The Mary Sue


Facebook and Eutelsat to Bring Space-Internet to Africa in 2016

For all of the hate people love to pile on Facebook (myself included at times), some of the things the company is doing that don't involve leveraging photos of your friends' babies, well-plated lunches, or re-imagined Disney princesses to target ads are pretty great. They've been working on helping out developing areas by providing Internet access for a while, but it's a lot closer to reality under a new initiative.

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Watch Live As NASA Launches Their Deep Space Climate Observatory Right Now!

Space meteorologists are very excited.

NASA is launching their Deep Space Climate Observatory Satellite (or DSCOVR, because, of course) this evening from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral. DSCOVR is heading to space on a SpaceX Falcon 9 (which is a reusable rocket, so that's pretty cool). The NASA livestream starts here at 5pmE, and the launch is set for 6:05pmE. NASA says that because this is a sunset launch, it'll be great for viewing.

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Update: Sex Geckos on Russian Space Satellite All Reported Dead

This isn't very sexy at all.

If you, like us, have been gleefully following the story of the fornicating gecko-filled satellite that briefly lost contact with Earth a few months ago, then we've got bad news for you: According to Roskosmos space agency, all the geckos on the satellite have gone to that big lizard orgy in the sky.

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John Oliver Celebrates Humanity’s Triumph Over Sexy Lizards With #WeGotThoseGeckos

Today, we are canceling the apocalypse!

Here is John Oliver with the definitive update on humanity's recapture of the randy reptile receptacle.

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Russia’s Sexy Space Geckos Memorialized Forever In Fantastic Poster

Teeny-tiny Gecko voices: "You can't take the skies from us!"

Last week we brought to your attention the most important thing to happen to journalism since Johannes Gutenberg cobbled together the printing press: Russia sent a quintet of geckos into space to study the effects of zero-gravity on lizard boinking (ooooh yeah), the reptilian Romeos mutinied (that's the story I'm going with) and satellite Foton-M4 and its copulating cargo went rogue.

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Real-Life Headline Alert: Russia Has Lost Control Of a Sex Satellite Filled With Geckos

Don't go getting any bright ideas, astronauts.

Last Saturday Russia's Institute of Medico-Biological Problems launched a Foton-M4 satellite filled with five geckos into orbit so that the people of earth would know how reptile booty is impacted by zero-gravity. Unfortunately, the cold-blooded casanovas had a different plan: due to a technical glitch (or possible mutiny) the orbiting orgy has gone rogue.

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NASA Giving Civilians Free Reign Over “Retired” Spacecraft

With great space power comes great space responsibilities.

Yesterday NASA announced that for the first time ever the rights to a spacecraft have been signed over to a group of private citizens scientists. In the coming months, 35 year old satellite ISEE-3 will be re-contacted and, if possible, pulled out of its retirement orbit for non-agency missions.

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European Satellite’s Fall from Orbit Was Harmless, Proving We Can Do Math

We do so love being right.

To the Internet's credit, no one seemed all that concerned about the European Space Agency's falling satellite over the weekend, despite Fox News running a headline that it might land in your backyard and telling you who to sue. It burned up harmlessly in the atmosphere as expected—the satellite, not Fox News. Sorry.

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A Satellite Will Fall from Orbit over the Weekend, Please Don’t Overreact, Internet

Yes, we're aware that asking the Internet not to overreact is like asking the satellite not to fall.

The European Space Agency is expecting the Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer to fall out of orbit this weekend after hanging out up there since 2009. We are expecting people to freak out and worry that one ton of science is going to fall on their heads. Spoiler: it's not, and we've got the math to prove it.

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New Pictures and Video of the Juno Satellite as It Flew by Earth on Its Way to Jupiter

We sent a satellite to take pictures of interesting things in space and then took pictures of it.

NASA's Juno mission used the Earth's gravity and orbit earlier this month to fling a solar powered satellite all the way out to Jupiter. While it's out there, it should be able to teach us some pretty great things about the solar system, but its Earth flyby was pretty cool to see all by itself.

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Aw, Too Bad: North Korea’s Satellite is Probably Already Dead

Well, that didn't last long. In what we have to assume is karmic payback for lying about unicorns, the satellite that North Korea launched into orbit last week is already dead, says a Harvard astronomer. North Korea is calling the launch a big victory for leader Kim Jong Un and their space program, but it seems like they haven't been as successful as they initially thought. Reports say that the object is tumbling and that so far, no signals have been detected coming from the washing machine-sized satellite -- which upon further review, may well turn out to actually just be a washing machine. Too bad, guys. Better luck next time.

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You Can Now Interact With That Beautiful Map of the Earth at Night

Last week we showed you a new series of NASA satellite photographs of the Earth at night. They were gorgeous, but what if you wanted to see what a specific place on Earth looked like at night? Now you can! It looks like Google went and overlaid the satellite images on top of their map service, and now it's searchable. Type in your address and see what your region of the world looks like at night.

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There’s a New Island Forming in the Red Sea

In late December, just before Christmas, a volcano in the Red Sea began shooting plumes of lava 60 feet into the air. The plumes of smoke and ash could be seen for miles in every direction; it was the birth of land. New imagery from NASA's Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite shows that the cooling lava has formed a new island is about 1,700 by 2,300 feet across and is expected to become a permanent resident. Welcome to the map, little island.

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DARPA is Developing a Spy Satellite to Stream Real-Time Video, See Any Target

As is the case with most projects coming out of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, this starts simple and quickly becomes complicated. Here's the simple part: Currently, military planners rely on drones to get real-time information about battlefields or areas of interest. Now things get complicated, as there aren't enough drones and they don't fly high enough to enter what DARPA calls "denied territories." In order to bridge that gap, DARPA makes it really complicated by researching the possibility of capturing video from space using spy satellites fitted with enormous flexible lenses some 60 feet across.

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UARS Satellite to Re-Enter Atmosphere Today, Probably Won't Hit North America

In their ongoing effort to keep the public informed about the 6.5 ton spacecraft falling to Earth today, NASA announced via their Twitter stream that the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) probably won't be touching down in North America. Earlier today it was reported that the spacecraft would miss North America entirely, though NASA is now saying that a change in orientation and unexpected deceleration means that it's still a possibility, albeit a slim one. Where the spacecraft will touch down is still an open question, though NASA is tracking the vehicle and providing frequent updates. In a series of recent tweets, the space agency dispelled some of the concerns about the falling satellite. First off, they reiterated that the odds of being struck by a piece of debris are one in several trillion. Second, NASA stated that any debris that lands is unlikely to be on fire, as objects entering the atmosphere generally stop heating 20 miles up and cool for the rest of their fall. In fact, by the time debris reaches the ground, they could be moving as slow as 30 mph. NASA also asks that if you do find a chunk of space debris that you leave it be, and contact local authorities. With those reassurances and useful science factoids now in place, we can all sit back and wait for the UARS to make its spectacular return to Earth -- expected late tonight or early tomorrow. Updated with new information from NASA at 11:00AM. (via @NASA, UARS tracking)

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Beautiful Film Made from Cassini Imagery [Video]

Chris Abbas professes to being a bit of a space nut, and his appreciation for extraterrestrial exploration is evident in this video about NASA's Cassini mission to Saturn. Comprised of images and video from the orbiter, Abbas created this hauntingly beautiful short film which certainly instills a sense of wonder. Watch, gentle reader, and be amazed.

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NASA’s MESSENGER Probe Enters Orbit Around Mercury

NASA's MESSENGER (believe it or not, it stands for MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging) probe entered orbit around Mercury last night, making it the first manmade object to ever do so. Now in orbit, MESSENGER will be observed for several days to see how the craft performs in the harsh environment so close to the sun. Onboard scientific instruments will be activated on March 23, with the scientific mission beginning on April 4. The journey has not been an easy one. Mercury travels at about 106,000 mph, which is much faster than Earth. Just to catch up with the planet, the probe had to gain 65,000 mph. In order to achieve such a feat, NASA mission planners plotted a roundabout course around Venus and Mercury, using the planets' gravity to speed up the craft. The final flight plan covered 5 billion miles, and 15 loops around the sun. Not much is known about the innermost planet of our solar system, which has been visited only once in 1974 by Mariner 10. Scientists are hoping MESSENGER will give them a greater understanding of Mercury's composition, and its curiously strong magnetic field. Though it has just entered orbit, MESSENGER made some surprising discoveries during a 2008 encounter with the planet: Large amounts of water in the planet's exosphere. Now that the craft is in place, the real work can begin. Given what MESSENGER has discovered already, it's shaping up to be an exciting mission. And, of course, you can follow mission updates through the MESSENGER Twitter. (via NASA, NASA Science, image via NASA)

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NASA’s $420 Million Glory Satellite Crashes

NASA is reporting that its orbital climate change observatory Glory has failed to achieve orbit after launching early this morning atop a Taurus-XL rocket. A statement from NASA indicates that the fairing, the casing around the satellite atop the rocket, failed to open and release Glory into orbit. As such, the craft was too heavy, and subsequently crashed. Glory is the second climate change satellite to crash, and its crash is the second fairing-related incident on a Taurus rocket. Were it to have survived launch, Glory would have studied the effects of tiny particles called aerosols in the atmosphere, and how they affect the climate on Earth. It also carried the Total Irradiance Monitor, which would have provided a greater understanding of how much radiation the Earth receives from the sun. The failure of the mission means a $420 million loss for cash-strapped NASA, but a far greater loss of knowledge that the craft would have provided. The solar radiation information, for instance, would have added to a 32-year long dataset. Glory's loss is a reminder that when it comes to space exploration, nothing is ever routine. Liftoff video below:

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NASA to Students: Help Crash our Satellite, Please?

University of Colorado at Boulder undergraduates piloted a multi-million dollar NASA satellite to its fiery oceanic death. NASA's response: Thanks guys.

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Nexus One Blasted 5 Miles Into the Sky [POV Video]

Apologies if you thought the title was an elaborate pornographic allusion, but I'm being completely literal: After the jump, you will see Google's recently shuttered Nexus One film itself BEING SHOT 28,000 FEET INTO THE AIR, or about 5.3 miles vertically. The event was part of the PhoneSat initiative; with the support of the Mavericks Civilian Space Foundation, they strapped the smart phone with a parachute to a rocket with 1,000 lbs of thrust, to test whether the phones could be sent high enough to enter orbit. This captured video, by the way, is from the second phone launched into the sky. We won't tell you what happened to the first one (it shattered into a million pieces).

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