Archive for the ‘Astrophotography’ Category

Weekly Links

Down to Earth

Whether you think the White House’s online petition system a flop or not, you have to appreciate this tongue-in-cheek response to the petition to have NASA build a Death Star.

In Orbit

Although a bit out of the ordinary, I thought that this article about the firearms launched about Soyuz spacecraft (yes, guns) an interesting read.

NASA has officially contracted with private venture Bigelow Aerospace to provide an “inflatable” additional module to the ISS. There is an official press conference out of Las Vegas (where Bigelow is based) tomorrow – none of the early press releases seem to indicate when the module would arrive on orbit.

This week, robotics flight controllers are putting the Robotic Refueling Mission through its paces on the ISS. You can read about the project here or just watch the video below.

It seems the French planet-hunting spacecraft, CoRoT, may truly be lost – and just shortly after receiving a mission extension as well.

Around the Solar System

Check out this video of low altitude imagery from the GRAIL missions shortly before impact on the moon last month.

The scary asteroid Apophis will definitely not hit us for at least 20 years, according to observations during the latest close-ish pass to Earth (still a long way away). Check out this nice simple web tool to see the real-time position of Apophis relative to Earth.

A pretty picture of Mercury.

Out There

Even more observations of the star Fomalhaut reveal that it may in fact have a planet after all. The new observations clearly show something moving in the orbit that was thought to belong to the planet. These observations are new since the last time I linked to Phil Plait discussing Fomalhaut, back in October.

Speaking of exoplanets, I recently registered at www.planethunters.org after reading about the 15 new planet candidates they have found. This is the first “citizen science” project I have tried that has held my attention.

Because it’s cool

A pretty shot of a C-17 parked in Samoa.

2012 In Review

I wouldn’t say that 2012 either came in or went out with a bang (unless the last minute federal budget politiking* strikes you as “a bang”). Nevertheless, 2012 was a busy year for space enthusiasts. The last twelve months held much to wonder, celebrate, contemplate, mourn, debate, and of course explore. Here I will try to sum up the space related events, deaths, discoveries, and anniversaries that I find interesting. If you are interested in a full recap of worldwide events in 2012, I’d suggest starting with the “Year in Pictures” at Boston.com’s “Big Picture” blog – Part I, Part II, and Part III.

In Memoriam

In order to try to honor some fallen heroes, I will start out with the saddest part of my recap.

In 2012 we lost three American astronauts – Alan Poindexter, Sally Ride, and Neil Armstrong.

Captain Poindexter was 50 years old when he died in July 2012. He was a veteran of 2 space shuttle flights, having been selected in the 1998 group of astronauts. Coming from a Navy test pilot background, he was the pilot for STS-122 and then Commander of STS-131. 131 was the last night launch of the shuttle program and helped set the record for most women in space at one time – with 3 women on the crew of Discovery plus one on the space station. During his military career Poindexter flew F-14s on carriers – very cool.

Sally Ride needs no explanation. More important people than me provided lots of memories about Sally Ride after her death back in July. She certainly left us too soon – but she left a legacy. Sally Ride Science will continue to do great things, and you should consider supporting them if you can.

And of course, everyone heard when Neil Armstrong died in August at the age of 82. Like Sally Ride, I can provide no words here better than what has already been written. Armstrong was in many ways the model of a public hero and should not have left us so soon.

~~

There would be no astronauts without first someone to inspire us to dream. Thus, we should also remember legendary author Ray Bradbury who died aged 91.

~~

Lastly, engineer Roger Boisjoly died at the age of 73. Mr. Boisjoly is known for being the SRB (Solid Rocket Booster) project manager at Thiokol who warned not to launch mission STS-51L during a meeting the day before the flight. His warnings were ignored and the Space Shuttle Challenger was lost.

Major Events or Discoveries

Whether your interest lies more in planetary exploration, new technology, or manned spaceflight, there were many milestones and missions in 2012.

NASA achieved what I will subjectively dub their triumph of the decade (so far) when the Mars rover Curiosity touched down at Bradbury landing in Gale Crater on August 6th. You have got to love this video…

Curiosity could easily explore Mars for a decade, with its RTG that should keep it powered long enough that something else will wear out first. The vistas we have seen of Gale crater from MSL are stunning and I think she will be a huge source of inspiration – and of course science – for many years ahead.

~~

Curiosity isn’t alone on Mars. Another huge milestone of 2012 is the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity continuing to quietly do its job at Endeavour Crater on the other side of the planet. In fact, Opportunity and Curiosity are now racing each other to find clay minerals known as “phylosillicates”.

~~

SpaceX impressed the world with their first successful (test) flight to the International Space Station in May which was followed up by the first official contracted resupply mission in October.

~~

The Chinese performed their first in orbital rendezvous of a manned spacecraft when Shenzhou 9 docked with the Tiangong 1 space station on June 18.

~~

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft continued to explore asteroid Vesta (where it arrived in 2011) and finally departed in September 2012 to start the long interplanetary flight to larger asteroid Ceres, where it will arrive in 2015.

~~

NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft found evidence of water ice in polar craters of Mercury.

~~

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft continued to to perform well at Saturn, more than 8 years after arriving (15 years since launch) and discovered a vast river system of methane and ethane on the moon Titan. Time to send the riverboat robots to explore.

~~

Anniversaries: 50 years since Kennedy’s famous “Moon speech” in Texas, 50 years since John Glenn’s orbital flight, and 40 years since the last flight to the moon – Apollo 17.

~~

Back in June many people around the world – including those who are not even space geeks – enjoyed the rare passing of Venus across the face of the sun. The next Venus transit will not be until 2117.

~~

One of my absolute favorite events of 2012 was the discovery of a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri B, the nearest star system to Earth. And only a few weeks later, a “super earth” was found in the habitable zone of HD 40307 only 40 light years away. The discovery of exoplanets is turning into the science story of the 21st century…

Unless you are a physics geek. Then the science story of the 21st century will be the ongoing unlocking of secrets of the quantum world, which continued in 2012 with the announcement that the Large Hadron Collider in Europe has discovered the “Higgs Boson”.

But in any case, the idea of people living on a planet at Alpha Centauri is the inspiration for my blog’s name, so I have a bias for the planets.

~~

This year was nostalgic for us Millenials – who grew up watching space shuttle launches – as the three remaining space shuttle orbiters reached their final homes in California, Virginia, and Florida.

~~

NASA and the astronaut office finally caught on to 21st century communications and media in earnest. More astronauts than ever are actively interacting with the general public on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Reddit, and elsewhere on the ‘net. NASA astronauts have made this communication a part of their mission while on ISS, with many of them writing blogs or maintaining exciting Twitter and Flickr streams from space. This will certainly continue in 2013 as the “Net Generation” begins to come of age and will have real influence on the personality of America, and whether we stay committed to space exploration. My guess is that this video helped.

Looking forward

What will 2013 bring? Well, probably most importantly – but least excitingly – are the pending federal budget decisions in Washington, DC. Congress still needs to decide on a 2013 budget and then a 2014 budget. Some of their choices will shape the future of space exploration, especially for planetary science missions.

Here is my list of the more cheery things to look for in 2013:

  • Finally the first powered flight tests of tourist space vehicles. Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo should be hopping into space this year.
  • SpaceX should continue to demonstrate reliability of their rockets as they fly two more missions to the ISS as well as a fairly packed launch schedule for other customers.
  • SpaceX’s competitor for ISS commercial flights, Orbital Sciences**, will attempt to make good on their contract with NASA.
  • Russia will fly the 50th Progress resupply mission to ISS, this being the 15th year since the launch of the first ISS module.
  • Late in 2013, the next Mars launch window will see two missions: NASA’s MAVEN orbiter and India’s first interplanetary mission.
  • NASA will launch the LADEE lunar probe.
  • Continued excellence in the field of extrasolar planet astronomy – smaller and more numerous rocky planets will be discovered further out from main sequence stars.

Round ups from other blogs

For some other summaries of 2012 in space and science see:

Universe Today’s list of best space images

Bad Astronomy’s list of best astronomy pictures

EarthSky’s top 5 weather stories

Hyperbola’s summary of all of humanity’s rocket launches in 2012

Houston Chronicle’s top 10 skywatching events of 2013 (one is the Quadrantic meteor shower tonight!)

Parabolic Arc’s “NewSpace” year in review (that one’s a quick read)

*yes, Congress did pass a bill to avert the “fiscal cliff” at the very last minute on Tuesday, January 1, 2013

**the author has a small shareholding in Orbital Sciences

Friday Links

Down to Earth

A couple election results that impact the space world:

Former astronaut Jose Hernandez did not win his race in California to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

A significant number of the representatives on the House committee on Science, Space, and Technology lost their seats. Also, the former chairman, Ralph Hall, was term limited on the committee and many are seeking to take his chairmanship.

A NASA study of climate data shows that models that project more global warming tend to be more accurate on certain markers – the conclusion being that warmer is more likely.

The Seattle Museum of Flight opened their new space hall this weekend, which includes the Space Shuttle Full Fuselage Trainer. You can now visit full-sized space shuttles (real or mockup) in the following major cities: New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Houston, D.C., and eventually Florida.

Summer has arrived in Antarctica, bringing the first supply plane to the research base Concordia in months. Not much different than a space outpost, really.

In Orbit

Any IT geek readers out there might enjoy reading about this NASA test of their new “interplanetary internet”.

Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams and the rest of the Soyuz TMA-05M crew will be returning to Earth next weekend.

Around the Solar System

Check out this strange moon of Saturn – Methone.

Cool picture from LRO of a rock that bounced down a hill on the moon.

A happy crater on Mercury.

Mars rover Curiosity made it to 90 Martian days last week!

Out There

A new planet discovered about 40 light years away is at the right distance from its start to support liquid water.

Have to share this APOD just for its sheer beauty.

Late Links

Once again, my weekly link post is several days late. Maybe this week I get back in track?

Down to Earth

Space Shuttle Endeavour completed her cross town road trip in LA in what was apparently an exciting extended weekend journey. I can’t wait to go visit her at California Science Center! (here is a photo gallery of the trip)

In Orbit

The latest Dragon capsule made it to ISS as planned last week. There will be an investigation into the Falcon 9 engine failure during ascent (which I wrote about last week).

Parabolic Arc provides a detailed explanation of the why the “downmass” capability of Dragon is so important to ISS science.

The Russian rocket Proton M, which had a failure earlier this year, had a successful launch. This is good for the ISS program because some large Russian additions to ISS must be launched on a Proton family rocket.

Around the Solar System

Meanwhile on Mars, Curiosity is being very picky about what dirt it will eat.

The WISE spacecraft has been studying the “Trojan” asteroids of Jupiter (those that travel ahead or behind at the Lagrange Points) and has confirmed that there are more leading asteroids and that most Trojans are red.

Out There

The citizen science project Planet Hunters, which uses Kepler data, has discovered a planet in a quaternary system (yes that means four stars).

Because its Cool

I love the composition of this night sky exposure.

Photos of the moon when it was just a sliver before sunrise on October 14. I tried to see it myself but was fouled by clouds.

Late Links

First off, congratulations to SpaceX on the launch of their second mission to ISS (first official commercial flight) which started off last night with a great launch – despite the engine malfunction that resulted in a shutdown and a ruptured fairing. Loss of an engine is not good, but they designed the rocket appropriately to deal with the failure.

Here’s a slow motion video of the fairing rupture event (via Parabolic Arc). Jump to about 00:30.

I was in the ISS Flight Control Room here in Houston and had a great view of the launch.

What a view!

I thankfully had today off after working the last 7 days, but I will be back in mission control on Tuesday evening to work the last planning shift before Dragon arrives at ISS early Wednesday (~6:00 AM CDT).

Down to Earth

If you live in LA, remember to go watch Endeavour get rolled down the street this week Friday! And just for fun, how hard would it be to steal Endeavour off of the streets of LA? Here’s a Bond villian style attempt to hatch a plan… (via Universe Today)

Virgin Galactic has purchased full ownership of The Spaceship Company (formerly owned partially by Scaled Composites to make the spaceships for VG).

Meanwhile in New Mexico, the new hanger for Stratolaunch’s enormous airplane is under construction. I love the nickname “space goose” and intend to use it from here forward.

The Red Bull-funded record setting sky dive is set for tomorrow morning.

In Orbit

It seems the Expedition 33 crew on ISS captured an image of the smoke trail from ATV-3 burning up in the atmosphere last week. Unfortunately they were too far away from ATV to actually see the re-entry it self, but this is pretty good!

A new way to launch satellites from ISS was demonstrated last week. A spring-loaded “gun” was attached to the end of the Japanese module’s robotic arm and fired off 6 cubesats. Here is a description from NASA PR and some great high res photos of the deploy (with video).

NASA has officially announced that future astronauts will stay for an entire year on the ISS.

NASA satellites catch a new eruption in Kamchatka.

The twin Radiation Belt Storm Probes recorded the “sound” of the Van Allen belts.

Around the Solar System

Have a relatively large telescope at home (~6 inch)? Then you should check out Comet Hergenrother.

The long-flying mission Deep Impact has made a course correction that will allow it to perform another asteroid fly-by in 2020. Let’s hope funding for a mission extension is granted. It would be a shame to not utilize a spacecraft that’s already on its way! The targetted object – asteroid 163249 – is what is known as a “potentially hazardous asteroid”, or PHA, so it is well worth the visit.

Curiosity scooped up her first hand full of martian dirt. I wasn’t impressed by the video of MSL “shaking” the dirt in the scoop, but the potential science is very exciting. Go MSL!

Out There

NASA’s Swift has detected a black hole – the first such detection using this instrument. Very cool!

Because it’s Cool

Penguins and the aurora.

Sharing the View

Yesterday was my first ISS shift at the ADCO console in a couple of weeks. I’ll be working 6 shifts through next Thursday. Here are some photos I snapped on my iPhone (following the tradition of this earlier post). Let me know if you like them! You can click the photos for full versions. I’ll see if I can improve on the resolution today.

20120901-142110.jpg

Lake Superior, the upper peninsula, and northern Lake Michigan. South is up.

20120901-142129.jpg

Vancouver Island, Vancouver, Seattle, Puget Sound, and the Olympic Peninsula. South is roughly up.

20120901-142137.jpg

Wildfires in western Washington

20120901-142144.jpg

And I thought I would share my new iPhone log screen. Neil Armstrong during Gemini 8.

Friday Links

I don’t know if I have enough of a readership for anyone to notice, but nevertheless I apologize for Friday Links being late (yet again!). I had the day shift in ISS mission control this weekend so it has been hard knocking items off of the to do list. It felt great to be back in MCC though!

Below is just a small sampling of the space news and “the internets” I have been catching up on since my vacation. Some good stuff, anyway. Enjoy.

Down to Earth

Kennedy Space Center’s visitor center will again be offering public tours of the Launch Control Center for what is the first time in decades. Plan your trip now, but after Debby is done dumping water on Florida.

20120624-222219.jpg

My view of Debby from the ISS ADCO console midday Sunday, June 24. Up is roughly East.

Some more astronauts have left NASA: Kenneth Ham (STS-132 commander) and Nicholas Patrick (STS-130 spacewalker). Also, Canadian astronaut Bob Thirsk (veteran of Expedition 20/21) intends to leave his post as well.

20120624-222250.jpg

Interestingly, only Patrick is in the latest poster so I only need to bring out the Sharpie for one of them

Not directly tied to spaceflight, but I thought this article was important.How Government Funding of Science Rewards US Taxpayers (via SciGuy)

In Orbit

Still there is Shenzhou 9, docked to Tiangong-1!

No longer there is the second US Air Force X-38B Orbital Test Vehicle.

Andre Kuipers on the ISS had a conference call with aquanauts of Neemo 16 while they were still underwater in Florida. Try explaining how that works to your grandmother.

How about some great photography from Andre Kuipers before he leaves this coming weekend:

The large magellanic cloud from ISS. Wow.

A beautiful lightning flash from ISS.

Or just some sunglint.

Kuipers comments frankly that he will never return to space.

And some recent blogs from Don Pettit to catch up on:

A stunning time lapse showing how the ISS can have periods where the sun never sets.

Some pictures of the souvenir the ISS crew left in the Dragon descent module.

Ever innovative, Don Pettit wears the ISS cupola like a turtleneck sweater in order to block stray light.

Pettit describes in frank terms how his time is spent as an ISS Flight Engineer.

Around the Solar System

Curiosity is getting awfully close to Mars.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/MarsCuriosity/status/216955135639822336″]

Out There

This NASA image of the day is one of my favorite astrophotos that I’ve ever seen.

Kepler discovers one of the most interesting planetary systems I’ve ever heard of.

Randall Munroe gives us every planet ever discovered in one illustration.

Because its Cool

Check out this blog I just discovered (thanks to @Twisst) called SatTrackCam. He imaged 30 satellites/objects in one exposure?!

A montage of the transit of Venus from inside the Arctic Circle in Norway.

Friday Links

Venus Transit Follow-up

Despite some folks poo-pooing the transit as “just a black dot in front of a bigger white dot”, I’d say the Venus transit was a worldwide event! Not only that, an event where people looked up which certainly doesn’t happen enough. There are lots of good photos on the internet from Tuesday, and they are not hard to find. Here’s a few that I liked, but by no means is this list exhaustive.

Close-up from Japanese space telescope Hinode.

One of the many photos Don Pettit took from ISS.

As always, an excellent collection from The Big Picture blog.

On the “you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me” front, Thierry Legault got a shot of the Hubble transitting the sun during the Venus transit.

And last but not least, here’s my small contribution.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/spaceguy87/status/210171511099752449″]

Down To Earth

A photo of the English Channel, 68 years after D-Day, June 6, 1944.

Over the last week the Space Shuttle mock-up Explorer was moved to its new home in Houston and Enterprise was moved to its new home in New York. I already wrote about “Shuttlebration” in last week’s post. Here is My photo gallery of Explorer’s arrival.

Enterprise “at sea”.

Enterprise with the Statue of Liberty.

Here are some other shots of Enterprise’s trip.

Unfortunately, Enterprise sustained some damage on the journey but did finally make it to the Intrepid. I have heard that they already fixed most of the damage to the wing.

Ray Bradbury passed away at 91. Mat Kaplan of the Planetary Society shares his memories and interviews.

Some wrangling on the Hill may lead to a partial down select in NASA’s commercial crew program. That means less contracts available – 2.5 instead of 4.

In Orbit

Andre Kuipers writes about his optimism from the SpaceX mission and also includes a partial photo tour of ISS.

Sierra Nevada has completed PDR on their Dream Chaser space plane. They also did a captive carry flight.

NRO has donated two “Hubble-class” space telescopes to NASA. Wow! NASA still needs money to finish building them and launching them, if they are to be used.

Friday Links

Venus transit this Tuesday!

This post from The Planetary Society is all you need to plan your viewing party.

Don Pettit will be having his own viewing party from ISS!

Gennady Padalka of Expedition 31 will have been on ISS for both transits of Venus this century!

Down to Earth

Yesterday, Friday, June 1, the space shuttle mock-up Explorer arrived by barge in Houston. I fought my way through traffic to hang out by the lake during the last half-hour of her coming in for “docking”. While the mock-up never flew in space, she is a good looking replica and will add some modern diversity to the artifacts at Space Center Houston. It’s not every day you see a space shuttle floating in the lake, real or otherwise.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/Astro_Box/status/208535573391085568″]

The pictures of the Shuttlebration at CollectSpace, linked above, are better than the ones I took but I’ll post any pictures I get tomorrow. Tomorrow morning the replica will be rolled down NASA Parkway past JSC to the museum. I think I will get up early before my shift and go watch the fun, if I can. I have to take an alternate route to get to work at Mission Control on Sunday morning because they are closing the major intersection!

Apparently the astronaut band Max Q put on a good show at the Shuttlebration. Speaking of astronaut musicians, Cady Coleman finally returned her space flutes to The Chieftains and got to play a gig with them. Cool!

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/Astro_Cady/statuses/207651319568285696″]

Space Shuttle Enterprise arriving in NYC is old news, but I thought the candid-ness of this video made it interesting.

While we’re on old news, here’s a time lapse of Enterprise being removed from a carrier aircraft for the last time.

Enterprise will get moving in NYC on its way to the Intrepid this week on June 5th.

In Orbit

Of course, the big news was that the Dragon mission was completed successfully with a splashdown in the Pacific on Thursday. I’ve heard that there’s a pretty quick turnaround to get downmass cargo back to NASA so equipment might already be in hand!

This picture might be my favorite from the entire SpaceX mission. Andre has a good eye.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/astro_andre/statuses/207812428627574786″]

Speaking of gorgeous orbital photography: the Himalayas.

It might be interesting to see what it looks like looking back at the astronauts while they take these photos. Well, here you go (via Bad Astronomy).

Andre writes about how it feels to be the veteran ISS resident teaching the new guys the ropes.

I really like this essay about “the orbital perspective” from a “guest bloggernaut” over at Fragile Oasis.

Out There

Here’s a cool science story about an exoplanet discovered by how it affects the orbits of other planets in the KOI 872 system.

Friday Links

Friday Links is getting published early, for once, in honor of the Expedition 30 crew who are leaving ISS in a few hours to end their marathon mission! Dan Burbank, Anatoly Ivanishin, and Anton Shkaplerov arrived at ISS on November 21, 2011 – which feels like ages ago. Their launch and docking was cause for relief for the world’s civil space programs as it was the first Soyuz flight following the failed Progress 44 flight last summer. I don’t think Expedition 30 quite breaks the record for longest ISS flight, but it comes darn close (nowhere close of course to the longest MIR missions).

It will be good to have Commander Burbank back in Houston. Return to Earth is always accompanied by award ceremonies, parties, and decorating… yes I said decorating. After touchdown tomorrow the Expedition 30 training team will get to work putting up photos and inside jokes in the hallway of building 4 at JSC to welcome Dan Burbank back on his first day in the office. It must suck to come back from a stay in space and have to go sit at a desk, eh?

If you want to stay up and watch the Soyuz TMA-22 undocking at about 3 AM Central time, go over to Spaceflight Now for good coverage and live streaming of NASA TV. The Soyuz entry capsule will land only a few hours later in Kazakhstan at about 6:45 AM Central time. I will just be arriving at the Mission Control Center for an integrated ISS simulation so maybe I will catch the touchdown on TV.

With that, let’s get on with the other stories!

Down to Earth

Also scheduled for tomorrow is the ferry flight of Space Shuttle Enterprise from Dulles to New York City! They are scheduled to depart in the late morning so I would expect to see the internet afire with everyone in NYC watching the space shuttle just a couple of hours later. There should be some great photo ops from tomorrow’s flight!

Here’s a more detailed discussion of Enterprise arriving at NYC from Universe Today.

SpaceX has rescheduled their planned Falcon 9 launch from April 30 to May 7. It’s a minor delay – as of now – and I am still looking forward to the excitement next month if and when we grapple a commercial vehicle for berthing at ISS for the first time.

Similarly, Orbital Sciences has released a new flight schedule for their Cygnus program. The new milestones indicate a delay of at least 2 months or so from the previously expected first demonstration flight to ISS. They intend to fly that first flight sometime in the “fourth quarter” of 2012.

In Orbit

Speaking of Soyuz flights, the second half of the Expedition 31 crew is getting ready to launch in Kazakhstan. Joseph Acaba will be launching with crew mates Sergei Revin and super-veteran cosmonaut Gennady Padalka on May 15.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/AstroAcaba/status/194786921048842241″]

In order to prepare ISS for their arrival, ISS performed a reboost on Wednesday morning using the ATV engines. I was honored to be a part of the reboost team! We are now in a good orbit to expect new guests…

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/spaceguy87/status/195075522315816960″]

Of course, the most anticipated aspect of a new Soyuz launch is the question, what stuffed toy is going to be their microgravity indicator? Okay, no one actually cares that much. But it’s a fun human touch – one of many superstitions – in the Russian space program that the crew always hangs a toy in the capsule so that everyone watching from Earth can tell when they have reached a microgravity environment. For the Expedition 31 crew, Joseph Acaba has selected Smokey the Bear.

Here’s a good view of the Soyuz hatch from inside one of the capsules currently docked to ISS.

And to round out the discussion of ISS vehicle traffic, the new Progress 47 successfully docked to ISS this past Sunday. Here is a shot from Andre Kuipers of some of the cosmonauts monitoring rendezvous operations from inside ISS.

This week was the 22nd anniversary of Hubble launching into orbit aboard Discovery. Phil Plait has a repost that he posted for the 20th anniversary with “Ten thinks you don’t know about Hubble”.

Out There

One of the more exciting events this week was the press conference by new asteroid mining startup Planetary Resources. You can watch the video of their press conference here. Every space outlet on the internet has voiced their opinion about this new company so I’m not going to add too much to the noise right now. You should definitely go watch Jon Stewart talking about the venture (with a cameo by Neil DeGrasse Tyson).

If you can stomach reading a lot about law, The Legal Spaceman blog has an intriguing discussion of the legality of Planetary Resources and how they are affected by the Outer Space Treaty and the Moon Treaty.

I’ve been wanting to read Mining the Sky for years (written by a Planetary Resources adviser), now seems like a pretty good time to pick up a copy…

Because it’s Cool

How cool is this shot of Saturn with half a dozen moons?

And the obligatory Milky Way panorama. This one from Crater Lake during the Lyrids meteor shower last weekend.

A wall made of legos.