Archive for August 5th, 2012
Reaching Mars is a hard and unforgiving endeavor, with little room for error. More than two-thirds of the 40-odd missions launched toward Mars have been lost due to failed components, rocket glitches or grievous errors that sent probes crashing into the martian surface or missing the planet altogether.
Here’s a look at the best – and worst – Mars landings of all time.
A quick online survey tells us NASA is only being given a 60/70% chance of pulling this off.
The plan for the rover's Martian touchdown tonight is ingenious but not all that different from how a Disney cartoon once imagined it.
For 40 years Landsat satellites have been circling the Earth, taking pictures from roughly 440 miles above us. Each loop lasts about 99 minutes and it takes about 16 days to capture the entire planet. Which means that Landsats have been recording, in 16-day intervals, the ebb and flow of our relationship with the planet since the early 1970s.
It’s been, as they say in the relationship business, a rough stretch, but for most of it, only scientists have been paying much attention. These were people tracking the explosion of cities or the scarring of rainforests or the melting of glaciers. As for the rest of us, well, we may have been aware that things were changing, and not for the better, but we had little sense of the scale or pace of change.
Now we can see for ourselves, thanks to a joint project of Google, the U.S. Geological Survey and Carnegie-Mellon University. Google has already stored 1.5 Landsat million images in its Google Earth Engine and now CMU scientists have refined software that allows many of those images to be watched as zoomable, time-lapse videos.
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope offers a delightful view of the crowded stellar encampment called Messier 68, a spherical, star-filled region of space known as a globular cluster. Mutual gravitational attraction amongst a cluster's hundreds of thousands or even millions of stars keeps stellar members in check, allowing globular clusters to hang together for many billions of years.
"Unexpected Swallowing of a Knife" — that's a grabbier title than most ones you see in medical journals.
The short item, a clinical image in this week's New England Journal of Medicine, explains that a 30-year-old woman with a history of bulimia had been bragging to friends that she no longer had a gag reflex. She put the knife into her mouth and then laughed — at which point she swallowed the knife.