Tags: space

Our Generation Ships Will Sink / Boing Boing

Kim Stanley Robinson pours cold water on the premise of generation starships for crewed interstellar travel.

The more I hear about Aurora, the more I think I might enjoy reading it.

Meanwhile, Near Saturn… - WSJ.com

A breathtaking overview of Cassini’s mission. The timeline video—matching up footage from Saturn with contemporary events on Earth—is a beautiful and haunting dose of perspective.

You can even watch a four hour video of every single one of the 341,805 images that Cassini has sent up till now.

Cosmos: The infographic book of space

This looks a great book of space-related infographics and data visualisation.

Best of all, there are truly interactive versions online.

Radio SETI Observations of the Anomalous Star KIC 8462852 (PDF)

We have made a radio reconnaissance of the star KIC 8462852 whose unusual light curves might possibly be due to planet-scale technology of an extraterrestrial civilization.

Nothing to report yet.

The Radiation Threat to “The Martian” (PDF)

This is something that has been bugging me ever since reading the book:

While Andy Weir does a good job of representing the risks faced by Mark Watney, stranded on Mars and confronting one life-threatening challenge after another, he is silent on the threat of radiation, not just to Mark but particularly to the crew of the Hermes as they contemplate executing a daring rescue mission that more than doubles their time in deep space.

Well, this paper answers all my questions.

SETI: A Networked Galaxy?

A fascinating guest post by Brian McConnell on Centauri Dreams: what if there’s a galactic equivalent to the internet, allowing civilisations to communicate with a system analogous to packet switching.

Unfortunately this kind of focussed signalling would be hard to detect. But on the other hand, it could explain the Fermi paradox.

The Fifth Dragon on Tor.com

A short story by Ian McDonald set in the same universe as his new novel Luna: New Moon.

Her Code Got Humans on the Moon—And Invented Software Itself | WIRED

A profile—published on Ada Lovelace Day—of Margaret Hamilton’s work on the Apollo project.

The Most Mysterious Star in Our Galaxy - The Atlantic

The most interesting anomaly uncovered by a Zooniverse project since Hanny’s Voorwerp.

Project Apollo Archive on Flickr

This is so, so wonderful—hundreds and hundreds of photographs from all of the Apollo missions. Gorgeous!

The shots of Earth take my breath away.

(Xrisk 101): Existential Risk for Interstellar Advocates | Heath Rezabek - Academia.edu

Exemplars proposing various solutions for the resilience of digital data and computation over long timeframes include the Internet Archive; redundantly distributed storage platforms such GlusterFS, LOCKSS, and BitTorrent Sync; and the Lunar supercomputer proposal of Ouliang Chang.

Each of these differs in its approach and its focus; yet each shares with Vessel and with one another a key understanding: The prospects of Earth-originating life in the future, whether vast or diminishing, depend upon our actions and our foresight in this current cultural moment of opportunity, agency, awareness, ability, capability, and willpower.


This is a nifty audio-isation of distance from the Earth, like Radio Free Earth but a lot slicker.

They Write the Right Stuff

This article first appeared in Fast Company almost twenty years ago. It’s a fascinating look into the culture and process that created and maintained the software for the space shuttle. It’s the opposite of Silicon Valley’s “move fast and break things.”

To be this good, the on-board shuttle group has to be very different — the antithesis of the up-all-night, pizza-and-roller-hockey software coders who have captured the public imagination. To be this good, the on-board shuttle group has to be very ordinary — indistinguishable from any focused, disciplined, and methodically managed creative enterprise.

When Neil Armstrong and Edmund Hillary Took a Trip to the North Pole | Atlas Obscura

Hillary, legendary for being the first to scale Mount Everest with teammate Tenzing Norgay, was on board, and Armstrong was, too, saying he was curious to see what the North Pole looked like from ground level, as he’d only seen it from the moon. Astronaut problems.

Barnaby Walters • #TIL there’s a crater on Mercury named after Turlough O’Carolan

The 17th century blind Irish harpist has been immortalised as a crater on Mercury.

Project Kronos on Vimeo

A beautiful bit of design fiction.

pacapong by kingPenguin

Pacman meets Pong meets Space Invaders.

Culture Ship Randomizer · A gravitas free zone.

For when you just have to name something after a Culture General Systems Vehicle …or maybe a General Contact Unit.

Someone tell Elon.

Flickr: Official SpaceX Photos’ Photostream

SpaceX has a Flickr account, and you have permission to use these photos.

Space Probes Art Print by Ariel Waldman

Now you can get a 7” x 10” print of the cast of Ariel’s fantastic spaceprob.es site.

I think this would look quite fetching in the Clearleft office.

spaceprobe.es Data From Space

A fantastic new site from Ariel and Lisa: a collection of probes that are out in space right now, with oodles of facts for each mission and links through to more resources. SCIENCE!

NASA GeneLab

A beautiful website for ISS-based biology experiments.


A beautiful sci-fi short from the European Space Agency, inspired by the Rosetta mission.

UK-led Beagle 2 lander found on Mars - News stories - GOV.UK

This is quite amazing!

I remember getting up on Christmas day 2003 (I was in Arizona), hoping to get news of Beagle 2’s successful landing. Alas, the news never came.

For something that size to be discovered now …that’s quite something.

NASA Study Proposes Airships, Cloud Cities for Venus Exploration - IEEE Spectrum

Airships in the atmosphere of Venus. More plausible than it might sound at first.

Cinema Space Tribute on Vimeo

Scenes of space from sci-fi films.

Asteroid Day

This is an awareness project I can get behind: a Clarke-like Project Spaceguard to protect the Earth from asteroid collisions. This campaign will focus awareness of this issue on one single day…

Now if only the front page of this website actually said when that day will be.

Update: And now it does.

Wanderers - a short film by Erik Wernquist on Vimeo

A vision of humanity’s exploration of our solar system.

RadioISS: Listening to Earth from Space

A lovely little science hack: listen to whatever radio station is broadcasting below the position of the International Space Station.

Lunar Missions Ltd

We’re going back to the moon. With a robot. So we can take sublunarean samples.

You can help fund it on Kickstarter.

Space sector magazine: space:uk

The UK Space Agency has a magazine called “space:uk” and you can download PDFs of back issues.

Rosetta - an album on Flickr

We can expect even more stunning images like these from Rosetta soon.

Rosetta and Philae at comet

Icy rocks around Saturn on Flickr

Rhea and Titan, as seen by Cassini.

Icy rocks around Saturn

“Alan Bean Plus Four”

A warm-hearted short story about a moonshot. By Tom Hanks.

The Elon Musk interview on Mars colonisation – Ross Andersen – Aeon

Elon Musk talks engineering, the Fermi paradox, and getting your ass to Mars.

How We Could Actually Build a Space Colony - Popular Mechanics

This is basically porn for me.

Bernal spheres, Stanford tori, and O’Neill cylinders, oh my!

A Spacecraft for All: The Journey of the ISEE-3

A nice bit of interactive citizen science storytelling from Google.

Note: if you have Adblock Plus installed, this won’t load at all. Funny that.

SKYLON Users’ Manual (PDF)

Tech specs for a spacecraft that doesn’t exist (yet).

IXS Enterprise (IXS-110) - an album on Flickr

Design fiction from a NASA scientist.

IXS Enterprise (Work In Progress)

If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel - A tediously accurate map of the solar system

A lovely visualisation that combines two of my loves: space, and the correct use of the subjunctive.

Anatomy of a failed rendition | booktwo.org

A superb bit of sleuthing by James:

From London to the Mediterranean, to Malta and back again, over multiple countries and jurisdictions, through airspace and legal space. The contortions of G-WIRG’s flight path mirror the ethical labyrinth the British Government finds itself in when, against all better judgements, it insists on punishing individuals as an example to others, using every weasel justification in its well-funded legal war chest. Using a combination of dirty laws and private technologies to transform and transmit people from one jurisidiction, one legal condition and category, to another: this is the meaning of the verb “to render”.

The hits keep going… | MetaFilter

This gives me a warm fuzzy glow. The Mefites are using Radio Free Earth to find out which stars are receiving the number one hits from their birthdays.

Chloe Weil — Science Hack Day

Chloe writes up her experience of the excellent Science Hack Day in San Francisco and describes the hack we built together: Radio Free Earth.

Blogging Ourselves to Live

The internet never forgets? Bollocks!

We were told — warned, even — that what we put on the internet would be forever; that we should think very carefully about what we commit to the digital page. And a lot of us did. We put thought into it, we put heart into, we wrote our truths. We let our real lives bleed onto the page, onto the internet, onto the blog. We were told, “Once you put this here, it will remain forever.” And we acted accordingly.

This is a beautiful love-letter to the archival web, and a horrifying description of its betrayal:

When they’re erased by a company abruptly and without warning, it’s something of a new-age arson.

Grasshopper Divert | Single Cam - YouTube

Forget Hyperloop: this is some truly mindblowing technology from Elon Musk. In this latest test, the Grasshopper from SpaceX shows off its lateral movement for a reusable rocket.

Combine that with the sheer power of Falcon Heavy and you’ve got some amazing design and engineering.

▶ 100 Robots - Spaceteam - YouTube

See that helmet? That’s my helmet. Jim borrowed it for this video.

And now I think that the Future Friendly posse has a theme song.

100,000 Stars

A gorgeous interactive visualisation of our local galactic neighbourhood.

B612 Foundation

Defending Earth against asteroids, just like the Spaceguard organisation described in Rendezvous With Rama.

Detect. Deflect. Defend.

A Few Notes on the Culture by Iain M Banks

I’ve linked to this before, but with the death of Iain M Banks it’s worth re-reading this fascinating insight into The Culture, one of science fictions’s few realistic utopias.

The brief mention here of The Culture’s attitude to death is apt:

Philosophy, again; death is regarded as part of life, and nothing, including the universe, lasts forever. It is seen as bad manners to try and pretend that death is somehow not natural; instead death is seen as giving shape to life.

Iain M Banks’ Universe

Francis Spufford—author of the excellent Backroom Boffins—writes a cover story for the New Humanist magazine remembering Iain Banks with the middle initial M firmly to the fore: it was Iain M Banks—and his creation, The Culture—that took the seemingly passé genre of space opera to new heights.

2001: A Space Odyssey

A really nice piece on Robert McCall, who was artist-in-residence at NASA and worked as conceptual artist on Kubrick and Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.


Zooniverse have done it again. Now you can help in the hunt for sources of gravitational lensing.

It’s informative. It’s fun. It has genuine scientific value.

Science Fiction Film as Design Scenario Exercise for Psychological Habitability: Production Designs 1955-2009

A white paper that looks to sci-fi films as potential prototypes for habitats for humans in space, with an emphasis on dealing with the psychological issues involved.

Flickr: ugordan’s Photostream

Gorgeous colour-processed images from NASA probes. I could stare at the fountains of Enceladus all day.

Interstellar Hard Drive - The Morning News

Investigating the options for off-world backups.

Data is only as safe as the planet it sits on. It only takes one rock, not too big, not moving that fast, to hit the Earth at a certain angle and: WHAM! Most living species are done for.

How the hell is your Twitter archive supposed to survive that?

Black Marble - City Lights 2012 - a set on Flickr

Gorgeous pictures from the Suomi satellite, just released by NASA

Black Marble - Americas

You, A Rocket Scientist? | Fast Company

Nice! A feature on Ariel and her spacehacking ways.

Space Elevator Science - Climb to the Sky - A Tethered Tower by Michael Laine — Kickstarter

A Kickstarter project for space elevator research? Oh, hell yes!

greg.org: the making of: The Satelloons Of Project Echo: Must. Find. Satelloons.

Bomp. bomp. bomp. Satelloon of love. Bomp. bomp. bomp. Satelloon of love.

ServerSky - Server Sky

Orbiting data centers. Fuck yeah!

Earth can return to what it is good at – green and growing things – while space can be filled with gray and computing things.

Kosmograd: The death of Kosmograd

The Ballardian beauty of a dying Baikonour.

SkyCube: The First Satellite Launched by You! by Tim DeBenedictis — Kickstarter

If this Kickstarter project gets launched, it will literally get launched.

View from the ISS at Night on Vimeo

Another beautiful timelapse video made from photographs taken from the International Space Station.

The music from Sunshine gets me every time.

The Myth of Cyberspace – The New Inquiry

There is a there there after all.

ISS Star Trails - a set on Flickr

Beautiful time-lapse photography from Don “we’ve got a Dragon by the tail” Pettit, taken from the International Space Station.


0x10 ͨ

The premise of the next game from the creator of Minecraft sounds insane and great: a far-future Elite where everything you do is powered by a 16-bit computer.

The computer in the game is a fully functioning emulated 16 bit CPU that can be used to control your entire ship, or just to play games on while waiting for a large mining operation to finish.

Sci-Fi Airshow :: Home

I want to go to there!

This is what Photoshop is for. Be sure to watch the slideshow.

Earth Station: The Afterlife of Technology at the End of the World - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic

The wonderful story of an odd place:

The Jamesburg Earth Station is a massive satellite receiver in a remote valley in California. It played a central role in satellite communications for three decades, but had been forgotten until the current owner put it up for sale, promoting it as a great place to spend the apocalypse.

Lets Imagine Greater - Ariel “Spotlight” - YouTube

How awesome is this!? Ariel is on TV in a promo spot for the Syfy channel …all thanks to Spacehack.org.


BibliOdyssey: Channelling Martian Maps

Beautiful 19th century maps of Mars.

Lego Man in Space | Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad

They did it. Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad fulfilled that age-old dream: to put a Lego man into space. They have done Canada—and the world—proud.

Travis Schmeisser: We Used To Build Forts on Vimeo

I loved this talk from Travis at New Adventures in Web Design, especially when he talked of the importance of Geocities and MySpace in democratising creative expression on the web.

We may have later bonded over that Ze Frank quote while in the toilet at the after-party …there may have even been hugs.

The Fermi Paradox, Self-Replicating Probes, and the Interstellar Transportation Bandwidth

Re-examining Von Neumann probes, reconciling their apparent scarcity with the Fermi paradox.

BBC News - Hackers plan space satellites to combat censorship

The network will interpret SOPA as damage and route around it …with SCIENCE!


A masterplan for the moon as a global cemetery. Launch the ashes of your loved ones to the moon (leaving the buckyball container in lunarstationary orbit). Given enough ashes and enough buckyballs, the result is a fertile surface and a atmosphere-trapping layer of fullerine. Terraforming via recycled humans.

Or, if that’s too long-term for you, you can buy a scale-model moon jewel.

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS on Vimeo

Gorgeous time-lapse footage from the astronauts in the International Space Station.

Space Ipsum

This is officially the best lorem ipsum generator yet.

Innovation Starvation | World Policy Institute

A rallying cry from Neal Stephenson for Getting Big Stuff Done.

Gavin Rothery - Directing - Concept - VFX - Gavin Rothery Blog

This blog by the visual effects supervisor on Moon is packed full of wonderfully geeky sci-fi movie stories.

Orbital Space Colonies (in form of geometric primitives) : socks-studio

A gallery of all your standard space stations: the Stanford Torus, the Bernal Sphere and the O’Neill Cylinder.

mobilewood - a set on Flickr

We are preparing to launch.


Project Icarus

A joint effort by the Tau Zero Foundation and the British Interplanetary Society to research the design of an interstellar spacecraft.

100 Year Starship Study

Now this looks like a fascinating project …and there’s a symposium happening in Florida at the end of September with Jill Tartar, Stewart Brand and more. I want to go to there.

Atlas V Juno launch - August 5, 2011 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

So long, Juno. Call me when you get to Jupiter.

Atlas V Juno launch - August 5, 2011

ISS-Notify by Nathan Bergey — Kickstarter

I want one! An ambient signifier (in lamp form) to let you know when the ISS is flying overhead. Geekgasm!


Would you like SETI to resume sweeping the skies in search of extraterrestrial life? Now you can put your money behind re-kickstarting that noble mission.

YouTube - Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity Rover) Mission Animation

The plan to get Curiosity Rover onto the surface of Mars (ignore the cheesy sound effects in space).

Cosmonaut Crashed Into Earth ‘Crying In Rage’ : Krulwich Wonders… : NPR

An astonishing story from the Soviet side of the space race that is equal parts stupidity and sacrifice.

Honor Harger on Lift 11: Geneva

Honor gives a tour of sound from space.

Facebook hype will fade - CNN.com

Douglas Rushkoff on the repeating circle of life that all big online companies live through.

Our Future in the Cosmos—Space

A speech given by Isaac Asimov on the future of humanity in space.

Nanotechnology and Space

Implications of Molecular Nanotechnology Technical Performance Parameters on Previously Defined Space System Architectures.

This paper, delivered at the 1995 Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology (sponsored by Apple Computers) shows the practical applications of diamondoid and fullerene materials not just in constructing a space elevator, but in the subsequent construction of orbital colonies

SSI Sample Slides | Space Studies Institute

The dream of SSI is of a humanity free of the constraints of the Earth. In expanding outward into space, we can not only help to preserve our present biosphere, we can also seed other independent biospheres elsewhere, ensuring the continued survival of life despite any kind of planetary disaster.

Planet Hunters

Another great Zooniverse project: find planets by looking for tell-tale signs of light distortion from distant stars.

The Milky Way Project

The latest Zooniverse project is a beauty: you can help spot bubbles in infra-red images of nebulae.

Dreams of Space - Books and Ephemera

A blog documenting printed visions of space exploration in the form of children's books.


This is a truly excellent project: transcribing and archiving the transmissions of historic space missions. Excellent!