Webcast: What Happens When You Fall Into a Black Hole?

What happens if you fall into a black hole? According to Einstein’s general theory of relativity, the fall would be uneventful, until at some point the force of gravity would rip you apart. But a new theory suggests a different fate — and if correct, could challenge our understanding of gravity and how the universe works. Join the folks from the Kavli Foundation today, September 25, at 19:00 UTC (3 pm EDT, Noon PDT) as they host a live discussion and Q & A session about the latest theories about matter entering a black hole, and how these ideas are prompting researchers to reconsider our understanding of gravity.

They’ll be discussing the “blackhole firewall paradox” that you may have been hearing about lately.

You can watch live below. To submit questions ahead of time or during the webcast, send an email to [email protected] or post on Twitter with hashtag #KavliLive.

This fun graphic above refers to the recent article written by Dennis Overbye of the New York Times, “A Black Hole Mystery Wrapped in a Firewall Paradox.” The graphic was done by illustrator Maki Naro, sent to us via the Txchnologist blog’s Zany Science Metaphors.

You can see more information about the webcast at the Kavli Foundation website.

The panelists for the discussion includes Raphael Bousso (U.C. Berkeley), Juan Maldacena (Princeton University), Joseph Polchinski (Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at U.C. Santa Barbara), and Leonard Susskind (Stanford University).

Watch Live: Commercial Antares Rocket Launches to Space Station

UPDATE: Orbital Sciences successfully launched its Cygnus cargo spacecraft aboard its Antares rocket at 10:58 a.m. EDT Wednesday from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. This is the first time a spacecraft launched from Virginia is heading toward the International Space Station. Above is the launch video, and we’ll have a full re-cap article coming soon! The live NASA TV feed is below. (end of update)

Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus spacecraft is set to become the second private spacecraft to launch to the International Space Station. Today’s historic launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia has a launch window from 10:50 AM to 11:30 AM EDT, with launch likely to occur at 0:58 a.m. EDT (1458 GMT) from Pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. You can watch it live here on NASA TV’s Ustream feed.

As of this writing, the Wallops range is currently red due to low cloud conditions and something called “distance focus over pressure,” according to the Orbital Sciences Twitter feed. However, they expect it to clear later in count, and the rocket is being fueled.

Also, if you live along the US east coast near the Virginia area, you may be able to see the launch for yourself! It won’t be as visible as the recent nighttime launch of the LADEE mission, but should still be visible to a wide area, if the skies are clear. Read our complete guide to how to view the launch here.



Live streaming video by Ustream

Here’s a timelapse of the Antares rocket heading out the the launchpad:

Watch LADEE Launch Live!

NASA’s heading back to the Moon, and you can see the launch – either live with your own eyes if you live on the US Eastern Seaboard, or online here or on NASA TV. The mission is LADEE, the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer. As of this writing, the spacecraft sits atop a Minotaur V rocket on Wallops Island, Virginia. Launch is scheduled for 11:27 p.m. EDT on September 6 (0327 UTC Sept. 7). If you live in a swath long the US East Coast that stretches from Naine to North Carolina, check out our detailed information here of how you can see the nighttime launch for yourself, weather permitting.

If you want to watch online, we’ve got NASA’s UStream feed below, and all the online action starts Friday night at 9:30 p.m. EDT (0130 GMT, early Saturday.

Of course, if you have NASA TV on your cable or satellite lineup, you can watch on your television. Another option is that The Planetary Society is also have a live show starting an hour before launch at their website. Also the NASA EDGE team also will have a webcast.




Live streaming video by Ustream

For those of you in the viewing area, if you get pictures of the launch, share them with us (and we may post them on UT!) on our Flickr page.

Read more about LADEE here.

LADEE Minotaur V Launch – Maximum Elevation Map  The LADEE nighttime launch will be visible to millions of spectators across a wide area of the Eastern US -weather permitting. This map shows the maximum elevation (degrees above the horizon) that the Minotaur V rocket will reach during the Sep. 6, 2013 launch depending on your location along the US east coast. Credit: Orbital Sciences
LADEE Minotaur V Launch – Maximum Elevation Map
The LADEE nighttime launch will be visible to millions of spectators across a wide area of the Eastern US -weather permitting. This map shows the maximum elevation (degrees above the horizon) that the Minotaur V rocket will reach during the Sep. 6, 2013 launch depending on your location along the US east coast. Credit: Orbital Sciences

Watch Live: Celebrating One Year on Mars with Curiosity

NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory are hosting a live webcast on Tuesday, August 6 starting at 14:45 UTC (10:45 a.m. EDT) to celebrate the one year anniversary of the Curiosity rover landing on Mars. Update: We’ve now inserted the replay from NASA TV, and it’s a great recap of the excitement of landing and the discoveries of past year, and you’ll hear from all the major science and engineering names from the MSL mission.

You can ask questions for the team on Twitter and G+ during the broadcast, just use #AskNASA to pose your question.

Curiosity team members will share remembrances about the dramatic landing night and the overall mission. Immediately following that program, NASA will carry a live public event from NASA Headquarters in Washington. That event will feature NASA officials and crew members aboard the International Space Station as they observe the rover anniversary and discuss how its activities and other robotic projects are helping prepare for a human mission to Mars and an asteroid.

Also, below, is the replay of events held at NASA HQ to celebrate the anniversary:

Watch Live: Soyuz Fast-Track Launch to the Space Station

Three new International Space Station crew members are set to launch aboard the Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Launch is scheduled for is 20:31 UTC (4:31 p.m. EDT) Tuesday (2:31 a.m. May 29, Baikonur time). The new Expedition 36 crew will take an accelerated four-orbit, 6-hour journey to Space Station. They will be docking at 02:17 UTC on May 29 (10:17 pm. EDT May 28). You can watch Live NASA TV coverage below, which begins an hour before launch (19:30 UTC, 3:30 p.m. EDT), and live coverage will return about 45 minutes before docking.

The new crew includes Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Luca Parmitano.
UPDATE: If you missed the launch live, you can watch a replay, below.



Live Video streaming by Ustream

The crew will dock their Soyuz to the station’s Rassvet module. After the hatches open, the new trio will join Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy of NASA and Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineer Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos who docked with the orbital complex May 28. All six crew members will then participate in a welcome ceremony with family members and mission officials gathered at the Russian Mission Control Center in Korolev near Moscow.

In the past, Soyuz manned capsules and Progress supply ships were launched on trajectories that required about two days, or 34 orbits, to reach the ISS. The new fast-track trajectory has the rocket launching shortly after the ISS passes overhead. Then, additional firings of the vehicle’s thrusters early in its mission expedites the time required for a Russian vehicle to reach the Station.

This is the second Soyuz crew vehicle to make the accelerated trip, and three Progress resupply ships have also taken the fast track to the ISS.

The Service arms are raised into position around the Soyuz rocket, with the TMA-09M spacecraft, after arriving at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad by train, Sunday, May 26, 2013, in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls.
The Service arms are raised into position around the Soyuz rocket, with the TMA-09M spacecraft, after arriving at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad by train, Sunday, May 26, 2013, in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls.

You can see more images from the Expedition 36 launch and pre-launch activities at NASA HQ’s Flickr page.

Watch Live: Emergency ISS Spacewalk to Fix Coolant Leak



Free live streaming by Ustream

Astronauts on the International Space Station doing an unplanned “emergency” spacewalk to fix an ammonia coolant leak outside the station. On Thursday, the ISS crew spotted small white flakes floating away from an area of the Station’s P6 truss structure, and noticed pressure drops in the control panel of the pump and flow control system for the power-supplying solar arrays. The ammonia coolant is vital to keeping the power control systems working and needs to be fixed. At this point the crew is not in any danger, but the leak does need to be fixed soon.

You can watch live in the window above. As of this writing, NASA astronauts Tom Marshburn and Chris Cassidy are just getting ready to head out the airlock, and plans call for them to spend more than six hours outside the station to find and hopefully repair the ammonia coolant leak.

Read our previous article here to find out more information about the leak.

This is the 168th spacewalk for maintenance and construction of the ISS.

Watch Live Hangout: TESS and the Search for Exoplanets

Last month, NASA announced plans to launch the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) in 2017. This is a satellite that will perform an all-sky survey to discover transiting exoplanets in orbit around the brightest stars in the Sun’s neighborhood. “TESS will carry out the first space-borne all-sky transit survey, covering 400 times as much sky as any previous mission,” said George Ricker, the mission’s principal investigator. “It will identify thousands of new planets in the solar neighborhood, with a special focus on planets comparable in size to the Earth.”

Read more about the TESS mission here.

Today, Wednesday May 1, at 19:00 UTC (12:00 p.m. PDT, 3:00 pm EDT) you can take part in a live Google+ Hangout, and have your questions answered about TESS and the search for exoplanets with three leading members of NASA’s TESS mission:

George Ricker is principal investigator of the TESS mission and a senior research scientist at the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research (MKI) in Cambridge, Mass.

Sara Seager is a professor of planetary science and physics at MKI and a member of the TESS team. Seager’s research focuses on computer models of exoplanet atmospheres, interiors and biosignatures.

Joshua Winn is an associate professor of physics at MKI and deputy science director for the TESS mission. Winn is interested in the properties of planets around other stars, how planets form and evolve, and whether there are habitable planets beyond Earth.

Watch in the viewer above, or at the Kavli Foundation website.

Questions can be submitted ahead of and during this special event via Twitter using the hashtag #KavliAstro and by email to [email protected].

Watch Live Webcast of Comet PANSTARRS

UPDATE: The webcast has been moved to March 16 at 17:00 UTC (1 pm EDT) due to bad weather in Italy.

Has it been cloudy where you live and you haven’t yet been able to see Comet PANSTARRS? The Virtual Telescope Project will have a live webcast of this comet, C/2011 L4 PANSTARRS, from Italy, March 15, on March 16 at 17:00 UTC, 1 p.m. EDT. “We have been waiting for it for over one year, and now the waiting is over,” said astrophysicist Gianluca Masi, who will host the webcast, which you can see at this link. Masi said they are keeping an eye on the skies, and will keep us updated on if they need to change the time of the webcast.

If you’re waiting for the weekend to see it with your own eyes, check out our detailed guides on how to see it here and here. Both are filled with graphics and great info on how to see this comet.


This comet has been a challenge to see, and was actually closest to the Sun on March 10, meaning that is when it was at its brightest. However, while Comet PANSTARRS will fade over the next few weeks, it will also rise higher into a darker sky and become – for a time – easier to see. So keep looking!

Cosmic Rays and Exploding Stars

Cosmic Rays

Scientists have know about cosmic rays for a century. But these high-energy subatomic particles, which stream through space at nearly the speed of light and crash into the Earth’s upper atmosphere, have been mostly a mystery. The primary reason: researchers have been unable to tell where they come from, or how they’re born. But new research has shed new light on the origins of cosmic rays: supernovae. (Read our article about this discovery).

Today, Thursday, Feb. 28,at 20:00-20:30 UTC (12:00-12:30 p.m. PST, 3:00 pm EST) Dr. Stefan Funk of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC) will answer questions from the web. He led the research team that was able to track gamma rays — the most energetic form of electromagnetic radiation, or light — back to the remnants of supernova explosions, using the Fermi Gamma Ray Telescope. The finding offers the first astrophysical evidence for how cosmic rays are produced, as well as where they are generated: in the shock waves that emanate from an exploded star.
Continue reading “Cosmic Rays and Exploding Stars”

Space Station Astronauts Hangout with Earthlings (and Universe Today!)

It’s not often that people on Earth get to hangout with astronauts in space, but today NASA held the first-ever Google Plus Hangout from the International Space Station. It was a live event, and if you aren’t familiar yet with G+ Hangouts (you really should be by now!) they allow people to chat face-to-face while thousands more can tune in to watch the conversation live on Google+ or YouTube. NASA took questions live from Twitter and G+, but they also took questions submitted previously via You Tube, and we were proud to see that Fraser’s question that he submitted via You Tube was included in the Hangout! You can see the question and astronaut Chris Hadfield’s reply at about 42:00 in the video above.

Fraser asked how being on the ISS and the special conditions it has (microgravity, harsh exposures, distant objects, weird lighting ) affect photography — and as you know we feature A LOT of ISS photography here on UT.

Hadfield said photography from orbit is quite complex, but the “weird” part about it is that space is so incredibly black and dark. The difficulty is having the dark background of space against the brightness of Earth and trying to balanace that. The advantage is being able to use the really big lenses and have them be weightless — no tripod needed!.

“The best part is,” Hadfield added, “even though we are not photographers by trade, we have really good professional photographers as trainers and a vantage point that is absolutely unparallelled.”