Tag Archives: space

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

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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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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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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Deep Space Industries

All the space exploration stuff I dreamt of as a kid are finally coming true. I now just need longevity drugs so I can actually get out there. In particular I want to be around when they find the first weird alien artifacts that unleash an unspeakable evil and need myself and an elite team to to find out why none of the miners are responding. It’s going to be great.

The Firefly concept

This fanciful dreaming has been inspired by the science-fiction-sounding Deep Space Industries. To increase this scifi feeling the exploratory modules are called Firefly. I don’t know if they are fans of the show but I suspect space scientists/engineers probably are, as all intelligent people like science fiction (that’s a fact). The Firefly modules will act like scouts and will be out there by 2015. Probably. This new space expansion is unlikely to really get going until the 2020s at the earliest. I’ll be almost 50 in 2020 which is why I need the longevity drugs. There are a lot of ifs in my mental scenarios but I’m an optimist.

A Fuel Harvester

In addition to these modules Deep Space Industries have all sorts of incredible vessels planned. Harvesters and miners and processors and habitats. And it’s all real!!! Well, soon will be. Probably.

I really hope DSI makes this happen. I’m fed up with being disappointed by humanity when it comes to space exploration. Whenever anyone says something like ‘we should spend all the money on hospitals or something’ it makes me want to cry. Sure that would make things a bit better right now but it’s so short sighted. If we keep everyone healthy, old, but stuck on this planet you are essentially dooming future generations to overcrowding, disease, and mass starvation. You are essentially thinking purely of yourself. Prick.

Anyway. As I said this will hopefully be about to change. This time it looks more hopeful than ever. Call me cynical but this time there is a factor that might help us reach for the stars: mankind’s innate greed. There’s a shitload of gold and valuable goodies out there, locked away in asteroids. I read somewhere that some asteroids near us contain enough gold to change the price of gold on our planet permanently. It may now be financially viable to get our grubby paws on the stuff.

Here are two brilliant pictures straight from a movie. These are followed by a clip that could be directed by Paul Verhoeven but isn’t. It even has scifi writing fonts and everything.

More space harvester action

 

Space habitat. I soooo want to live here.

I want to work for this company. Even if it is in the video making department.

For more info see their site. I got all the pictures from there and there are more. Go Deep Space Industries! If you read this can I have a job? http://deepspaceindustries.com/

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The Mars Rover

A photo from Mars.

This is a picture of Mars. Mars! How awesome is that? This was taken by the Mars Rover – a 10 foot nuclear powered robot that is wandering around the red planet doing scientific analysis with the aid of lasers that shoot from its eyes. The picture was beamed across the vast vacuum of space back to NASA who then put it on their website which I then accessed at home on my shiny laptop through the genius of the internet and a wireless network.

There are times when humanity makes me despair (see buying magic on eBay). But there are times when we rule. Like now. I feel so proud of my fellow humans.

I really hate people who think it is all a waste of money. These small minded bores think that the money should be spent on hospitals to make everyone live longer on this already crowded planet. They believe that we should risk having humanity wiped out by a disaster because funds could go elsewhere. Basically these collections of human-shaped yawns are of the opinion that we shouldn’t reach for the stars and dream big planetary spanning dreams. We should just stay here, use up all the resources and die out. Of course the people who think we shouldn’t expand into space won’t be around when the remnants of humanity struggle Mad Max-style over a piece of boiled rat and some car fuel. It will be their kiddywink’s kiddywinks.

Essentially, if you don’t want to go to space you want your children’s children to suffer a slow and agonizing death. You are dooming your ancestors. You’re obviously a wanker and probably don’t have any friends.

Conversely, if you want to go into space and expand humanity then you are awesome and probably fun to be around. Hooray for you!

Ok, sorry, went a bit off topic there. I basically just wanted to share this photo because it is incredible and inspiring. As you can probably tell, I hope you share this sense of wonder. Go humans!

Even cooler: 360 degrees of Mars.

 

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The Last Space Shuttle and the Future

The last ever Space Shuttle, the Atlantis, touched down yesterday marking the end of the 30 year old NASA project. My initial thought was, ‘Well, that’s another giant leap backward for Mankind’ and felt vaguely depressed by direction humanity has decided to return to – inward looking, money-obsessed, war-mongering, looking after our own, seeing only the short term, small minded, barely evolved primates that we are. We suck. Or so I thought.

Never again. Good work people.

There have been those who have criticized the program claiming that it didn’t really achieve all that much and cost too much money. I disagree. The program pretty much built the International Space Station for a start. This has allowed for the study of various things, including the biological feasability of long-term space travel. Essential if we want to go to Mars. It has also launched the Hubble Telescope which has led to countless breakthroughs and discoveries. Plus some awesomely beautiful pictures.

If the human race wants to survive, we need to get off this planet. There are too many of us and there is no way to stop the increase. If you disagree, you’re bascically condemning future billions to horrible deaths from rising sea levels or famine or an eventual killer virus or asteroid or triffid attack. Nice thinking.

How can you not feel awed by this kind of achievement?

So did the Space Shuttle program end this inevitable threat of impending overpopulation? No. But it has helped pave the way by taking a few small practical steps in the right direction.

Most importantly though, it allowed mankind to dream. Man walking on the moon has always topped any poll of Mankind’s Greatest Moments. It is the quest to explore boundaries and achievements of projects like the Space Shuttle that lift humans above the animals and News of the World investigators (sorry – cheap shot). It inspires us to look to the stars. To think on a bigger scale. To look forward beyond a generation or two for a change.

Otherwise what has been the point? Eventually a huge meteor will hit and our civilisation will end. If you cynically think that perhaps that is a good thing as humanity not a nice beast, then you can piss off as it is unlikely that you will be the one suffering or dying – it will be your great grandkids. Along with us will go all our art, literature, movies, the lot. There will be literally no point in our having struggled against the odds to get to where we are if we just turn inwards and obsess over credit crunches and who has the most natural resources. We need to escape this petty ape-like tribal mentality.

Luckily it isn’t all going to end. Even though tons of NASA staff have been fired, things go on. India, China, Europe and Russia for example are still plugging away. Trips to the Space Station are still leaving from Russia. China hopes to be on the moon by 2022, and Japan and India plan on a moon base by 2030. (With the latter three countries there will at least be some decent food up there.)

Also, excitingly, individual companies are entering the fray. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic are offering flights into space for £200,000, which is very cool. The futuristic-sounding ‘SpaceX’ seems to be taking over where NASA has left off. SpaceX was founded by a Paypal co-founder with the awesome name Elon Musk who paid $100million of his own money. Funnily enough, he states that it was the bureaucracy of space agencies that made it so expensive and the end of the Shuttle will make space travel cheaper and quicker. I love the idea of billionaires with passion getting us in space.

So while it is sad to see the Shuttle program end, the quest for space seems to be gathering momentum. Ironically, it is being driven by the same urges I complained about at the start. There are a lot of resources out there and there are a lot of millionaires who will pay to be in space down here. It can all be very lucrative. Whoever colonizes the moon first will have a strong position to exploit this situation. It is likely there will be similar disputes over moon ownership as there currently is over who is allowed on Antarctic. But at least the tribal humans will be squabbling on another planetary body. It’s a start.

No matter what the motives though, I don’t really care. As long as we are boldy going somewhere, I will be happy.

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