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A World of Water, Seen From Space

March 3, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Late last week, from a launch pad at the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan, a rocket shot toward space. Nestled inside it was an amalgam of solar arrays and communications equipment and propulsion instruments, all of them cobbled together in the utilitarian-chic manner favored by aerospace engineers—one more satellite ...

Soon, the Coldest Place in the Known Universe Will Be on ... the International Space Station

February 3, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Space, on top of everything else, is cold. Really cold. The cosmic background temperature—the temperature of the cosmic background radiation thought to be left over from the Big Bang—is 3 Kelvin, or -455 degrees Fahrenheit. Yet there's variation within that. Solar winds can reach millions of degrees Fahrenheit. And then ...

Have Presidential Speeches Gotten More 'Tweetable'?

January 30, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The White House regularly tweets sentences from key (and also from not-so-key) speeches on its various feeds. Which made Yahoo's News Chris Wilson and Olivier Knox wonder "whether the president's speechwriters were actually crafting his speeches to fit in Twitter-friendly increments." Perhaps it would stand to reason that presidential speeches, ...

Oh, Deer: NASA Rocket Gets Photobombed by Hungry Animals

January 10, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Yesterday afternoon, at 1:07 pm Eastern Standard Time, the Antares Rocket launched from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, bound for the International Space Station. The rocket, developed by Orbital Sciences, will deliver science experiments, supplies, and even some children's books to the orbiting lab via the commercial firm's Cygnus spacecraft. ...

What 3D-Printed Cake Tastes Like

January 9, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow LAS VEGAS—Call them Cakerbots. Adding to the growing list of things you can 3D print (toys, human organs, pizza that will be eaten on Mars, etc.) is a machine promising that, with it, you can print yourself some dessert. In the "3D Printing" section of the Consumer Electronics Show, one ...

Facial Recognition for the People in Your Pupils

December 31, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow If you get up really close to someone—or zoom in really close in a photo of that person—you can see what he sees, reflected into your own eyes. It's creepy and cool and occasionally profound: Staring back at you in shiny, convex curves is yourself. Which is another way of ...

This 6-Year-Old Wants to Be an Astronaut, So He's Petitioning the White House to Save NASA

December 10, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow For half of his life, Connor Johnson has dreamed of being an astronaut. And not just for the adventure of it. Not just for the romance, or the celebrity, or the outfits ... but for the giddy newness of it. Johnson wants to be a sailor of stars, he says, ...

How Do We Welcome Astronauts Back to Earth? By Making Them Go Through Customs

December 6, 2013 In a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) Thursday afternoon, the now-retired astronaut-cum-social-media-phenomenon Chris Hadfield answered a series of redditors' questions about space travel. One of them: "Did you have to pass through Customs or some other international checkpoint when you landed in Kazakhstan?" Hadfield's answer? Yes! As the Canadian explains ...

Another Problem for Amazon's Delivery Drones? Angry Birds

December 6, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow We can talk about regulatory hurdles. We can talk about delivery zone issues. We can talk about cost and weight and range and reliability, about lawsuits and criminality. We should, when we're talking about Amazon's Prime Air, talk about all of those things. You know what we should also be ...

Irradiated Turkey, Thermostabilized Yams: Thanksgiving Dinner in Space

November 27, 2013 There are many wonderful things about being in space. The views. The floating. The many delightful things you can do with water drops. Etc. You know what's less awesome, though? The food. Sure, you can do a lot of things to space food to make it less space-food-y: You can ...