Think Robert Bigelow's much anticipated, sometimes ridiculed idea to build an orbiting space hotel from inflatable, habitable modules is something of a pipe dream? NASA apparently doesn't think the technology is bunk.
Since you must be currently plugged into the information tubes to be reading this, it's safe to assume you're also aware that President Obama will deliver the President's annual State of the Union address tonight at 9 p.m. EST. While the SOTU is often a list of achievements made in the past year, a to-do list for the coming year, and a big-language pep talk, this year's is supposedly going to be focused on upcoming challenges. Many of those are economic, but many also tie directly into science and technology (with at least a dash of defense).
So what should the sci/tech-conscious citizen be looking for from President Obama in tonight's speech?
After losing a fellow star, its longtime companion, a star 20 times more massive than our sun is tearing through space on a cosmic bender, leaving a trail of displaced gas and dust in its wake. A new image from NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey (WISE) has captured the runaway star and its impact on its galactic neighborhood and translated the infrared light into visible colors in the image above.
We’ve heard of satellite phones before, but never one quite like this: a UK firm plans to launch an Android-based smartphone into orbit later this year, using it to control a 30-centimenter long microsatellite and to snap images of the Earth with its built-in camera. The effort, led by a team at Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) in Guildford, UK, wants to see just how well smartphones can function in the hostile environs of space.
Constructing the cosmos isn't easy. There are a lot of moving parts to keep in mind, ranging from the astronomically large to the infinitesimally small. But in a plain campus building on the northern fringe of the University of Illinois, Robert Patterson hurtles through a galaxy he and his colleagues created, checking and re-checking his path to account for both physics and physiology. After all, he wants to create an authentic voyage through the universe, but he doesn't want to make anyone's stomach turn.
Space is a big place, and NASA has lost a tiny satellite somewhere up there. Now the space agency is seeking the help of ham radio operators to find their troubled NanoSail-D, a nanosatellite that according to reports has finally ejected from NASA's Fast Affordable Science and Technology Satellite more than a month after it was supposed to.
The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has announced the winners of its Hidden Treasures astrophotography contest. Hidden Treasures asks amateur astronomers with an artistic bent (or artists with an astronomic bent) to take the raw, greyscale data from ESO's archives and do what ESO hires a team of professionals to do: Translate that data into gorgeous images of the universe. We've compiled a gallery of a few of our favorites, and trust us, these are as good as any professional efforts we've seen.
The Journal of Cosmology recently published a special issue concerning the requisites for and perils inherent in a manned mission to Mars, which appropriately touched upon that taboo topic that NASA never talks about: sex in space. But while it might seem like a natural inevitability, sex in space might not be such a great idea, at least from a reproductive aspect.
A universal heavyweight champion was crowned this morning at the 217th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle: A giant black hole weighing a staggering 6.6 billion suns accepted the title of the most massive black hole for which a precise mass has been determined.