Virtual Moon Tour in 4K Ultra HD

Using data provided by Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft Notes 1 since 2009, NASA has published an amazing virtual Moon tour in 4K Ultra HD Notes 2. As the visualization moves around the near side, far side Notes 3, north and south poles, interesting features, sites, and information gathered on the lunar terrain get highlighted.

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Watch: Apollo 16 Liftoff (April 16, 1972)

46 years ago today, on April 16, 1972, the huge, 363-feet (110.6 meters) tall Apollo 16 (Spacecraft 113/Lunar Module 11/Saturn V Notes 1 SA-511) space vehicle was launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, at 12:54 p.m. EST. Crewed by Commander John W. Young, Lunar Module Pilot Charles Duke Notes 2, and Command Module Pilot Ken Mattingly Notes 3, it was the tenth manned mission in the United States Apollo space program, the fifth and penultimate to land on the Moon and the first to land in the lunar highlands.

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Want to Become a Citizen Scientist for NASA?

You can help NASA on some projects: for instance, citizen scientists helped NASA identify an aurora-related celestial phenomenon, now called STEVE. Want to become a citizen scientist? You can find projects on the NASA website.

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Astronaut Honors Holocaust Remembrance Day from space with “Moon Landscape” drawing by Holocaust victim Petr Ginz

NASA Astronaut Andrew Jay “Drew” Feustel, who is currently living and working aboard the International Space Station, published a photo on his Twitter account with a replica of the “Moon Landscape” drawing by Holocaust victim Petr Ginz to honor Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah). The replica of the painting was first flown in space by Ilan Ramon (June 20, 1954 – February 1, 2003), the first Israeli astronaut for NASA. Ramon has died in the re-entry accident of STS-107, the fatal mission of the Space Shuttle Columbia. Ilan Ramon’s mother and grandmother were Auschwitz survivors, and his grandfather and other family members perished in Nazi death camps.

Feustel took with him to space a copy of a special drawing entitled “Moon Landscape”, which was created by a Jewish Czech boy named Petr Ginz (1 February 1928 – 28 September 1944) while incarcerated in Terezin, Czechoslovakia, during World War II. The drawing depicts how Earth would look from the surface of the moon. Petr was fascinated by science fiction and inspired by his favorite author, the French novelist, poet, and playwright Jules Verne (8 February 1828 – 24 March 1905), to draw and write stories about a far-off world he would never visit. At the age of 16, Petr lost his life at Auschwitz.

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Kliuchevskoi Volcano from Space (NASA Image)

During the STS-68 mission (September 30-October 11, 1994), the crewmembers of Space Shuttle Endeavour used a 70 mm camera to photograph Klyuchevskaya Sopka (also known as Kliuchevskoi), a stratovolcano, the highest mountain on the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia and the highest active volcano of Eurasia. The eruption was new when this photo was taken. It was photographed from 115 nautical miles (213 kilometers) above Earth.

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What did Ancient Earth Look Like

I stumbled upon an amazing web page showing what did ancient Earth look like. On “Dinosaur Pictures and Facts” web page (dinosaurpictures.org), there’s also an interactive animation. On this page, you can either select the years (i.e. 600 million years ago) or jump to a particular event (i.e. first multicellular life) and see how ancient Earth did look like then. You can also remove the clouds and stop the Earth’s rotation if you want to.

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Watch: Iceland Is Growing New Forests for the First Time in 1,000 Years

Iceland was extensively forested when it was first settled. When the Vikings first arrived in the 9th century, the Nordic island was covered in 25 to 40 percent forest, compared to 1% in the present day. In the late 12th century, Ari the Wise (Ari Thorgilsson, 1067–1148 AD), Iceland’s most prominent medieval chronicler, described it in the Íslendingabók (Book of Icelanders Notes 1) as “forested from mountain to sea shore”. Unfortunately, after the permanent human settlement, the forests were heavily exploited for firewood, timber and to make room for farming. Within a few centuries, almost all of Iceland’s trees were gone. This rapid deforestation has resulted in massive soil erosion that puts the island at risk for desertification. Today, many farms have been abandoned. Three-quarters of Iceland’s 100,000 km2is affected by soil erosion, 18,000 km2 (6,900 sq mi) serious enough to make the land useless.

Today, the Icelandic Forest Service Notes 2 has taken on the mammoth task of bringing back the woodlands. They plant around three million seedlings each year in the island’s soil. With the help of forestry societies and forest farmers, Iceland’s trees are slowly beginning to make a comeback. But there are many difficulties. For example, as the climate getting warmer, the winters have become milder. As a result, many of the trees planted back in the 1950s, especially Siberian larch (Larix sibirica) are literally dying after several decades of being reasonably good. Watch this short film by Euforgen (published by the National Geographic channel) to learn more about how their efforts are working to benefit Iceland’s economy and ecology through forestry.

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Earth’s Wonders Like You Have Never Seen Them Before

Planet.com, a team of analysts and rocket scientists, software engineers and creatives, environmentalists and researchers, have published an amazing post on their Medium account, @planetlabsIn the post titled “Earth’s Wonders Like You’ve Never Seen Them Before”, you can see amazing aerial photos of some famous places.

Below, you can see an example of the amazing photos published in the post: “The Pearl-Qatar”.

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Why You Shouldn’t Worry About the Uncontrolled Reentry of Tiangong-1 – China’s Falling Space Station

Tiangong-1, China’s falling space station will make an uncontrolled re-entry on late Sunday, April 1, or early Monday, April 2. But, there’s no need to panic: the risk is quite low that people on Earth will be in danger. Since two-thirds of Earth’s surface is covered by water, any remaining debris that doesn’t burn up in the atmosphere has a high chance of falling into an ocean. In fact, in every few years, uncontrolled spacecraft of this size enter the Earth’s atmosphere. For example, the 5,900-kilogram (13,000 lb) NASA-operated orbital observatory Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) decommissioned and re-entered Earth’s atmosphere on 24 September 2011. It ultimately impacted in a remote area of the Pacific Ocean, which is called Point Nemo. Some decommissioned spacecraft has returned so remotely that there was no visual evidence of their fall. So, the headlines of tabloid papers about Tiangong-1 crash are just sensational and click-bait.

There were uncontrolled reentries of even much larger spacecrafts in space exploration history. The biggest uncontrolled entry of a spacecraft was on February 1, 2003: the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon reentering Earth’s atmosphere, killing all seven crew members.

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