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Why Voyager 1's Entrance Into Interstellar Space Is Such a Big Deal

September 12, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow This afternoon, NASA made a big announcement: Its Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched from Earth 36 years ago, has entered interstellar space. Nerds the world over -- your correspondent included -- proceeded to freak out. This is big. But why, you ask, does it matter that Voyager 1 is no longer, ...

Good News! The UFO Just Spotted From the Space Station Was Not Really a UFO

August 20, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow This morning, astronaut Chris Cassidy looked out the window of the International Space Station. He saw the usual thing -- the vast expanse of the visible cosmos, unimpeded by the Earth's blurring atmosphere -- and then he saw a thing that was less usual. A bright thing. A vaguely spherical ...

Good News, Future Colonists! Mars Meals May Feature Nutella

August 15, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow On the northern slope of the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii, on a barren lava field at 8,000 feat above sea level, six researchers have spent the last four months living in a dome. And, when venturing beyond the dome, wearing space suits. And, beyond that, sleeping. And eating. And ...

How a Cat Helped Pioneer New Postal Service Technology, Circa 1897

August 14, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Before people relied on a theoretical series of tubes for the exchange of interpersonal correspondence, they used tubes of a more literal variety. Starting in 1897 and lasting until 1953, the New York City Post office moved mail across the city using, in part, an intricate system of pneumatic tubes ...

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 ...