Category: Space

Video of Earth at night is better than any movie

It’s not clear to me why NASA doesn’t create videos like these themselves, but whatever the reason, dedicated space fans aren’t allowing the video vacuum to exist for long. This gorgeous timelapse video of the Earth at night as seen from the ISS, is proof that reality can be every bit as breathtaking as what Hollywood can dream up. Do yourself a favour and watch it in fullscreen mode – you’ll be glad you did.

From the creator, Knate Myers:

Every frame in this video is a photograph taken from the International Space Station. All credit goes to the crews on board the ISS.
I removed noise and edited some shots in photoshop. Compiled and arranged in Sony Vegas.

Music by John Murphy – Sunshine (Adagio In D Minor)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/sunshine-music-from-motion/id297702863

Image Courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory,
NASA Johnson Space Center, The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth
http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov

For more great NASA-resourced timelaspe videos, check out the NASA timelapse club on Vimeo.

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Spectacular photos and video of a solar flare

Awesome isn’t it?

That’s what our sun looks like when it goes through a fairly regular occurrence: a CME (Coronal Mass Ejection). CMEs are often associated with solar flares – some of which end up heading straight for Earth where they can create stunning enhancements of Aurora Borealis and can also play havoc with our orbiting satellites and electrical infrastructure.

That was not the case however on Monday, April 16th, when this particular CME was recorded by NASA’s SDO satellite-based solar observatory.

The flare produced by this CME headed off in another direction, which is likely why we have such spectacular imagery to look at.

NASA classified the flare as an M1 – a medium sized flare.

Check out more images and a video below…

(All images and video credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO)

Toronto teens add new chapter to Canadian space program

Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad may just be the first people to launch a Lego man into the stratosphere.

There’s no question about it – the desire to explore is hard-wired into human DNA and ever since we evolved the ability to adapt to new environments, as a species we’ve been on a non-stop voyage.

But exploration isn’t always easy. Depending on where you want to go, you could be faced with technical, cultural, political and financial hurdles – some of which may prove to be impossible to overcome.

Just don’t tell that to Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad, two 17-year-olds from Toronto’s Agincourt Collegiate Institute. Ho and Muhammad just proved that with the right combination of drive and ingenuity, even the exploration of space is within reach and you don’t have to call up NASA (or perhaps more fittingly, the Russian Federal Space Agency) to make it happen.

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Earlier this month, the two budding explorers sent a home-made, unmanned module up to the very edges of our atmosphere via a weather balloon and recorded their journey on 4 separate cameras. Actually, that’s not perfectly accurate. The module may have been unmanned, but it wasn’t without a passenger.

Muhammad and Ho decided that at least one space tourist deserved to be on-board for their historic first flight and the honour fell, quite fittingly, to a brave Lego man who the teens super-glued to their module. The poor plastic fellow likely received little in the way of a mission briefing, but he was equipped with a Canadian flag. We can only guess that this was sufficient compensation for the tiny astronaut since, as the photos and video clearly show, the smile never left his face.

According to an interview the pair gave to The Toronto Star, the whole endeavour took 4 months of planning and cost $400. It wasn’t an attempt to score extra marks in their science class:  “They just thought it would be cool.”

The flight itself lasted 97 minutes and reached an approximate altitude of 24 km. While not quite the arena of space shuttles and satellites, that distance puts the module well into the official stratosphere which starts at 20 km from sea level, and it was more than high enough for the captured imagery to show the curvature of the Earth in the background.

In case you’re wondering, Muhammad has plans to become an aircraft technician while Ho is looking to become an entrepreneur. My advice to the young explorers: stay in touch. In a few more years you might be the most exciting thing to happen to space since Richard Branson and Burt Rutan put their collective talents together to create the space tourism outfit that is Virgin Galactic.

Hitch a ride on Endeavour's last flight

After the tragedy of space shuttle Columbia’s disintegration on re-entry back in 2003, NASA became understandably obsessed with being able to see their orbiters from as many angles as possible, at least throughout the critical launch phase. This was the period of time during which a chunk of insulating foam broke off Columbia’s external fuel tank, ultimately leading to the damaged heat tiles that caused the unforgettable incident.

And while that moment in NASA’s history is one of the saddest, it has lead to this moment: thanks to their heightened awareness of launch complications, NASA now records these events from a variety of angles.

On Endeavour’s last flight, and the second-to-last shuttle flight ever, NASA installed cameras on Endeavour’s solid rocket boosters. These cameras give four points of view: looking up (toward the shuttle’s nose), looking down (toward the shuttle’s tail), looking toward the external fuel tank and looking up from inside the nose-cone of the booster – a view which only comes into play once the three chutes have been deployed.

For NASA, this footage represents invaluable safety and performance data. For us, it’s a chance to ride along on one of the most amazing human inventions ever made.

As you watch, keep in mind, this is 36 minutes of video compiled from both of the solid boosters as well as a camera aboard Endeavour. While it’s fun to watch the whole thing, here are some highlights:

0:16 – Lift-off as seen from the downward-facing camera

2:25 – solid rocket booster separation as seen from the downward-facing camera

6:50 – Splashdown of solid rocket booster as seen from the downward-facing camera

7:40 – Lift-off as seen from the upward-facing camera

9:38 – solid rocket booster separation as seen from the upward-facing camera

14:50 – solid rocket booster separation as seen from the inter-tank camera

18:50 – deployment of the three drag chutes as seen from inside the nose-cone

19:16 – splashdown as seen from inside the nose-cone

The remainder of the video is essentially these same moments viewed from other angles. But it’s all spectacular. Enjoy!