Listen to NASA: 4 Best Houston-centric NASA Audio Moments

Categories: NASA

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Photo from NASA
Astronaut Ed White performing the first space walk and giving a shout-out to Houston.

If you're looking for a quick audio overview of NASA's history, the space agency just released about 60 short clips that give us enough historic soundbites and out-of-this-world sounds -- "Earth's Song" is particularly beautiful -- on Souncloud to cover more than 50 years of history.

However, while the Souncloud NASA thing is really cool, listening to it us got us hungering for more Houston-centric audio clips. The craving led us to NASA's section of the Internet Archive (an incredible nonprofit devoted to digitally preserving everything it possibly can to prevent a "digital dark age") where we found a trove of longer audio files about the entire space program.

These days both Houston in general and the Johnson Space Center in particular have been sidelined by NASA. But Houston, Space City, used to be at the center of it all, and you need look no further than these NASA archive recordings to be reminded of the vital role the folks at JSC once played in our quest to send people from the Earth to the moon and to infinity and beyond, to quote Jules Verne and Buzz Lightyear, respectively. (Now we're trying to lasso an asteroid and have some vague aims for heading to Mars even as the commercial spacecrafts we were counting on using have, well, blown up.)

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NASA Rocket Explodes After Launch

Categories: NASA

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Photo from NASA
Before the launch. (And subsequent explosion.)

Well, it looks like the astronauts will have to wait a little longer for their snacks and supplies.
An unmanned NASA rocket exploded shortly after launching on Tuesday evening.

The rocket, an unmanned cargo spacecraft that was slated to dock at the International Space Station, exploded roughly six seconds after the launch at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia.

The launch was originally scheduled to take place Monday but was rescheduled to Tuesday because of a boat down range in the trajectory of where the Orbital's Antares rocket would have flown, according to a NASA release.

But on Tuesday, it blew up.

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NASA Is Working on a Space Submarine. Really.

Categories: NASA

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Image from NASA

NASA still doesn't have a way to get astronauts to outerspace but our national space agency will have a submarine to explore the extraterrestrial waters of Titan someday. Possibly.

This may sound patently ridiculous just now in the days when NASA is a chronically underfunded shell of its former self, but it's a pretty nifty idea.

The Titan submarine, if and when it is created, will plumb the depths of the Titian seas, specifically the Kraken Mare. (Yep, that's kraken as in "release the kraken!") The submarine will plumb the depths of the 720-mile long Kraken Mare and find out all kinds of interesting scientific-type stuff that we so far don't know about, not having been to Titan and all. The proposed mission will be focused on figuring out the hydrocarbon makeup of the Kraken Mare.


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NASA Found a Zombie Star in Space

Categories: NASA

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Photo courtesy of NASA/ESA
The two inset images show before-and-after images captured by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope of Supernova 2012Z in the spiral galaxy NGC 1309. The white X at the top of the main image marks the location of the supernova in the galaxy.

Way out there in the glittering vastness of space, something undead lurks. Yes, NASA astronomers believe they have spotted a zombie star, created in the wake of an unusually weak supernova explosion.

See, the way this usually works is a white dwarf, a dying star, is usually completely obliterated by a supernova, but in this case the explosion was weak. It should have destroyed the white dwarf, but after it was over a husk of a star was left, a zombie star if you will.


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NASA Begins Martian Chronicles (Even Though There's Still No Way to Get to Mars)

Categories: NASA

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Who knows if NASA folks will ever actually get there, but at least they're makinh it look like they intend to.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, NASA still has Martian intentions.

The space program folks made that clear with the release of their latest plans for the next Mars rover. There have been three rovers so far -- Spirit, Curiosity and Opportunity -- and the vehicles have been collecting data to figure out whether Mars actually has the ability to support life, while also searching for signs of past Martians. The 2020 rover will focus on making oxygen and looking for potential farmland, more practical steps in the journey toward actually putting human feet on the red planet. Making oxygen could both give astronauts something to, you know, breathe if they ever arrive on the planet. It could also be used to make rocket fuel to allow the astronauts to leave (which sounds significantly better than Eli Musk's one-way ticket plan to land people on Mars.)


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NASA (Kind of) Has Asteroid-Retrieval Plans

Categories: NASA

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Screengrab from Asteroids
Who knows if NASA folks will ever actually lasso an asteroid, but at least they have a plan.

Nothing will make people less dubious about NASA's plan to lasso an asteroid like a plan. That must be what the folks at NASA are thinking, but more power to them, because they do indeed have something that is beginning to resemble a plan.

See, NASA isn't sending astronauts to the moon anytime soon, but it is going to fetch an asteroid of its very own in the 2020s (or at least that's the intention, and it will possibly maybe happen) via the Asteroid Redirect Mission. The 2020s are coming up soon, so of course the agency needs to hurry up and figure out how to handle that proverbial asteroid.


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NASA Is Working on a Warp Drive: Five Other Sci-Fi Things They Should Make Real

Categories: NASA

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NASA physicist Harold White is boldly going where no one has gone before with his work on a warp drive. White has been working on the project since 2010 and it's so Star Trek-inspired that the designs are modeled on the Star Trek warp drive. Who knows if an actual warp drive will ever exist, but the project got us thinking about some of the other sci-fi inventions of the mind that we'd like to see in real life.

5. Lightsabers. A sword of pure energy that cauterizes the would even as it cuts off your hand! What could possibly go wrong? Plenty, we know, but we'd still like to see the elegant weapon of the Jedi in real life, because it would be cool. There's pretty much no other reason, but somewhere out there someone must be working on this. We're practicing our cool Jedi sword moves already so we'll be ready when the time comes.

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Giant Asteroid Slid by for NASA Photo-op

Categories: NASA

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Photo from NASA
The asteroid was ready for its closeup, obviously.

Lots of asteroids zoom by the planet over the course of the year (that's why NASA actually tracks and counts all the ones it can find) but one of those asteroids zipped by Earth recently, and this time NASA scientists were ready. Yep, 2014 HQ124 was more ready for its closeup than Norma Desmond at the end of Sunset Boulevard and NASA scientists managed to capture some of the sharpest radar images of a near-Earth asteroid ever shot, according to the NASA people themselves.


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NASA Helps to Make Face Cream, and Don't Act Like You Don't Want to Try It

Categories: NASA

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Youtube.com
How about some NASA technology on your face?
In terms of product placement what's next for NASA? We've told you about them using a smartphone game to educate us about asteroids, now we find out they're teaming up with a company that sells expensive face cream.

Is our space program that much of joke that now #Spaceface is going to be the hashtag people think of when you mention the Mars Rover, and well, not the Mars Rover?

The Kiehls in Space campaign is asking people to take selfies. The winners will have their images put on some kind of figurines that will be shuttled into space.



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NASA Sends Angry Birds to an Asteroid

Categories: NASA

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Image from Rovio
The Angry Birds are going boldly where no one has gone before.

There are plenty of questions about whether or not NASA will ever send actual astronauts to an asteroid, but in the meantime, the agency has worked with Rovio Entertainment to give Angry Birds a little asteroid exposure.

Yep, the duo that brought the world Angry Birds Space got together again to create Beak Impact, a freshened-up version of the game with 40 new levels and a whole bunch of NASA tie-ins, according to CNet. For those who don't remember, yes, that name is a play on Deep Impact, the other 1998 asteroid movie (the one that wasn't the scientifically-grotesque-but-gloriously-ridiculous Bruce Willis asteroid film, Armageddon).


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