New Horizons flies by Pluto

Enormous heart feature on Pluto. Credits: NASA/APL/SwRI
July 14, 2015

 Oh wow! Today the New Horizons spacecraft zipped past Pluto at 30,800 mph (49,600 km/hr), just 476,000 miles (768,000 kilometers) from the surface. I was expecting something cool, but not a heart 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) across. The heart is quie near Pluto’s equator (the photo mostly shows the northern hemisphere) and it seems remarkably flat. The best guess is that it’s geologically new, because much of the rest of…


Philae woke up!

  Remember Rosetta, the spaceship orbiting a comet and the lander that bounced into the shade? The lander wasn’t getting enough sunlight to power it, so it went into hibernation in November last year. Now that the comet is nearer the sun there’s more light, plus the comet’s evaporating away and the valley’s less deep now. Philae’s woken up, and ESA are hoping to get their mitts on all that…

June 20, 2015

I hope that wasn’t my prince

Frog caught in a NASA launch
September 13, 2013

  Wow! Yes, that’s a real frog, and a real NASA launch, and no, the photo wasn’t retouched. This is NASA’s LADEE heading to the moon “to gather detailed information about the lunar atmosphere, conditions near the surface and environmental influences on lunar dust.” The automatic cameras caught this image at the launch Pad 0B at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.” For real. So what’s with the frog? Well, the…


A stunning photo of Saturn

Saturn and its rings backlit, taken by NASA's Cassini mission on Sept. 15, 2006
June 7, 2013

  This wonderful photo of Saturn was taken by NASA’s Cassini mission on Sept. 15, 2006. The sun is behind the planet, giving a wonderful view of the rings. Even more spectacular, you can just see the Earth at the left.


R.I.P. Sally Ride

Sally Ride, the first American woman in space
July 23, 2012

  Sally Ride, the first American astronaut, died today at the young age of 62. She is survived by her partner of 27 years, Tam E. O’Shaughnessy.


Sputnik 1

1957: Sputnik 1
October 4, 2011

  The first ever artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, was launched by the Russians on October 4th, 1957. It weighed just 83.6 kg (184.3 lb) (less than me, I’m sorry to say) compared to the International Space Station which weighs 450 tonnes (rather more than I do.) Sputnik 1 had a very elliptical orbit, taking 96 minutes to complete one orbit, which means that it averaged a little higher than the…