Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Geminids Peaks on Dec 13

Geminids meteor shower will peak on December 13.

Amazing tidbit: 3200 Phaethon, the asteroid that spawned the Geminids, will approach Earth on December 11 at a distance of 11 million miles, its closest approach since it was discovered in 1983.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Did China Faked Moon Photo?

Rumors are abuzz in the net about the veracity of the first photos supposedly taken by China's Chang'e 1 probe. Net denizens have noticed the similarity between the Chang'e 1 photo and the one released by NASA in 2005.

Chinese officials have denied the claims and insist that the photos were real.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

China Probe now in Moon Orbit

China's moon orbiter, Chang'e 1, is now in the final stages to enter a working orbit around the moon. The spacecraft, which will explore the lunar surface, was launched last October 24, 2007.

China National Space Administration

Fifth Planet Discovered Orbiting a Star

A fifth planet was discovered orbiting the star 55 Cancri in the constellation Cancer. The planet, about the size of Saturn, resides in the so-called habitable zone, the area around the system where liquid water and warm temperatures - necessary for harboring life - exist. The planet has an orbit of 260 days.

There are about 250 extra solar planets now discovered.

Friday, October 19, 2007

PS3 Helps Solve Mysteries of the Universe

Several Sony PlayStation 3s are being used by physicists to help solve daunting questions in astrophysics. Dr. Gaurav Khanna of the University of Massachusetts is using a network of eight gaming consoles to crunch numbers for his research - measuring gravity waves.

More here via Wired

Thursday, October 04, 2007

50 Years of Space Age

Today is the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik 1, the first man-made satellite to orbit the earth. The launch heralded the advent of the Space Age.

The 84-kg Soviet satellite has caused so much consternation and insecurity to the USA that led to the Space Race.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

South Korea Chose First Astronaut

South Korea had chosen its first astronaut to fly to space. Ko San, a specialist in artificial intelligence who graduated from South Korea's prestigious Seoul National University, was selected to be the country's first astronaut. The search for the candidate garnered lots of interest in the country, attracting more than 36,000 applicants.

Ko is scheduled to fly aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in April 2008 and will spend about a week in the International Space Station conducting experiments.

World's First Spaceport

The winning design for the world's first spaceport was chosen. Judging from the photos the spaceport to be built in New Mexico by Virgin Galactic is simply awesome.

The spaceport will be the home of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two, which is due in 2008.

Spaceport's home page is here, photo gallery here.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Queen's Guitarist Gets PhD in Astronomy

Brian May, the guitarist of the British band Queen finally got his doctorate in Astronomy. May was able to successfully defend his 48,000-word dissertation, Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud, at the Imperial College London. He started the doctoral thesis in 1974 but abandoned it due to the band.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Googling the Stars

Google Earth has now the option of showing the night sky. The Google Earth @ Night feature allows users to search for constellations and other heavenly bodies and display them on a sky map.

Via Gizmodo

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

30 Years of Wow

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the detection of the Wow signal, the strong radio transmission picked up by the Big ear Observatory at the Ohio State University.

The signal - transmitted at 1420 MHz frequency and has lasted for 72 seconds, was strong enough to generate a flurry of speculation that it might have been a first contact with alien intelligent life.

Alas, the source of the signal was never pinpointed again.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Perseids 2007

The Perseids meteor shower should peak today. Expect to see up to 60 meteors per hour zipping from the radiant near the border of Cassiopeia and Perseus.

The initial report by the International Meteor Organization is here.

Friday, August 10, 2007

DIY Mirror Telescope

Here's how to make a telescope using vinyl pipes and commonly available materials.

Instructions in Japanese, via Gizmodo

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

NASA Doesn't Like the iPhone

NASA decided that the Apple iPhone is not suitable for (business) use by its employees. Instead the space agency will support the Palm Treo 750 and the Blackberry 8800.

...But you can put Smirnoff's on the iPhone's speed-dial too!

via Gizmodo and Information Week

New NASA Patch?

Sums up everything, doesn't it?

It will look nice patching up NASA's tattered reputation.

via Gizmodo

Friday, July 27, 2007

Could You Hand Me that Screwdriver...

That isn't just a line used by an astronaut repairing the International Space Station. It could also be by one asking his crew another round of the boozies.

In a setback to NASA, Aviation Week ran a story about alcohol intoxication of astronauts flying the space shuttles in at least two occasions. The magazine reported that "heavy use of alcohol" is prevalent in many astronauts before launch, even within the 12-hour 'bottle-to-throttle' rule.

Now we know why astronauts occasionally vomits during flight. Motion sickness, my black hole.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wii Telescope Remote

A bloke managed to make a RA-Dec controller for his Orion Atlas EQ-6 telescope using a Nintendo Wii remote.

Via Gizmodo.
Instructions for the mod here

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

China's Astronaut Food For Sale Soon

The Scientific Research and Training Center for Chinese Astronauts has announced that food designed to be carried by taikonauts - the Chinese equivalent for astronauts - into space will be available within the year in some supermarkets.

The space menu has around 60 dishes, including Cantaloupe chips and taro-stuffed mooncake (how appropriate).

It does not, however, include cardboard-stuffed buns and formaldehyde-laced candies.

Friday, July 06, 2007

NASA pays $19 Million for a Crapper

NASA announced today that it is buying a toilet system to be installed in the International Space Station for a cool $19 million. The Russian-built commode will be installed at the US-side of the space station in 2008.

It seems NASA still have the habit of flushing money down the toilet.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Genesis II in Orbit

An inflatable module for the Genesis II space station was successfully launched in orbit last June 28. The module was launched by a Russian Dnepr rocket from Yasny, Russia.

Genesis II is a private and commercial undertaking of Bigelow Aerospace, who envisions the station as a centerpiece for a space tourism project.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Friday, June 01, 2007

Once in a Blue Moon

In case you have noticed, there was another full moon on the 31st. The second full moon of the month is also known as the blue moon.

This rare occurrence is probably the origin of the term "once in a blue moon," which alludes to something that occurs rarely.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I'm on my Way to Mars

I'm on my way to Mars.

At least my name is. This morning I received an email from the Planetary Society, telling me that the DVD containing my name (as well as of the quarter-million others), has been installed in the Phoenix spacecraft. The names, through the Messages from Earth program, will piggyback on the spacecraft to Mars.

The Phoenix lander will be launched this August from Cape Canaveral and will reach the red planet in June 2008.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Atacama Telescope Gains Another Supporter

The Anglo-American project to build a new infrared telescope - the Cornell Caltech Atacama Telescope - in the Atacama desert in Chile gained another supporter, with the University of Boulder in Colorado the latest to sign up, in addition to Cornell, CalTech and UK's Astronomy Technology Center.

The telescope will work in conjunction with ALMA, or Atacama Large Millimeter Array, which is expected to be the world's largest and most accurate ground-based infrared observatory when.

The infrared telescope is expected to cost $100 million and will be finished in 2013.

Friday, May 11, 2007

James Webb Space Telescope in Action

This is how the origami-like James Webb Space Telescope, will deploy in orbit. The JWST is slated to replace the Hubble Telescope in 2012.

More here

Previous post about the JWST.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Earth Away from Home

European scientists have reported that they have discovered an Earth-like planet outside the solar system. The planet, called 581c, orbits Gliese 581 - a red dwarf star only 120 trillion miles away.

The planet, discovered by the European Southern Observatory astronomers, is believed to have temperatures that ranges between 32-104 degrees, much like that of Earth's, fueling speculations that it can harbor life.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

View the Sun in 3D

Three-dimensional images of the Sun can now be viewed online. NASA released the 3D photos of our closest star on the net, and are accessible thru this link.

The images were taken by the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft, which was launched last October 26, 2006.

Instructions on how to make 3D glasses can be found here.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Did Herschel Discovered Rings of Uranus?

When did the rings of Uranus were discovered? As most people would answer 1977, a British astronomer has a contrarian view. The rings were discovered by William Herschel in 1797.

The Register is reporting that Dr. Stuart Eves from the Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, is contending that that Herschel's writings indicated that he saw a possible ring orbiting Uranus in 1797, some 180 years earlier.

Eves has apparently discovered the smoking gun among Herschel's notes, which says "February 22, 1789: A ring was suspected". The rings were first photographed in 1986 by the Voyager 2 during its flyby.

More here.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Human Error Doomed Mars Global Surveyor

Yet another case of human boo-boo sent a spacecraft into oblivion. At least that was the conclusion of NASA in its investigation of the loss of the Mars Global Surveyor, which was lost in November 2006.

Operators at the NASA facility in Denver apparently sent a wrong command on the spacecraft's computer, causing it to eventually lost power. The command, which is for orienting the satellite's main antenna, was sent to the wrong address, causing the spacecraft's batteries to overheat, leading to the loss of power that shut down the MGS.

MGS was launched in 1996 and was responsible for many findings made about Mars, including the evidence that waters still flows in the Martian surface.

Asteroid Named After Filipino Scientist

Asteroid # 6636 is no longer a nameless rock orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. It has been named by the International Astronomical Union last April 2 - and after a Filipino scientist at that.

Roman Kintanar, the physicist the asteroid was named after, is a former head of the Philippine weather service PAGASA, serving the agency from 1958 to 1994.

Now known as 6636 Kintanar , the asteroid discovered by by Bulgarian astronomer Vladimir Georgiev Shkodrov on Sept. 11, 1988. It is around 4-9 kilometers in diameter, and revolves around the Sun at an average distance of 338 million kilometers. It takes 3.4 years for it to complete one orbit around the sun.

Kintanar now joins Filipino scientists Fr. Victor Badillo, Emelda Joson, and Edwin Aguirre of having asteroids named after them.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Snail Mail from Tattoine

United States Post Office will be issuing stamps bearing the images from Star Wars films. The stamps, emblazoned with the faces of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Bobba Fett, R2D2, Princess Leia, Yoda and C3PO, will go on sale starting May 25.

More pics here.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Sea Launch Rocket Explosion

This video shows the explosion of Sea Launch Zenit 3SL rocket at the launchpad. The launching was carried out last January in the Pacific Ocean.

Spelunking in Mars

Mars Odyssey, which was orbiting around Mars since October 2001, has apparently discovered some caves near a volcano called Arisa Mons. The caves, named Dena, Chloe, Wendy, Annie, Abbey, Nikki and Jeanne - could be entrances to an underground cave system beneath the surface. Scientists are now looking at the possibility that these cave systems could harbor Martian lifeforms.

...and in the future, Martian settlers could look forward to add spelunking to their daily activities in the red planet.

Mars Odyssey website is here.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Make Crop Circles and Become Friendly With Aliens

I stumbled upon these interesting how-to's in WikiHow:

1. How to report a UFO sighting. Curious, but I also want to know what should I do in case I get abducted by aliens (!). And if there is also a support group for abductees that can comfort me after I get, uhm, manhandled by a lecherous Martian?

2. How to make a crop circle. This should result in a rash of copycat crop circles popping all over the place. Well, there are no shortage of people who still think crop circles are made by ET, so...

For serious astronomy enthusiasts though, here's one helpful article.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

France Opens UFO Files

France is opening up its secret UFO files accumulated in the last 50 years. The documents, numbering around 10,000 were gathered by the French aerospace agency CNES and is available on this website.

Calling Mulder and Scully...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Space X Rocket Reaches Space

The second attempt of budget-rocket company Space X to launch a rocket into space ended in a semi-success, with the Falcon 1 booster reaching space for the first time. The rocket was launched from Marshall Islands and reached an altitude of 320 kilometers into space, but the second stage booster failed due to software glitches.

The first launch of the Falcon also ended in a failure, caused by a $5 nut.

Photo credit: Space X

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Mariner 1 and the DO Loop

I stumbled upon this interesting fact about the Mariner 1 spacecraft while browsing Wikipedia today (I was researching about loops in programming):

The Fortran DO loop caused an orbit computation error in a Mercury flight, and was long suspected to have caused the crash of the Mariner 1 space rocket on 22 July 1962 .

According to the NASA site, it was actually an omitted hyphen in the spacecraft's program that actually did Mariner 1 in.

Mariner 1 was supposed to explore Venus but was destroyed shortly after takeoff. Its backup, Mariner 2, was successfully launched however.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Send your Name to Mars

You can also send your name to Mars through the Phoenix spacecraft, on this site. The names will be burned onto a silica mini-DVD that will be put inside the spacecraft. Deadline for signups is February 12, 2007.

The Phoenix lander is part of NASA's Scout program, and will be launched on August 2007.

Send Your Name to the Moon

You can now send your name to the Moon for posterity, courtesy of the Planetary Society and the SELENE spacecraft. Just point your browsers to the Planetary Society here, and add your name to the list. You can also print the PDF certificate so that you can have a hard copy that you can brag about to your friends.

SELENE, which stands for Selenological and Engineering Explorer, will be launched by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency in July or August this year.

You have until February 28, 2007 to submit your names.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Mars Rover Opportunity

A video of Mars rover Opportunity maneuvering itself out of a sandtrap

NASA to Screen out the Lunatics

NASA may add psychological screening for incoming astronauts, in light with the attempted-murder drama involving Lisa Nowak, a space shuttle astronaut. Nowak was charged with attempted murder over the week after she confronted a supposedly romantic rival armed with deadly weapons.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

IBM to Develop James Webb Telescope Software

NASA announced that IBM will develop the software for its upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to be launched in 2013. The required software for the telescope, designed to succeed the hugely successful Hubble Space Telescope, will be written in C++ and developed using the Unified Modeling Language.

The James Webb Space Telescope will feature a folding 21-inch primary mirror and other cutting edge technology.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Astro Word of the Day; Plutoed

The word 'plutoed,' which means being relegated to a lower rank, was chosen as word of the day by the American Dialect Society. The word originated of course from 'Pluto,' which was relegated by the International Astronomical Union to minor planet status last year