Super Moon, as seen by National Geographic

As the most of you know, last week, our lunar neighbor made the closest approach to our planet Earth, and resulted in the phenomenon called “Super Moon“.

last Sunday, the moon appeared 8% larger and 17% brighter than the usual.

Interestingly, National Geographic launched a special section in their “Your Shots” page online so that photographers and amateurs can send their pictures of the super moon.

Here are some of the very interesting uploaded pictures.

more-supermoon-your-shot-pictures-2013-clouds_68790_600x450 more-supermoon-your-shot-pictures-2013-crab_68791_600x450 more-supermoon-your-shot-pictures-2013-tower_68792_600x450 your-supermoon-pictures-2013-bursa-ferris-wheel_68734_600x450 your-supermoon-pictures-2013-close-up_68735_600x450 your-supermoon-pictures-2013-corfu-fortress-greece_68736_600x450 your-supermoon-pictures-2013-cornwall-england_68737_600x450 your-supermoon-pictures-2013-greece_68738_600x450 your-supermoon-pictures-2013-mt-blanc-switzerland_68739_600x450 your-supermoon-pictures-2013-page-arizona_68740_600x450

Hope you liked the pictures ūüôā

Remember you can still submit your Super Moon pictures to national geographic here. (with the hashtag #supermoon)

Blessed be

Zeus

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NASA To Capture A 500-Ton Asteroid

Did we just enter into the new era of asteroid hunting?

It seems yes!!

On Friday, Senator Bill Nelson stated that NASA is planning to develop a spaceship to lasso a small asteroid and park it next to the moon so that astronauts and scientists can explore it.

The asteroid is 500-tons and 25 feet in length. It will be captured in 2019, and in 2021, a group of four astronauts will start spacewalking exploration.

Interestingly, Sen.  Nelson declared on Friday that the President Barak Obama will allocate more than $100 million to accelerate the project by finding a better small sized asteroid.

This is will be the first time man attempts to manipulate space objects at a grand scale like this one, and it will something great for NASA to achieve in this century.

However, finding the right asteroid with the right size and the right time to pass by earth is not that easy.

For all those of you who are worried about the damage that the asteroid might cause to Earth, I assure you that a 25-foot asteroid will burn up completely in case it entered Earth’s atmosphere.

Other than the interesting scientific explorations that NASA will achieve by studying the asteroid, such a project will help NASA nudge away any dangerous asteroid heading to Earth any time in the future.

So let us wait and see what will happen. Personally, I am very excited for this project!

Why the Meteoroid Over Russia Is A Blessing?

MOSCOW: Russian authorities halted their search on Sunday for the meteoroid that spectacularly struck the Chelyabinsk region last week, leaving about 1200 people injured and damaging about 5000 buildings.

Scientists said its shock wave was a loud warning that they hoped would inspire action to prevent potential catastrophes.

”When a small piece of rock would fall on the Earth 100 years ago, it could have caused minimal damage and would have stayed largely undetected but Friday’s accident fully demonstrated how vulnerable the technological civilisation of today has become,” the head of the space monitoring laboratory at Moscow State University, Vladimir Lipunov, said.

”It is high time Russia should start heavily investing in building an advanced space-danger monitoring and warning system and, above that, a system capable of destroying such super bombs falling on us from the skies.

”We should be thankful to fate that this meteor, in fact, was a blessing in disguise and, instead of destroying a significant part of Russia with quite dire consequences to the rest of the world, it sent us a clear warning signal by simply blowing up a bunch of windows and lightly injuring over 1000 people.”

Scientists at the US space agency NASA estimated the amount of energy released into the atmosphere by the 10-tonne meteoroid was about 30 times greater than the force of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in World War II.

The regional governor, Mikhail Yurevich, said the damage exceeded $US33 million ($32 million) but 30 per cent of the windows broken by the shock wave had already been replaced.

About 20,000 municipal employees, emergency workers and volunteers worked around the clock at the weekend to replace windows in a region where the overnight temperature fell to minus 20 degrees.

Divers spent Saturday scouring Lake Chebarkul, which was at first believed to be the impact site, but the emergency ministry now thinks that a circular eight-metre hole in the frozen lake, about 60 kilometres from the city of Chelyabinsk, was not caused by any extraterrestrial body.

”We believe it was caused by something else,” a ministry spokesman, Vyacheslav Ladonkin, said. ”A decision has been made to stop the search.”

Forty people were still being treated in hospital in Chelyabinsk on Sunday, mostly for cuts, broken bones and concussion, a doctor said.

Dmitry Rogozin, the vice-premier in charge of Russia’s defence industry, said he would give the Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, ”proposals on possibilities to register the danger of the Earth’s coming close to ‘aliens’ ” and to prevent such events.

”The governments of the most developed countries should unite in creating a system of warning and global protection,” Professor Lipunov said.

How The Columbia Shuttle Disaster Changed Spacecraft Safety Forever

Jan. 16, 2003: Space shuttle Columbia launches on mission STS-107. (NASA)

Jan. 16, 2003: Space shuttle Columbia launches on mission STS-107. (NASA)

Ten years after the devastating Columbia space shuttle accident that took the  lives of seven astronauts, NASA is building a new spacecraft that will take  humans farther into space than ever before, and will incorporate the safety  lessons learned from the disaster that befell the agency Feb. 1, 2003.

That day, the shuttle Columbia was¬† returning from a 16-day trip to space devoted to science research. But what¬† began as a routine re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere ended disastrously as the¬† orbiter disintegrated about 200,000 feet over Texas.

Later analysis found that Columbia was doomed during its launch, when a small¬† bit of foam insulation broke off the shuttle’s external fuel tank and tore a¬† hole in the orbiter’s wing. That hole prevented Columbia from withstanding the¬† scorching heat of re-entry.

Afterward, the independent team that investigated the accident, called the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB),  found a number of factors, from the safety culture at NASA to the design of the  shuttle, that led to the disaster. [Photos: The Columbia Space Shuttle  Tragedy]

‘It’s especially important to us that were here during the Columbia¬† accident, because they were our friends, too.’- Dustin Gohmert, NASA crew survival engineering team lead

 

All of the lessons the agency learned were incorporated into every subsequent  flight NASA flew, and are now being used to inform the design of its  next-generation spaceship, Orion. That  vehicle is slated to carry people to asteroids, the moon and Mars sometime in  the mid-2020s.

“We’re hoping nothing ever goes wrong, but if it does, we’ve taken every¬† possible step to keep the crew safe and give them every possible fighting chance¬† they can have,” said Dustin Gohmert, NASA crew survival engineering team lead,¬† at Johnson Space Center in Houston. “It’s especially important to us that were¬† here during the Columbia accident, because they were our friends, too.”

Race car seats and children’s seatbelts

The Columbia investigation exposed a number of flaws in the design of the¬† shuttle’s crew cabin, including its seats, seatbelts, spacesuits and life¬† support system. Each of these has been redesigned for Orion.

“The seats were one of the weaker links during the Columbia accident,” Gohmert¬† told SPACE.com. “We wanted to make these seats formfitting so they had a true¬† fit to the body’s shape.”

NASA looked to the formfitting seats used in professional race vcars, which  provide even support to every part of the body, offering extreme cushioning and  shock absorption during a crash. Orion designers even fine-tuned the vibration  frequency of the seats to have different resonances than the internal organs of  a human body.

The engineers also redesigned the seatbelts, which were another issue during¬† Columbia’s flight. Here, they took inspiration from the belts on children’s car¬† seats, which are adjustable to fit a wide range of body sizes.

“We wanted an exact fit for every single person who could fit in the vehicle,¬† from females down to 4’10” and males up to 6’4″,” Gohmert said. “It was quite a¬† challenge.”

Suiting up

The astronaut spacesuits were also completely redesigned for Orion. The¬† Columbia investigation board found that the crewmembers didn’t have time to¬† configure their suits to protect against depressurization, which occurred¬† rapidly. In fact, some of the astronauts were not wearing their safety¬† gloves, and one didn’t even have a helmet on, because of how quickly the¬† accident took place. [Columbia Shuttle Disaster Explained¬† (Infographic)]

“In the case of Orion, the suits will instantaneously, and without any action¬† of the crew, inflate and protect from the loss of pressure,” Gohmert said.

The capsule life support system was also upgraded to provide a constant flow¬† of oxygen to the crew, even with their helmet visors up and locked, which wasn’t¬† possible in the shuttle.

Each of these changes addresses flaws exposed by the Columbia shuttle disaster.  Yet Gohmert said none of these upgrades alone would have made a difference  during the disaster.

“I caution against saying that any one thing we’ve corrected would have¬† protected against the outcome,” he said. “However, we examined all the lethal¬† events that occurred in Columbia and addressed each of them in the Orion. We’re¬† doing a whole lot of things to make it safer, and everything we’ve learned from¬† the shuttle accidents, from Russian space accidents, automobile accidents ‚ÄĒ we’ve taken lessons from all of them and tried to incorporate them into¬† Orion.”

Capsule vs. space plane

Perhaps the largest change from shuttle to Orion is the shift from a winged  space plane design to the cone-shaped capsule, which sits atop the rocket rather  than next to it.

“When we went to the capsule, we went from a side-mounted spacecraft to a¬† forward-mounted one,” said Julie Kramer White, Orion chief engineer. “Therefore,¬† it’s not exposed to debris environments, which was obviously a huge issue for¬† Columbia.”

This configuration also allows the crew compartment of the capsule to be  ejected from the top of the rocket stack in the case of an emergency on the  launch pad or during liftoff. Such an escape would not have been possible for  the crew cabin of the space shuttle.

Of course, the shuttle had capabilities that no capsule has ‚ÄĒ namely, the¬† ability to haul large, heavy cargos, such as the building blocks of the International Space Station,¬† inside its cargo bay, White pointed out.

Moreover, the culture of safety at NASA has changed for the better since the days of Columbia, Gohmert said.

“The reaction has been very positive around all of NASA in terms of giving us¬† the capacity to make these safety improvements,” he said. “Previously, it was¬† difficult to implement some of the safety features as we’d hoped. Now it really¬† is on the forefront of everyone’s mind.”