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Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain)
Special Guest: Bas Lansdorp, CEO of Mars One
Guests:
Morgan Rehnberg (cosmicchatter.org / @MorganRehnberg )
Brian Koberlein (@briankoberlein)
Alessondra Springmann (@sondy)
Dave Dickinson (@astroguyz / www.astroguyz.com)

This Week’s Stories:

25 years of Hubble
Rosetta spots a jet form on 67P
Japan to attempt lunar landing in 2018 (maybe!)
Dark matter interactions seen
CMB cold spot mystery solved
The 2015 Lyrids
Advanced LIGO and the Hunt for Gravitational Waves
A close pass of asteroid 2015 HD1
Alien Supercivilizations Absent from 100,000 Nearby Galaxies
Fix in Works for Giant SLS Welding Machine
The Cosmic Microwave Oven Background
Questions Remain In Antares Explosion Investigation
Sierra Nevada partners with German Aerospace Center to develop Dream Chaser
Dawn captures stunning views of Ceres’ north pole
Revolutionary rocket engine passes U.S. Air Force feasibility test
Amateurs Given David Dunlap Observatory
White dwarf star may have shredded passing planet
Earth was grown from millimetre-sized stones
California Senate Votes to Honor Astronaut Sally Ride with Statue in US Capitol
A Reporter’s View: NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Mission Taking Shape
First Signs of Self-interacting Dark Matter?
Rosetta’s comet throws out big jet
Comet Jet Awakens
Rosetta catches jet erupting from comet’s dark side
JPL Will Present their Mars Program Concept at the 2015 Humans to Mars Summit
A Cold Cosmic Mystery Solved
Asteroid just missed Earth Tuesday morning
India’s Second Moon Mission To Be Fully Homegrown
The Lunar “Distraction”
SpaceX targets May 5 for Dragon pad abort test
A Sharp View into Black Holes
RIT scientist chosen as an Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassador: Brian Koberlein will inform public about U.S. astronomy efforts
Pad 0A slowly recovering from Orb 3 accident
NASA Delays Award of Commercial Cargo Follow-On Contracts
The bright spots on Ceres are coming into closer view!
New golden record may be uploaded to New Horizons probe
First visible light spectrum from exoplanet observed
First Exoplanet Visible Light Spectrum
ALMA reveals intense magnetic field close to supermassive black hole
Blue Origin To Begin Test Flights Within Weeks
NASA creates NExSS for life search
SpaceX successfully conducts static test fire in lead up to Apr. 27 TürkmenÄlem launch
Hubble Revisits Iconic ‘Pillars of Creation’ in HD
Japan’s JAXA to attempt lunar landing in 2018
NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly Kicks Off Geography Trivia from Space
43 Dinosaur Eggs Discovered at Construction Site
HASC Subcommittee Proposes Changes to RD-180 Restrictions Among Multiple Other Space Issues
Celestial fireworks celebrate Hubble’s 25th anniversary
Sorry, Interstellar, We Just Saw Some Of The Martian And It’s Way Better
An Absolutely Massive Volcano Is Exploding In Chile Right Now
Transparent Aluminum? #StarTrek Navy Makes Armor Clear As Clay

Don’t forget, the Cosmoquest Hangoutathon is starting tomorrow at 10 AM Central!

We record the Weekly Space Hangout every Friday at 12:00 pm Pacific / 3:00 pm Eastern. You can watch us live on Google+, Universe Today, or the Universe Today YouTube page.

You can join in the discussion between episodes over at our Weekly Space Hangout Crew group in G+, and suggest your ideas for stories we can discuss each week!

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The Display & Keyboard (DSKY) mounted in the Main Display Console of the Apollo 13 spacecraft, Odyssey. Note the gimbal lock display in the second row. Credit: NASA/The Apollo Flight Journal

The Display & Keyboard (DSKY) mounted in the Main Display Console of the Apollo 13 spacecraft, Odyssey. Note the gimbal lock display in the second row. Credit: NASA/The Apollo Flight Journal

It was an unlikely case, having an Apollo command ship disabled thousands of miles from Earth. But during the Apollo 9 mission, the crew had actually conducted a test of firing the Lunar Module’s engines while it was docked to the Command Module. It turned out to be fortuitous to have considered such a situation, but Apollo 9 didn’t have to perform the type of maneuvering under the myriad of conditions Apollo 13 faced.

Steering was among the crucial threats for Jim Lovell and his crew. Without the command ship’s thrusters to steer, only the lander’s were available, and flying the crippled Apollo 13 spacecraft stack and keeping it on the right trajectory was a huge challenge.
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Am I Being Watched From Space?


Look up, way up. It’s entirely possible that you’re looking right at a satellite, which is watching you right back. What kind of Earth Observation technology is possible?
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This view of the severely damaged Apollo 13 Service Module (SM) was photographed from the Lunar Module/Command Module (LM/CM) following SM jettisoning. As seen here, an entire panel on the SM was blown away by the apparent explosion of oxygen tank number two located in Sector 4 of the SM. Credit: NASA.

This view of the severely damaged Apollo 13 Service Module (SM) was photographed from the Lunar Module/Command Module (LM/CM) following SM jettisoning. As seen here, an entire panel on the SM was blown away by the apparent explosion of oxygen tank number two located in Sector 4 of the SM. Credit: NASA.

The explosion of a liquid oxygen tank in Apollo 13’s Service Module violently propelled debris and a 13-foot (4 meter) outer panel of the SM out into space.

Later, the crew saw the damage when they jettisoned the SM prior to reentering Earth’s atmosphere. Commander Jim Lovell described the scene:

“There’s one whole side of the spacecraft missing!” Lovell radioed to Mission Control. “Right by the high-gain antenna, the whole panel is blown out, almost from the base to the engine.”

The panel was likely blasted outward and rearward, toward the deep space S-Band radio antenna. The antenna was attached to the outer edge of the module’s rear base via a meter-long strut, and was used for both telemetry and voice communications.

NASA engineer Jerry Woodfill feels this hi-gain antenna was surely struck by the panel and/or schrapnel ejected by the oxygen tank explosion.

“That deep space radio communication was maintained during and after the explosion was almost miraculous,” Woodfill said. “Such a blow should have destroyed that hi-gain antenna. Those of us who watched the telemetry display monitors saw only a momentary flickering of the telemetry, but after a few flickers we continued to receive data.”

Woodfill said it was as though a boxer had taken a devastating punch and continued to stand unfazed.
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This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of the cluster Westerlund 2 and its surroundings has been released to celebrate Hubble’s 25th year in orbit and a quarter of a century of new discoveries, stunning images and outstanding science. Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), A. Nota (ESA/STScI), and the Westerlund 2 Science Team. Click the image for access to larger versions.

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of the cluster Westerlund 2 and its surroundings has been released to celebrate Hubble’s 25th year in orbit and a quarter of a century of new discoveries, stunning images and outstanding science. Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), A. Nota (ESA/STScI), and the Westerlund 2 Science Team. Click the image for access to larger versions.

Images from space don’t get any prettier than this. A new image from the Hubble Space Telescope was released today to commemorate a quarter century of exploring the Solar System and beyond since the launch of the telescope on April 24, 1990. It shows a giant cluster of about 3,000 stars called Westerlund 2, located 20,000 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Carina. NASA describes the new image as a “brilliant tapestry of young stars flaring to life resemble a glittering fireworks display.”

The Hubble Teams are giving away a few “gifts” to everyone to celebrate this silver anniversary — see below!
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Schematics of the Apollo command module interior. The surge tank was located in the left hand intermediate equipment bay. Credit: NASA.

Schematics of the Apollo command module interior. The surge tank was located in the left hand intermediate equipment bay. Credit: NASA.

Join Universe Today in celebrating the 45th anniversary of Apollo 13 with insights from NASA engineer Jerry Woodfill as we discuss various turning points in the mission.

Within minutes of the accident during the Apollo 13 mission, it became clear that Oxygen Tank 2 in the Service Module had failed. Then Mission Control radioed up procedures and several attempts were made to try to save the remaining oxygen in Tank 1. But the pressure readings continued to fall, and it soon became obvious that Tank 1 was going to fail as well. At that point, both the crew and those in Houston realized the extreme seriousness of the situation.

No oxygen meant the fuel cells would be inoperative, and the fuel cells produced electrical power, water and oxygen – three things vital to the lives of the crew and the life of the spacecraft.

For power in the Command Module, all that was left were the batteries, but they were to be the sole source of power available for reentry. Besides the ambient air in the CM, the only oxygen remaining was contained in a so called ‘surge tank’ and three reserve one pound O2 tanks. These, too, were also mainly reserved for reentry, but they were automatically tapped in emergencies if there any oxygen fluctuations in the system.

In Chris Kraft’s autobiography Flight: My Life in Mission Control, the former flight director and former director of Johnson Space Center cited Gene Kranz’ decision to immediately isolate or seal off the surge tank as being one of the things that made rescuing the crew possible.

Why was it so essential to assure that the spare oxygen surge tank in the CM was protected?
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Carnival of Space #402

Carnival of Space. Image by Jason Major.

Carnival of Space. Image by Jason Major.

The tent is up! This week’s Carnival of Space is hosted by Pamela Hoffman at the Everyday Spacer blog.

Click here to read Carnival of Space #402.
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10 Facts About Planet Earth You May Not Have Known

Happy Earth Day! Earth Day is good time to think about the beauty of our home planet and reflect on our stewardship of environmental resources like air and water.

Sometimes, though, our planet can be a bit unpredictable. The folks at HooplaHa have put together this entertaining 2-minute look at a few of our planet’s oddities… and it’s like a combo of “Funniest Home Videos” and “Science Friday.” While our astute readers will likely already know several of these facts, this video will be sure to make you smile.

Again, Happy Earth Day!
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The 2015 Lyrid Meteors Peak Tomorrow Night!

A lucky capture of a 2013 Lyrid meteor. Image credit and copyright: John Chumack

A lucky capture of a 2013 Lyrid meteor. Image credit and copyright: John Chumack

April showers bring May flowers, and this month also brings a shower of the celestial variety, as the Lyrid meteors peak this week.

And the good news is, 2015 should be a favorable year for the first major meteor shower of the Spring season for the northern hemisphere.  The peak for the shower in 2015 is predicted to arrive just after midnight Universal Time on Thursday April 23rd, which is 8:00 PM EDT on the evening of Wednesday April 22nd. [click to continue…]

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The jettisoning of elements during the critical last hours of the Apollo 13 mission is shown in this sequence drawing. Credit: NASA.

The jettisoning of elements during the critical last hours of the Apollo 13 mission is shown in this sequence drawing. Credit: NASA.

Join Universe Today in celebrating the 45th anniversary of Apollo 13 with insights from NASA engineer Jerry Woodfill as we discuss various turning points in the mission.

The final scenes of the movie Apollo 13 depict the spacecraft’s dramatic reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. As the seconds count beyond the time radio blackout should have lifted, the Capcom calls for Apollo 13’s crew to answer, but there is no response.

Everyone’s thoughts run through the possibilities: Had the heat shield been compromised by shrapnel from the exploded oxygen tank? Had the previously finicky hatch failed at this critical time? Had the parachutes turned to blocks of ice? Had the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) gyros failed, having inadequate time to warm-up causing the capsule to skip off the atmosphere, or incinerate with the crew in a fiery death plunge to Earth?

Of course, the crew finally did answer, but confirmation that Lovell, Haise and Swigert had survived reentry came nearly a minute and a half later than expected.

Some might feel director Ron Howard may have over-sensationalized the re-entry scenes for dramatic effect. But in listening to the actual radio communications between Mission Control and the ARIA 4 aircraft that was searching for a signal from the Apollo 13 crew, the real drama is just as palpable – if not more — than in the movie.

For virtually every reentry from Mercury through Apollo 12, the time of radio blackout was predictable, almost to the second. So why did Apollo 13’s radio blackout period extend for 87 seconds longer than expected, longer than any other flight?
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