By Gregory MonePosted 08.20.2007 at 1:47 pm 3 Comments
Experiments of the basil-in-space variety don't always seem to be worth all the money and effort put into NASA's shuttle flights, but photos like the one at left, taken by spacewalking astronauts this Saturday, get to one of the core reasons we're up there in the first place: Perspective.
This shot of the eye of Hurricane Dean is stunning in and of itself, but it's the fact that people were up there in orbit, high above the planet, that really resonates. (It's also reminiscent of a scene in 2004's global warming thriller The Day After Tomorrow, in which astronauts watch the apocalyptic storms forming and growing.) Astronaut Clayton Anderson described it as "scary," and fellow space-walker Dave Williams said, "Holy smokes, that's impressive." The two astronauts briefly paused in their duties on Saturday to take the shots of the storm, and while Hurricane Dean doesn't appear to pose any threat to a safe landing, NASA has cut short this latest mission. Endeavour is now scheduled for a Tuesday landing.—Gregory Mone
By Gregory MonePosted 07.23.2007 at 3:55 pm 0 Comments
While some space officials are worrying about the fate of the Martian rovers as a giant dust storm continues to rage on the Red Planet, others are having a bit of fun. An astronaut spacewalking outside the International Space Station tossed a 200-pound camera mounting out into the void. Mission Control reportedly called it "a fantastic throw." The next toss will be a 1,400-pound ammonia tank that made its way up to the station in 2001. Meant to serve as a backup coolant in case of a leak, the ammonia never proved necessary, so the astronauts are jettisoning it soon. Both hunks of space junk will orbit Earth for a while before re-entering. The camera mount should disintegrate completely, but scraps of the much larger ammonia tank may make it through—and, according to researchers, will probably land in the ocean.
It might not seem like such a grand idea to add to the heaps of strange items orbiting the Earth, but apparently NASA decided that it needed to move the equipment, and there was no room on any of the remaining shuttle flights to take it down safely.—Gregory Mone