Friday Planetary Science Update

24 05 2013

This is a time lapse video showing Sol 0 – 281 (a Sol is one day on Mars, which is about 40 minutes longer than a day on Earth) from NASA rover Curiosity’s perspective.

Freaky Friday – Meteor Explodes Over Russia

15 02 2013

Not to be confused with asteroid 2012 DA14, which is also making a close pass in just a couple of hours.

This would be fascinating and terrifying to witness in person:

Members of our editorial staff once directly observed a fireball which was the result of a large-ish “shooting star” entering the atmosphere, while on assignment covering renegade desert raves in the Mojave Desert. It was truly a sight to behold. The video above is much more spectacular.

Asteroid 2012 DA14 is like totally in love with Earth

14 02 2013

Happy Valentines Day!

Evidently the near-earth asteroid known as 2012-DA14 is making a pass on our beloved planet tomorrow (Feb 15 2013).

map of earth's nearby space showing moon's orbit and asteroid's much larger oribit passing within the moon's orbit


Space Shuttle Endeavour – Overland Journey in L.A.

12 10 2012


Racing to the Red Light was on-location in Westchester earlier this morning, to bear witness to the orbital vehicle Endeavour sitting in the parking lot behind Bed Bath & Beyond.

(How many times is that likely to happen again?)

Today, the retired Space Shuttle Endeavour begins its two-day trek across western Los Angeles from LAX to the California Science Center near USC in south central L.A.

The scenes in the street were quite surreal. What a treat to see a piece of humankind’s finest scientific and engineering accomplishments in such a pedestrian setting.




The crowd was big and getting a lot bigger while we were there.  It will be a madhouse by the time we publish this post.  Tons of media onhand as well.





The on-camera talent people stood out in stark contrast to all the other people nerds gathered nearby:







Apollo Program vs. Google – Computing Power

17 09 2012


We recently came across an article over at Search Engine Land that quoted a Google blog post about how a single Google search uses as much computing power as the entire Apollo moon mission program did in total!


Google says:

The Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) on board the lunar module (LM) executed instructions at a speed of about 40 KHz (or 0.00004 GHz), about 100,000 times slower than a high-end laptop today. There was also a similar real-time computer built into the Saturn V rocket. On the ground, NASA had access to some of the most powerful computers of the day: five IBM model 360/75 mainframe computers, each about 250 times faster than the AGC. They were running nearly 24/7, calculating lift-off data and orbits, monitoring biomedical data during the mission, and performing numerous other calculations.

We compared that to what Google does today, and we found that:

It takes about the same amount of computing to answer one Google Search query as all the computing done — in flight and on the ground — for the entire Apollo program!


This image above is actually a control computer from a spy satellite, probably significantly more advanced than the Apollo computers, but it is of the era.


RIP Neil Armstrong

Go SpaceX!

21 07 2012


From a SpaceX press release:


Mission Highlights Video | Dragon Makes History

On May 25, 2012, SpaceX made history when the Dragon spacecraft became the first privately developed vehicle in history to successfully attach to the International Space Station. Previously only four governments — the United States, Russia, Japan and the European Space Agency — had achieved this feat.

The video below features key highlights from the mission including:

  • May 22: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched the Dragon spacecraft into orbit from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
  • May 23: Dragon orbited Earth as it traveled toward the International Space Station.
  • May 24: Dragon’s sensors and flight systems were subjected to a series of tests to determine if the vehicle was ready to attach to the space station.
  • May 25: NASA gave Dragon the GO to attempt berthing with the station. Dragon approached. It was successfully captured by the station’s robotic arm.
  • May 26: US astronaut Don Pettit opened Dragon’s hatch and the astronauts entered.
  • May 31: After six days at the International Space Station, Dragon departed for its return to Earth, carrying a load of cargo for NASA. SpaceX completed its historic mission when Dragon splashed down safely in the Pacific.

International Space Station – Eastern U.S. at Night Flyby

16 02 2012