Above: NASA Infrared Telescope Facility

NASA employs the use of cryogenics for a variety of reasons, and researchers are constantly exploring new methods and applications in the hopes of continuously improving the technology. Here are just a few examples of how NASA utilizes cryogenics:

  • Infrared Sensors: infrared rays, also called “heat rays” are given off by all warm objects. Infrared telescopes must be cold so that their own radiation doesn’t swamp the weak infrared signals from faraway astronomical objects. There will be infrared telescopes on the airborne infrared observatory SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy.
  • Electronics: all sensors require electronics. Cooling electronics reduces the noise in the circuits and thus allows them to study weaker signals.
  • X-rays: the sensors for XRS, the X-Ray Spectrometer measure temperature changes induced by incoming x-rays. When the sensors are colder, the induced temperature changes are larger and easier to measure.


Glorious B

Saturn’s B ring is spread in all its glory in this image from Cassini. Scientists are hard at work trying to better understand the origin and nature of the various structures seen in the B ring.

Saturn’s B ring is the densest and most massive of all the rings. The C ring is also visible inside the B ring and the A ring puts on an appearance beyond the Cassini Division near the top and bottom of the image.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

(Source: hal-ya)


An artist’s impression showing a cross section of the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida, 10th January 1974. The booster vehicle for the space shuttle orbiter is already configured (left). On the right, the loading of the cargo bay payload takes place in the maintenance and checkout facility. (Space Frontiers/Getty Images)

5/3/2012 (8:50pm)

Hey, useless eaters, riddle me this:

If we really landed on the moon, how come we never found the aliens that really built the pyramids? We didn’t find the body of Sentinel Prime, hell, we didn’t even find the Tycho Monolith!

Checkmate, sheeple.

#conspiracy#Conspiracy Theories#moon#NASA#illuminati#monolith#sentinel prime#transformers#2001: A Space Odyssey#ancient aliens


Happy birthday, you beautiful little machine

To celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope this month, episode 54 of the Hubblecast gives a slideshow of some of the best images from over two decades in orbit, set to specially commissioned music.

“Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science.” - Edwin Hubble

They didn’t use the Blue Danube Waltz for the slide show! I am very disappoint.


(via crookedindifference)


The View From Expedition 30

It’s official. The title of “Best Astronaut Photographer As Judged By Joe” now sits squarely on the shoulders of ISS Expedition 30 astronaut André Kuipers (Sorry Ron Garan, it was a close race).

I could probably blog André’s entire Flickr stream, but I chose a few of my favorites to share with you. We live on a stunningly beautiful planet, and that beauty only grows when viewed from above.

Clockwise from the top: Jet contrails crossing the Atlantic on their way to the U.S., a dormant and frightening lava crater in Mauritania, the setting moon, Paris at night, and a mid-docking rocket blast from the ATV resupply vehicle.

It reminded me of this old Discovery Channel ad. Because yes, the world is just awesome.

(All images via ESA/NASA and the discerning eye of André Kuipers)

(via )



Infrared composite of Saturn made from raw images acquired by the Cassini spacecraft on February 25, 2012 from a distance of 2 million km.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute/processing by MikeMalaska


Mystery of Saturn’s Walnut Moon Cracked?

A ridge that follows the equator of Saturn’s moon Iapetus gives it the appearance of a giant walnut. The ridge, photographed in 2004 by the Cassini spacecraft, is 100 kilometers (62 miles) wide and at times 20 kilometers (12 miles) high. (The peak of Mount Everest, by comparison, is 5.5 miles above sea level.) Scientists are debating how the ridge might have formed.
CREDIT: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute. Full story.

Iapetus owns. Look at that Equatorial Ridge. Look at that ice. 

(via expose-the-light)


NASA Rockets make Weird Clouds at the Edge of Space

Loops of wispy clouds rise like smoke rings against a background of stars—the products of a NASA rocket launch early Tuesday morning designed to study the upper-level jet stream. 

Starting just before 5 a.m. ET, the space agency launched five consecutive sounding rockets from itsWallops Flight Facilityin Virginia as part of theAnomalous Transport Rocket Experiment, or ATREX.Once aloft, each suborbital rocket released a chemical tracer at altitudes between 50 and 90 miles (80 and 145 kilometers)—near the edge of space.

The chemical reacts with water and oxygen in theatmosphereto create milky white clouds, which could be seen easily by scientists and the public this morning in clear skies along the U.S. Northeast coast, according to NASA. Two of the rockets also carried instruments for measuring atmospheric temperature and pressure.

Pictures of the ATREX clouds will help scientists better understand the drivers of the high-level jet stream, ultrafast winds that blow 60 to 65 miles (96 to 105 kilometers) above Earth’s surface.

This is the same region of Earth’s upper atmosphere—the ionosphere—where strong electrical currents naturally flow, NASA says. Tracking how the jet stream moves can therefore give researchers insight into the roots of high-altitude electrical turbulence, which can disrupt satellites and radio communications.

(View extended descriptions here)




In all seriousness, this is pretty cool!


Here is rare footage of the Cassini probe in action, orbiting Saturn and revealing a never-before-seen image of a face the surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. True story.

Read more here.

False. That’s obviously someone dying while having an MRI scan.

(Source: xxdangerxx)

I always imagined Neil Armstrong on the way up to the moon, rehearsing what he was going to say. “Hey, Buzz, how about this: ‘one small step for me, one giant leap for mankind’? Eh?”

"No, it still doesn’t feel quite right."

(Source: 30rockasaurus, via itsfullofstars)


10 Technology Innovations Needed for Deep Space Exploration

By Patrick J. Kiger

10: Spacecraft Equipped With Giant Solar Sails

Conventional rockets can put astronauts into orbit, but try using one to travel the enormous distances between planets and stars and you’re likely to run out of fuel. That’s why scientists have been working to develop alternative methods of propulsion and energy sources for rockets.

9: Super-high-speed Optical Communication

We all chuckled at the notion that E.T. was having trouble phoning home, but for interplanetary explorers, maintaining communication with Earth could be a major challenge. “If you can’t communicate with the ship, then you don’t know what the results are of your mission,” Andreas Tziolas, a former research fellow at NASA who now heads Project Icarus, a private-sector effort to develop interstellar technology, told the Atlantic.

8: Atomic-powered Clocks for Navigation in Deep Space

If you’re going to travel in deep space, the last thing you want is to get lost along the way, crash on some strange planet, and have your robotic assistant running around wearing out its voice synthesizer, continually shouting “Danger, Will Robinson!” To avoid such a scenario, you need a really good a navigation system with a super-precise clock; this clock will be used to calculate distances.

7: Robotic Advance Teams

Founding a colony on a distant planet might be a daunting task for astronauts. They’d have to land in unfamiliar, possibly rough terrain, and then immediately set about erecting dwellings and a landing/launching pad to facilitate follow-up missions — all while searching for water, air and building materials. That’s why NASA engineers, in league with Canadian and European colleagues, are at work developing robotic advance teams that would land in advance of human explorers to scope out the available resources and lay the groundwork for a settlement. On Mars or another planet, for example, rovers equipped with bulldozer blades or plows could go to work clearing and smoothing a landing spot, while others might amass rocks and other materials and process them to make a concrete runway. (Remember that the Space Shuttle’s landing facility required 250,000 cubic yards of concrete, far too much to ever be transported from Earth.) Other robots might roam the surface, drilling and testing soil samples to look for usable oxygen and/or water, according to NASA.

6: Substitutes for Gravity

Watching Apollo astronauts hit golf balls fantastic distances might make microgravity look like great fun, but the truth is that it’s extremely hard on your body. In fact, scientists say that some of the biggest potential problems facing astronauts in deep space are the physiological changes caused by weightlessness. Astronauts’ muscles have a tendency to atrophy from lack of resistance, and they lose bone as well; in addition, weightlessness causes a loss of blood volume, so they feel lightheaded when they stand up. Additionally, it alters the human sense of balance, so that when space travelers return, they’ll feel as if Earth is spinning out of control beneath their feet.

5: Suspended Animation for Long Trips

One of the major problems with traveling vast distances in space is that trips could take a long, long time. In a lot of science fiction movies, such as “Alien” and “Planet of the Apes,” scriptwriters get around this problem by depicting astronauts slumbering for long stretches in suspended animation, like hibernating animals. Unfortunately, slowing the human metabolism and keeping a person alive for lengthy periods in that state is easier imagined than done. Surface-induced deep hypothermia — in layman’s terms, freezing — probably isn’t a good option, for example, since ice crystals begin to form inside the cells, and then destroy them as they grow, according to Michio Kaku, author of “Physics of the Impossible.”

4: Force Fields to Block Hazardous Radiation

Force fields are a staple of science fiction, in which they’re usually used to protect a spaceship or space station from attackers. In “Star Wars,” for example, the Death Star on which Darth Vader did his heavy breathing was protected by such a shield. But in actual deep space travel, scientists are looking to force fields to solve another problem — how to protect astronauts’ bodily cells from the continual radiation bombardment in space that might cause them to develop cancers and other health problems.

3: Warp Drives

In “Star Trek,” the Starship Enterprise travels enormous distances in weeks and months, even visiting other galaxies — a feat that would be impossible at the speeds that spacecraft currently travel. The Enterprise does this by using warp drive, in which the spacecraft basically takes shortcuts through holes caused by distortions of space-time. (This is a tricky concept to grasp; imagine space and time as a giant tablecloth, one that you can stretch, twist and poke pathways through.)

2: Growing Food on Spaceships

Like everybody else, astronauts in deep space would need to eat, and finding room inside a spacecraft to bring along the vast quantities of supplies needed to sustain them on trips lasting multiple years would be a major headache. That’s why NASA scientists are looking for ways for astronauts to grow their own food while en route to other planets, without using soil or large amounts of water.

1: Recycling Air and Water in Deep Space

Another thing that astronauts will need in space is supplies of both breathable air and drinkable water, and obviously they can’t haul Earth behind them to provide a continuously refreshed supply. That’s why NASA scientists are working to develop air recovery systems that will filter, extract and restore to a ship’s internal atmosphere as much oxygen as possible. By 2014, researchers expect to have the ability to recover as much as 75 percent of the oxygen from the carbon dioxide that astronauts breathe out, and by 2019, they hope to achieve 100 percent recovery, according to