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I am a huge fan of all things Space and Space science. I am absolutely a sucker for good images of rocket launch photos and videos. Space.com has just released their list of the best launch images of 2012.
The list features launches from both the US and Russian space programs and the images are quite stunning. The image above was taken by my good friend and Astro Club buddy Hap Griffin during the Launch of NROL-15 aboard a Delta 4 Heavy in May 2012. Sadly it did not make the list, but it is by far my favorite launch photo from 2012.
Hopefully this coming year I will be able to travel down to the Kennedy Space Center to capture some astounding launch images myself.
Over the last 30 years Landsat 5 has orbited the earth a total of 150,000 times, and transmitted roughly 2.5 million images back to earths surface. Now, after a fatal gyro failure, the imaging satellite that was originally designed for a three year mission is finally being decommissioned.
Over the past 3 decades, if a natural disaster occurred, Landsat 5 photographed the from-space photos the public saw. It has malfunctioned in the past, but the malfunctions were always recoverable. In 2011 imaging was suspended due to a transmission error and now a gyro has failed permanently, rendering the satellite unfit for duty.
Landsat 5's death leaves the USGS with only one functioning bird in space, Landsat 7. Another USGS satellite is set to launch in February of 2013 though and has been named... you guessed it, Landsat 8.
NASA just released two free E-books on the Hubble Space Telescope and it's yet-to-launch successor the James Webb Space Telescope. Both E-books are packed full with interactive features that let readers watch such things as galaxy collision simulations, and manipulate a telescope model between pages.
The Hubble, which launched in 1990 is set to come to its end of life cycle in 2013. The space-based telescope has no doubt supplied us with some of the most interesting images ever seen by mankind. It's replacement, the James Webb is almost three times the size of the Hubble and will continue the tradition of bringing breath-taking images to us here on earth.
"These new e-books from NASA will allow people to discover Hubble and Webb in a whole new way - both the science and the technology behind building them," Amber Straughn, an astrophysicist on the Webb telescope project at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said in a statement. "They collect all of the amazing resources about these two observatories in an excellent product that I think people will really enjoy."
Commander Chris Hadfield, currently on the International Space Station, recorded a Christmas carol in space. While that alone is pretty awesome, the fact that he was able to make it sound good with all the background noise is the really impressive part. When he made a comment regarding the noise with his original post, people asked him just how loud it is on the ISS, so he made a recording.
As you can hear in the recording, there is quite a bit of noise. Most of it comes from the fans and ventilation system that is keeping the astronauts alive, so we doubt they are complaining too much. Besides, they have optional earplugs and noise cancelling headphones to keep it at bay.
Hundreds of thousands of children, as well as adults will receive a telescope on Christmas this year. In a strike of luck, the Moon and Jupiter will converge in the night sky on Christmas night and provide a stunning view for all to see. The duo will be so bright that even those in inner cities will be able to observe the celestial event.
Shining brightly to the upper left of the moon, naked eye viewers will see Juipter, our solar systems largest planet. Those with binoculars or small telescopes will be able to make out at least 3 of Jupiters moons as well. Sky-watchers with larger scopes are encouraged to try and observe Jupiters Great Red Spot which is shrinking.
As viewed from the eastern and central United States, the moon and Jupiter will appear closest together during the late afternoon or early evening hours on Tuesday (Dec. 25). From New York, they'll be closest together at 6:25 p.m. EST (2325 GMT); from Chicago, it'll be 5:18 p.m. local time (2318 GMT). The event is visible world wide though so grab your favorite warm beverage and head outside to view the special event.
Due to overwhelming response, the Rasberry Pi foundation has released a "Quick Start Guide" for the Raspberry Pi. Citing that many people will find one under the tree or in a stocking this Christmas, the foundation wanted people to easily be able to get their new Pi boards up and running.
The guide covers setting up the Pi for the first time. Users unfamiliar with how to connect the Pi to monitors, keyboards and a network are presented with a nice diagram. The guide gives step by step directions on installing an operating system and booting the Pi for the first time.
We are sure that this guide, although quite basic, will be an immense help to those receiving the Pi as their first development board. Do you have a Raspberry Pi, or are you expecting to find one under the tree? Let us know in the comments. If you would like to download the Quick Start Guide, just follow this link.
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX has released images and video of the company's new Grasshopper rocket design taking a test flight. A six-foot tall mannequin dressed as a cowboy, was on board for test flight which ascended to 131 feet, hovered for a few seconds and then proceeded to land back on the launchpad in its original position.
The new rocket is currently in development and just entered it's testing phase last month. SpaceX is developing the grasshopper to hopefully have a lift stage that is reusable, and will land itself back in the upright position. This will significantly cut down on waste, material cost and the expense of having to send a ship to "rescue" the rocket from an ocean splash down.
SpaceX designs, manufactures, and launches the world's most advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk to revolutionize space transportation, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.
Sometime around 2015, NASA will incorporate a next-generation spacesuit that has a bunch of new features, but most noticeably, a new design. The new Z-1 NASA spacesuit will arrive in 2015 and offers a bunch of new advantages compared to the current and previous designs.
The biggest change would be the rear-entry hatch which lets an astronaut put the suit on from the back, and when finished, they just have to close the rear hatch. The current astronaut wear, the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) spacesuit, which has been in use since 1982, requires the wearer to put the pant and top portions on separately, and then connect them together.
Jumping into the spacesuit makes more sense, with its hatch being very handy for quick in-and-out experiences in the spacesuit. There's also a new suit port. Usually stored internally, the suit could attach to the exterior of the space vehicle, and the astronaut could easily enter the suit from inside the vehicle.
Defense contractor Rheinmetall have just tested their 50kW high-energy laser weapon, which was a complete success. The 50kW laser works by looking for a target using something they call the 'Skyguard radar system', locks the target in with an optical scanner before it goes to work.
After it has looked for its target, locked it in, it will fire multiple, superimposed beams for extra energy. The German-made HEL cannon was capable of cutting through a 15mm-thick steel girder, but that's not all - it managed to do so from over 3,200 feet away. If you thought that was impressive, the laser was able to taking down a UAV, where after reaching the programmed fire sector, the laser weapon engaged the UAV's immediately, destroying them in seconds - keep in mind that these UAVs were flying at high speeds. Pew, pew indeed.
Lastly, the laser system was used in detection, pursuit and successful engagement of "an extremely small ballistic target". The team used a steel ball measuring in at 82 mm, travelling at 50 meters per second. This was used to replicate a mortar round, which the Skyguard fire control unit detected immediately, tracked the target, engaged it and destroyed it mid-air.
It's no secret that I am a huge fan of the Raspberry Pi, and this is one project I could not pass up on covering. Dubbed the Pi-To-Go, this micro linux laptop was created by Nathan Morgan.
Nathan managed to stuff a 640x480 LCD, QWERTY keyboard with touchpad, rechargeable battery, Raspberry Pi model B, and a Samsung 64GB SSD all into a 3D printed case.
With WiFi, and more than 10 hours of battery life, this is one awesome little DIY computer! Nathan has been generous enough to share the build instructions, code and 3d files so you can build your own. You can see more photos and find all the build info at the source link below.