Down to Earth
Stratolaunch has been in the news again. This week they received their first 747 airplane they will use for parts to make their huge rocket carrier aircraft. Jeff Foust at NewSpaceJournal.com has some good quotes from the Stratolaunch guys from this week.
Here’s a “VR” interactive panorama of the Space Shuttle Discovery’s flight deck, ready to head to the Smithsonian in April.
Speaking of Discovery, it was a year ago this week that Discovery launched on her final mission, STS-133.
Neil deGrasse Tyson’s new book is published this week! It’s called Space Chronicles: Facing the Final Frontier. I will have to get it and let you know how it is!
This weekend is the SpaceUp Unconference in Houston.
This is part of what makes media like Twitter so appealing – two cool astronauts just hanging out in DC. Nice!
The Russian space agency has been looking for new cosmonaut candidates. Ria Novosti reports that in the first month of recruitment they have received less than 50 applicants. Contrast that with NASA’s 6000+ applicants – one has to wonder if the state of the US space program isn’t quite as bad as some people complain. Just think, we could be Russia.
John Glenn reflects on the 50th anniversary of his orbital flight, which was February 20, 1962.
Don Pettit, current space resident, explains the challenges of space-based photography of the Earth.
Don is also a pretty good story teller and this brief post about eating toast in space is fun.
Here’s a good photo from last week’s ISS EVA. Oleg Kononenko and Anton Shkaplerov are shown moving the large “crane” to a new location so it won’t be thrown away later with Docking Compartment 1, which is to be replaced by the MLM (via NASA Image of the Day).
ESA’s ATV-5 cargo ship now has a name! Georges Lemaitre, named after a physicist who originally postulated a theory we now call “The Big Bang”, will likely fly in 2014.
Around the Solar System
My choice for this week’s awesome view from Cassini in Saturn orbit is this shot of the tiny moon Mimas in front of the planet’s rings
Cassini just passed periapsis of its 24-day, 161st orbit of Saturn. Orbit 162 starts on March 1st at apoapsis. I have a good feeling Cassini will make it to 200 orbits of Saturn and beyond.
How far have human radio signals traveled since the birth of the tech age? You may not have ever wanted to know that before now, but Emily Lakdawala has a beautiful graphical answer over at The Planetary Society blog. Space really is huge.
Speaking of galaxies, check out the stunning beauty of NGC 1073.
The big exoplanet news this week is GJ1214b, the planet that is a veritable water world. Here’s Bad Astronomy’s take on it and then Well-Bred Insolence’s take on it. The new data are based on spectra taken of the planet’s atmosphere showing the atmosphere to be 20% water.
Because it’s cool
A “galactic storm” from Earth Science Picture of the Day.