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Blue Marbles! The Earth At 28,000 Miles

So back on the 7th of December 1972 , Appollo 17 was about 28,000 miles away from the surface of the Earth, and they decided HEY!  Let’s tweet this cool photo of the Earth that nobody but us can see!

(Of course I kid, everybody knows that MySpace was the *only* Social Media place back then)

Do you think they high-fived after seeing that?  I have to believe I would want to high-five something, a colleague, the bulkhead, the instrument panel, anything.  I’d be too excited.

Now a new Blue Marble was released just a few weeks ago – but it’s a composite image of six orbits of the Earth, not the one shot Instagram masterpiece that the Apollo 17 ninjas got back in 1972.  Check it out:

Check THIS out – this is the Hasselblad camera, a model just like the one the astronauts on Apollo 17 used to snap the first Blue Marble:

I put this together for your enjoyment and study – here are the 1972 and Eastern Hemisphere Blue Marbles (2012) side-by-side.  If you click the image, it opens up to a manageable size (1800 pixels wide) for viewing.  Check it out!

Now just remember, these are all courtesy of NASA and NOAA, so make sure you attribute if you share!  Plus, it’s just awesome to point someone to the NASA and NOAA websites; to be nerd is to be awesome.

That’s right, you heard it here first.  Well, the nerd thing anyway.

Atlantis STS-135: Congratulations, and Godspeed!

The final mission of the NASA Space Shuttle program has launched – Space Shuttle Atlantis is going upward attached to two sticks of fuel that create about a million pounds of thrust, hurling them towards that barrier in the sky where our world ends and the relatively unknown begins.  The shuttle program is ending, but Man’s fascination with the unknown will never end.  No matter how many politicians try to get in the way of progress, no matter how many budgets get cut in the future, we’ll still be heading into space.

If you’re still interested in watching some first-hand NASA video live, check out their NASA Live link.

So, what do you think is next for the NASA Space Program?  To date, we’re still using fuel and fire to get us into orbit – what do you think is coming next?  Ion drives?  Plasma drives?  Light drives?  A huge slingshot?  Lasers?

Have you ever heard of an Ion Drive?  It’s a developing technology that is suppsoed to ionize a gas, like Helium, into something that could propel a craft.  The problem right now is that it doesn’t seem to be worth a crapola in the atmosphere.  Watch this video:

Here’s some video of a solar-powered plasma drive – this is kinda outstanding!

Ah, who knows.  I’m just postulating.  Let’s all wish the crew of Atlantis a safe return journey, and a safe mission for all involved!

Thanks, KCOY!

The Constellation Urine – Astronaut Pee

urine-dump

That’s right, kids – astronauts pee too!  Except they have to pee in some sort of space-porta-potty that probably doesn’t smell as bad as the ones at outdoor music festivals.  Yuck.  What you see above is the plume of a huge water and urine dump from shuttle Discovery this last week.  The shuttle, while docked with the International Space Station, sprayed about 150 pounds of waste water and pee-pee out into space on September 10 – as you can assume, independent shuttle trackers and other geeks flipped the $#%^ out.

“IS THE SHUTTLE ON FIRE?!  IS IT VENTING SOMETHING?”
Nope.  Just pee.  Here’s another picture from Space Weather (September 10 archive), which has some details on the extraurine activity.  BWAHA!

urine-dump-discovery

From the Space Weather website:

Sky watchers across North America witnessed a strange event on Wednesday night. As space shuttle Discovery glided silently overhead, the orbiter sprouted a flamboyant comet-like tail.

“The shuttle put on a major light show,” says Perry.

In Madison, Wisconsin, photographer Abe Megahed witnessed a similar display: “The shuttle was sporting a massive curved plume. What could it be? Something venting? Reaction Control System thrusters? A massive, record-breaking urine dump?”

Stop laughing. Shuttle pilot Kevin Ford was indeed scheduled to carry out a number of “waste water” dumps over a several hour period around the time of these observations. Pristine water supplies and condensates were also dumped overboard in preparation for landing on Thursday, Sept. 10th.

Thanks, Space.com!