Video: Carolyn Porco Discusses Her Life at Saturn

by Nancy Atkinson on April 21, 2014

Space historian Andrew Chaikin sat down with planetary scientist Carolyn Porco, and she discusses how her career has ended up focusing on the Saturn system. I love how Porco relates how even she has been “blown away” by some of the imagery sent back by the missions — just like the rest of us! — saying she’s had to call members of her team several times to verify she wasn’t looking at computer simulations vs. real images.

Planetary scientists Carolyn Porco. Via NASA/JPL.

Planetary scientists Carolyn Porco. Via NASA/JPL.

Enjoy this candid interview of one of the leading planetary scientists of our day.


The Planets in Our Solar System in Order of Size

by Elizabeth Howell on April 21, 2014

A montage of planets and other objects in the solar system. Credit: NASA/JPL

A montage of planets and other objects in the solar system. Credit: NASA/JPL

If you’re interested in planets, the good news is there’s plenty of variety to choose from in our own Solar System. From the ringed beauty of Saturn, to the massive hulk of Jupiter, to the lead-melting temperatures on Venus, each planet in our solar system is unique — with its own environment and own story to tell about the history of our Solar System.

What also is amazing is the sheer size difference of planets. While humans think of Earth as a large planet, in reality it is dwarfed by the massive gas giants lurking at the outer edges of our Solar System. This article explores the planets in order of size, with a bit of context as to how they got that way.

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SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft arrives for successful berthing and docking at the International Space Station on Easter Sunday morning April 20, 2014. Credit: NASA TV

SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft arrives for successful berthing and docking at the International Space Station on Easter Sunday morning April 20, 2014. Credit: NASA TV

The SpaceX 3 Dragon commercial cargo freighter successfully arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) on Easter Sunday morning, April 20, as planned and was deftly captured by Expedition 39 Commander Koichi Wakata at 7:15 a.m. EDT at the controls of the Canadian built robotic arm.

The next step due shortly is berthing of Dragon at the Earth facing port of the Harmony module at approximately 9:30 a.m. EDT.

Berthing was officially completed at 10:06 a.m. EDT while the massive complex was soaring 260 miles above Brazil.

This story is being updated as events unfold. The mission is the company’s third cargo delivery flight to the station. [click to continue…]


Why does Russia seem to get so many bright meteors? Well at 6.6 million square miles it’s by far the largest country in the world plus, with dashboard-mounted cameras being so commonplace (partly to help combat insurance fraud) statistically it just makes sense that Russians would end up seeing more meteors, and then be able to share the experience with the rest of the world!

This is exactly what happened early this morning, April 19 (local time), when a bright fireball flashed in the skies over Murmansk, located on the Kola Peninsula in northwest Russia near the border of Finland. Luckily not nearly as large or powerful as the Chelyabinsk meteor event from February 2013, no sound or air blast from this fireball has been reported and nobody was injured. Details on the object aren’t yet known… it could be a meteor (most likely) or it could be re-entering space debris. The video above, some of which was captured by Alexandr Nesterov from his dashcam, shows the object dramatically lighting up the early morning sky.

One Russian astronomer suggests this bolide may have been part of the debris that results in the Lyrid meteor shower, which peaks on April 22-23. (Source: NBC)

Source: RT.com

Blastoff of SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on April 18, 2014.   Credit:  Alan Walters/AmericaSpace

Blastoff of SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on April 18, 2014. Credit: Alan Walters/AmericaSpace
Story updated

The powerful SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that launched successfully on a cargo delivery run for NASA bound for the Space Station on Friday, April 18, from Cape Canaveral, Fla, also had a key secondary objective for the company aimed at experimenting with eventually recovering the rockets first stage via the use of landing legs and leading to the boosters refurbishment and reuse further down the road.

Marking a first of its kind test, this 20 story tall commercial Falcon 9 rocket was equipped with a quartet of landing legs to test controlled soft landing techniques first in the ocean and then back on solid ground at some later date this year or next – by reigniting the 1st stage engines for a guided touchdown. [click to continue…]