Tag Archives: NASA

Friday Random 10: Astro-pee edition

Becoming an astronaut requires one to possess extraordinary physical and mental capacities. Not only must you be a brilliant and articulate person of science, but you must also endure severe physical challenges that would humble nearly all other humans.

The training program for astronauts is rigorous and largely thankless. Nearly all astronauts spend year after year on the ground, watching a select few of their compatriots be launched into space. Many say the wait for a mission to space is the most difficult part.

space-peeHowever, once selected for a mission, astronauts enjoy certain privileges that ordinary humans don’t. Such as the ability dump a 150-pound bucket of your pee into space — thereby creating a brilliant streak of reflective human waste thousands of miles long and visible to humans on the ground.

The picture at right was taken in Hungary last Wednesday. In it, you can see what amounts to more than a week’s worth of astro-pee cascading through the night sky:

According to NASA spokeswoman Kylie Clem, because space regulations bar astronauts from dumping waste water at the International Space Station, the Discovery astronauts had to wait until undocking before they could discard their pee — which by that point amounted to a hefty ten days’ worth.

Sad you missed the show? No need to worry: you may get another chance, as it’s actually a fairly common sighting, says Clem.

And now you know what all that Tang is for.

(Hat tip: Perry Ellis)

The songs:

Chinese Translation — M. Ward
Agoraphobia — Deerhunter
Stop — Ryan Adams
Things Ain’t Like They Used to Be — The Black Keys
Merchants of Soul — Spoon
Fight Test — Flaming Lips
The Long Island Sound — Beirut
Bartering Lines — Ryan Adams
Margaret in Captivity — The Decemberists
In Harmony in Silver — Cold War Kids

Bonus video:

While You Wait for the Others — Grizzly Bear (Live on Jools Holland)

The Rules: The Friday Random 10 is exactly that — random. We open up our iTunes, set the thing on shuffle, and listen to 10 songs. We are not permitted to skip any out of embarrassment or fear of redundancy. Commenters are encouraged to post their own.

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Neil Armstrong dropped the kids off on the moon


Pax Arcana

Boing Boing guest blogger Dylan Thuras had an interesting post yesterday on a subject that should resonate with everyone who wants to preserve the legacy of America’s space program:

Neil Armstrong’s dookie is still up there on the moon — dangling precipitously on the inner cheek walls of our scientific heritage.

The issue, according to Thuras, is that while rocks and other artifacts gathered from the moon are treated with reverence here on earth, the stuff we left behind (like four defecation collection devices) is just sitting up there, waiting to be ransacked by space vandals or something:

While bags of frozen astronaut poop may sound unimportant, even a little gross, some “extreme heritage” conservationists are very concerned about their protection–as well as the other detritus left behind by humanity’s first moonwalkers. For now, Tranquility Base is still tranquil (there is no wind or rain up there to damage things), but preservationists worry that private space enterprises will one day endanger the Apollo landing site, as well as other important landmarks on the moon.

Some preservationists are getting pretty frustrated with NASA’s refusal to protect the original lunar landing site. Luckily, I have a proposal that should satisfy both parties: NASA should rent out a studio in Burbank and film a bunch of actors dressed like astronauts “landing” on the “moon” and roping off the “landing site” with a bunch of yellow tape.

If anyone spots the ruse, we’ll just have Buzz Aldrin punch them in the face.

Poop on the moon, and how to protect it [Boing Boing]

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Mars is dirty

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NASA’s $420 million Phoenix lander finally landed this weekend and found what it was looking for — Phoenix.

Of course, this photo isn’t actually from Phoenix. It’s from a top-secret computer-enhanced photo studio in central Florida, bankrolled by an international cabal of tax-plundering neo-aristocrats whose membership includes no less than the Queen of England and German soccer superstar Michael Ballack.

NASA, adhering strictly to its fictional storyline, swears the photo is the first-ever taken from the surface of Mars — the planet so legendary they named a candy bar after it.

“It was better than we could have possibly wished for,” said Barry Goldstein, the project manager for the mission. “We rehearsed over and over again. We rehearsed all of the problems, and none of them occurred. It was perfect, just the way we designed it.”

At 9:53 p.m., there were more cheers as confirmation came that one more critical event, the unfolding of the solar arrays, had occurred without problem. And then the first pictures arrived: black-and-white images of the solar panels, of one of the lander’s footpads and of surrounding terrain, showing the polygonal fractures caused by repeated expansion and contraction of the underground ice.

Underground ice, huh?

Look, NASA, I’ll give you a freebie. If you want us to believe that you landed a space machine on some faraway planet called “Mars,” you’d better do better than this. Like I suppose the Martians just stick their ice in the ground to keep it cold. You ever see what happens when you drop an ice cube from your daiquiri on the ground? That’s right, it gets covered with ants. And dirt. And no matter how many times you lick it, you can never get all those ants and dirt off of it.

Give us some credit, scientists.

Mars Lander Transmits Photos of Arctic Terrain [New York Times]

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Melted hard drive saved space data

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Here’s one for anyone who has ever accidentally set his laptop on fire.

Just me?

When the space shuttle Discover blew up on re-entry in 2003, pieces of the wreck were scattered across a long swath of Texas prairie land. Actually I have no idea if it was prairie land — that just seems to go with the whole Texas thing.

Among the debris recovered was a hard drive that had been melted into a metallic mass by the blazing hot gases of the explosion. On the drive was data collected by the astronauts on an experiment on liquid xenon. Much of the data had been radioed back to earth before the fatal wreck, but the experiment could not be completed without the remainder.

That’s where Minnesota-based Kroll Ontrack comes in. The data recovery specialists were able to locate the metal platters inside the melted husk. The platters had been damaged, but were not warped. After building a new drive apparatus to spin the platters, Kroll Ontrack was able to recover about 99% of the data kept inside.

Here’s the best part:

They had been gouged and pitted, but the 340-megabyte drive was only half full, and the damage happened where data had not yet been written.

Edwards attributes that to a lucky twist: The computer was running an ancient operating system, DOS, which does not scatter data all over drives as other approaches do.

Sadly, Kroll Ontrack rendered much of the DOS data worthless when it accidentally ran C:\>deltree instead of C:\>fdisk. GEEKS IN THE HOUSE SAY HEYOOHHHHH!!!! High five!

Data from Columbia disk drives survived the shuttle accident [AP]

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Our Astronauts are less drunk than we thought they were

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The New York Times reports that NASA has used the ultimate in truth-deciphering technology — the anonymous Internet survey — to determine that its astronauts are not as drunk as we thought. The survey confirms that safety protocols at the organization have…

Wait. Why did we think astronauts were drunks in the first place? Oh yeah. This lady:

“Aren’t you gonnnnnna ass me if I’m wearrrrrin’ space pants?”

If you forgot, this is the lady astronaut who went a tad mental about her boyfriend and like, sort of, kidnapped his girlfriend a little bit.

In the wake of that incident, NASA totally and predictably overreacted and started the frigging Spanish inquisition all over its astronaut corps — digging through their sock drawers for weed and scouring their MySpace blog postings to see who their friends are these days.

Actually they just emailed a survey. Then another. Then NASA concluded, according to the Times, that there is “no evidence of crew members going on space missions drunk or impaired by alcohol.”

Frankly, I don’t buy it. We’ve sent people up in space for 40 years, and the most we can think for them to do is float outside the space shuttle in those gold bubble helmets — waving in fake slow motion as if the lack of atmosphere in space retards time itself — knowing that their only audience are classrooms full of third graders who would much rather meet Mylie Cyrus than Alan Bean.

You don’t think those guys are tippin’ a few back before heading out there for their scientific minstrel show? Christ, I bet the inside of those space suits smells like a pungent mix of grain alcohol, Dr. Pepper, freeze-dried ice cream and the worst beer farts in the Milky Way (on account of the low pressure and all).

2nd Survey Finds Astronauts Haven’t Drunk Before Flights [New York Times]

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