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NASA Will Pay You $18,000 To Stay In Bed

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NASA Bed TestHave you ever had one of those mornings where you just don’t want to get out of bed? You know, where you hit snooze on your alarm four times, roll back onto you pillow, and mutter something to yourself about how you need to find a job that pays you to stay in bed all day. Well, this dream may finally happen for you, and the employer is someone you wouldn’t automatically think of. NASA, yes that NASA, is in search of volunteers to take part in a 70 day sleep study, where you stay in bed all day. And here’s the best part, they’ll pay you $18,000.

The goal of this particular research project is to study the overall impact and long-term effects of immobility on your body. They want to recreate the consequences of being strapped in to a space ship, not able to move, for weeks on end. They want to examine muscle atrophy, as well as the impact on the rest of your organs and body systems.

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Look Up Screensaver Showcases Our Stellar Neighbors We Might Someday Visit

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“Look upwards, and share the wonders I’ve seen.”

Those lines were spoken by wayward astronaut John Crichton in the opening title sequence of Farscape, still one of my favorite science fiction shows of all time. It speaks to something that Farscape did very well: conjuring a sense of wonder and awe at our vast universe, and the varied life that might be out there. I don’t know whether the above video, entitled Look Up, was as an intentional tip of the hat to Farscape or not, but either way the result is the same: I really, really want to go exploring. (And also rewatch Farscape).

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Voyager 1 Boldly (And Historically) Goes Into Interstellar Space

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Voyager 1Voyager 1 has been journeying through space just longer than I’ve been journeying on Earth — 36 years. Now scientists know for sure that it’s the first man-made craft to exit our solar system and pass into interstellar place, having left the sun some 12 billion miles behind.

For the past year, Voyager 1 has been traversing “star stuff” — ionized gas otherwise known as plasma. It’s currently free of the sun’s gravitational pull and out of the solar system, but not free of all effects of the sun. It no longer has to use sunscreen, though.

The Voyager team is busy analyzing new data sent from Voyager 1 about the plasma it recently passed through and the space it’s currently traversing. Everything it registers is completely new, so scientists have a lot of work to do in terms of making sense of the information coming in, as well as figuring out what the new questions and gaps are. Like impatient kids in the back seat during a long road trip, scientists have been waiting in anticipation, asking “Are we there yet?” Finally, we are.

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Mars Colony Proposal Would Send Robots Ahead To Carve Out Underground Facilities

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SurfaceWe’ve heard a lot about Mars, and the dream of sending humans there, in recent years. The landing of the Curiosity rover put both the red planet, and space exploration in general, back in the headlines in a way it hadn’t been in a while. Hell, there’s even a reality show offering to make a select few volunteers the very first Mars colonists (although it’s a one-way trip). But while mankind has been dreaming of leaving human bootprints in Mars’ red soil for decades, figuring out the logistics of how to make it happen are challenging to say the least. Not only do you have to get people there safely, you have to ensure their survival once they get there. Now a group of German architects is proposing a clever way to create permanent buildings on Mars before any humans arrive. They’re heading underground.

ZA Architects’ vision of Mars settlement involves sending specialized robots ahead of any human missions. Once on Mars, the ‘bots would begin digging into Mars’ surface to create underground facilities, which would then be ready and waiting for astronauts/colonists to inhabit and finish out. The plan would take advantage of Mars’ soil, which is rich in basalt. As the architects’ website explains, “Basalt is good material to make a protectional cave on, to produce insulation, and basalt roving, which is stronger than steel.”

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Our Solar System’s Beauty Is In Full Display In Images From Artist Michael Benson

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JupiterSpace is gorgeous. I think we can all agree on that, can’t we? One of the perks of this job is that you’re continually exposed to wonderful new images from mankind’s continued exploration of our solar system, our galaxy, our universe. Sure, we may not have the Mars bases and orbital colonies and vacation trips to Saturn that science fiction got our hopes up for, but our ability to see more, to see deeper, to see better when viewing the cosmos just keeps increasing, and along with that advance comes images such as the ones featured in this post.

All of these amazing pictures were created by artist Michael Benson, and are featured in his book Planetfall: New Solar System Visions. Culling from the countless shots taken by astronauts or gathered by the unmanned spacecraft that are exploring the solar system in our stead, Benson combined images into mosaics, often adding color to black-and-white raw imagery so as to better simulate what these space vistas would look like if seen in person. The results, I think you’ll agree, are jaw-dropping.

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Mars One Colonists Will Face Psychological As Well As Physical Challenges

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MarsOneBy now you’ve probably heard of Mars One, the Dutch nonprofit that aims to put colonists on Mars permanently by 2023, and intends to turn the selection, training, and colonization process into must-see reality television. The application process ended on August 31, at which point over 165,000 people from around the world had applied for the project. All of them insisted that they were ready to leave behind Earth and all the people they know forever to become red planet pioneers. Of course, even the boldest and most cocksure applicants can’t truly know what they might be getting themselves into. The problem is that Mars One may not know either.

The Mars One plan has drawn plenty of criticism: NASA, to whom money woes are all too familiar, doubts the feasibility of racking up enough funding for such a venture (that’s where the reality TV part comes in, ostensibly), and others worry about all the technical requirements of such a campaign. Can we really get a human crew to Mars without exposing them to scary levels of radiation? Will we be able to send and deploy all the necessary structures ahead of the colonists’ arrival? Will they have enough to eat?