Enjoy These Breathtaking Photos From Space as We Prepare to Welcome Three ISS Crew Members Back to Earth

Krystian Science SpaceThe space community has fully embraced social media and sharing online, which is truly a treat for the world! Day-to-day life on the International Space Station is something very few people get to experience. Plus, the view from up there is simply one-of-a-kind. NASA’s flickr account is updated frequently, pulling from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other internet accounts. I’ve decided to post a few of my favorites in honor of the three space station members set to return to earth in a few days! 🚀

NASA astronaut Terry Virts (left) Commander of Expedition 43 on the International Space Station along with crewmates Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov (center) and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti on May 6, 2015 perform a checkout of their Russian Soyuz spacesuits in preparation for the journey back to Earth. Credits: NASA
NASA astronaut Terry Virts (left) Commander of Expedition 43 on the International Space Station along with crewmates Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov (center) and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti on May 6, 2015 perform a checkout of their Russian Soyuz spacesuits in preparation for the journey back to Earth.
Credits: NASA

The three ISS crew members pictured above are scheduled to depart the orbiting laboratory on Thursday, June 11, after more than six months in space performing scientific research and technology demonstrations. We will be welcoming back Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, NASA astronaut Terry Virts, and my girl crush, Italian born ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. For a full schedule of their anticipated departure/arrival click here.

NASA Television will air converge of their departure and return to Earth. Coverage begins at 10:40 a.m. EDT Wednesday, June 10, when Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts of NASA hands over command of the space station to cosmonaut Gennady Padalka of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos).

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Top 10 Crazy New Species Found in 2014: A Cartwheeling Spider, Neon Sea-Slug, and the Bird From Hell

KS Strange ScienceScientific American shared a list of the top 10 most interesting new species discovered last year. The fascinating list was published by the International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry on May 21. Explore the new creatures below!

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Crazy X-Ray Images Show Python Digesting an Alligator Whole – And it Only Took 7 Days!

KS Strange Science

Have you ever wondered what it looks like when snakes digest their prey? As humans, we tend to eat certain parts of animals… while snakes eat and digest whole animals.

Below are a series of X-Ray images that reveal just what happens when a Burmese python swallows an entire alligator.

Burmese pythons are one of the five largest snakes in the world. Their body’s response to eating such large prey is what makes them a model species for digestive physiology. After they ingest their prey, their digestive system goes into hyper-drive. Each meal triggers dramatic increases in metabolism, upregulation of tissue function and tissue growth. Their organs literally supersize themselves!

Dr. Steven Secor, Professor at the University of Alabama, is obsessed with ‘the integrative design of gastrointestinal morphology and function.’ Who isn’t, right? 😉

Dr Secor said: ‘For the Burmese python, native to southeastern Asia, the next meal could range from a monitor lizard or ground-dwelling bird to a prey as formidable as a pangolin, deer or leopard… When it does eventually capture a prey and feed, the python’s previously dormant gut rapidly resumes function to tackle the difficult task of digesting a prey that may exceed half of the python’s own body mass. Upon the completion of digestion, these postprandial responses are thrown into reverse; tissue function is collectively downregulated and tissues undergo atrophy.’

Dr. Secor and his colleagues discovered that the snake’s heart increased by 40%, it’s pancreas increased by 94%, it’s kidney’s increased by 72%, and the reptile’s liver more than doubled in size.

Want more information? Check out Dr. Stephen Secor’s 2008 submission to the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Day 1- Here, you can see the alligator’s snout, torso, legs, and tail, snuggly stuffed in the python’s gut.

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Day 2 – The soft tissue is dissolving and the skeleton has begun to break down. The python floods its small intestine with powerful enzymes and acid, while its metabolic rate increases – forty times!

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Day 3 – The bones continue to be broken down, it’s scaly skin disappearing. The snake is essentially immobile during such a large meal, making it vulnerable to predators.

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Day 4 – Only the hardest parts of the alligator remain as the python begins its final stages of digestion.

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Day 5 – Almost finished. The snake must digest quickly before the alligator rots.

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Day 6 – Little is left of the alligator. By day 7 the python’s large snack will be completely digested. 

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Day 7 – ALL GONE! Nom nom nom.

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Rambo the Octopus Knows How to Snap Your Picture – as New Research Reveals How These Creatures Move

KS_LOGOs2_UnderwaterHer name is Rambo, she lives in New Zealand, she takes pictures, and, oh yeah… she is an octopus! In a new viral video released by Sony, you can see Rambo in action, snapping pics of excited guests in exchange for treats – using Sony’s underwater Cyber Shot TX30 camera.

Rambo, who was given the name based on the amount of destruction she caused the first few camera set-ups, lives at the Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium in Auckland. Rambo may be the world’s first professional ‘octographer,’ given the fact each photo costs $1.50 a pop!

The truth is, octopuses are highly intelligent. They open jars, make daring escapes from their tanks, and even dismantle high tech equipment! Click here to watch an octopus break apart a camera.

Mark Vette, Rambo’s trainer, told Cult of Mac, “When we first tried to get her to take a photo, it only took three attempts for her to understand the process. That’s faster than a dog… Actually, it’s faster than a human in some instances.”

Octopuses learn quickly and are highly motivated by food. Rambo was first taught to respond to a buzzer – which meant snack time. Then Vette had to teach her the buzzer meant to take a picture, which resulted in food.

Vette told NPR the hard part wasn’t training Rambo to shoot pictures; the hard part was creating an underwater set-up for the tank that the curious cephalopod wouldn’t destroy.

He told NPR, “She took the camera, ripped it off its hinges, ripped it off everything, smashed it to bits and spat it out.” Hence the name Rambo 🙂

 

How Does the Octopus Seamlessly Co-ordinate Its Eight Arms?

Good thing octopuses don’t dance, because according to a new study, they have no rhythm.

Researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem used high speed cameras to film octopuses moving around their tank – then analyzed the footage frame-by-frame. What they discovered surprised them.

Scientists found that the octopus moves by shortening and elongating its arms, which creates a pushing thrust. The animal does not move by bending or pulling its arms, as previously thought.

Octopuses have bilateral body symmetry, which means their left side is a mirror image of their right. Most bilateral-symmetric animals face forward when they are moving (except the crab, which walks sideways.) But, octopuses can move in ANY direction without needing to turn their bodies. They just push off a surface and propel themselves wherever they’d like.

“So the octopus only has to decide which arm to use for the pushing – it doesn’t need to decide which direction this arm will push,” explained Dr Levy. “[It has] found a very simple solution to a potentially complicated problem – it just has to pick which arm to recruit.”

While, the octopus clearly has some rad moves, researchers have not been able to spot a pattern, or rhythm to their movement. Levy believes there either is no pattern to discover, or their movement is too complicated for the studies they conducted.

The findings are published in the journal Current Biology.

Push-pull: The footage, captured by Dr Guy Levy, reveals how each arm moves the animal in a particular direction
Push-pull: The footage, captured by Dr Guy Levy, reveals how each arm moves the animal in a particular direction
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I Dare You To Ignore These Adoptable Pups Once They Hit The Photo Booth

KS_LOGOs2_PopCultureThe Humane Society of Utah started putting their adoptable dogs in front of the camera and the results are too cute!

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Ciara the 3 year old Black Mouth Cur mix CREDIT: Humane Society of Utah Facebook

The mastermind behind the photo booth project is photographer Guinnevere Shuster, who is the Social Media Coordinator at the Humane Society.

This campaign puts adoptable dogs in front of the lens, letting them show off their unique personalities. The Humane Society uses their popular Facebook page to constantly post new pics of puppies, and updates those photos once the pup has been happily adopted.

The best part about this new photo booth campaign is that it’s working! According to the Humane Society, the placement rate of dogs has reached a whopping 93.26%.

All the dogs you see below have been adopted! Click through a selection of the dog portraits and enjoy 🙂

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It’s not all going to the dogs. The Human Society of Utah also has a bunch of adorable cats and other animals to adopt. They make frequent appearances on social media as well.

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Credit: Humane Society of Utah Facebook

 

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Epic Photos of the “Red Moon” and Shortest Eclipse of the Century

Krystian Science Space

The full “blood moon” lunar eclipse only lasted five minutes! But, people all over the world still managed to capture the epic moment on film. Check out these beautiful photos of the ‘shortest lunar eclipse of the century,’ courtesy of TIME, Yahoo, and Flickr.

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Even the Sky is Begging For a Green Beer on St. Patrick’s Day!

Krystian Science Space

NASA has reported that a severe geomagnetic storm is underway and luckily Sebastian Saarloos captured these amazing “St. Patrick’s Day Auroras” at Donnelly Creek, Alaska on March 17, 2015.

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“The auroras were amazing last night and it was the most color that I’ve ever seen. The auroras also lasted longer than usual. Often I’ll see red or purples for a few minutes but last night it lasted hours. The only reason I stopped photographing was because I was physically exhausted from walking through knee deep snow and fighting 35 mph winds. It was quite warm at 30 f, so cold wasn’t a factor, and the adrenaline kept me warm. I’m looking forward to another great night tonight, but last night will be hard to live up to. The equipment used was a Nikon D810, Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 Super Wide Angle Lens, and a tripod.” – Sebastian Saarloos

You can see more images from Sebastian here: www.facebook.com/SebastianSaarloos


NASA also celebrated St. Patty’s Day by posting a photo of Ireland. This image taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA’s Aqua satellite shows the Emerald Isle in all its green glory.

Credit: NASA/MODIS RAPID RESPONSE TEAM
Credit: NASA/MODIS RAPID RESPONSE TEAM
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