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Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy Leaves a Lasting Legacy

Leonard Nimoy with SETI astronomer Frank Drake on September 8, 1994. Seth Shostak, also from SETI, was the photographer. Image courtesy the Drake family.

Leonard Nimoy with SETI astronomer Frank Drake on September 8, 1994. Seth Shostak, also from SETI, was the photographer. Image courtesy the Drake family.

Leonard Nimoy played a half-alien-half-human character — Spock — who seemingly was going to live forever. He survived having his brain removed, being bitten by a deadly alien creature and other harrowing experiences. Later, he actually did give his life to save his crew but was resurrected. And he was transported through time in the Star Trek universe to appear across hundreds of years. But the very human Nimoy died earlier today at age 83, leaving a legacy of not just an enduring science fiction character, but the generations of scientists and explorers he inspired.

Nimoy had been hospitalized earlier in the week and his agent confirmed his death on February 27, saying the cause was end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Nimoy announced that he had the disease last year and attributed it to years of smoking, a habit he had quit nearly 30 years ago.

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Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain)

Guests:
Morgan Rehnberg (cosmicchatter.org / @MorganRehnberg )
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The dinosaur on Mars, the Face in Cydonia, the rat, the human skull, the Smiley face, the prehistoric vertebrae and the conglomerate rock. Something is amiss in this montage and shouldn't be included. (Photo Credits: NASA/JPL)

The dinosaur on Mars, the Face in Cydonia, the rat, the human skull, the Smiley face, the prehistoric vertebrae and the conglomerate rock. Something is amiss in this montage and shouldn’t be included. (Photo Credits: NASA/JPL)

What is up with the fossils on Mars? Found – a dinosaur skull on Mars? Discovered – a rat, squirrel or gerbil on Mars? In background of images from Curiosity, vertebrae from some extinct Martian species? And the human skull, half buried in photos from Opportunity Rover. All the images are made of stone from the ancient past and this is also what is called Pareidolia. They are figments of our imaginations, and driven by our interest to be there – on Mars – and to know that we are not alone. Altogether, they make a multitude of web pages and threads across the internet.

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Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft blasts off on July 13  2014 from Launch Pad 0A at NASA Wallops Flight Facility , VA, on the Orb-2 mission and loaded with over 3000 pounds of science experiments and supplies for the crew aboard the International Space Station.  Credit: Ken Kremer - kenkremer.com

Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft blasts off on July 13, 2014 from Launch Pad 0A at NASA Wallops Flight Facility , VA, on the Orb-2 mission and loaded with over 3000 pounds of science experiments and supplies for the crew aboard the International Space Station. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com

The newly merged company Orbital ATK is aiming to restart launches of their “upgraded Antares” rocket in March 2016 using completely new engines, following the catastrophic explosion on Oct. 28, 2014 that destroyed the rocket seconds after blastoff from a Virginia launch pad. Antares was carrying a Cygnus module loaded with supplies on a critical space station resupply mission for NASA.

The March 2016 launch date of Antares from the Wallops Island base along Virginia’s eastern shore was announced by David Thompson, Orbital ATK, [click to continue…]

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Comet 2014 Q2 (Lovejoy), on December 27, 2014, as seen by the Dark Energy Survey. Credit: Fermilab’s Marty Murphy, Nikolay Kuropatkin, Huan Lin and Brian Yanny.

Comet 2014 Q2 (Lovejoy), on December 27, 2014, as seen by the Dark Energy Survey. Credit: Fermilab’s Marty Murphy, Nikolay Kuropatkin, Huan Lin and Brian Yanny.

Oops! In a happy accident, Comet Lovejoy just happened to be in the field of view of the 570-megapixel Dark Energy Camera, the world’s most powerful digital camera. One member of the observing team said it was a “shock” to see Comet Lovejoy pop up on the display in the control room.

“It reminds us that before we can look out beyond our Galaxy to the far reaches of the Universe, we need to watch out for celestial objects that are much closer to home!” wrote the team on the Dark Energy Detectives blog.
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Could the Milky Way Become a Quasar?


There’s a supermassive black hole in the center of our Milky Way galaxy. Could this black hole become a Quasar?
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What’s the Brightest Star in the Sky, Past and Future?

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Sirius (lower center) rules the anthropocene night. Credit and copyright: Alan Dyer.

What’s the brightest star you can see in the sky tonight?

If you live below 83 degrees north latitude, the brightest star in the sky is Canis Alpha Majoris, or Sirius. Seriously, (bad pun intended) the -1st magnitude star is usually the fifth brightest natural object in the sky, and sits high to the south on February evenings… but has it always ruled the night? [click to continue…]

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Ceres Bizarre Bright Spot Now Has a Companion

This image was taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft of dwarf planet Ceres on Feb. 19 from a distance of nearly 29,000 miles (46,000 km). It shows that the brightest spot on Ceres has a dimmer companion, which apparently lies in the same basin. See below for the wide view. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

This image was taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft of dwarf planet Ceres on Feb. 19 from a distance of nearly 29,000 miles (46,000 km). It shows that the brightest spot on the dwarf planet has a dimmer companion which lies in the same crater. Note also the “cracks” or faults in its crust at bottom right. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Aliens making dinner with a solar cooker? Laser beams aimed at hapless earthlings? Whatever can that – now those – bright spots on Ceres be? The most recent images taken by the Dawn spacecraft now reveal that the bright pimple has a companion spot. Both are tucked inside a substantial crater and seem to glow with an intensity out of proportion to the otherwise dark and dusky surrounding landscape. [click to continue…]

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What is Mars Made Of?

Credit: NASA/JPL

The interior of Mars, showing a molten liquid iron core similar to Earth and Venus. Image Credit: NASA/JPL

For thousands of years, human beings have stared up at the sky and wondered about the Red Planet. Easily seen from Earth with the naked eye, ancient astronomers have charted its course across the heavens with regularity. By the 19th century, with the development of powerful enough telescopes, scientists began to observe the planet’s surface and speculate about the possibility of life existing there.

However, it was not until the Space Age that research began to truly shine light on the planet’s deeper mysteries. Thanks to numerous space probes, orbiters and robot rovers, scientists have learned much about the planet’s surface, its history, and the many similarities it has to Earth. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the composition of the planet itself.

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Carnival of Space #394

Carnival of Space. Image by Jason Major.

Carnival of Space. Image by Jason Major.

This week’s Carnival of Space is hosted by Brian Wang at his Next Big Future blog.

Click here to read Carnival of Space #394
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