper right. (ESO/L. Calçada)

These days it seems exoplanets are being discovered nearly every week, with “super-Earths”, “hot Jupiters” and “cold Neptunes” being identified (or at least announced as solid candidates) within star systems all around our neck of the galaxy. To top it all off, today the European Southern Observatory announced that an Earth-mass world has now been found orbiting Alpha Centauri B — quite literally the “star next door.”

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Man Falls to Earth From Space* and Lives!

“You know, the world needs a hero… and today it got one.”
– Jonathan Clark, M.D., Red Bull Stratos Medical Director

Earlier today… this:

After years of preparation, two “practice” jumps and one aborted launch attempt due to uncooperative weather, extreme BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner successfully ascended to over 128,000 feet in a pressurized capsule and jumped, freefalling for 4 minutes and 20 seconds before opening his chute at 6,000 feet.

If like millions of people around the world you were watching the event live, you too can attest to the fact that it was, in a word, incredible.

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Jump From the Edge of Space: LIVE FEED

UPDATE: Today is the second launch attempt for the Red Bull Stratos “Mission to the Edge of Space.”

Baumgartner will accelerate to supersonic speed within seconds

Regardless if you would do it or not, today Red Bull Stratos BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner will ride a high-tech pressurized capsule into the stratosphere and jump out at 120,000 feet — 22 miles/36 km — becoming the highest, fastest freefaller in history. (Watch a simulation of Felix’s 700 mph supersonic fall here.)

At this time the weather at the Roswell, New Mexico launch site has pushed the launch time to 11:45 a.m. EDT due to winds at 700 feet, which is the height of their enormous launch balloon.

You can follow the mission on the Red Bull Stratos site here, or watch the live feed below. Good luck Felix!

(Feed has been in and out… if it’s not working, you can also watch live on Discovery Channel on cable TV.)

NOTE: The launch is now slated for 9:45 a.m. MDT/11:45 p.m. EDT, still pending winds.

Image and video courtesy of Red Bull Stratos

Endeavour Rolls Through LA Neighborhoods

The shuttle Endeavour is driven down Crenshaw Drive in Inglewood, CA on Saturday, October 13 (via NBC4 LA live feed)

This weekend the space shuttle Endeavour is on its way to the California Science Center, getting driven via Overland Transporter along 12 miles of Los Angeles roads at a more-or-less steady 2 mph. Hundreds of onlookers have gathered along the route to catch a glimpse of a real-life spaceship passing by just outside their front doors. Now that’s really not something you see every day!

Endeavour cleared one tree trunk by mere inches!

The move from Los Angeles International Airport, where it landed atop a Boeing 747 on Sept. 1, has been dubbed Mission 26. Endeavour flew 25 missions, traveled 122,883,151 miles and orbited Earth 4,671 times since 1992.

All together, the move is expected to cost about $10 million. The exhibit is set to open Oct. 30.

LA’s NBC affiliate is broadcasting Endeavour’s road trip live here.

(Images via NBC4 LA live video)

New MSL pic of “shiny thing” shows it’s totally a piece of plastic

High-res MAHLI image of the object spotted on Mars (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Detail crop (sharpened)

Remember that curious object spotted on Mars a few days ago by Curiosity? After JPL researchers determined it was likely a piece of plastic wrap from a cable that shook loose during the landing sequence, the rover took this shot with its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) instrument on 10/12.

I’m no scientist, but yeah… it’s totally a piece of plastic.

Keep calm and carry on, Curiosity!

Follow the ongoing Mars exploration missions here.

Curiosity Spots an Unidentified Object on Mars

Is this the smallest UFO ever?

While scooping its first samples of Martian soil NASA’s Curiosity rover captured the image above, which shows what seems to be a small, seemingly metallic sliver or chip of… something… resting on the ground. Is it a piece of the rover? Or some other discarded fleck of the MSL descent mechanisms? Or perhaps an exotic Martian pebble of some sort? Nobody knows for sure yet, but it may just be the smallest UFO ever recorded (that’d be Unidentified Fallen Object…)

Read more here.

UPDATE: the object has been tentatively identified as a bit of plastic originating from the rover itself. Read more.

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