I can't get enough time lapse footage from the ISS. This five-minute video, compiled by Michael Konig from footage taken from the International Space Station between August and October of this year, shows storms, big-city light pollution, and breathtaking views of Earth's Aurora Borealis.
The astronauts aboard the International Space Station have shared some amazing images of Earth from their extreme bird's-eye view from space. This video taken by astronaut Mike Fossum shows the journey of a Progress re-supply ship back toward Earth, where it is naturally and purposefully destroyed when entering the atmosphere.
Progress ships are used solely to ferry goods to the space station, so instead of leaving them in orbit to become space junk, they are sped down upon re-entry and burn up in the Earth's atmosphere, which is what's seen in NASA's footage below.
According to a new report by the National Research Council, space junk has reached its "tipping point" and is set to become a crucial problem for future space travelers in the next 10 to 20 years.
The effects of space debris were seen in June when the crew of International Space Station evacuated to the escape capsule when it appeared that a chunk of debris would hit the station. Luckily, the docking of the Atlantis shuttle pushed the space station just far enough away to avoid a collision while the objects sped by at nearly 17,000 mph.
Per the council's report, there is currently enough debris in orbit "to continually collide and create even more debris, raising the risk of spacecraft failures." The committee recommends that NASA investigate a plan to track the space objects and ways to mitigate their potential harm on humans in space and robotic equipments, such as the satellites we use back on Earth to power our communication networks. Further complicating matters, only about 30 percent of the debris is from the US, which may make dealing with foreign satellites and technology a sensitive issue.
If you missed last weekend's Perseids meteor shower, catch a glimpse of a falling star from a vantage point very few see — the International Space Station. Astronaut Ron Garan, a current resident of the space station, tweeted this picture of a meteor falling away from him and toward Earth. Beyond the meteor, Ron captured the beautiful colors outlining our planet's atmosphere and a peek at the space station itself.
Follow Ron's Twitter account for more photos from space, as he often tweets images like the Perseids shower.
One lucky person will be crossing "space travel" off their bucket list when they win top prize in Space Race 2012, a contest launched today by the Seattle Space Needle. To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the Space Needle is partnering with Space Adventures, a private space travel company, to send one winner on a suborbital space flight.
With the end of NASA's space shuttle program, expeditions off the planet are now left in the hands of private companies like Space Adventures. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin was on hand at the launch of the contest, explaining that this new space race to launch average citizens to where once only astronauts could go is just as crucial to exploration as the moon mission he participated in in 1969. Keep reading to find out more about the Space Race 2012 grand prize.
Partners of the International Space Station (including Russia and NASA) announced final plans for the ISS yesterday: letting it crash land in the Pacific Ocean after it is decommissioned in 2020.
Although it's taken over 10 years to build the ISS up to what it is today, now that NASA's shuttle program has been shut down and Russia plans to discontinue the Soyuz craft in 2015, there's no reason to let the ISS float around in space along with other space junk. Thankfully, there's a future for privatized space travel, but they won't be using the ISS to get from Earth to point B.
Feeling nostalgic? Check out some images of the ISS in the gallery!
Today at 11:29 a.m. (EDT), the space shuttle Atlantis launched from the Kennedy Space Center and headed to the International Space Station with four US astronauts on board. This marks the final NASA space shuttle mission as the program retires and space research takes a new direction. If you missed the memorable takeoff, view the archived stream below. The actual shuttle launch is around the 18:00 mark.
We recommend you watch the whole thing, since there are some really interesting facts to learn about the space shuttle itself, but if you don't have the time, learn a little more about what goes into building a shuttle as powerful as Atlantis below.
- Atlantis's exterior is made of 24,182 thermal tiles, 161 of which are replacement tiles necessary after damage caused by previous flights.
- Tiles are made of a heat-resistant quartz fabric with aluminum batting inside.
- The black tiles on the shuttle's underbelly will see heat of up to 2300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Two more Atlantis facts after the break.
Stephen Colbert always has his eye out for naming contests. He's managed to get his name on an ice cream flavor, a Hungarian bridge, and a bald eagle. Thanks to his fans' enthusiasm for write-in campaigns, he might get a room in the International Space Station!
NASA wants the public to name the upcoming addition to the space station, now called Node 3. NASA has opened public voting until March 20th. Node 1 is called Unity, and Node 2 is called Harmony. Besides providing astronauts with a spectacular view of Earth, Node 3 will also convert urine into drinking water. Who wouldn't want his name attached to such a life-giving node!
To watch Stephen ask NASA's William Gerstenmaier to commit to naming the space module "Colbert" if he wins, read more