SpacePod: Tour of Atlantis and the Launchpad

Jason Rhian had the chance to see Atlantis up close and personal — both in the Vehicle Assembly Building and on the launchpad. Since this is the last shuttle to go through processing and rolling to the pad, his closeup shots are especially poignant. It’s been busy at KSC: within a thirteen-hour period Kennedy Space Center saw the final rollout of the shuttle program as Atlantis headed to Launch Complex 39A, the final landing of space shuttle Endeavour as well as Endeavour’s tow back to her OPF. And inclement weather played a role, too. Jason said, “This was an amazing couple of days, a real whirlwind of activity. I, like many, am both thrilled and saddened to be covering such an important historical milestone.”

Timelapse: Milky Way from the Dakotas

Growing up in the Dakotas, I can attest to the dark skies that grace the northern plains. However, there is also cold weather (even in the spring) and — at times — almost unbelievably windy conditions. But that didn’t stop videographer Randy Halverson from shooting this magnificent timelapse video of the Milky Way. And in fact, his low shots enhance the beauty of the landscape and sky. “There were very few nights, when I could shoot, that were perfectly clear, and often the wind was blowing 25mph +,” Halverson said. “That made it hard to get the shots I wanted. I kept most of the shots low to the ground, so the wind wouldn’t catch the setup and cause camera shake, or blow it over.”

Ten seconds of the video is about 2 hours 20 minutes in real time. Randy tells us he has been doing astro timelapse for only about 16 months, but shooting other types of video since the mid 90’s. See more of his marvelous work at his Dakotalapse website.

Saturday at the Movies: “Plan of the City”

What if you could launch your city, building by building, and resettle on Mars? “Plan of the City” is a musical fantasy about the architecture of New York City and Shanghai blasting off and being transplanted to Mars, complete with enough Tang to last the flight. This creative and entertaining short film is an animated collage combining live action footage, animated elements, illustrations and photographs, including photos of the Red Planet taken by the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. The music is awesome and the visuals are just plain fun. The film was conceived and directed by Joshua Frankel, in collaboration with composer Judd Greenstein and NOW Ensemble. It was presented with the music performed live, timed to the film, at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City in May, 2011.

Thanks to Joshua Frankel for sharing his video with Universe Today.

The View from 100,000 Feet

I love these student projects that send a camera via a balloon high in the atmosphere to film the view of Earth below. Here’s another from a group of German students who were able to film in HD from an altitude of more than 100,000 ft. (30,480 meters). Enjoy the music, too.

“Our challenge was to survive ambient air pressures as low as 1/100th of an atmosphere, temperatures as low as -60°C and finally to locate and recover the Camera,” Tobias Lohf wrote UT. “We had a HD-Cam, GPS tracker and a heating pad on board, and all the construction had a total weight of about 1kg.”

The rest of the team included Marcel Dierig, Tobias Stodieck, Tristan Eggers and Marvin Rissiek and they hope to inspire other students to try the same project. “All you need need is a camera, weather balloon and Duct Tape,” they said.

Spring Fireballs

For reasons yet unknown, the rate of midnight fireballs increases during the weeks around the vernal equinox. It’s a beautiful display, but where do they come from? Last month, we reported on a network of fireball cameras that NASA is building, which is now tracking incoming fireballs — and just in time, too, for the fireball season. This video is part of a new series by NASA called ScienceCast, which will be a weekly feature highlighting a topic in NASA science news.

What Did Gagarin See on His Historic Flight?

50 years ago, April 12th, Yuri Gagarin became the world’s first human to go into space. What did he see? He described it fairly well, but there are limited pictures and no video from his time in orbit. Now, through a unique collaboration between a filmmaker and ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli on board the International Space Station, high definition video of what Gagarin might have seen has been woven together with historic recordings of the flight (subtitled in English) to create a new, free film that will be released on the 50th anniversary titled First Orbit. Above is the trailer for the film. What a perfect way to celebrate this historic moment.

“Circling the Earth in my orbital spaceship I marveled at the beauty of our planet. People of the world, let us safeguard and enhance this beauty — not destroy it!” — Yuri Gagarin.

Continue reading “What Did Gagarin See on His Historic Flight?”

Simply Stunning Aurora Video from Norway

Photographer Terje Sorgjerd spent a week capturing what he called “one of the biggest aurora borealis shows in recent years,” and the results are simply stunning. The footage was shot in and around Kirkenes and Pas National Park in the very north part of Norway, which borders Russia, at 70 degree north and 30 degrees east. Temperatures were around -25 Celsius, Sorgjerd said.

Rover Captures Sunset, Eclipse on Mars

The Opportunity rover’s latest accomplishments? Cinematographer. Two new movies created by images taken by the long-lasting rover show a blue-tinted Martian sunset, while another clip shows the Mars’ moon Phobos passing in front of the sun. “These visualizations of an alien sunset show what it must have looked like for Opportunity, in a way we rarely get to see, with motion,” said rover science team member Mark Lemmon of Texas A&M University. Dust particles make the Martian sky appear reddish and create a bluish glow around the sun.
Continue reading “Rover Captures Sunset, Eclipse on Mars”

Universe Today Welcomes Spacevidcast


You may have noticed a couple of recent posts that included videos from the great folks at Spacevidcast. Universe Today is proud to announce that Spacevidcast will now be a regular feature here on UT, so we hope you’ll enjoy all the additional content and videos you’ll see from Spacevidcast — which has the stated (and honorable!) goals of educating “the planet on the values of space flight” and to “open up the cosmos and truly make space commonplace for everyone on the planet.”

In addition to the features you’ll see on Universe Today, Spacevidcast also does daily on-demand episodes, weekly live shows and live HD coverage of major space events. So check out Spacevidcast’s site for more information. And give Benjamin and Cariann Higginbotham and their team a warm, Universe Today welcome!