The 9th Soul

Google closes LABS; NASA’s Atlantis ends 30-year “Shuttle Era”

Posted in internet news, science, technology by Fated Blue on July 21, 2011



Sad news for anyone who has enjoyed a giddy thrill or two of playing with a freshly released app from Google Labs: Google has announced it’s closing down the labs and killing off many of the experimental products created therein, all in the name of increasing its focus on developing products that have obvious benefits to the company’s bottom line.

Google announced the news¬†on its official blog, stating, “We’re prioritizing our product efforts. As part of that process, we’ve decided to wind down Google Labs. While we’ve learned a huge amount by launching very early prototypes in Labs, we believe that greater focus is crucial if we’re to make the most of the extraordinary opportunities ahead.”

ūüė¶ I can’t do my random moments of fun anymore. It’s all about money, I tell you.


Ferguson eased Atlantis onto the runway at 5:57 a.m. EDT (0957 GMT), ending a 5.2 million-mile (8.4 million-km) journey and closing a key chapter in human space flight history.

“Mission complete, Houston,” Ferguson radioed to¬†Mission Control.

Astronaut¬†Barry Wilmore from Mission Control answered back, “We’ll take this opportunity to congratulate you Atlantis, as well as the thousands of passionate individuals across this great space-faring nation who truly empowered this incredible spacecraft, which for three decades has inspired millions around the globe.”

Atlantis’ return from the 135th shuttle mission capped a 30-year program that made spaceflight appear routine, despite two fatal accidents that killed 14 astronauts and destroyed two of NASA’s five spaceships.

I’ll miss watching shuttles being launched into space. There’s nothing like watching something so big go very high with all the boosting and smoke and shit. I think this’ll be revived someday. Who knows? Maybe an underground group or some crazy billionaires-only club would want to see what the Earth looks like from the Moon.

2009 Leonid Meteor Shower!

Posted in science, technology by Fated Blue on November 17, 2009

Sources include CNN and NASA.

This year’s Leonid meteor shower peaks on Tuesday, Nov. 17th. If forecasters are correct, the shower should produce a mild but pretty sprinkling of meteors over North America followed by a more intense outburst over Asia. The phase of the Moon will be new, setting the stage for what could be one of the best Leonid showers in years.

see caption“We’re predicting 20 to 30 meteors per hour over the Americas, and as many as 200 to 300 per hour over Asia,” says Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. “Our forecast is in good accord with independent theoretical work by other astronomers.”1

Right: A Leonid meteor at dawn, photographed in 2002 by Simon Filiatrault of Quebec, Canada. [larger image]

Leonids are bits of debris from Comet Tempel-Tuttle. Every 33 years the comet visits the inner solar system and leaves a stream of dusty debris in its wake. Many of these streams have drifted across the November portion of Earth’s orbit. Whenever we hit one, meteors come flying out of the constellation Leo.

“We can predict when Earth will cross a debris stream with pretty good accuracy,” says Cooke. “The intensity of the display is less certain, though, because we don’t know how much debris is in each stream.” Caveat observer!

The first stream crossing on Nov. 17th comes around 0900 UT (4 a.m. EST, 1 a.m. PST). The debris is a diffuse mix of particles from several old streams that should produce a gentle display of two to three dozen meteors per hour over North America. Dark skies are recommended for full effect.

“A remarkable feature of this year’s shower is that Leonids will appear to be shooting almost directly out of the planet Mars,” notes Cooke.

It’s just a coincidence. This year, Mars happens to be passing by the Leonid radiant at the time of the shower. The Red Planet is almost twice as bright as a first magnitude star, so it makes an eye-catching companion for the Leonids: sky map.

The next stream crossing straddles the hour 2100-2200 UT, shortly before dawn in Indonesia and China. At that time, Earth will pass through a pair of streams laid down by Comet Tempel-Tuttle in 1466 and 1533 AD. The double crossing could yield as many as 300 Leonids per hour.

see caption

Above: This side of Earth will be facing the Leonid debris stream at the time of the Nov. 17th outburst. Observers in India, China and Indonesia are favored with dark, pre-dawn skies. Image credit: Danielle Moser of the NASA Meteoroid Environment Office.

“Even if rates are only half that number, it would still be one of the best showers of the year,” says Cooke.

The Leonids are famous for storming, most recently in 1999-2002 when deep crossings of Tempel-Tuttle’s debris streams produced outbursts of more than 1000 meteors per hour. The Leonids of 2009 won’t be like that, but it only takes one bright Leonid streaking past Mars to make the night worthwhile.

Enjoy the show.

NASA finds lots of water on moon

Posted in internet news, science, technology by Fated Blue on November 14, 2009

Found this when I saw my google homepage had a very weird design.

Google's moon-water design

From The AP.

Experts have long suspected there was water on the moon. Confirmation came from data churned up by two NASA spacecraft that intentionally slammed into a lunar crater last month.

“Indeed, yes, we found water. And we didn’t find just a little bit. We found a significant amount,” said Anthony Colaprete, lead scientist for the mission, holding up a white water bucket for emphasis.

The lunar crash kicked up at least 25 gallons and that’s only what scientists could see from the plumes of the impact, Colaprete said.

If leak fixed, shuttle flies tonight

Posted in science, technology by Fated Blue on March 15, 2009

NASA confident after faulty valve replaced

NASA aims to launch shuttle Discovery and seven astronauts tonight after a
fuel-loading operation that will prove conclusively whether the agency has fixed the gaseous hydrogen leak that forced a launch scrub Wednesday.

Discovery and its crew are scheduled to blast off from Kennedy Space Center at 7:43 p.m. — the middle of a 10-minute opportunity to put the spaceship on course for a rendezvous with the International Space Station.

The weather outlook is good. Forecasters say there is an 80 percent chance conditions will be acceptable for an on-time launch.

NASA officials are confident that the replacement of a suspect quick-disconnect valve and associated seals will fix a gaseous hydrogen leak in an area where a critical vent line connects to the shuttle’s 15-story external tank.

“If it doesn’t leak, we’re going to be perfectly safe to fly,” said NASA Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach. “We should be good to go.”

NASA is facing a launch deadline Tuesday. After that, the Discovery mission would be pushed back to at least April 7 so Russia can launch an already-scheduled station crew rotation mission that will involve a weeklong change-of-command at the outpost.

Tuesday is the last day NASA could launch Discovery and complete mission objectives before departing the station a day before the planned March 26 launch of the Expedition 19 crew and space tourist Charles Simonyi, who will be making a return trip to the outpost.

Simonyi, a billionaire who led the development of Microsoft Word and Excel software, flew a round trip to the station in April 2007 and is paying the Russian Federal Space Agency a reported $35 million to visit the outpost again.

NASA’s prime mission objective for the Discovery flight is the delivery and installation of a fourth and final set of massive American solar wings. A new distillation assembly for a system that turns urine into potable water also will be hauled up. Both are key to plans to double the size of resident crews to six in May.

NASA scrubbed a launch attempt Wednesday when a dangerous leak of gaseous hydrogen was detected at the end of a three-hour external tank propellant-loading operation.

The leak was traced to a 7-inch valve designed to vent excess gaseous hydrogen from the external tank. The excess is routed down a launch-pad line to a flare stack, where it is burned off.

NASA contractor technicians replaced the valve and two associated seals, but they ran into trouble reconnecting the gaseous hydrogen vent line to the tank. That put NASA about three to four hours behind schedule Saturday.

Leinbach said he expected the agency would be back on schedule early today. Engineers are scheduled to start filling Discovery’s external tank with a half-million gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen at 10:28 a.m. today.

A launch today would lead to a docking at the station around 5 p.m. Tuesday. The shuttle crew would depart the outpost on March 25 and land at KSC on March 28.

Sky Show Friday: Biggest, Brightest Full Moon of 2008

Posted in entertainment, weather by Fated Blue on December 12, 2008


Don’t expect to spot an¬†Apollo lunar lander. But Friday night, weather permitting, sky-watchers around the world will see the biggest and brightest full moon of 2008.

Although a full moon happens every month, the one that rises tomorrow will appear about 30 percent brighter and 14 percent larger than the other full moons seen so far this year.


Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

That’s because our cosmic neighbor will be much closer than usual. The moon will be at its closest perigee‚ÄĒthe nearest it gets to Earth during its egg-shaped orbit around our planet.

At its farthest from Earth, the moon is said to be at apogee. (Find out¬†more about Friday’s perigee and watch a moon-facts video¬†in National Geographic News’s space blog, Breaking Orbit.)

Perigee and apogee each happen generally once a month, but the moon’s wobbly orbit means that its exact distance at each of those events varies over the year.

The moon’s phase can also be different during each apogee and perigee.

“Typically we don’t have the full moon phase and perigee coinciding at the same time, so that makes this event particularly special,” said Ed Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California.

What’s more, tomorrow’s event will be the closest lunar perigee since 1993, at 221,560 miles (356,566 kilometers) from Earth.

The moon’s farthest apogee for the year will occur a couple weeks later on December 26, when the natural satellite will be 252,650 miles (406,601 kilometers) from Earth.

Highest Tide

Because this unusually close perigee is happening during a full moon, it is expected to have an effect on Earth’s tides. (Get more¬†moon facts.)

“While high tides happen each month when the sun, Earth, and the moon are aligned, there is going to be an enhanced effect, with the moon being the closest it’s been in more than a decade,” said Ben Burress, staff astronomer at the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, California.

“This would result in extra-large tides in regions that are susceptible to them, like Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy.” (See map.)

Features in the Bay of Fundy create a sloshing wave action that, in the bay’s funneled and tapered basin, give rise to vast tidal ranges.

But even in such places, the effects of perigee are often modest, in most cases measurable in inches. But perigee tides can be higher if there happens to be a storm surge at the same time.

Observing the effects of perigee on the moon itself can be a bit trickier. Most casual observers may only notice a difference in the moon’s brightness, Burress said.

The moon’s apparent larger size might be most noticeable as it rises above the horizon at sunset.

That’s when an optical illusion usually comes into play that makes the full moon seem larger‚ÄĒset against familiar Earthly objects‚ÄĒthan when it’s higher in the empty sky.

“This combination of the moon illusion and close perigee gives sky-watchers a chance to see the biggest and fullest moonrise possible,” Burress said.

What makes this event particularly nice, the Griffith Observatory’s Krupp added, is that everyone around the world can witness it without the need for special equipment, just clear skies.

“If you are charmed by the idea of seeing the biggest and brightest full moon visible in 15 years, be ready to go outside at sunset and watch for the rising moon in the east,” he said.

“Or stay up all night and watch as the moon rides through the overhead skies‚ÄĒeither way it will be a beautiful sight.”

Study illuminates star explosion from 16th century

Posted in science by Fated Blue on December 4, 2008


This composite image provided by NASA Wednesday Dec. 3, 2008 of the Tycho supernova remnant combines infrared and X-ray observations obtained with NASAs Spitzer and Chandra space observatories, respectively, and the Calar Alto observatory, in Spain. The image shows the remnant of a supernova that was observed in 1572 by Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. The explosion has left a blazing hot cloud of expanding debris (green and yellow). The location of the blasts outer shock wave can be seen as a blue sphere of ultra-energetic electrons. Newly synthesized dust in the ejected material and heated pre-existing dust from the area around the supernova radiate at infrared wavelengths of 24 microns (red). Foreground and background stars in the image are white.

This composite image provided by NASA Wednesday Dec. 3, 2008 of the Tycho supernova remnant combines infrared and X-ray observations obtained with NASA's Spitzer and Chandra space observatories, respectively, and the Calar Alto observatory, in Spain. The image shows the remnant of a supernova that was observed in 1572 by Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. The explosion has left a blazing hot cloud of expanding debris (green and yellow). The location of the blast's outer shock wave can be seen as a blue sphere of ultra-energetic electrons. Newly synthesized dust in the ejected material and heated pre-existing dust from the area around the supernova radiate at infrared wavelengths of 24 microns (red). Foreground and background stars in the image are white.


More than 400 years after¬†Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe¬†challenged established wisdom about the heavens by analyzing a strange¬†new light in the sky, scientists say they’ve finally nailed down just what he saw.

It’s no big surprise. Scientists have known the light came from asupernova, a huge star explosion. But what kind of supernova?

A new study confirms that, as expected, it was the common kind that involves the thermonuclear explosion of a white dwarf star with a nearby companion.

The research, which analyzed a “light echo” from the long-ago event, is presented in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature by scientists in Germany, Japan and the Netherlands.

The story of what’s commonly called Tycho’s supernova began on Nov. 11, 1572, when Brahe was astonished to see what he thought was a brilliant new star in the constellation Cassiopeia. The light eventually became as bright as Venus and could be seen for two weeks in broad daylight. After 16 months, it disappeared.




Working before telescopes were invented, Brahe documented with precision that unlike the moon and the planets, the light’s position didn’t move in relation to the stars. That meant it lay far beyond the moon. That was a shock to the contemporary view that the distant heavens were perfect and unchanging.

The event inspired Brahe to commit himself further to studying the stars, launching a career of meticulous observations that helped lay the foundations of early modern astronomy, said Michael Shank, a professor of the history of science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The direct light from the supernova swept past Earth long ago. But some of it struck dust clouds in deep space, causing them to brighten. That “light echo” was still observable, and the new study was based on analyzing the¬†wavelengths of light¬†from that.


Posted in internet news, Random, science by Fated Blue on December 2, 2008

As many of you sky watchers out there saw last night, 3 celestial bodies formed what could have been an image of either a smiling face or a frowning one, which was dependent on the location of which you viewed the said conjunction.

The following are images captured by people with different angles, the first one (the smiling one) is from the Philippines, and the 2nd picture is from Galicia.


FROM jonstraveladventures


If you don’t mind losing the moon, Venus and Jupiter will repeat this gig in 2011 and again in 2012, once in the morning and once in the early evening. But the next time the moon, Venus, and Jupiter gather like this will be Nov. 18, 2052. Reserve your seat now.