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"There's coffee in that nebula"... ehm, I mean... in that #Dragon.  Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency in Star Trek uniform as Dragon arrives at the International Space Station on April 17, 2015. Credit: NASA

“There’s coffee in that nebula”… ehm, I mean… in that #Dragon. ISS Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency in Star Trek uniform as Dragon arrives at the International Space Station on April 17, 2015. Credit: NASA

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – Following the flawless blastoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 booster and Dragon cargo ship on Tuesday, April 14, the resupply vessel arrived at the International Space Station today, April 17, and was successful snared by the outposts resident ‘Star Trek’ crewmate, Expedition 43 Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency, donning her futuristic outfit from the famed TV show near and dear to space fans throughout the known galaxy! [click to continue…]

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Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain)
Special Guest: Amy Shira Teitel (@astVintageSpace) discussing space history and her new book Breaking the Chains of Gravity
index
Guests:
Morgan Rehnberg (cosmicchatter.org / @MorganRehnberg )

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A day-old Moon floats over the Spirit Mountain ski hill in Duluth, Minn. this past January. Credit: Bob King

A day-old Moon filled out with earthshine floats over the Spirit Mountain ski hill in Duluth, Minn. this past January. Skywatchers have a chance to see a similar thin crescent Sunday night. Credit: Bob King

16th century Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León looked and looked but never did find the Fountain of Youth, a spring rumored to restore one’s youth if you bathed or drank from its waters.  If he had, I might have interviewed him for this story.

Sunday night, another symbol of youth beckons skywatchers the world over. A fresh-faced, day-young crescent Moon will hang in the western sky in the company of the planets Mars and Mercury. While I can’t promise a wrinkle-free life, sighting it may send a tingle down your spine reminding you of why you fell in love with astronomy in the first place.  [click to continue…]

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The first Dark Energy Survey map to trace the dark matter distribution across a large area of sky. The colors indicate projected mass density. (Image: Dark Energy Survey)

The first Dark Energy Survey map to trace the dark matter distribution across a large area of sky. The colors indicate projected mass density. (Image: Dark Energy Survey)

This week, scientists with the Dark Energy Survey (DES) collaboration released the first in a series of detailed maps charting the distribution of dark matter inferred from its gravitational effects. The new maps confirm current theories that suggest galaxies will form where large concentrations of dark matter exist. The new data show large filaments of dark matter where visible galaxies and galaxy clusters lie and cosmic voids where very few galaxies reside.

“Our analysis so far is in line with what the current picture of the universe predicts,” said Chihway Chang from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, a co-leader of the analysis. “Zooming into the maps, we have measured how dark matter envelops galaxies of different types and how together they evolve over cosmic time.”
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Video caption: High resolution and color corrected SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage landing video of CRS-6 first stage landing following launch on April 14, 2015. Credit: SpaceX

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – A new high resolution video from SpaceX shows just how close the landing attempt of their Falcon 9 first stage on an ocean floating barge came to succeeding following the rockets launch on Tuesday afternoon, April 14, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a resupply run for NASA to the International Space Station (ISS). [click to continue…]

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The MESSENGER spacecraft has been in orbit around Mercury since March 2011. Image Credit: NASA/JHU APL/Carnegie Institution of Washington

The MESSENGER spacecraft has been in orbit around Mercury since March 2011 – but its days are now numbered. Image Credit: NASA/JHU APL/Carnegie Institution of Washington.

For more than four years NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft has been orbiting our solar system’s innermost planet Mercury, mapping its surface and investigating its unique geology and planetary history in unprecedented detail. But the spacecraft has run out of the fuel needed to maintain its extremely elliptical – and now quite low-altitude – orbit, and the Sun will soon set on the mission when MESSENGER makes its fatal final dive into the planet’s surface at the end of the month.

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Dawn Rises Over Ceres North Pole

Dawn's framing camera took these images of Ceres on April 10, 2015 which were combined into a short animation. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Dawn’s framing camera took these images of Ceres on April 10, 2015 which were combined into a short animation. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Brand new images taken on April 10 by NASA’s Dawn probe show the dwarf planet from high above its north pole. Photographed at a distance of just 21,000 miles (33,000 km) — less than 1/10 the Earth-moon distance — they’re our sharpest views to date. The crispness combined with the low-angled sunlight gives Ceres a stark, lunar-like appearance. [click to continue…]

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Stars: A Day in the Life

Region of active star formation

Embryonic Stars amid molecular clouds   Credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech

There is something about them that intrigues us all. These massive spheres of gas burning intensely from the energy of fusion buried many thousands of kilometers deep within [click to continue…]

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Headlines from the Topeka (Kansas) Daily Capital newspaper from April 1970 told of the perils facing the crew of Apollo 13.

Headlines from the Topeka (Kansas) Daily Capital newspaper from April 1970 told of the perils facing the crew of Apollo 13.

The Apollo 13 accident crippled the spacecraft, taking out the two main oxygen tanks in the Service Module. While the lack of oxygen caused a lack of power from the fuel cells in the Command Module, having enough oxygen to breathe in the lander rescue craft really wasn’t an issue for the crew. But having too much carbon dioxide (CO2) quickly did become a problem.

The Lunar Module, which was being used as a lifeboat for the crew, had lithium hydroxide canisters to remove the CO2 for two men for two days, but on board were three men trying to survive in the LM lifeboat for four days. After a day and a half in the LM, CO2 levels began to threaten the astronauts’ lives, ringing alarms. The CO2 came from the astronauts’ own exhalations.
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Does the Solar System Line Up with the Milky Way?


Have you ever wondered if the Solar System and the Milky Way line up perfectly, like plates spinning within plates? This is something you can test out for yourself.

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