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Carnival of Space #403

Carnival of Space. Image by Jason Major.

Carnival of Space. Image by Jason Major.

This week’s Carnival of Space is hosted by Zain Husain at the Brownspaceman.com blog.

Click here to read Carnival of Space #403.
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SOHO LASCO C2 (top) and SDO AIA 304 (bottom) image of a solar filament detaching on April 28-29, 2015

SOHO LASCO C2 (top) and SDO AIA 304 (bottom) image of a solar filament detaching on April 28-29, 2015

Over the course of April 28–29 a gigantic filament, briefly suspended above the surface* of the Sun, broke off and created an enormous snakelike eruption of plasma that extended millions of miles out into space. The event was both powerful and beautiful, another demonstration of the incredible energy and activity of our home star…and it was all captured on camera by two of our finest Sun-watching spacecraft.

Watch a video of the event below.

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The image shown here is the last one acquired and transmitted back to Earth by the mission. The image is located within the floor of the 93-kilometer-diameter crater Jokai. The spacecraft struck the planet just north of Shakespeare basin.  The image measures 0.6 miles (1 km) across. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Over and out! This is the final image acquired and transmitted back to Earth by MESSENGER this afternoon, April 30. We’re seeing a small area 0.6 miles (1 km) across on the  floor of the 93-kilometer-diameter crater Jokai. The spacecraft struck the planet just north of Shakespeare basin at the predicted time. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

The planet Mercury has a brand new 52-foot-wide crater. At 3:26 p.m.  EDT this afternoon, NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft bit the Mercurial dust, crashing into the planet’s surface at over 8,700 mph just north of the Shakespeare Basin. Because the impact happened out of sight and communication with the Earth, the MESSENGER team had to wait about 30 minutes after the predicted impact to announce the mission’s end.  [click to continue…]

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Credit and copyright:

A sizzling hot summer Sun. Credit and copyright: Sculptor Lil

Happy May Day Eve!

Maybe May 1st is a major holiday in your world scheme, or perhaps you see it as the release date of Avengers: Age of Ultron.

We’re approximately mid-way between the March equinox and the June solstice this week, as followers of the Gregorian calendar flip the page tomorrow from April to May. Though astronomical spring began back on March 20th for the northern hemisphere, May 1st is right around the time it starts to feel like spring weather for most of the residents of mid- northern latitudes. [click to continue…]

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Why Can’t We See the Center of the Milky Way?


Shouldn’t there be a great big glowing ball at the center of the galaxy? Why can’t we see it in the night sky?
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The latest set of images from the long range imager, LORRI, on New Horizons now reveals surface features. At a press conference today, exhilarated NASA scientists discussed what the images are now suggesting. (Photo  Credit: NASA/New Horizons)

Today, a trio of NASA scientists expressed their exhilaration with the set of new Pluto images released by the New Horizons team. “Land Ho” exclaimed Dr.  Alan Stern as he first tried to explain where they are on their long journey. Nearly 500 years ago, not even Magellan on a three year journey to circumnavigate the Earth waited so long. A ten year journey is beginning to reveal fascinating new details of the dwarf planet Pluto, once the ninth planet of our Solar System. The latest images show surface features on Pluto suggesting polar caps.
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Apollo 13 images via NASA. Montage by Judy Schmidt.

Apollo 13 images via NASA. Montage by Judy Schmidt.

To celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission, Universe Today is featuring “13 MORE Things That Saved Apollo 13,” discussing different turning points of the mission with NASA engineer Jerry Woodfill.

The night of the explosion on Apollo 13, engineers working in Mission Control and the back-up Mission Evolution Room (MER) assessed the situation. There were numerous failures in different systems, and finally, instead of just looking at the failures, the engineers had to determine what was actually working on the spacecraft in order to rescue the crew.

A relatively recent term called ‘macgyvering’ was definitely at work during the Apollo 13 mission. Named for the lead character in the television series MacGyver – who usually used duct tape, a Swiss Army knife and anything else he could find to get himself out of sticky or dangerous situations -– macgyvering means solving complex problems by taking something ordinary and using it in an unusual way, but it works perfectly.

The engineers working during the Apollo 13 mission may have been the original “MacGyvers.” [click to continue…]

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Streak shot taken from VAB roof of dusky blastoff of SpaceX Falcon 9 on April 27, 2015 from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.  Credit: SpaceX

Streak shot taken from VAB roof of dusky blastoff of SpaceX Falcon 9 on April 27, 2015 from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX set a new internal record pace for time between blastoffs of their workhorse Falcon 9 rocket with Monday’s spectacular dusky liftoff of Turkmenistan’s first satellite into heavily overcast skies that has cleared the path ahead for a busy manifest of critical flights starting with a critical pad abort test for NASA just a week from today.

After a 49 minute delay due to grim weather conditions, weather officials finally found a “window in the clouds” that permitted the Falcon 9 to launch on [click to continue…]

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Do Astronauts Drink their Pee?


In order to fly in space, astronauts need to make a few sacrifices, like drink their own urine. Yuck? Don’t worry, it’s totally safe.
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SpaceX Dragon V2 pad abort test flight vehicle. Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX Dragon V2 test flight vehicle set for May 5, 2015 pad abort test. Credit: SpaceX
See below SpaceX live launch webcast link

As promised, SpaceX is picking up its launch pace in 2015 with a pair of liftoffs from the Florida space coast slated for the next week and a half. They follow closely on the heels of a quartet of successful blastoffs from Cape Canaveral, already accomplished since January.

If all goes well, a commercial satellite launch and a human spaceflight related pad abort test launch for NASA are scheduled for [click to continue…]

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