Tag Archives: NASA

VR Apollo 11 experience PS4

I downloaded this a few weeks back and finally gave it a go. If you are a regular reader then you are probably aware that this sort of thing is very much my cup of tea – I love space exploration, astronomy and VR. So I am happy to report that I loved the VR Apollo 11 experience.

There are some interactive elements – such as docking (fairly easy) and landing (fairly impossible) – but this is essentially a documentary experience. The makers went to a lot of effort to make the experience as accurate as possible and they did a superb job. For example, the landscape you see during the landing sequence is the real photo mosaic NASA created and used to train the astronauts. Obviously, you don’t experience things like the G-force of take-off (get someone to sit on you), or the terror, but when you leave the atmosphere and can look out of the window at Earth, it is pretty amazing. I also learned some things I didn’t know about how the Apollo modules worked which was pretty cool.

The company that made this experience is called Immersive VR Education and if you click on the link you can see a lot more information. I did the VR Apollo 11 Experience on a PS4 but it is also on Oculus and Vive and so on. If you are interested in space and VR I highly recommend it. Here is a trailer which will give you a vague idea – just without the VR.

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NASA Images and Video Library

This is bloody superb. NASA has opened an archive site that hosts 140,000 files of space-related awesomeness. It should keep you in screensaver images for a long time – possibly forever as they said they will continue to add to it.

There are great pictures here and as we launch ever cooler and more sophisticated satellites, this site should just keep on giving.

You can access all the pictures here.

The full address is: https://images.nasa.gov/#/

As always NASA – if you read this and need a writer/blogger/good-looking-journalist adventurer type to go into space, I fully volunteer. I am in perfect health and have never even had a filling.

Anyway, check it out their site. Here are some samples to whet your astronomical appetite. Enjoy:


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What it’s like to land on Pluto


If we ever stop dicking about being mean to each other on this planet, we may start exploring space. Or maybe the lunatics taking over the asylum (aka Earth) will give science the impetus to escape our gravity well and start over elsewhere. Either way, I spend a lot of time dreaming about going to other planets. Or even dwarf planets.

It seems NASA is much the same as they have stitched together 100 photos from the New Horizons flyby in 2015 to give an idea of what it would be like to land on Pluto. In colour! Enjoy.


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Every extraterrestrial body robots have landed on

I came across these pictures and they are amazing. Each one is a photo taken from an extraterrestrial body – i.e. not Earth – by robots. Lucky robots. Have a look at these:

Photos from extraterrestrial bodies

Photos from extraterrestrial bodies

Pretty inspiring stuff. It is incredible that we humans, who are such dicks quite a lot of the time, are capable of flinging a robot through the voids of space, then have them land and send back fantastic pictures.

When I saw these on the internet I thought it was also pretty cool that someone had gone to the effort of collecting them all together and putting them into such a nice collage. Except they missed one. In 2005 the Japanese also landed a probe on an asteroid called Itokawa, where they took some soil and fired it back to Earth. So for the sake of completeness, here is a photo from that. Go science.

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Chris Hadfield: the making of Space Oddity video

Chris Hadfield sings Bowie's Space Oddity

Chris Hadfield sings Bowie’s Space Oddity

Chris Hadfield’s version of Space Oddity has been viewed on Youtube over 32 million times. At least 10 of them were by me but that still leaves a lot. Bowie himself described it as the “moist poignant version ever made”. (Still miss Bowie, RIP, the world has really gotten a lot worse since he left, it can’t just be a coincidence.)

This clip is a ‘Behind the scenes’ video from ‘NOVA’s secret life of scientists and engineers‘ channel. In it Hadfield talks about the making of the Space Oddity video and reactions to it. I love everything about this: Hadfield, space exploration, the International Space Station, and David Bowie. These are a few of my very favourite things and all are a constant reminder that, just occasionally, humanity doesn’t suck.

Here you go:

As I always when writing about space exploration, my message to NASA: I am free, healthy, and ready to go into space. thewordofward@gmail.com.

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Tribute to Voyager space program is damn inspiring



As the Earth seems to be getting progressively more shite, it is worth remembering that we humans are capable of doing pretty incredible things. If we try and think beyond the petty here and now, and set our sights on knowledge, exploration and becoming a greater species I am convinced things could improve. With intolerance on the rise – religious and secular – we should try and better ourselves, not squabble and fight over imaginary beings or who should be allowed into “our” little patch of Earth. When you see our planet from space, the arguing and hatred seems so pointless.

Obviously nothing will change as too many humans are dicks. Happily, not all.

Here is an amazing video made by a talented fellow called Santiago Menghini. It is a tribute to NASA’s Voyager space program and combines real footage, recorded sounds, Voyager images, animation and more, into a very cool little film. Brilliant and truly inspiring. Cheered me right up, it did. Enjoy.

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Welcome back Tim Peake

Pub creates Peake portrait out of a roast dinner. For some reason.

Pub creates Peake portrait out of a roast dinner. For some reason.

Here at the Word of Ward we are unanimous in our support of space exploration, ESA, NASA and the brave people who go into space in the quest for knowledge. If you think space exploration is a waste of time, you have my sympathy for being a small minded individual who only thinks of the current generation. (I’m kidding – I think you’re an idiot.)

Before I slide happily into a rant, I will return to my main purpose which is to welcome back Tim Peake to terra firma and to say thanks for all he has done in the name of science and human endeavour.

My other main purpose is to point out to anyone from ESA or NASA that might read this, that I am fully available and willing to go into space as a member of Joe Public. It would be good PR. Just saying. Here is a video of Tim Peake’s highlights from the BBC:

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4 minute video of Space X launches is damned inspiring

(Feel free to skip my rant and just see the clip at the bottom. I apologise in advance.)

Space X doing their thing

Space X doing their thing

I’m not going to tiptoe around this – we should go into space and anyone who disagrees is either a short sighted idiot or a massively, colossally selfish individual who only cares about themselves and the next generation or two. (Unless you hope for some kind of apocalypse – which is a dumb plan – what do you think the world you great grandkids will live in?) They are also putting a downer on one of the few amazing and inspiring things about humans – our sense of wonder and exploration.

Governments are now mostly blowing all our money on war and bailing out bankers, so it is more of a moot point. Thankfully forward looking entrepreneurs are stepping in and financing space exploration, so if you think more should be spent on healthcare – and it should – go shout at a politician. There was a great quote from Professor Brian Cox saying that the British Government spent more money bailing out the bankers than they have on science since Jesus. Which is pretty depressing.

What is great about space exploration these days is that there are big organisations and nations working together (like NASA and ESA), and these huge players are teaming up with private companies like Space X and Virgin Galactic, who are using cutting edge tech to really push the boundaries at an incredible rate. All this is my rather long winded way of saying how amazing it is that Space X has gone from a rocket that can hop a little bit, to a rocket that can deliver stuff to the Space Station and then land on a sodding barge at sea. All in 4 years.

I’m inspired and excited by shit like this and if you aren’t, I feel a bit sorry for you. If anyone from NASA/ESA/Space X/Virgin Glactic reads this and you want someone to go into space and write about it – thewordofward@gmail.com is my address.

Enjoy the clip.



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Pale Blue Dot Photo

25 years ago, Voyager 1 turned round and took a picture of the Earth from 3.7 billion miles away. At first NASA wasn’t all that keen – it was expensive and served no real scientific purpose – but the legend that was Carl Sagan, persuaded them to do it. Just so that we humans can get a sense of perspective. And he was right. I have written about this before but as the anniversary just happened, I though I would write about it again. Here is the Pale Blue Dot photo and the Earth is on the right in the shaft of sunlight. It’s pretty amazing.

Pale Blue Dot photo

Pale Blue Dot photo

If that wasn’t perspective enough, add in Carl Sagan’s words:

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

It’s even better with his voice. Enjoy and feel your insignificance.

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Time lapse video of Earth from space

The Earth. From Space.

The Earth. From Space.

If you are a regular reader you may be aware that I occasionally use the odd superlative, too many swearwords, and am guilty of overusing the phrase ‘awesome’. Well, thanks to a Spanish filmmaker called Fede Castro, you are going to see me massively revert to type. This time lapse video of Earth from space is fucking awesomely brilliant. It uses footage released by NASA’s Johnson Space Center and makes the Earth look ever so pretty.

There are times when I despair about humans (usually religion related) and there are times when I think we are an incredible species striving for knowledge and achieving amazing things (usually science or creativity related). This clip makes me think the latter. Go science.

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The Sound of Space – Voyager has left the system.

voyager2_largeVoyager has officially left the solar system. NASA said so and they seem pretty certain about it.

Voyager 1 was launched in September 1977, 36 years ago. I was 5 years old and it has remained an awe inspiring achievement throughout my life. It’s one of those things that humanity occasionally does that makes me feel proud of it. Good work humanity. The ability to look outward and the desire to explore and learn is a trait that should be encouraged. Sadly this trait was soon after rejected because we need more money for wars and bailing out banks and so forth.

I’m going to try not to rant about this but to put things in perspective, the UK spends £4.6 billion a year on science. That’s ALL science. The bank bailout is expected to cost the country over a TRILLION pounds since 2007. Just the bailout of RBS cost the taxpayer £46 billion. So when someone whinges about space exploration costing too much money, they are talking bollocks. Anyway, Branson is going to do it now, so the government and the whingebags can piss off.

Back to Voyager. The mission took some brilliant photos of Jupiter and Saturn and their associated moons. Our knowledge base has grown massively. It single handedly inspired the opening sequence to Star Trek Voyager when it flies through the rings of Saturn (probably). Speaking of Star Trek –  there is also the possibility that Voyager will return and be super-intellgent thanks to some sentient machines it may meet in the far future, like in Star Trek the Motion picture. These are just a few perks in addition to the knowledge and pictures.

Voyager returns in Star Trek 1 movie.

Voyager returns in Star Trek 1 movie.

One curious thing that I have personally discovered, is that Voyager has discovered sounds in space. I think. They are waves emanating from the sun and are recorded and sound like a noise. Another thing that I discovered is that the sound of space is pretty damned terrifying! Imagine the sound-track to a ‘space horror’ movie mixed with the sounds used in a scifi show to show ‘advanced aliens are up to something’ and that’s the sound. Downright eerie! (You can hear it below.)

I just wanted to say good work Voyager 1 (and 2) and all those involved in the project. I look forward to being a head in a jar in 40,000 years’ time when it makes it through the black bit between stars.

Here’s a short 2 minute with the terrifying sounds of space. Sail on!

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In Saturn’s Rings

This is pretty cool. Some obsessed young fellow, probably single, has spend the last 6 years splicing together actual photos from space missions to make a kind of animated photo flipbook thing so that looks like a movie. Got that? The amazing thing is that they are real pictures and are of an awesome quality. There are a lot from the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn, plus some others of galactic bodies which are basically space porn. In case you keep forgetting that these are real there are some handy, if slightly annoying, reminders.

Make sure you click original quality to get the full 4k experience! (The cog thing on the lower right of the video’s screen.)

Pretty cool huh? I know it’s shallow but all of could think of was the title sequence of Star Trek Voyager. Click to about 1:05. Sorry.



NASA videos Transit Of Venus and it’s astounding

This is great. NASA has released footage from its satellite the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). If you think money spent on space is a waste of time, please go elsewhere. Enjoy.