NASA Makes Contact with Missing Spacecraft After Nearly 2 Years of Silence

space-newsNASA made contact with one of its missing spacecraft Sunday night, over 22 months after researchers lost communication. The long-lost spacecraft, known as STEREO-B, is one half of NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory mission.

Credit: NASA
Credit: NASA

The other half of the mission involves spacecraft STEREO-A. Both probes were launched in October 2006, tasked with studying the sun from different vantage points and reporting back to Earth. The mission was only scheduled to last two years, but the STEREOs have lasted longer than expected. STEREO-A has continued to operate on its mission to study the sun.

After a massive search, contact was reestablished on Aug. 21, 2016 – nearly two years after losing communication on Oct. 1, 2014. NASA’s Deep Space Network, or DSN, established a lock on the STEREO-B downlink carrier at 6:27 p.m.

Credits: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio
Credits: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

What happened to STEREO-B? According to NASA, the two STEREOs slowly drifted away from Earth as they orbited the sun, one ahead and one behind our home planet. This gave scientists awesome views of the sun’s far side – allowing us for the first time to see the whole sun at once!

Unfortunately, the same slow drift that gave NASA incredible images also pulled each spacecraft to the other side of the sun from Earth. This lead to a three-month period where communication was impossible due to the sun’s interference.

The STEREO spacecraft were designed with a command loss timer, an automatic reset button that restarts the spacecraft after 72 hours without contact. The hard reset happened as expected, 72 hours and 20 minutes after operators stopped communications with the spacecraft. After the reset, STEREO-B was supposed to power itself back on, but it gave barely a glimmer and faded into darkness.

bear waving

Finding STEREO-B is just half the battle. Now researchers must conduct a slew of tests to decide if the craft is healthy and fully-functioning. They must assess the spacecraft’s subsystems and instruments to determine if it’s recoverable. Hope to hear from you soon, STEREO-B! 🛰

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NASA Makes Contact with Missing Spacecraft After Nearly 2 Years of Silence

Up Close and Personal with the Jagged Shores of Pluto’s Highlands

space-newsIt’s time to get up close and personal with Pluto’s dark, rugged highlands – informally named Krun Macula. (Krun is the lord of the underworld in the Mandaean religion, and a ‘macula’ is a dark feature on a planetary surface.).


This enhanced color view from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft zooms in on the southeastern portion of Pluto’s great ice plains. Krun Macula rises 1.5 miles above Pluto’s icy surface, and the craters that decorate it typically reach between 5 and 8 miles across!

The amazing image below was crafted using three separate observations made by New Horizons as it flew by Pluto in July 2015. It represents pieces of the highest and second-highest resolution observations gathered by the spacecraft.

pluto close up

Why does Pluto have that dark rust color? According to NASA, Pluto is believed to get its deep red color from tholins, complex molecules found across much of the surface.

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NASA’s Hubble Telescope Found the Galaxy Far, Far, Farthest Away!

space-newsCan you feel that? I think my nerdy little heart just skipped a beat. 😍

A group of international astronomers have pushed NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to its limits. As a result, they’ve smashed records by measuring the furthest galaxy ever seen in the universe! Bye, bye, cosmic distance record. Hello GN-z11!

This surprisingly bright infant galaxy, named GN-z11, is seen as it was 13.4 billion years in the past, just 400 million years after the Big Bang.


“We’ve taken a major step back in time, beyond what we’d ever expected to be able to do with Hubble. We see GN-z11 at a time when the universe was only three percent of its current age,” explained principal investigator Pascal Oesch of Yale University.

Credits: NASA, ESA, B. Robertson (University of California, Santa Cruz), A. Feild (STScI)
Credits: NASA, ESA, B. Robertson (University of California, Santa Cruz), A. Feild (STScI)

Astronomers are closing in on the first galaxies that formed in the universe. The new Hubble observations take astronomers into a realm that was once thought to be only reachable with NASA’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope.

NASA’s Hubble Telescope Found the Galaxy Far, Far, Farthest Away!

Space Photos: NASA’s Hubble Turns the Universe into Eye Candy

space-newsHow incredible is this photo?? This galaxy is the universe’s version of a hot mess. Roughly a quarter of galaxies don’t take on any recognizable shape; they are known as irregular galaxies. Most galaxies rock a crazy spiral or elliptical structure – but not NGC 5408, which is located about 16 million light-years from Earth in the constellation of Centaurus (The Centaur).

Known as irregular galaxies, this group includes NGC 5408, the galaxy that has been snapped here by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

The photo above was taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Launched in 1990, Hubble has traveled over 3 billion miles around Earth, made 1.2 million observations, and snapped pics of locations more than 13.4 billion light years from our planet. I’ve collected a few amazing photos taken by Hubble. Enjoy! ✨





Highlights from Astronaut Scott Kelly’s Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’ – The Answers May Surprise You!

space-newsCan you imagine spending an entire year in space? I can’t. But I have been obsessing about NASA astronaut Scott Kelly’s mission to spend one year aboard the International Space Station. He made it past the 300 day mark last week. He also has a twin undergoing some of the same tests on Earth to evaluate the effects of living in space on the human body. Trippy!

He has revolutionized space social media with his incredible Instagram and Twitter game. I love his brutal honesty and constant amazement. And, just to add to his cool factor, Kelly just conducted a facisnating Reddit AMA. Reddit got to ask Commander Scott Kelly a bunch of fun questions. I’ve selected the highlights and pasted them below!

Scott Kelly Instagram
Credit: Instagram @stationcdrkelly

“I am getting smarter every day I am here.” – Scott Kelly

Why do you always have your arms folded?

Your arms don’t hang by your side in space like they do on Earth because there is no gravity. It feels awkward to have them floating in front of me. It is just more comfortable to have them folded. I don’t even have them floating in my sleep, I put them in my sleeping bag.

Simon (5yrs): Could a rogue spaceship sneak up on the space station without you being aware, and dock?

Simon, Maybe an alien spaceship with a cloaking device. But not your normal spaceship, no. Unless it had a cloaking device, which doesn’t exist, the U.S. Air Force would see it coming.

How are you doing this AMA? Are you directly typing it from a laptop on the ISS, or are is it being dictated?

I am talking to you live, but someone else is typing this in.

What do you suppose the chances are of us getting to mars any time soon?

Depends on your definition of soon. If we wanted to devote the appropriate resources to go to Mars, we could do it.

This low-angle self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the site from which it reached down to drill into a rock target called "Buckskin" on lower Mount Sharp. Credit: NASA
This low-angle self-portrait of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the site from which it reached down to drill into a rock target called “Buckskin” on lower Mount Sharp. Credit: NASA

Being up in space for an entire year is a LONG time. Have you noticed any effects on your body from weightlessness?

Good question. Yeah, there are a lot of changes that happen. Some of them you can’t see, cause it’s your eyes! Probably too many changes to go into detail here. I think my rehab plan is the same as if I were here for 6 months, but I’m not positive.

Could you tell us something unusual about being in space that many people don’t think about? (My personal favorite. EW! 😆)

The calluses on your feet in space will eventually fall off. So, the bottoms of your feet become very soft like newborn baby feet. But the top of my feet develop rough alligator skin because I use the top of my feet to get around here on space station when using foot rails.

Do you stretch when you wake up in the morning from your space sleep? Is stretching just a waking up thing or does gravity make people want to stretch?

My muscles and joints are a whole lot better up here than with gravity. It’s almost like you are in a bed rest. There is no pressure or pain. I do stretch before I exercise because my muscles aren’t stretched out, they are somewhat dormant.

Hi, I’m a Kindergarten Teacher. My students and I have been following you since you went up last year. My past and present students are curious; what kind of things do you do for fun?

I read, write and do arithmetic like a Kindergartner (just kidding). But I do read, take photos of the Earth and play with my food.

Credit: Instagram @stationcdrkelly - "Good morning aurora and the Pacific Northwest!"
Credit: Instagram @stationcdrkelly – “Good morning aurora and the Pacific Northwest!”

Can you describe your sleep cycle over the last 300 days in space? Always a solid 8 hours? Did you ever get strangely tired or have you consistently felt well rested? Bonus Question: When sleeping, is your dream world mostly in zero-G?

I am not a great sleeper. I don’t think I have ever slept 8 hours straight in the last 20 years. I wind up waking up a couple of times. My dreams are sometimes space dreams and sometimes Earth dreams. And they are crazy.

Today is your 302nd consecutive day aboard ISS, if you could go back and give yourself advice on day 1, what would you say?

The advice I would give myself on day 1 would be pack lighter!

what happens when you sneeze or blow your nose in space? Does it stay on your face like tears?

I just sneezed twice coming into my crew quarters. And I do what I do on Earth and cover my mouth with my hand. If I didn’t do that, it’s possible the sneeze could be found floating in another module. I generally don’t sneeze into open air on Earth or here in space.

What’s the creepiest thing you’ve encountered while on the job?

Generally it has to do with the toilet. Recently I had to clean up a gallon-sized ball of urine mixed with acid. The acid is added to the urine so the urine doesn’t damage the machinery that moves it through the system. It keeps it from clogging up the system.

Greeting from earth mr.scott straight outta compton whats up?

Straight outta space. I want to see that movie, that’s what’s up.


Mr. Kelly, what is the largest misconception about space/space travel that society holds onto?

I think a lot of people think that because we give the appearance that this is easy that it is easy. I don’t think people have an appreciation for the work that it takes to pull these missions off, like humans living on the space station continuously for 15 years. It is a huge army of hard working people to make it happen.

What ONE thing will you forever do differently after your safe return home?

I will appreciate nature more.

What will be the first thing you eat once you’re back on Earth?

The first thing I will eat will probably be a piece of fruit (or a cucumber) the Russian nurse hands me as soon as I am pulled out of the space capsule and begin initial health checks.

Now that you are able to count down the days to come home in March, what will you miss most about the Space Station daily life?

The challenge of living here. It’s not easy and I have always liked to do things that are hard.

I am Adam. I am 5 years old. How far away are you from earth?

I am 250 miles above the Earth, and I’m going very fast.

Hello Captain Kelly, I would like to ask, does the ISS have any particular smell?

Smells vary depending on what segment you are in. Sometimes it has an antiseptic smell. Sometimes it has an odor that smells like garbage. But the smell of space when you open the hatch smells like burning metal to me.

What is your favorite part of Earth to see from space?

My favorite spot on Earth to see from space is probably the Bahamas. The brilliant and varied colors of the blue water and contrast from here is pretty spectacular.

Credit: Instagram @stationcdrkelly
Credit: Instagram @stationcdrkelly – “A splash of Earth art over the Bahamas!”

What is your favorite space-related movie? What is your favorite non-space related movie?

I really enjoyed the Martian. I was able to watch it here aboard the space station. The Godfather.

Captain Kelly, I have been hearing about the deorbiting of the ISS in the next ten years. What is your view on how the ISS hardware/modules have been aging?

It seems like the inside of the space station has very good material condition. The outside looks a little aged. As far as maintaining it versus deorbiting it, it just depends what our priorities are. I think it would be great to keep it going forever, but of course everything has costs.

What would YOU ask someone who has spent the last 300 days in space? 🚀

Highlights from Astronaut Scott Kelly’s Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’ – The Answers May Surprise You!

The Latest Pics from NASA: Nobody Has Ever Seen Such Detailed Images of Pluto

Krystian Science SpaceWe are witnessing history, people! NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has sent back the first in a series of the sharpest views of Pluto it snapped during its flyby in July. According to NASA, these are the best close-up images of Pluto we may see for decades.

The Mountainous Shoreline of Sputnik Planum. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
The Mountainous Shoreline of Sputnik Planum. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

The photo above is the highest-resolution image showing huge blocks of Pluto’s icy crust slammed together in the al-Idrisi mountains. The series of detailed images features a sequence taken near New Horizons’ closest approach to Pluto. These photos capture the beauty and diversity of Pluto’s terrain.

“The mountains bordering Sputnik Planum are absolutely stunning at this resolution,” said New Horizons science team member John Spencer of the Southwest Research Institute. “The new details revealed here, particularly the crumpled ridges in the rubbly material surrounding several of the mountains, reinforce our earlier impression that the mountains are huge ice blocks that have been jostled and tumbled and somehow transported to their present locations.”

With resolutions of about 250-280 feet (77-85 meters) per pixel, NASA was able to capture features less than half a city block wide on the surface. The sequence – which forms a strip 50 miles (80 kilometers) wide on a world 3 billion miles away – shows Pluto’s massive craters, mountains, ice fields and glaciers.

The New Horizons spacecraft transmits recorded data from its flight through the Pluto system on July 14th every week. Mission scientists expect to receive more amazing images of Pluto over the next few days.

Aren’t you excited to see what they find?


SCIENCE VIDEO ROUNDUP: NASA Bursts Bubbles, Creepy Robot Baby, Caffeine Loving Bees & My New Kitties!


10-17 News Update - Krystian Science

KSTV Weekly Science Wrap-Up

1) NASA Floats Balls of Alka-Seltzer in Space

2) This Creepy Robot Baby Will Haunt Your Dreams

3) Honeybees Love Being Hyped Up on Caffeine

4) Viral Sea Otter Surprise Video


5) Meet My New Kitties – Tux and Frankie Mcallister! 😻


SCIENCE VIDEO ROUNDUP: NASA Bursts Bubbles, Creepy Robot Baby, Caffeine Loving Bees & My New Kitties!

Incredible New Pluto Pic Highlights ‘Arctic’ Peaks and Valleys in Backlit Panorama

Krystian Science SpaceScientists were stunned after viewing the latest images from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. Not only is the surface of Pluto covered in large icy mountains, low-lying hazes, and streams of frozen nitrogen – it also looks eerily like the arctic.

The photo below was taken just 15 minutes after New Horizons made its closest approach to Pluto on July 14, 2015. The spacecraft looked back toward the sun and caught this backlit panorama of Pluto’s rugged mountains and flat icy plains. The backlighting highlights over a dozen layers of haze in Pluto’s atmosphere. Trippy! 🌒

Pluto’s Majestic Mountains, Frozen Plains and Foggy Hazes. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
Pluto’s Majestic Mountains, Frozen Plains and Foggy Hazes. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

This new view offers a unique look at Pluto’s varied terrains and atmosphere. It was taken by New Horizons’ wide-angle Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC) on July 14 and downlinked to Earth on Sept. 13. Below is a close up of Pluto’s majestic icy mountains and flat glassy plains. It was taken at a distance of 11,000 miles.

Closer Look: Majestic Mountains and Frozen Plains. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)
Closer Look: Majestic Mountains and Frozen Plains. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

This image really makes you feel you are there, at Pluto, surveying the landscape for yourself,” said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado. “But this image is also a scientific bonanza, revealing new details about Pluto’s atmosphere, mountains, glaciers and plains.

Near-Surface Haze or Fog on Pluto. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
Near-Surface Haze or Fog on Pluto. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Let me quickly break down the geography of Pluto’s ‘heart.’ Sputnik Planum is the name of the smooth region on the left of the heart. The white upland region on the right may be coated in nitrogen ice that evaporated from the surface of Sputnik. The box shows the location of the glacier detail image below.

Pluto’s ‘Heart’. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
Pluto’s ‘Heart’. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
Valley glaciers on Pluto. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
Valley glaciers on Pluto. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Japanese Distillery Sends Delicious Whiskey to Space to Age in Zero Gravity

Krystian Science SpaceIt’s a good thing I’m not a trusted astronaut aboard the International Space Station, because instead of conducting important experiments and exploring our universe I’d probably be the first person to get drunk in space. Japanese distillery Suntory announced it’s shipping booze to Kibo, Japan’s module on the ISS – you know… for science.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 1.00.16 PM

Suntory’s award-winning whiskey will be off limits to astronauts, the group is just curious how zero gravity might effect the aging process.

H-II Transfer Vehicle No. 5, commonly known as “Kounotori5” or HTV5, launched from JAXA’s Tanegashima Space Center on August 19 carrying alcohol produced by Suntory to the ISS, where experiments on the “development of mellowness” will be conducted. Suntory hopes to find a scientific explanation for what ‘mellows’ alcohol over time.

A company spokesman said that the samples will include both a 21-year-old single malt whiskey (YUM) and a beverage that has just been distilled. The first samples will return to Earth after one year, while the other group of samples will remain in space for at least two years.

Do you want to get your hands on space-aged whiskey? Me too… but,  Suntory says they have no plans to make the unique specimens available for public purchase.

Bill Murray Scotch

Japanese Distillery Sends Delicious Whiskey to Space to Age in Zero Gravity

Crew Members on ISS Make History by Eating Salad: From Lettuce Grown and Prepared in Space!

Krystian Science Space

Three crew members aboard the ISS made history this week when they snacked on a salad grown, harvested, and eaten IN SPACE! 🎉🍃


Published August 10th 2015 via YouTube by NASA Johnson – ‘That’s one small bite for a man, one giant leaf for mankind. Fresh food grown in the microgravity environment of space officially is on the menu for the first time for NASA astronauts on the International Space Station. Astronauts Scott Kelly, Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui of Japan sample the fruits of their labor after harvesting a crop of “Outredgeous” red romaine lettuce from the Veggie plant growth system on the International Space Station.

Crew Members on ISS Make History by Eating Salad: From Lettuce Grown and Prepared in Space!