Orbital Reflector is a sculpture constructed of a lightweight material similar to Mylar. It is housed in a small box-like infrastructure known as a CubeSat and launched into space aboard a rocket. Once in low Earth orbit at a distance of about 350 miles (575 kilometers) from Earth, the CubeSat opens and releases the sculpture, which self-inflates like a balloon. Sunlight reflects onto the sculpture making it visible from Earth with the naked eye — like a slowly moving artificial star as bright as a star in the Big Dipper.
via Orbital Reflector – Nevada Museum of Art
Orbital Reflector launches December 1st and should appear in the southern hemisphere first, according to the FAQs.
I’m looking forward to seeing it after missing out on seeing the Humanity Star discoball!
World renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76.
He died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday, his family said.
The British scientist was famed for his work with black holes and relativity, and wrote several popular science books including A Brief History of Time.
via Stephen Hawking: Visionary physicist dies aged 76 – BBC News
Whenever I was in Cambridge I always hoped to catch a glimpse of him around, now – assuming time is linear – I’m sad that won’t happen.
A remarkable human. Stephen Hawking RIP.
On Tuesday, Feb. 6th at 3:45 PM ET, Falcon Heavy successfully lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Falcon Heavy is the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two, with the ability to lift into orbit nearly 64 metric tons (141,000 lb)–a mass greater than a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel.
via Falcon Heavy Test Launch | SpaceX
Just finished watching MARS series produced by National Geographic channel.
Great series that had me forget that I was watching what is (so far) fiction. It was also a lot more story based than I was expecting, but the human stories helped create the Mars world. The mix of realistic action and the the interviews really made me forget I was watching something non-factual in places – despite the miles of wasteful corridors of the Mars base, it was more corridor than habitat in places!
Image: Mars Endeavour Crater captured by NASA Opportunity rover
Using images of Earth taken from space across the last 45 years and stunning time-lapse sequences, astronauts reveal how humanity is transforming the world – for better and worse
Very interesting programme on Channel 4 about our planet and the changes going on to the environment. Amazing timelapse photography sequences, unfortunately very clearly showing the changes for the worst, as captured from space.
via Man Made Planet: Earth from Space – All 4
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has taken an image of the Earth, through the rings of Saturn. I don’t think I really need to say anything more.
via The Earth from Saturn — …and Then There’s Physics
Cassini scientists announce that a form of chemical energy that life can feed on appears to exist on Saturn’s moon Enceladus, and Hubble researchers report additional evidence of plumes erupting from Jupiter’s moon Europa.
“This is the closest we’ve come, so far, to identifying a place with some of the ingredients needed for a habitable environment,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters in Washington.
via NASA Missions Provide New Insights into ‘Ocean Worlds’ | NASA
BBC Stargazing Live has come back and this time they are in Australia checking out the Southern Sky for stars. Its a great show, highly recommended viewing.
BBC Stargazing and Zooniverse a citizen science platform, have launched a search for ‘Planet 9’. Its really simple to join in. You may discover the predicted planet and as co-discoverer get to name it too!
We are excited to announce that SpaceX has been approached to fly two private citizens on a trip around the moon late next year. They have already paid a significant deposit to do a moon mission. Like the Apollo astronauts before them, these individuals will travel into space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humankind, driven by the universal human spirit of exploration.
So excited when I heard the announcement. Hopefully they hit all the deadlines and get the trip underway as soon as. Can’t wait!
via SpaceX to Send Privately Crewed Dragon Spacecraft Beyond the Moon Next Year | SpaceX
Seems like they may be a little way off for a little longer still, sadly…
…based on the assumption that launch costs would one day drop to about $70 per pound, thanks to the advent of reusable launch vehicles and improved rocket fuels. Today, it still costs at least $9,000 per pound of stuff launched into space.
THE NEVER-ENDING QUEST TO BUILD A HOTEL IN SPACE