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A Trip Through a 3D-Modeled Brain

August 8, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Brains are, by design, incredibly dense. Whether a particular brain belongs to a human or a mouse, it features layer upon layer of matter that twists and turns and is almost incomprehensible in its complexity. Our minds are a little bit mind-boggling. Which is what makes the video above, produced ...

You Know What's Better Than a Twin Study? A Twin Study Conducted in Space

August 7, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Growing up, twin brothers Mark and Scott Kelly shared a lot -- even for twins. They took the same AP Biology class. They were co-captains of their high school swim team. They worked some of the same jobs. Even into adulthood, the brothers shared things. They both became captains in ...

How Curiosity Became an Astronaut

August 6, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The most memorable thing was the tears. They were the result, for the most part, of the tensions of the "Seven Minutes of Terror." And of hope. And of anticipation. And of the knowledge that so many people had invested a significant portion of their lives in this one moment ...

Video: Behold, the Innards of a Spacesuit

August 1, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Ever wondered what the inside of a spacesuit looks like? Neither had I, really. Last week, however, the world had reason to consider the inner workings of the garment that my new favorite site on all the Internet refers to as the "space costume." A suit malfunction occurred nearly two ...

You're an Astronaut on a Spacewalk — and Your Helmet Is Filling With Water

July 16, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Imagine you're an astronaut. Imagine you're on a spacewalk. Imagine, in other words, that you are whirling above the Earth at more than 17,000 miles an hour, the only thing between you and the deadly vacuum of space a padded suit, a hardened helmet, and an umbilical tether that you ...

How to Wash Your Hair in Space

July 11, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Karen Nyberg is a mechanical engineer who earned her PhD in the control of thermal neutrality in space suits. In May 2008, she became the fiftieth woman in space, serving on the crew of the space shuttle mission STS-124 on a trip to the International Space Station. She is currently ...

The Next Big Thing for Exploring the Distant Universe: Balloons

July 8, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The history of space exploration is in many ways a history of lenses. From Galileo's Starry Messenger to the powerful telescope arrays we have today, it has been two basic facts -- the curve of a glass, the sheen of a mirror -- that have largely been responsible for expanding ...

That Time an Astronaut Got a Pie Sent to the International Space Station

July 1, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Peggy Whitson was the first female commander of the International Space Station. In October 2002, she was living on the Station. And during STS-112, the shuttle mission that sent astronauts to help build out the Station's infrastructure, her husband took part in a time-honored tradition: he sent her a care ...

How We Name the Things We Find on Mars

June 28, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The Curiosity rover that arrived on Mars a year ago this August was named by Clara Ma, a sixth-grader from Kansas. Ma submitted an essay to a national competition, Name the Rover, that asked students to submit ideas for what the new rover -- née Mars Science Laboratory -- should ...

Going Really, Really Green: Earth's Plant Life, as Seen From Space

June 26, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The Earth is the "Blue Planet" because more than 70 percent of its surface is covered in water. But what does the Blue Planet look like without the blue? How would Earth appear as ... the Green Planet? Something like this, apparently. The Suomi NPP satellite, NASA's Earth-observing research satellite, ...