Here's another look at NASA's fascinating aerogel, which is currently the world's lightest solid (graphene version that is) with a composition of 99.8% air and 0.2% silica gel - it feels like fragile expanded polystyrene to the touch. Also known as "Blue Smoke", this material can withstand a 1-kilogram dynamite explosion and shield precious objects, such as the space shuttle, from a flame that exceeds 1400° C. Despite its weight, it can support over 1,000 times its own weight. Production of aerogels is done by the sol-gel process. First a gel is created in solution and then the liquid is carefully removed to leave the aerogel intact. Continue reading for three more videos and information.
Not a day passes without someone, researcher or an amateur astronomer, spotting something in NASA's archives. This time, it's an object that is flying too close to the sun to be human technology, thus making it an "alien spaceship," or so they'd like to believe. The images were captured by the space agency's specialist telescopic cameras used to monitor solar activity earlier this month. Continue reading for a video of more sun anomalies and information.
The O'Neill cylinder is essentially a space settlement design proposed by American physicist Gerard K. O'Neill in his 1976 book The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space. An O'Neill cylinder would consist of two counter-rotating cylinders. The cylinders would rotate in opposite directions in order to cancel out any gyroscopic effects that would otherwise make it difficult to keep them aimed toward the Sun. Each would be 5-miles in diameter and 20-miles long, connected at each end by a rod via a bearing system. They would rotate so as to provide artificial gravity via centrifugal force on their inner surfaces. Continue reading for two more videos, pictures and additional information.
Here's a stunning image of Enceladus and Dione, captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. "The surface of Enceladus (313 miles or 504 kilometers across) endures a constant rain of ice grains from its south polar jets. As a result, its surface is more like fresh, bright, snow than Dione's (698 miles or 1123 kilometers across) older, weathered surface. As clean, fresh surfaces are left exposed in space, they slowly gather dust and radiation damage and darken in a process known as 'space weathering,'" said NASA. Continue reading for another video of Dione, as captured by Cassini.
NASA has revealed an impossible fuel-free EM Drive engine that could take a humans to Mars in just 10 weeks by bouncing microwaves around in an enclosed chamber as well as using solar power, to create thrust. "I will tell you that we first built and installed a second generation, closed face magnetic damper that reduced the stray magnetic fields in the vacuum chamber by at least an order of magnitude and any Lorentz force [the force that is exerted by a magnetic field on a moving electric charge] interactions it could produce. And yet the anomalous thrust signals remain," said Paul March, one of the top engineers working the EM Drive thruster at the Eagleworks Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center in Texas. Continue reading for another video and more information.
Earth is set to be buzzed tonight by a dead comet that looks eerily like a skull. Named 2015 TB145 and located 310,000-miles away, NASA reports that it will safely brush past our planet at 78,000mph - approximately 1.3-times the distance between the Earth and the moon. "The IRTF data may indicate that the object might be a dead comet, but in the Arecibo images it appears to have donned a skull costume for its Halloween flyby," said NASA's Kelly Fast. Continue reading for two more videos and information.
The NASA AD-1 was an experimental oblique wing aircraft associated with a special flight test program conducted between 1979 and 1982 at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. The research team successfully demonstrated an aircraft wing that could be pivoted obliquely from zero to 60° during flight. It was flown a total of 79 times during the research program, which evaluated the basic pivot-wing concept and gathered information on handling qualities and aerodynamics at various speeds and degrees of pivot. Continue reading for more cool facts.
Astronomers at NASA have spotted a black hole in the process of shredding a star 290-million light years away. Researchers say that the event is the closest tidal disruption discovered in about a decade. "When a star wanders too close to a black hole, intense tidal forces rip the star apart. In these events, called 'tidal disruptions,' some of the stellar debris is flung outward at high speed while the rest falls toward the black hole. This causes a distinct X-ray flare that can last for a few years. The event occurred near a super-massive black hole estimated to weigh a few million times the mass of the sun in the center of PGC 043234, a galaxy that lies about 290 million light-years away. Astronomers hope to find more events like ASASSN-14li to test theoretical models about how black holes affect their environments," said the space agency. Continue reading for a video on the largest black hole discovered yet.
Ruhr University Bochum researchers divided a section of the southern sky into 268 different sections, after which they spent days creating ultra-high-resolution photos of each one with telescopes at the Cerro Armazones Observatory in Chile. Once everything had been photographed, they spent 5-years stitching together those 268 ultra high resolution photos into an even more massive 46-gigapixel photo that dials in at 194-gigabytes. You view the interactive map here. Continue reading for another video and more information.
The Kepler Space Telescope has discovered a bizarre star, called "KIC 8462852", 1,480 light-years away, that could be orbited by a massive alien megastructure known as a Dyson sphere. "We are looking at it with the Allen Telescope Array. We'd never seen anything like this star. Over the duration of the Kepler mission, KIC 8462852 was observed to undergo irregularly shaped, aperiodic dips in flux down to below the 20% level," said Tabetha Boyajian, a postdoc at Yale. Continue reading for another video and more information.