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This Is Our Planet: Time-Lapse Of Images From The ISS Will Take Your Breath Away

Look around you right now. Is there an oxygen tank within easy reach? No? You might want to run down to the nearest medical-supply store before you watch the video below, because this sucker will absolutely take your breath away.

Editor Tomislav Safundzic raided NASA’s Image Science & Analysis Laboratory and pieced this gorgeous time-lapse video together from images taken aboard the International Space Station. And sure, it’s easy to make shots of our planet look beautiful, because Mother Earth is a real looker. But Tomislav has done a marvelous job compiling the footage, and the results put any special effects Hollywood has ever created to shame. Words can’t do it justice. Just watch.

 

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Take A Tour Of The Lunar Surface Courtesy Of NASA

To this day, mankind’s forays to the Moon remain some of our species’ greatest accomplishments. And while it’s been several decades since we last stepped foot on the lunar surface, organizations such as NASA have continued observing and studying our nearest neighbor, and we now have a better sense of the Moon’s overall surface than ever before. And while we probably won’t see commercial spaceflight advance far enough in our lifetime that we’ll be able to take a lunar expedition over vacation, we can at least get a virtual tour courtesy of NASA.

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X-COR Aerospace Moves To Texas And Lets Rick Perry Play With Their Spaceship

Yesterday, X-COR Aerospace announced a deal to open a new research facility in Midland,Texas, for the purposes of developing and testing X-COR’s new Lynx suborbital spacecraft. At the announcement ceremony Governor Rick Perry was on hand to grope a mockup of the new space plane.

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Science’s Plan To Save The Earth By Shifting Its Orbit


Humans have always been fascinated by death. While the thought of our own mortality frightens us, for some reason we are still compelled by a morbid curiosity to slow down to gawk at a car wreck, knowing that the body under the tarp could be us on any given day. It’s no surprise, then, that we also find ourselves baking up doomsday scenarios that could mean the end not just for us as individuals, but for our entire species. For all our mighty accomplishments, the thought that it could all be ended by a wayward chunk of space rock is both humbling and scary. For three scientists, however, asteroids could in fact be used to save the Earth from the Sun’s inevitable decay into a massive red giant…by literally moving the entire planet out of the Sun’s expansion zone.

The plan is the brainchild of three researchers: Don Korycansky of the University of California-Santa Cruz, Gregory Laughlin of NASA, and Fred Adams of the University of Michigan. It was actually hatched over a decade ago, and I’m kind of amazed I never heard about this one, because it’s what is known in technical circles as “a doozy.” The problem, of course, is that the Sun will eventually expand into a red giant, likely swallowing up the Earth in the process, or at the least charring it into a lifeless cinder. The plan involves the “gravity-assist technique,” sometimes also known as a “slingshot maneuver.” It’s the same technique that was used to allow craft such as the Voyager probes to explore our outer solar system. The idea is to capture a large asteroid and skim it past the Earth, close enough that our planet’s gravity slingshots it around and past us. If the object is large enough – say 62 miles across – its gravity will also pull on the Earth as it passes, slightly altering our planet’s orbit.

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Burritos In Spaaaaaaace!

There are countless reasons for our species to pursue space exploration. Limited resources here on our home world. The scientific and technical advances that come from it. The ever-looming threat of extinction from war or plague or a wayward asteroid. Hell, even simply “because it’s there.” But the single most compelling reason to boldly go where no one has gone before? Zero-g burritos.

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Dusty Planetary Disc Vanishes From A Distant Solar System

Spooky things happens all the time in astronomy. The universe is a big place with lots of stuff going on constantly, and all of the knowledge we have on it is based on long distance speculation. Sometimes things go as we predict and then sometimes, something so utterly bizarre happens that it makes astronomers do a double take. When astronomers found that a disc of dust had just vanished around a star on an alarmingly short time scale, it was double take time.

First imaged by NASA’s Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) in 1983, TYC 8241 2652 appeared to be a young sun-like star shrouded in a dusty disc. This disc was thought to be the same kind that formed planets in our own solar system. When a star forms it is usually surrounded with a large ring of left over material that was too dense to be blown away by its ignition. Through a long process, it is believed that the tug of gravity and the force of the stellar wind manages to form small planetesimals (baby planets) out of this left over material that then use their own gravity to pull in more and more stuff until they become fully formed planets. After a rough game of cosmic billiards where they either merge or are ejected from the solar system all together, you have what we now see as our modern solar system. So other than being an extremely young version of our own solar system, there was nothing exceptional about TYC 8241 2652, but when NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) looked at the star system again in 2010, it showed that the dust had vanished over two years ago. And no, it’s not supposed to work that way.

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