Chris Hadfield is a former astronaut who became the first Canadian to walk in space. He flew two space shuttle missions and later would become the first Canadian to command the International Space Station. Hadfield became an international rockstar through his use of social media to provide a window into what life was like aboard the ISS while sharing stunning images from space.
On May 12, 2013, shortly before leaving the space station, Chris Hadfield released a music video of his rendition of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” recorded on the ISS. The video went viral quickly garnering over 22 million views on YouTube, and was the first music video ever to be shot in space. The video was taken offline after the one-year licensing agreement expired. However, in a recent tweet Hadfield said “Our Oddity will be back online soon.”
NASA’s New Heavy-Lift Rocket Will Be Ready For Launch By 2018
NASA’s new heavy-lift rocket designed for deep space exploration will be ready for its first flight no later than 2018 agency and is expected to cost $7 billion through the first launch officials announced Wednesday after completing a key review.
The Space Launch System is the rocket NASA has been designing to carry humans beyond low-Earth orbit and eventually to Mars. It is intended to replace the space shuttle fleet, which was retired in 2011. Passing the review, known as Key Decision Point C, is something NASA said “no other exploration class vehicle has achieved since the agency built the space shuttle.”
NASA maintains that the first test flight of the SLS could happen as early as 2017, but that the agency is committed to having the rocket ready for launch by the end of 2018. The space agency is now moving forward from the formulation stage to the development of the heavy-lift rocket.
New Horizons Flies By Neptune Exactly 25 Years After Voyager 2
In what NASA is calling a “cosmic coincidence” the New Horizons probe makes its flyby of Neptune on the 25th anniversary of Voyager 2’s Neptune encounter. On August 25, 1989, Voyager 2 made its closest flyby of Neptune, making it the first spacecraft to study the planet. During Voyager 2’s flyby, it discovered a massive anticyclonic storm system called the Great Dark Spot, similar to Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.
Today, NASA’s New Horizons probe is embarking on an equally exciting journey to another world never before visited by a spacecraft. When the spacecraft arrives on July 14, 2015, it will provide the first detailed images of Pluto. The dwarf planet is so distant from us that even images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope appear blurry.
In Memory Of Neil Armstrong, Take A Moment To Wink At The Moon
Of all 12 astronauts to have stood on the lunar surface during the Apollo era, none are as popular as the first and most famous of the moon-walkers, Neil Armstrong. Described by his fellow Apollo 11 crew mate Buzz Aldrin as the “epitome of a space man”, Armstrong has served both before and after death as a cornerstone of NASA’s ethos-building force, one which has resonated since its inception 56 years ago.
On August 25, 2012, Neil Armstrong passed away as the result of complications from a cardiovascular procedure. Following his death, Neil Armstrong’s family released a statement, which reads in part:
"For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."
On August 24th, 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) officially defined what constitutes a planet. For a celestial body in our solar system to be defined as a planet, it must:
1. Be in orbit of the Sun 2. Have sufficient mass to assume a nearly round shape (officially known as hydrostatic equilibrium) 3. “Clear the neighborhood” around its orbit
This designation meant that Pluto — first discovered in 1930 by Clyde W. Tombaugh — was no different than any of the other 70,000 icy objects that comprise the Kuiper Belt, a region that extends from the orbit of Neptune out to 55 astronomical units (55 times the distance of the Earth to the Sun).
After decades of observation, astronomers have continued to discover other large Kuiper Belt objects, such as Eris in 2005, which was determined to be larger than Pluto itself. The discovery of Eris — which has approximately 25% more mass than Pluto — posed an interesting question to the scientific community: would this object be the 10th planet in our solar system?
"If Neptune were analogized with a Chevy Impala in mass, then how big is Pluto compared to that? Pluto would be a matchbox car sitting on the curb."- Neil deGrasse Tyson
Based upon the IAU’s definition above, any object that doesn’t meet the third criteria is classified as a dwarf planet — including Pluto, Eris, and many of the other objects located in the distant reaches of the Kuiper Belt. In spite of this new designation, Pluto still holds a special spot in the hearts of scientists and astronomers, as NASA has sent their New Horizons spacecraft to observe it closely. Slated to arrive in 2015, New Horizons will capture the first close-up images of Pluto’s surface.
The First Earthrise Was Captured 48 Years Ago Today
On August 23, 1966, Lunar Orbiter 1 spacecraft captured the first picture of Earth taken from lunar orbit. This image shows the photo as it was first seen in 1966, as well as a restored version of the photo created by the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project using the original tapes and 1960s era technology.
On this day 39 years ago, NASA’s Viking 1 spacecraft launched aboard a Titan/Centaur launch vehicle beginning its near year-long journey to Mars.
Immediately following touchdown, the Viking 1 lander made history by taking and transmitting the first complete photograph taken from the surface of Mars. The image (http://goo.gl/6C5L6m) was of the Viking 1 lander’s foot as an indication of how far it had sunk into the Martian surface. Between itself and its companion,Viking 2, this historic photograph was just the first of more than 50,000 images taken from the Martian surface, as well as from orbit, and transmitted back to Earth.
What makes Viking 1 especially worth noting is that not only was the spacecraft the first attempt by the United States at landing on Mars, but it was also the first to successfully do so and perform its mission. During its operation on the Martian surface, Viking 1 became the record holder for longest Mars surface mission at 2307 days, until Mars Rover Opportunity took the record in 2010.
“Voyager cost each American less than a penny a year from launch to Neptune encounter.” – Carl Sagan, ‘Pale Blue Dot’
Today, 37 years following Voyager 2’s launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in 1977, the probe continues to string information back to Earth via the Deep Space Network, despite being nearly 15,700,000,000 kilometres away. While its transmissions are faint, reflecting its distance from its homeport, Voyager 2 remains as the longest operating of all of NASA’s existing space probes.
While its trajectory would eventually take the space probe past Uranus and Neptune, Voyager 2’s initial funding was meant purely for the space probe’s flyby studies of Jupiter and Saturn, and not for surveying these outer planets. This aside, Voyager 2’s flight path was selected from 10,000 proposed trajectories to preserve the option of studying the outer solar system if funding could be attained.
Some of this celebrated space probe’s highlights include being the only probe to have visited all four outer planets – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, expanding our understanding of Saturn’s complex ring system, and discovering Neptune’s “Great Dark Spot”.
On this day 75 years ago, Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued a presidential proclamation that established Orville Wright’s birthday as National Aviation Day. Born on August 19, 1871, Orville Wright was an aviation pioneer who, along with his brother, is credited with inventing and building the first successful airplane. Orville made the world’s first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight on December 17, 1903.