Now that winter has passed, those of us who live in cold climes can once again appreciate the beauty of snowflakes without feeling the urge to curse them for making us dig out the shovel. And if ever snowflakes looked lovely, it's in these images shot by a high-speed camera system developed specifically to photograph them in 3D as they fell.
"Until our device, there was no good instrument for automatically photographing the shapes and sizes of snowflakes in free fall," says Tim Garrett, an associate professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Utah and one of the developers of the cam known as MASC, or Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera. "We are photographing these snowflakes completely untouched by any device, as they exist naturally in the air."
MASC -- under development for three years -- takes 9- to 37-micron-resolution stereographic photographs of snowflakes from three angles while simultaneously measuring the speed of their fall, a highly influential factor in the location and lifetime of a storm. … Read more
Turns out that crazy rumor was true: NASA is planning to capture an asteroid.
The plans were included in the space agency's $17.7 billion fiscal 2014 budget, part of the new $3.7 trillion government budget proposed earlier today by President Obama.
In the budgets, about $78 million is set aside for a plan that involves sending a craft to rendezvous with what's described as a "small asteroid," and then moving the space rock into a stable orbit near the moon. Astronauts will later visit the asteroid and scoop up samples for study back on … Read more
There could be a sequel in the works to that absurd scene from 1998's "Armageddon" in which Ben Affleck and friends land on a threatening near-Earth asteroid. But this time around it's a real-world NASA mission to kidnap, rather than obliterate, a space rock.
Part of the idea is to conduct research to help prevent just such an "Armageddon" scenario from ever cropping up in real life, according to a mission overview obtained by CBS News last week. The space agency is hoping to lasso an asteroid, space cowboy style, and tow it close enough to Earth so that it can be visited by astronauts. The astronauts then will conduct research that could one day assist in a mission to Mars or save Earth from a catastrophic collision, should Mr. Affleck be unavailable. … Read more
The rover and NASA scientists are having a communication breakdown, of sorts. But, not to worry, no hurt feelings are involved. The issue is that the sun has got in the way.
Once every 26 months, as the Earth and Mars rotate around the sun, the two planets end up on opposite sides of the star in an event called the Mars solar conjunction. Because of the sun's massive size, any communication sent between the two planets can … Read more
It's hard not to get freakishly excited when science fiction becomes scientific fact -- especially when the origins of that science are rooted in Star Wars.
Think back, young Jedis, to the scene where a fresh-off-Tatooine Luke Skywalker is honing his light saber skills under the tutelage of Obi-Wan Kenobi. A round, floating robot called a remote helps Luke practice his Force-finding mojo. Now, NASA is running experiments with miniature satellites, or nanosatellites, that were inspired by that fictional robot.
A stunning 4-gigapixel panorama of Mars, compiled from images captured by two mast cameras aboard NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, could be one of the most detailed views of our distant neighbor yet.
The panoramic picture of Gale Crater derives from 295 images that were digitally stitched together by Estonian photographer Andrew Bodrov. In its final form, the mosaic stretches out to an astounding 90,000 by 45,000-pixel resolution. … Read more
The Solar Impulse has defied all expectations in its short four-year life.
First, the solar-powered airplane got off the ground in 2010 and stayed aloft for a total of 87 minutes without using a drop of fuel; then, it completed its first international flight traveling from its home of Switzerland to Brussels in about 13 hours. By its first birthday, the plane met the goal of staying aloft for 24 hours -- flying at night with solar energy captured during the day. It has since completed a 1,550-mile journey from Madrid, Spain, to Rabat, Morocco.
Now, before it embarks … Read more
You could call them drones, or satellites -- NASA prefers the latter -- but these small flying robots that are being used on the International Space Station are powered by Nexus S smartphones.
Ars Technica has a lengthy writeup on how the space agency hacked smartphones to power its SPHERE (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites) satellites after their original CPUs had become too slow for their needs. Modern handsets made sense since they have integrated cameras, sensors, Wi-Fi connectivity, and of course, a capable processor. … Read more
Apparently the bright object that people reported seeing shooting over the East Coast of the United States last night -- and that left a glittery trail across Twitter -- may well have been a meteor.
Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environmental Office told the Associated Press that, "going on visual reports," the flash was "a single meteor event."
"The thing is probably a yard across. We basically have (had) a boulder enter the atmosphere over the northeast," he added.
The object lit up Twitter last night at about 8 p.m. East Coast … Read more