Noctilucent Clouds … Frooooom Spaaaaaace!

"I recently wrote an article talking about noctilucent clouds—relatively rare high-altitude clouds usually seen just after sunset and before sunrise. They have a milky, silvery appearance, and are usually pretty hard to capture on photos.

It can be even harder from space, where lighting conditions are harsher and getting the right exposure balance is difficult. But astronaut Reid Wiseman got it just right recently, snagging a photo of the odd clouds from the International Space Station.”

Find out more from astronomer Phil Plait.

Finally! A Decent Espresso On The International Space Station

"Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, during his stay on the International Space Station last year, said the one thing he missed was a real cup of espresso.

Engineers on the ground in Italy were way ahead of him.

They had already been hard at work solving the problems of zero-G espresso and now they’re ready to launch ISSpresso, “the first capsule-based espresso system able to work in the extreme conditions of space.”

Learn more from npr.

The Salad Frontier: Why Astronauts Need To Grow Lettuce In Space

Have you ever craved a salad, I mean really craved a salad because you’ve been eating a lot of freeze-dried meat and beans?

Astronauts who spend months on end in space sure do miss their greens. That’s why NASA is embarking on a program to get astronauts growing their own food. First stop is the International Space Station and a vegetable production system called Veg-01, or “Veggie.”

Learn more from npr.


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Watch Astronauts Come Back to Earth — Live!

"At 19:15 UTC (3:15 p.m. EDT) today, three astronauts stuffed into a Soyuz capsule currently docked to the International Space Station will close the hatch, separating them from their three comrades. A little over three hours later (22:33 UTC, 6:33 p.m. EDT) they will undock, move away from ISS, and then at 00:45 a.m. UTC (8:45 p.m. EDT) they will commence their deorbit burn, which will drop them into Earth’s atmosphere and send them down into the fields of Kazakhstan."

Read more from Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy.

Bodies Not Made for Space

"Swelled heads, atrophied legs, radiation threats — space takes a toll on the human body, and some health problems still elude doctors more than 50 years after the first spaceflight.

At the Johnson Space Center here, the home base for NASA’s human spaceflight program, scientists probably have until the 2030s to dissect these problems before the agency sends astronauts to Mars — a mission that would take about three years, or nearly six times the current standard tour of duty on the space station.”

Read more from The New York Times

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