Great picture from SpaceX

SpaceX recently stuck another barge landing of their Falcon 9 rocket after launching another satellite into space.  Kinda weird that this amazing technology is starting to feel routine!  This landing though was a bit different…they captured this amazing photograph, with the sun nicely blocked by the rocket.  Click on the image for a larger size.  I’m anticipating their office printers running like crazy these days as all the employees print this out for their cubicle walls…

Espresso in Space

tdyjfjfkPerhaps the greatest problem astronauts face has been solved – Lavazza has designed an espresso machine which the Italian Space Agency intends to send up to the International Space Station!  Astronauts can now enjoy a shot of espresso in the mornings, though due to the microgravity environment, they’ll be forced to sip it from a plastic bag rather than a ceramic cup.  But hey, small price to pay for the ability to drink espresso while enjoying one of the most magnificent views in the solar system!

If Bigelow Aerospace manages to build their space hotel, I wonder how long it’ll be before Starbucks opens up their first orbital coffee shop?


Mystery rock on Mars

Mars rockI’ve been following the story of the mystery rock on Mars with some interest.  The aging rover Opportunity photographed the same area twelve days apart, and found that a new rock had appeared.  It’s being compared to a jelly doughnut due to its size and dark center.  So where did it come from?  Possibly an meteorite impact, or (more likely) one of the rover’s wheels kicking it up out of place.

The appearance of the rock isn’t the only interesting thing about this though.  For starters, it’s flipped upside down, exposing a side of the rock that the rover would otherwise never see.  Further analysis has revealed even more surprises – the composition of this rock is unlike anything found on Mars so far.  The darker center portion of the rock is high in sulfur, very high in magnesium, and has a lot more manganese than you’d expect, too.

No one knows what any of this means, but it’s pretty cool that a ten year old rover, originally expected to last three months, is still helping us learn more about the red planet.

Read more here.

Lego Curiosity set available 1/1

lego_mars_curiosity_rover_1-620x517Lego’s releasing set #21104, a replica of the Curiosity rover currently terrorizing Martians as it pokes, prods, and vaporizes the surface with its laser beam while they do their best to avoid its cameras 😉 .  It’s available on January 1st for $30 from the Lego Store.  What’s really cool though is that this set started life as a fan-designed model over at Cuusoo and was designed by one of the mechanical engineers who worked on the actual rover.

Voyager 1 in the news

Voyager 1, the farthest man-made object from Earth, has been in the news in recent days due to large changes in radiation levels it’s detected.  This had led some to claim that it has exited our solar system, others aren’t so sure.  I fall into that later category…we don’t fully understand things like that, and while the Voyager 1 probe is doing an amazing job of helping us learn, it’s only one data point.  We’ll have to continue to monitor it along its journey.

You can read more about this over at Slashgear.

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