in the  vastness of space, fascinating discoveries can be made even when you’re not even looking for them. this is the case for a team of European astronomers who uncovered a new type of pulsating star whilst scouring the skies for planets beyond our solar system

the star, named J0247-25B, is the rarely observed remnant of a stellar collision caused by an expanding red giant smashing into its binary companion star, shearing away up to 90% of the red giant’s mass and leaving behind a hydrogen burning core. using the ULTRACAM high-speed camera the team, led by Dr Pierre Maxted of Keele University, were able to take up to 500 pictures a second to study eclipses of the surviving star in detail, discovering a pulsating, fluctuating luminosity caused by sound waves bouncing around inside the star

in this sound clip you can hear the eerie, quivering pulsations, which reach into the centre of the of the surviving star, pitch shifted up a whole 19 octaves in order to make them audible to the human ear. the moog-esque ‘dial tone’ is caused by interruption during eclipse, whilst the background rumble is produced by the larger SX-Phe type star

writing in the jounal Nature last month, Maxted hopes further observations of this study will go on to reveal insights into stellar collapse and the creation of white dwarfs: “we have been able to find out a lot about these stars, such as how much they weigh, because they are in a binary system. this will really help us to interpret the pulsation signal and so figure out how these stars survived the collision and what will become of them over the next few billion years”

mars / nudes

we don’t often show nipples on super/collider, but it’s not often that an internationally-renowned artist simultaneously exhibits two shows based on photographs of porn stars and the surface of Mars read more


when seen side by side with, say, the planet Venus, our sun looks pretty huge – but lurking out beyond our solar system are millions upon millions of much bigger stars read more


a rare meteorite sample that could help unravel the mysteries of Mars has been acquired by the Natural History Museum in London. the space rock is about the size of a paperback book and is the largest known fragment of the Tissint meteorite, which fell as a shower of stones in the deserts of southern Morocco last July. eyewitnesses heard two sonic booms and saw a bright fireball trace through the night sky

read more

death from above

to mark the first month of the Mayan year of doom, super/collider will be publishing stories about and predictions for 2012 throughout January. we start with a look at one man’s efforts to save the world from cataclysm via a DIY asteroid observatory in rural Wales, originally published in Dazed & Confused

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The Moon at Luminous Books

Friday 25 November

East London’s loveliest and tiniest bookshop takes its name from the luminous orb in our sky, and celebrates the moon each year with a night of literary-leaning lunar worship. this year’s soirée will see readings by James Atlee (author of Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight) and Steve Moore (comic book guy and author of Somnium), alongside up close films and images of the lunar surface supplied by us

The Moon at Luminous Books / 6-9pm / free / 3.5 Frederick Terrace, London E8 4EW


guest post: a new physics?

with all the recent talk about faster-than-light particles, we thought it timely to bring you selected excerpts from physicist Ben Still’s Neutrino Blog looking at how such speeds might be possible, what that means for physics and how we might have seen this all once before read more


plenty of cosmic happenings next week, starting with Nelly Ben Hayoun and Nahum Mantra’s ongoing Kosmica series at The Arts Catalyst with guests like Dr Jill Stuart, Alicia Framis and Jem Finer – artist in residence in the astrophysics department at Oxford University. next up, Science Fair™ drops by The Amwell Street Knocking Shop for a night of vintage shopping, astronomy, film and badge-making. and finally, if you’re up super early (or out super late) look out for a clutch of planets in the morning sky




opening today at Saville Row’s Hauser & Wirth gallery, Matthew Day Jackson’s new show features coloured skulls, re-covered LIFE magazines, a repurposed B-29 and this work: a long, panelled landscape based on a Mercator map that replicates the moon’s surface through laser etching on drywall



with NASA’s space shuttle program drawing to a close in the coming months, next week’s Science Fair™ night will be marking the end of an era with a special send off party – fitting, as the second-last space shuttle mission is now scheduled for Monday. we’ll be joined by space expert and author Piers Bizony and photographer David Ryle to discuss the wider cultural impact of the end of the dream before rounding off the night with a screening of the Motherboard documentary Space Shuttle Parking Lot



if NASA’s penultimate shuttle launch goes ahead tomorrow – and the skies clear – the orbiter Endeavour will put on a final farewell show over the UK just after lifoff. two minutes after rocketing skywards from Kennedy Space Center, the shuttle will shed its two solid rocket boosters and head up over the Atlantic. five minutes later, its bright orange external tank will separate too – gliding along with the shuttle towards Europe. if you look up fifteen to twenty minutes after launch (which you can watch online) you should be able to spot them flying alongside each other like two little stars


we thought we’d mark Earth Day tomorrow with a familiar but slightly different view of the planet we call home: not the famous Earthrise image taken from Apollo 8, but one snapped during the unmanned Russian Zond-7 mission on August 9, 1969. a two-person spaceship designed to circle around the moon but not land, the Soyuz 7K-L1 also photographed ‘earthrise’ – whose contrast between the dead moon and living earth became an emblem of the early environmental movement – during other missions around the moon and back


fifty years ago tomorrow Major Yuri Gagarin became the first human to leave the earth below and fly into space, orbiting the planet once in his Vostok-1 capsule for 108 minutes before parachuting down in the Saratov region of Russia to be greeted by confused locals. the launch of Chris Riley’s First Orbit promises to be among the highlights of the anniversary, which reminds us that although our progress into space sometimes seems to move at a glacial pace, it’s only been fifty short years since the voyage began

into the void

in September 1977, the Voyager 1 space probe blasted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida, bound for the outer planets and beyond. having passed Jupiter, Saturn and even Pluto, it is now sailing for truly deep space: the empty void between star systems. recent data from the probe – which now takes 16 hours to reach us – indicates that Voyager has passed into a zone where the solar wind is blowing sideways, and may soon cease altogether as the lonely spacecraft plunges beyond the influence of our sun


_artwork: NASA


it looks uncannily like an old Apollo mission returning to earth – right down to the red and white parachutes – but this is private space firm SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, which completed its first big test this week: reaching low earth orbit before successfully splashing down in the Pacific. if further flights go well, the spacecraft could soon be ferrying cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station, freeing NASA up to concentrate on new missions to the asteroids and beyond. cue The Blue Danube Waltz


_the Dragon’s first drop test, from a helicopter, in August 2010. image: Chris Thompson/SpaceX


another week, another crater. but unlike the volcanic one in last week’s post, Meteor Crater in Arizona was formed when a 50m nickel-iron meteorite careened into it at up to 20km per second. if you missed Science Fair™ on Monday, there’s another chance to hear about such impacts from Dr Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, as part of the Royal Albert Hall’s Close Encounters series, which also includes screenings of Alien and Barbarella, plus plenty of crater-making fun for the little ones


once every hundred years, there is a day you can write out as 10/10/10. in the 21st century, that day falls this Sunday, and to mark the occasion Eames Office will be celebrating Charles and Ray Eames’s classic Powers of Ten with screenings, events and the launch of a new website and educational initiative. originally released in 1977, the short film (below) puts things in perspective by zooming out from a picnicking couple in Chicago to the outer fringes of the known universe…


strange goings on in the atmosphere high above Jupiter of late, with ghostly flashes and disappearing clouds spotted by amateur astronomers in recent weeks. it all began in June, when a small bright spot appeared briefly in the clouds. another followed in August, which professional and amateur astronomers have now identified as comets or meteors hitting the gas giant – the first such impacts ever observed. meanwhile, one of the famous planet-wide storm belts that ring the planet has suddenly faded, leaving Jupiter looking markedly different. when – and whether – it reappears remains a mystery


_images by amateur astronomers Anthony Wesley (left) and Masayuki Tachikawa (right)


to kick a season of exploring the archives, we’re pleased to bring you the complete text of Piers from Cocadisco‘s talk at The Book Club last October – a brief history of cosmic disco. you can check it out over on super/reader, where we’ll be posting more goodies in the coming weeks


_cosmic scene


at the end of each week, we try to pick one stand out science-related image for super/weekly. the idea is to keep the wordcount down and let the picture tell the story, making it quick and easy to check out. but sometimes there’s more to say – not to mention the stuff we write for other people, plus random thoughts and ideas, and all the images that don’t quite fit…

so to bring you more hot science action, we’ve created super/reader: a new hub for everything we do. over the coming weeks we’ll be posting loads from the archives, ranging from Chris’ visit to CERN to Rod’s interview with James Lovelock and Vivienne Westwood, plus new articles (like this one about spaceports) live updates and stuff we’ve found for AnOther Magazine’s Loves website. we hope you enjoy…


_Esrange Space Center, Sweden © SSC


nothing newsworthy about this week’s image, just a lovely shot from the Smithsonian we found while researching astronaut gloves. it shows the lunar south pole, as seen by S-band radar signals at 12.6-cm wavelength probing 1-5 meters below the Moon’s surface. read more about lunar mapping and grab the stunning high res version here

_image: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum


early this morning, Japan’s Akatsuki space probe blasted off from Tanegashima Island, bound for Venus. its serious mission is to study the climate and atmosphere of our cosmic neighbour, but this being the Japanese space agency, they’ve also created some ultra-cute anime characters and a DIY paper model to get people involved (here’s one we made earlier). to celebrate the successful launch, we want you to get crafty and create your own customised Akatsuki. just download our blank cut-out pattern, design your own exterior, then send us your results in the next two weeks. our favourite will win a copy of Mikhail Marov and David Grinspoons’ epic 464-page book about Venus


_T+Cs: the prize is one copy of The Planet Venus (£50 RRP), described as ‘Used – Very Good ex-Library copy’. all entries should consist of a photo of your space probe (3MB max) and be received by 03/06/2010. winner will be chosen at our discretion.


if you fancy a little learning at lunchtime, pop down to the Royal Astronomical Society at Burlington House next Tuesday for what promises to be an interesting talk by the Open University’s Professor John Zarnecki, who designed the Surface Science Package for the Huygens probe which landed on Saturn’s moon Titan in 2005 and collected over 3.5 hours of data from this distant, mysterious world


__drawings: accommodation of the payload and the major subsystems on the top and bottom of the Huygens experiment platform, with Surface Science Package (SSP) highlighted in green. other components include ACP: Aerosol Collector Pyrolyser; BAT-1/5: Batteries; CASU: Central Acceleration Sensor Unit; CDMU-A/B: Command and Data Management Unit; DISR: Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer; DISR-E: DISR Electronics Box; DISR-S: DISR Sensor Head; GCMS: Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer; HASI: Huygens Atmospheric Structure Instrument; MTU: Mission Timer Unit; PCDU: Power Conditioning and Distribution Unit; PYRO: Pyro Unit; RASU: Radial Acceleration Sensor Unit; RUSO: Receiver Ultra Stable Oscillator; RX-A/B: Receiver Antennas for Radar Altimeter A/B; SEPS: Separation Subsystem; SSP-E: SSP Electronics Box; TUSO: Transmitter Ultra Stable Oscillator; TX-A/B: Transmit Antennas for Radar Altimeter A/B


opening this weekend at Somerset House, new graphic art fair Pick Me Up is a veritable who’s who of art and illustration – including stuff from our pals at Nous Vous and Peepshow, like this cosmic piece by Miles Donovan. check out their online shop to see the full image…


_‘Arctic’ by Miles Donovan


we all know about these ice caps melting down, but scientists are still unsure why it’s happening so quickly. in 2005, the European Space Agency tried to launch a satellite called Cryosat to measure the thickness of the ice, but the Russian rocket carrying it exploded shortly after launch. the mission is considered so vital that a second probe – Cryosat 2 – was built, and yesterday launched successfully from Baikonur Cosmodrome. once in operation, its measurements should give us a clearer picture of just what exactly is going on, and how bad things really are. gulp


_artist’s impression of Cryosat in orbit


nearing the end of its run at the Nottingham Contemporary gallery, Star City is an exploration of the future under Communism, combining Eastern Block art from the 60s and 70s with more modern and Western pieces. the exhibition also includes artifacts like propaganda posters, a life-size replica of a Sputnik, Soviet space food, a collection of Polish space toys and even a giant walk-through sculpture inspired by Valentina Tereshkova’s spacesuit


_Jane & Louise Wilson, Star City, 2000. Projection. Courtesy 303 Gallery, New York


from an extended shuttle mission to the ongoing Apollo stuff and a giant impact on Jupiter, it’s been a busy week in space. yesterday also marked the ten year anniversary of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, an orbiting telescope which sends back trippy multicolour images of supermassive black holes, gas jets, supernova shockwaves and other cosmic ephemera


forty years ago this afternoon, Apollo 11 blasted off from Cape Canaveral to deliver Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon

read more


we couldn’t decide between the Barbican’s Radical Nature event and all the different Apollo-related stuff happening this month, so this picture of Richard Buckminster Fuller’s US Pavillion for Expo ’67 is perfect. part of the Barbican’s amazing architecture-meets-nature summer spectacular, it also happens to show the parachutes and capsule from the Apollo program – at that point, still untested and waiting to make history in the years ahead


_image courtesy of the Barbican / the estate of R Buckminster Fuller


while we’re busy partying on the moon this weekend, the folks over at the Royal Observatory Greenwich are off exploring Saturn and its immense moons. there’s some kids’ stuff this weekend, but also an exciting series of talks from NASA experts and mission planners


_image: Titan’s thin atmosphere _credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute


with the 40th anniversary of the moon landings fast approaching, our Apollo season continues with apollo +at + apollo – an evening of live music, art, video and spacecraft construction in an abandoned video shop in South London


double club

a ‘we’re living in the future’ photo from earlier this week, with the space shuttles Atlantis and Endeavour side by side at Kennedy Space Center. with Atlantis now way out in space repairing the Hubble space telescope, the second shuttle is on stand-by for a rescue mission if worst comes to worst. another double act blasts off later today, with the European Space Agency launching both the Herschel and Planck space probes on a single Ariane 5 rocket. you can watch the lift-off live this afternoon


_image: Atlantis and Endeavour / NASA / Dimitri Gerondidakis



Friday 22 May 2009

to kickstart our Apollo season, super/collider is proud to present the UK premiere of Orphans of Apollo, which tells the story of a group of space entrepreneurs who flew to Moscow in the late 1990s to takeover the Russian space station, MIR. after negotiating one of the most ambitious business deals on earth, they hired and launched a group of astronauts into space to visit the station – a momentous but often overlooked moment in history. though ultimately doomed, their bold plan set the stage for the current private space race and the space tourism industry. definitely one for space nerds, the screening will be followed by a Q&A with the director, Michael Potter

The Soho Hotel, 4 Richmond Mews (off Dean Street), London W1D 3DH | 7pm for a 7:30pm start


with the Space Shuttle Discovery up there installing a final set of solar panels, the International Space Station will become visible over the UK this week, and the weather is finally looking fine. if you haven’t seen the station before, it’s worth watching out for as it passes from West to East in the evening sky ? and weird to think six people will be living and working there around the clock. to help you find it, we’ve created a new project/page, where we’ll be posting astronomy-related updates. though centered on where we are, in Hackney, the info applies to most people in the northern hemisphere


_the ISS over London, taken with our run-of-the-mill digital camera


the hunt for distant planets should take a giant leap forward tonight, with NASA’s Kepler space telescope poised for launch aboard a Delta II rocket at Launch Complex 17-B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. once in space, it will scan 100,000 far-off stars in the Cygnus-Lyra region with sensors so powerful that if turned towards earth could detect someone in a small town turning off their porch light


_image: NASA

cold war

if you live in London and you haven’t checked out the Cold War Modern exhibition at the V&A yet, you’ve got until Sunday before it moves on to Italy in March. worth tracking down for an impressive dose design and culture from 1945-1970, it includes a real Soviet model of Sputnik, experimental spacesuits, clips from films like 2001, fashion from Pierre Cardin and Paco Rabane plus all manner of futuristic architectural utopias, from Superstudio and Archigram to lesser-known Soviet and Japanese plans for dome cities, modular living and high rise towers. if super/collider was an exhibition, this would be it


_still from 2001: A Space Odyssey courtesy of the V&A


forty years ago this Sunday, the Apollo 8 spacecraft blasted off for the moon, carrying astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders – who would go on to take the famous ‘earthrise’ photograph from lunar orbit. it marked the first human mission ever leave the earth for deep space, the first time anyone could see and photograph the whole earth, and the first time anyone saw the dark side of the moon; all welcome Christmas distractions after a turbulent year. re-live the journey at NASA’s image archive, have a great holiday and we’ll see you in the year 2009


_artist’s concept of Apollo 8 Command Module (NASA)

_Apollo 8 on pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center

_Apollo 8 Saturn V launch (with moon added by NASA)

_earthrise seen from Apollo 8 (NASA)

_artist’s concept of Apollo 8 jettisoning panels (NASA)

_Apollo 8 re-entering the earth’s atmosphere (NASA)


of all the crazy stuff out there in the Universe, few things can top our relatively close neighbour, Saturn. from its sci-fi ring system to over 60 moons like Titan and Enceladus, it’s got the lot. inspired by the ongoing Cassini-Huygens mission, Jeff Mills and Mike Banks of Underground Resistance fame have revisited their 1992 techno opus: X-102 Discovers the Rings of Saturn. there’s a film screening / talk / club night next Thursday at London’s ICA, but you’ll need to be quick as it’s selling out fast


_image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

_image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

_image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

_image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute


this week saw the launch of India’s Chandrayaan lunar probe, the country’s first venture beyond earth orbit. roughly translated as ‘moon vehicle’, it’s off to map the lunar surface and carry out a whole load of international experiments – with everyone from Bulgaria to NASA hitching a ride. back on earth, the probe was the inspiration behind the awesome Moon Vehicle project; a collaboration between British artist Joanna Griffin and design students at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore which saw school kids designing their own satellites. if only the real thing looked so rad!


_photo: Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology

_photo: Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology


if you missed our live coverage of the International Astronautical Congress (aka Giant Space Show) last week, you can find a summary of our dispatches on our Twitter feed. things started with a bang on Monday morning, with the European Space Agency’s ATV burning up over the Pacific Ocean as they guided it down to a fiery end after its successful mission. check out the full video here


_one highlight was the spacefood tasting hosted by the Korean space agency, KARI. moving on from the freeze dried ice cream we all know and love from science museums around the world, their astronauts will be packing green tea, ginseng, hot sauce and kimchi for their trips into space / photo and styling: John Hooper

_SpaceX were celebrating their just-launched Falcon 1, the world’s first privately-funded carrier rocket to reach orbit. just before the champagne reception, the company showed an amazing video of the launch from the Marshall Islands; you can see the full 40min version on YouTube

_the European Space Agency’s ATV burning up over the Pacific


we were planning to show you some pictures of our trip to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN to celebrate the start of experiments there, but that’s now been pushed back ’til September. in the meantime, we instead mark the launch of the second Pioneer probe to Venus, which blasted off thirty years ago today to release three small probes designed to impact the planet’s north, night and day sides. all very 1970s sci-fi, especially when you see the NASA artwork from that era


_photo: NASA


we were going to do a round up of all the clever little green cars on show at this year’s motor show in London, but even they look a little last century compared to this week’s big news – the rollout of Virgin Galactic‘s new mothership in the Mojave Desert. the lightweight, carbon-composite aircraft will take SpaceShipTwo (in grey) up to an altitude higher than most airliners fly, which will then drop down, fire its eco-friendly engines and blasts off into space. roll on 2010


_graphic: Virgin Galactic


back before the world was run by computers, painters and illustrators were employed to show what things would look like in outer space, under the sea or in prehistoric times. we found this hand-painted example on the European Space Agency’s site, rescued from the archive as they mark the end of the Ulysses mission, which orbited the sun to study its poles and the solar wind. the probe was launched in 1990 – making this probably one of the last such paintings before the world went CGI


_image: ESA


we recently took a few months break to redesign the site and whatnot, so this week’s issue is a recap of some of the stuff we missed. nothing comprehensive, just some nice images we came across, like this photo of the ESA Automated Transfer Vehicle approaching the international space station


_lastly, we’d like to pay our deepest respects to the brilliant visionary Arthur C. Clarke, who passed away on March 19, with thousands attending his funeral in his adopted homeland, Sri Lanka. of all the images we could have chosen (think 2001: A Space Odyssey), we thought this simple cover from hisProfiles of the Future makes a fitting tribute. it shows a geosynchronous communications satellite, one of Clarke’s predictions, floating high above the sea, which he also loved. a keen scuba diver, being weightless underwater was sadly the closest he ever got to floating in space. rest in peace Arthu

_in April, CERN opened up the Large Hadron Collider for the last time before it starts smashing particles together in August. we visited our namesake for a tour of the tunnels and experiments, and took so many pictures our camera broke. we’ll do a full post in the next few weeks

_later in January, a joint team of UK, US, Chinese and Australian astronomers travelled to Antarctica’s remote Dome Argus ? a high plateau that’s been visited by fewer humans than have walked on the moon. in the cold, crisp air, they set up PLATO ? a fully robotic observatory should enjoy skies twice as clear as anywhere else on earth

_it looks like the moon, but this is actually Mercury. In January, NASA’s MESSENGER probe reached the planet closest to the sun, capturing images of its never-before-seen hemisphere and the Caloris Basin, a giant crater that’s probably filled with precious metals for us to mine in the year 3000

_photo: ESA

phoenix rising

another week, another Mars lander. on Sunday, NASA’s Phoenix Lander will (hopefully) touch down on the Red Planet. built from parts salvaged from cancelled Mars missions – hence the name – Phoenix will land in the planet’s arctic regions to look for signs of life. you can follow the mission live on NASA TV


_photo: NASA


hide and seek

got a quiet week ahead? NASA needs your help searching for the ill-fated Mars Polar Lander, which crashed somewhere on the red planet back in 1999. by sifting through loads of high-resolution photos of the Martian surface, you could become the first person to see the spaceship since it mysteriously disapeared – and help them figure out what went wrong


_illustration: NASA

space age

opening tomorrow at Bethnal Green’s recently revamped Museum of Childhood, the Space Age exhibition looks at the influence of the now 50-year-old space race on toys, fashion and pop culture. artefacts range from Star Wars figurines to a gold 60s mini-dress, alongside furniture, space clothes and model rockets. free, on for a year and definitely worth a look-in


_lunar wallpaper by Michael Clarke, 1964


a coffee table book the size of a coffee table, Cosmos is a massive tome which takes you across the entire universe. starting on earth with stunning pictures like these irrigation fields in Kansas, you pass the moon and Mars, then travel through the asteroid belt and Jupiter’s swarm of moons before leaving the outer planets for deep space. quite a ride


_photo: NASA


if the sky stays clear tonight, take a look up and you’ll see something very few people ever get a chance to: an exploding comet. it sounds more dramatic than it looks – without a telescope all you’ll see is a little fuzzy patch in the sky – but Comet Holmes has amazed astronomers as it zooms away from earth, spewing dust in an ever-increasing cloud


_photo: Ginger Mayfield


made up of interviews with Apollo-era astronauts and rare NASA footage, In The Shadow of the Moon looks back at the lunar landings through the lense of history. while the interviews are excellent, for us it’s all about never-before-seen shots, like an amazing onboard camera sequence from inside a discarded rocket floating in space. high art


_photo: NASA


fifty years ago tonight, the world stepped outside to look for a new star in the sky, following the Russian launch of Sputnik-1, the world’s first artificial satellite. the simple sphere orbited the earth 1440 times, emitting the simple beeping noise you’re hearing now. since then, we’ve gone on to the moon, to Mars, to the moons of Saturn and even beyond the solar system – not bad for our first fifty years in space



_photo: NASA / _sound: Sputnik



ok, so the blogs have all done it to death, but we couldn’t just skip over Foster + Partners winning design for The New Mexico Spaceport Authority Building – aka the world’s first private spaceport. say it aloud: space. port.


_inside, visitors will be able to watch launch preparations, takeoffs and landings thorough tall glass windows with views over the slipway and runway ? where Virgin’s White Knight motherships (on the right and bottom) will carry the smaller SpaceShipTwo vehicles (far left) to 50,000ft before the final ascent into space. with construction due to begin next year, the future may finally have arrived

_designed as a launchpad for Virgin Galactic’s suborbital spaceflights ? currently scheduled to start in 2009 2010 ? the facility is futuristic in more ways than one. its low profile blends into the landscape for maximum energy efficiency, with visitors approaching down a long channel. the use of natural ventilation and lighting should ensure the spaceport earns top level LEED eco-building status

_image: Foster + Partners


beamed into deep space on November 16, 1974, the Arecibo radio message is the most powerful man-made signal ever created. encoded in binary – hence the Atari style graphics – it contains information about us, our DNA, the solar system and the telescope that sent it. to increase the chances of someone out there receiving it, the signal was aimed at M13: a dense globular cluster made up of hundreds of thousands of suns

despite numerous other milestones – including the discovery of the first exoplanets – and its ability to track asteroids that could hit the earth, the radio telescope that sent the Arecibo message is under threat, and could be forced to close down due to lack of funding. visit the website of The Planetary Society and voice your support

above: the Arecibo radio telescope and a section of the Arecibo message

high definition

shot by astronaut Bill Anders as he orbited the moon on Christmas Eve 1968, NASA image AS8-14-2383HR, better known as ‘Earthrise‘, has been called the most influential photo ever taken – inspiring us to see the earth as a fragile blue oasis in the black void of space. now, a Japanese space probe is on its way to the moon to record such scenes with a large high definition camera

update: super/collider will be screening the footage on January 28 2007 t London’s Science Museum


pocket sized

lovingly handcrafted by the Leeds-based Nous Vous collective, Pocket Sized is a little book of drawings, musings and doodlings featuring work by the likes of Marc Alcock, Hannah Barton, Holly Stevenson and Superfamous. the first issue is themed, simply, SPACE – so contributions range from a chap in pants wearing a NASA shirt to a cat with a universe in its head. awesome!


_image: nousvous


the do-it-yourself space race took another leap forward this week with the launch of Bigelow Aerospace‘s Genesis II space module. adapted from an abandoned NASA project, the inflatable habitat is now orbiting the earth with a crew of insects to test basic life support functions. the successful project could pave the way for future space hotels


_photo: Bigelow Aerospace


captured with high-quality Hasselblad cameras in the crisp, airless vacuum of space, the photos taken by astronauts during the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs remain as striking today as they were in the 60s. collector Leslie Cantwell’s extensive collection of signed examples goes on display today at Proud Galleries, offering a glimpse of the astronauts’ thoughts, emotions and experiences via their scribbles


_image: NASA / Leslie Cantwell

blue mars

in february this year, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe captured these beautiful images of Mars’ surface from a distance of 240,000km. look carefully and you can just make out a thin atmosphere, or click here to see the full photo collection, which clearly shows the planet’s craters and polar caps


_photo: ESA

hall of fame

a good week for the British space set: Stephen Hawking takes a step closer to orbit, scientists celebrate the 45th anniversary of the UK’s first satellite project and the revamped Exploring Space gallery opens at London’s Science Museum. the new room features more robot probes and computer graphics than when we were kids, but you can still marvel at freeze-dried space food

_photo: the Black Arrow rocket / © Science Museum

close up

on Wednesday morning, a small, lonely space probe will come face to face with the biggest planet in the solar system. plunging into Jupiter’s massive gravity well, NASA’s New Horizons will use the close encounter to photograph the gas giant’s swirling storms and the volcanoes of its moon, Io. the fly-by will accelerate the probe to over 52000mph and send it off towards its destination: Pluto


_image: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRl

heads up

over the past week, Comet NcNaught has unexpectedly become one of the brightest in decades. as it races towards the sun, trailing dust and vapour in a long trail, it will be visible to those of us in the northern hemisphere until mid-January. you’ll find it near the western horizon around sunset, clouds permitting


_image: Comet NcNaught over Iowa // Stan Richards

worlds apart

three years ago yesterday, the first of two robotic NASA rovers touched down on Mars. initially designed to explore their surroundings for three months, the two rovers are still going strong and have beamed back a wealth of information and amazing images, like this one: sunset on Mars


_end of the road. having travelled nearly ten kilometres across the barren surface, Opportunity is now circling this crater. if mission control decides to send it in, the tiny rover may spend its final days in this area, unable to climb out again. one of NASA’s most successful missions ever, the twin rovers have paved the way for future explorers, both robotic and, just maybe, human

_navigating around such features has to be carefully planned. this 3D map was created to help mission planners work out a safe route up the Columbia Hills ? seven peaks named after the astronauts who died in the space shuttle Columbia disaster

_the rovers face high winds, planet-wide dust storms, temperatures as low as -140?C and tricky terrain, like this formation near Endurance Crater which scientists believe may show evidence of erosion caused by waterthe rovers face high winds, planet-wide dust storms and tricky terrain, like this formation near Endurance Crater which scientists believe may show evidence of erosion by water

_after 672 Martian days ? or ‘sols’ ? on the move, Spirit surveys its dusty, desolate surroundings

_after seven months in space, the two capsules hit the Martian atmosphere at 5.4 kilometres per second. heat shields and parachutes, like this one being tested in a wind tunnel, slowed the spacecraft down and set up two perfect landings. ‘Spirit’ touched down in Gustav crater while ‘Opportunity’ glided down in Meridiani Planum, a vast swindswept plain on the other side of the planet

_prior to launch, the rovers were loaded into carefully prepared landing capsules designed to survive the tricky descent to the Martian surface. of the eleven attempts to land on Mars, five have failed, including Britain’s ill-fated Beagle 2

_image: NASA / JPL-Caltech


this month, the Science Photo Library celebrates 25 years of providing stunning science-related images, so we thought we’d end the year on a Christmas-themed note with this infrared satellite image of Mount Merapi in Indonesia. captured by the ASTER thermal sensor on NASA’s Terra satellite, it shows ash (grey) rising over the lush forests (red)


_image: NASA / Science Photo Library