Mars Science Lab has a posse

Whoever is doing the JPL mission films seems to have studied some Pixar films as despite having no music or narration, I was utterly absorbed by this mission overview.

I also like how the rover seems somewhat tentative after it’s rickety-looking landing – until the laser fires out of it’s helpful-looking head and you figure out that this guy can probably hold it’s own.

Punching the clock in orbit

This photo of has getting a bit of attention lately and rightly so – it’s something straight off of a 90s-era science fiction book cover. Post-cyberpunk optimism was back for a bit before blowing apart into lots of little subgenres.


But I have always liked this photo of Endeavour back on STS-123 in 2008. No posed photo-op here, just a photo of a work truck complete with a clipboard and iPod left on the dashboard. Only thing missing here is a old cup of coffee and a badly-folded map but I suspect the astronauts have that covered.


Uzumaki In Norway


So in the end it appears that the Weird Giant Spiral of Norway was merely a failed launch attempt of Russia’s beleaguered Bulava ICBM, but for awhile there was some good solid confusion.

I didn’t believe it was anything other than a failed booster stage venting off gas or fuel, but I can only imagine just how amazing it must have looked. Here in Southern California we occasionally see similar strange formations from launches out of Vandenberg AFB but most of those launches are, er, successful so we really only get the corkscrew tail instead of an ominous blue spiral. I hope some higher res versions of this morning’s photos make it out.

I can’t be the only person that immediately thought of Uzumaki – a Japanese horror manga and movie about a remote town that increasingly obsesses over spirals to the point of hysteria and eventual doom.


Watching The World Go By

Like a lot of other people, I first ran across DISH Earth as a mysterious channel next to NASA TV. OK – it’s a picture of the Earth from space. Sure the timecode was changing every 15 seconds, but not much else was going on until I suddenly blurted out “it’s a real-time picture of the Earth!”

And that’s exactly what the DISH Earth network is. DISH Network stuck a camera on the side of EchoStar 11 22,300 miles up in geosynchronous orbit and pointed it back at the earth. Nothing really changes except cloud patterns and the day/night cycle, but it’s hypnotic enough to check in on it every so often*. Besides, I find it rather cool just to be able to say “hey, what does the Earth look like right now?”


There’s also a twenty-four time lapse movie.

* Full disclosure: I have also sat through a showing of Andy Warhol’s Empire so my viewpoint is markedly skewed.


I’ve had the STS-125 video feed going on in the background most of the week, but if I had to pick one video out of all that’s been happening it’s this clip of HST’s release. No Houston, no announcers, just a peek over the shoulder as everyone is working.

Exploration of space. Directly over your head!

If I had thought to check earlier (Heavens Above really needs a custom RSS feed) I could have grabbed the requiste time-lapse satellite trail photo, but this underexposed over-enhanced photo will have to do.

ISS over Glendale

To the left is the moon. The white dot to the right is the International Space Station as it passed directly over Los Angeles this evening. Thanks for the heads up LA Observed.


Just before his first flight into space, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin stopped on his busride out to the launch pad to, well, pee on the side of the bus. It’s a long flight and well, when you gotta go, you gotta go. Subsequent cosmonauts did the same before their flight because Gagarin did it and soon enough peeing on the side of the bus became as traditional to Soviet/Russian spaceflight as vodka, asking Gagarin’s ghost for permission to fly, and viewings of White Sun of the Desert.

Thanks to Russian GQ (and English Russia) this mysterious tradition comes to light: