NASA = tax dollars well spent

From the guys who brought you this fun video about JWST, here’s one telling you exactly why NASA rocks. As a European, I should add that ESA is also awesome! Here’s hoping a cute European geek (m/f) put its on video.

Pretty solar storms

I don’t usually envy people who live in places like Iceland or Northern Canada – cold, dark and desolate places. But I am insanely jealous of them for one reason: the Aurora Borealis. Aurorae light up their skies, when charged particles streaming out from the Sun slam into the Earth’s magnetic field, get accelerated along the field lines towards the poles, creating these luminescent showers of light as they interact with the atoms in the upper atmosphere.

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… and you can watch the ISS!

twisst

Don’t freak out that the ISS is watching you – just wave back! A new service called Twisst has just been launched on Twitter to send users alerts of ISS passes at their location, based on the location information they have listed on their profile*. ISS twitter feeds already existed of course, from the OverTwitter project, which has twitter feeds for satellite passes over many world cities. An aside to OverTwitter is OverRSS, which allows users to sign up to an RSS feed of satellite passes for any location of your choice. Twisst combines the two by converting the location registered to the Twitter profile to co-ordinates, and automatically sends the alert at the right time for the right place. All you need to do is follow @twisst. [Read more…]

The ISS is watching you

iss_sarychev

This week the Big Picture ran a series of pictures taken from the ISS looking down at Earth. It’s a great reminder that the Earth is in fact a very beautiful place and we should be honoured to be able to live here and experience it. Seeing the variety of colours and landscapes from the sky is a solitary consolation prize for spending so much time in airplanes. Being a total volcano nut, of course the pictures of the recent eruption of the Sarychev Peak volcano in the Russian Kuril Islands are my favourites. [Read more…]

Welcome back Atlantis, good luck Frank!

atlantis_landing

Welcome back Atlantis

After a fascinating 13-day mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, Space Shuttle Atlantis and its crew touched down safely at Edwards Air Force Base on Sunday 24 May. Welcome home Atlantis! The mission to repair and upgrade Hubble was closely followed by space and astronomy enthusiasts around the world (yup that includes me), thanks to the great coverage on NASA TV.

A welcoming ceremony is taking place today at 4 pm Central Time, watch it live here.

I’m delighted the astronauts got the job done and Hubble is ready for its final stint. Unfortunately I had to miss the landing as I was on a little jaunt around Britain to attend some meetings and catch up with friends and family.

Great also to have Mike Massimino back on live twitter, telling us all about the weirdness of being back on Earth.

Good luck Frank!

Frank-De-WinneThree astronauts will take off from the Baikonur cosmodrome tomorrow for the International Space Station. Representing the European Space Agency is Belgian Frank De Winne, who will also become the first European commander of the ISS during his 6-month stay. Good luck Frank!

Read more about the mission here. Watch a Q&A session with him on ESA’s YouTube channel here.

Image: G. Blevins/LA Daily News