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Astronaut Reid Wiseman Is Your New Twitter Must-Follow

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One of the coolest things about social media is the way it lets us experience by proxy something most of us probably never will directly: travelling into space. Sure, we’ve had access to videos taken in space for decades now, but social media has narrowed the distance between us and the humans who are currently orbiting high above us by quite a bit. Now that Chris Hadfield is back groundside, it’s time to update your Twitter with some new astronaut-y goodness. Allow us to suggest astronaut Reid Wiseman, who recently joined the crew of the ISS, and who is bleeding enthusiasm all over Twitter in a truly endearing way.

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NASA Art Contest Lets Kids Explore The Final Frontier

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GrandPrizeI’m not sure how long the tradition of putting your kid’s art up on the refrigerator has been around, but I’m guessing it started sometime after somebody came up with the refrigerator magnet. (Before that, art laid tragically in piles across the kitchen floor.) But as happy as a kid might be to see his parents proudly displaying his work for all to see, how much cooler would it be to have your artwork pinned up on NASA’s fridge? (I presume they only have the one.)

Well, several kids accomplished just that, at least metaphorically. NASA’s Langley Research Center recently hosted an art competition for students ranging from kindergarten all the way up through 12th grade. Kids from the area of Hampton Roads, Virginia were given the theme “The Future Is Now” and invited to let their imaginations soar. Kristina Ruhlman, public outreach specialist for the center, said, “The idea was for young artists to take technologies that once seemed far away and explore how they were becoming reality today,” So presumably it was just pictures of NASA employees with empty wallets or panhandling for spare funding.

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CNN Publishes Hoax Article About Doomsday Asteroid

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AsteroidWe like to remain optimistic here at GFR. We like to think that, in spite of all the challenges facing our species, we will ultimately overcome those obstacles and find a way forward, together, even if that path is messy and full of false starts. But if we are doomed to be wiped out before we manage to leave the cradle, one of the most likely doomsday threats is a rogue asteroid smacking into our planet. It’s a very real threat, and there’s no telling whether we would be able to do anything about it even if we got plenty of advance warning. So, you can understand why some people might have been a little upset earlier this week when CNN published a story claiming that we had a 50% chance of being hit by a potentially civilization-ending asteroid in 2041. On March 35, 2041, to be precise.

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Mousetronauts Headed To The ISS

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mousetronautsSoon there won’t be any cosmonauts on the ISS, but new residents will soon arrive, and while they might not be as helpful as cosmonauts, they may be cuddlier. Elon Musk calls them “mousetronauts,” and in August they’ll fly to the ISS on a SpaceX Dragon cargo ship to be part of a NASA study on the physiological effects of long-duration weightlessness.

The rodent research focuses on the physiological changes that occur when living for long periods in zero or microgravity. Even though astronauts exercise while on the ISS, they invariably lose muscle, immune system capabilities, and bone density, among other problems. Prolonged stays in microgravity also affect the nervous, endocrine, and reproductive systems, as well as genetic and molecular processes. Researchers believe that studying the mice will help them learn how and why these changes occur.

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NASA’s Morpheus Project Successfully Completes Test Flight

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project morpheusIt won’t get astronauts to the ISS anytime soon, but NASA’s Morpheus is pretty darn cool, and it’s always good to see the agency working on new spacecraft technology. In addition to sounding like a Matrix spin-off, the Morpheus Project is NASA’s planetary lander development program. Among other goals, the space agency wants a device that can take off and land vertically, like SpaceX’s Grasshopper. A few days ago, Morpheus completed a successful test flight at the Kennedy Space Center.

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Russia Bailing On The ISS

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ISSSix weeks after NASA announced that it would be cutting ties with Russia, except for their collaboration on the ISS, Russia has gone a step further, saying that it plans to stop participating in the ISS after 2020.

Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, said that Russia will use its resources to focus on other projects. In the statement, he said, “We are very concerned about continuing to develop high-tech projects with such an unreliable partner as the United States, which politicises everything.” He also mentioned “inappropriate” sanctions, including plans to deny the export of high-tech equipment to Russia. In turn, Russia says that while it is ready to deliver engines used to build widely-used Atlas V rockets, it will only do so on the “condition that they will not be used to launch military satellites.” Um…