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How big is the International Space Station?

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I took a trip to Houston recently for a friend’s wedding.  While there, he gave me a pretty extensive tour of NASA’s facilities.  We saw three things that really surprised me. Read the rest of this entry »

Ride to the Edge of Space in a U2 Spy Plane

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U2 Flight

Amazing video (embedded below) of James May from Top Gear taking a ride to the edge of space (70K feet) in a U2 Spyplane.  The flight suit looks like that of an astronaut and plane looks like a menacing bird.  It’s 100 foot wingspan is balanced by inline wheels when landing.  The entire system is from the 1950′s.  At one point James realizes that he and his pilot are the highest people in the world except for a few astronauts on the International Space Station.  Quite stunning.  I can’t wait until we can take trips to edge of our atmosphere.  It’s not far off my fellow engineers and space enthusiasts. Read the rest of this entry »

Visualizing the numbers we work with

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chewie and han solo star wars lightspeed

Let’s face it — engineers see a lot of numbers in their everyday jobs.  While generally comfortable with math and numbers, I doubt many of us take the time to actually visualize what those numbers actually mean.

The speed of light is a great example.  Every engineer knows that it’s 299,792,486 m/s^2.  In more common (for us Americans) terms, it’s about 186,000 miles per second.  But how fast is that, exactly?

Well, the moon is a good example.  While really close to Earth in astronomical units, it would be a pretty long walk to reach there, if such a journey were possible.  But humans have been to the moon and around the far side.  It’s as far as we’ve ever managed to travel in one journey.  So how far is it, in relation to the speed of light?

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NASA: Mars rover “Spirit” gets stuck, makes big discovery

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NASA Spirit Mars Rover Wheel

NASA Spirit Mars Rover Wheel

NASA reported today, December 2, that the Mars rover “Spirit”has made significant discoveries while stuck in a section of the Martian terrain named after the ancient city of Troy.

Several of the wheels on the rover have been unable to gain traction, and have spun in place for the past six months as NASA operators attempt to unstick the device.  As the wheels churned up the soil, scientists were pleased to discover the presence of water-indicating sulfates, which form during steam events.

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Toshiba sends a chair to the edge of space to market its new Regva SV TVs

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Um, that is insanely cool.  This Toshiba article delves into the company’s brilliant ad campaign, and how sending a chair to space relates to laptops.

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NASA Picture of the Day: Saturn and Moons

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saturnafterequinox_cassini

Sweet picture of Saturn and Tethys above (one of Saturn’s moons).  Thanks to NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, we get to see amazing pictures like this one.  It almost looks fake, doesn’t it?  I never get tired of these NASA pictures of the day.  For more space pictures, follow NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Here are a couple other Saturn pictures from NASA, all courtesy of the Cassini probe.  The one on the bottom is a great shot of Saturn’s Titan. Read the rest of this entry »

Sagan, Feynman, deGrasse Tyson, & Bill Nye Rapping about the Universe

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This is a great music video composed of clips of famous scientists talking about the universe. T-Pain’s auto-tune effect has been laid over the clips to really give it a “hip” feel. Pretty funny. I dig the song too!