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Curious To See What Curiosity’s Been Up To? Watch This.

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The video about, entitled “Twelve Months in Two Minutes,” speed-chronicles Curiosity’s time on Mars over the past year. It’s like having a nanny cam for a Mars Rover.

Curiosity set down on Bradbury’s Landing (an auspicious beginning to any space mission) on Mars on August 6, 2012, traveling over 3,000 miles at over 11,500 miles per hour from an altitude of nearly 1,800 miles. The video below contains the full 20 minutes of Curiosity’s dramatic descent and landing from inside the control room. It gets pretty tense at points, as evidenced by the nail-biting, groaning, and sometimes pacing engineers. The cheering at the end is well-deserved and particularly cathartic.

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Stranded Brings Bad Acting To Mars: Nick’s Giant Freakin’ Queue Review

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With the awful-looking, Christian Slater-led space flick Stranded going straight to video next week, I was reminded of a similarly shitty indie film from 2002, also titled Stranded. Well, I didn’t actually know of its quality, as negative reviews had often kept me away. But this is my Giant Freakin’ Queue Review, dammit, and I shy away from nothing! (Except maybe Slater’s movie, if it ever comes to Netflix.)

I usually don’t like to give away spoilers in these reviews when it isn’t necessary, but in the case of Stranded, the plot is the only redeeming factor, so I feel that it would be impossible for me not to get into the juicier bits near the end. To be sure, the actors ruin this movie far more than finding out the ending will. If you’d like to know if the film is for you, though, I’ll tote out my recommendation scale early.

See Stranded if you like: watching movies with the subtitles on and the volume down; watching Vincent Gallo act smarter than everyone else around him; contemplating shitty films that are actually worth contemplating; ripping on the stupidity of Prometheus without realizing how stupid Prometheus really could have been.

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Look away! Look away!

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Star Trek Deflector Device Could Protect From Radiation During A Trip To Mars

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DeflectorDespite the financial hurdles likely to prevent humans from going to Mars anytime soon, scientists still constantly brainstorm the challenges of getting to the Red Planet safely. In addition to studying the need for long-term healthy food options for such a journey, scientists also analyze data from NASA’s Curiosity rover to try and anticipate other potential complexities of such a mission.

The latest one? Radiation.

About a year ago, as the Curiosity rover made its way to Mars, readings from its Radiation Assessment Detector indicated that astronauts would be exposed to 554-770 millisieverts of radiation on the journey. What does that mean, exactly? Well, most people are exposed to roughly 6.2 millisieverts of radiation a year. Taking a trip to Mars would be akin to getting a CT scan “once every five days,” according to the Cary Zeitlin, lead scientist for the Martian Radiation Environment Experiment. What that means in terms of tangible effects is still unknown. On the bright side, Martians probably wouldn’t find radiation-caused mutations all that strange, but I think it’s safe to say that we don’t want to find out.

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Fake Astronauts Undertake Four-Month Fake Mission To Mars

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It might be awhile before we actually put a human on Mars, but Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) is exploring the challenges with a four-month-long simulated Mars Mission.

Each week, astronaut Kate Greene blogs about different aspects of the simulated mission, giving viewers a glimpse into the life of an astronaut and what a trip to Mars might actually entail, especially when it comes to feeding astronauts. The simulation is taking place on the Big Island of Hawaii, where Greene and five other crewmates live inside of the Mauna Loa volcano.

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Expert Says NASA Won’t Be Able To Boldly Go To Mars On Its Current Budget

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MarsNASA’s budgetary woes, made even worse by the sequester, could dash dreams of putting a human on Mars.

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives conducted a hearing to discuss the proposed NASA Authorization Act of 2013. The Act involves appropriations for fiscal years 2014 and 2015, discussions of space exploration policies and operations, as well as goals for developing space sciences, technology, and education. The Act appropriates over $4 billion for space exploration and just under $4 billion for space operations, including International Space Station programs.

While this may sound like a big chunk of change, it’s really a drop in the bucket when it comes to what’s necessary for what many argue should be NASA’s primary goal: getting us to Mars. Among those making that argument is Dr. Steven Squyres, Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University and Principle Investigator of the Mars Exploration Rover mission. Speaking before the hearing on Wednesday, Squyres said, “If by exploring Mars we could show that life emerged there — and therefore that it emerged twice in just this one solar system — it would take no great leap of faith, logic, or anything else to conclude that life may be commonplace throughout the cosmos.” He also emphasized the importance of sending humans, rather than robots, to do this work.

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NASA’s Billion-Pixel Mars Panorama Shows The Red Planet In Amazing Detail

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NASA’s Curiosity rover has been providing plenty of amazing images from the Red Planet for armchair astronauts such as myself to pore over. But while we’ve seen tons of looks at Curiosity’s path across Mars so far, NASA just raised their game by releasing a 1.3 billion-pixel interactive panorama of Curiosity’s Martian surroundings. Yes, that’s billion with a b.

In this first shot, you can see Aeolis Mons, or “Mount Sharp,” looming in the distance to the southeast of the rover. The image below is zoomed out around two-thirds of the way, so you can see Curiosity in the foreground. At full zoom, you can clearly make out ripples in the sand on the side of the mountain. (You can click all the below images for larger versions.)

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