Webisode: Getting Dressed [Hubble 3D]

As we gear up for the 20th anniversary of the Hubble Launch (April 26), this week we bring you another webisode from behind the scenes of the IMAX film Hubble 3D. In this week’s episode, astronaut Mike Massimino talks about the difficulty of getting into his space suit. It takes two people just to help him pull his pants on!

Did you miss the first two webisodes?
See the largest swimming pool in the world and how the astronauts use it to train for space walks.
Learn about the first mission to repair the Hubble Telescope. 

Don’t miss your chance to see Hubble 3D in IMAX. Hubble 3D will also reveal the cosmos as never before, allowing viewers of all ages to explore the grandeur of the nebulae and galaxies, the birth and death of stars, and some of the greatest mysteries of our celestial surroundings. Click here to read about the Hubble Telescope and to view the trailer for Hubble 3D in IMAX.

Webisode: The Swim Test! [Hubble 3d]

Haven’t had the chance to blast into space with Hubble 3D in IMAX? It’s not to late.

Vividly captured in IMAX 3D, Hubble 3D recounts the amazing journey of the most important scientific instrument since Galileo’s original telescope and the greatest success in space since the Moon Landing—the Hubble Space Telescope. Audiences will accompany the space walking astronauts as they attempt some of the most difficult tasks ever undertaken in NASA’s history, and will experience up close the awesome power of the launches, the heartbreaking setbacks, and the dramatic rescues of this most powerful story.

Hubble 3D will also reveal the cosmos as never before, allowing viewers of all ages to explore the grandeur of the nebulae and galaxies, the birth and death of stars, and some of the greatest mysteries of our celestial surroundings, all in amazing IMAX 3D.

In the webisode below, astronaut Mike Massimino talks about the Natural Buoyancy Lab and how it helps astronauts train for space walks.

Can’t see the video? Click here to watch it.

Check back here for exclusive videos and more behind the scenes interviews about Hubble 3D in IMAX.

Did you miss the first webisode? Click here to watch it.
Click here to read about the Hubble Telescope and to view the trailer for Hubble 3D in IMAX.

Watch out for that space boulder!

Thomas D. Jones, PhD is a veteran NASA astronaut, scientist, speaker, author, and consultant. He holds a doctorate in planetary sciences, and in more than eleven years with NASA, flew on four space shuttle missions to Earth orbit. In 2001, Dr. Jones led three spacewalks to install the centerpiece of the International Space Station, the American Destiny Laboratory. He has been privileged to spend fifty-three days working and living in space.

Many of you may remember when Dr. Jones spoke here in May 2008 on spacewalking. He’ll be back on Tuesday, Nov. 17 with an all new lecture on near-Earth objects, potential impacts, the search for alien life, and the formation of planets.

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500-m-wide NEO Itokawa, imaged by the
Japanese Hayabusa probe in 2005 (JAXA)

On November 6, we had a close encounter with a near-Earth object, 2009 VA (a NEO is a near-Earth object, including both asteroids and dormant comets). The space boulder, a 7-meter-diameter asteroid, streaked by at a distance of only 14,000 km, well inside the orbits of our geosynchronous satellites. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab estimates that we have two such encounters each year, on average, with objects of this size. About every five years, Earth is struck by such a body, but objects this small burn up in the atmosphere, resulting in a fireball and the release of several kilotons of energy (TNT equivalent).

The close pass of 2009 VA surprised some news outlets, which speculated on why the small asteroid had not been detected sooner by astronomers (The University of Arizona’s Catalina Sky Survey picked up 2009 VA about 15 hours before the closest approach). The answer is that these small cosmic rocks are so numerous, and so difficult to observe, that we only discover them at random. NASA runs a search program, Spaceguard, to detect larger objects, 1 km and up, that may pose a civilization-ending threat to Earth. So far about 85% of those objects have been found; none pose an immediate threat to Earth, but may in future decades.

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Jet Propulsion Lab depiction
of recent close pass by 2009 VA

Impacts of small objects like 2009 VA create only sky-high fireworks, no harm to us here on the ground. But the Tunguska impact in Siberia a century ago devastated 2,000 square km of Siberian forest. That airburst of about 5 megatons (Mt) of TNT equivalent was caused by an object 30-40 m in diameter; large enough to level a city center. Such an object strikes us every few hundred years. The last one was a century ago; the next one to come along may hit us tomorrow. With current telescopes, we have only a small chance of seeing such an object before it strikes Earth.

Congress has asked NASA to look into what it would cost to search systematically for NEOs down to 140 m in diameter; if we found most of those objects, we would have greater confidence that no “city-buster” NEO is headed for an imminent collision with a populated area on Earth. A report to NASA on the prospects of detecting and even deflecting such potentially hazardous NEOs is due out by year’s end from the National Research Council.

Impact, or cosmic bombardment, is a process that has been altering the faces of the planets since the dawn of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago. Impacts by giant comets and asteroids have changed the course of life on Earth, possibly ending the reign of dinosaurs 65 million years ago, and possibly causing other mass extinctions through Earth’s long history. We now have the technology to both detect damaging NEOs heading for Earth, and with proper warning, to nudge them out of the way. What we lack is the international will to take action should a hazardous NEO be found on a collision course with Earth. The Association of Space Explorers is working with the United Nations to draft such a NEO decision-making agreement.

At the Houston Museum of Natural Science on Tuesday, Nov. 17, I will be speaking about impact and the other processes that shape the worlds of the solar system, in a talk called Planetology. My talk will discuss these processes — tectonics, volcanism, erosion, for example — and our search for life and “other Earths” across the galaxy. Please join me for the lecture that evening at 6:30 p.m., or turn the pages of Planetology, written by me and noted planetary geologist Ellen Stofan. After the talk, I’ll be answering questions and signing copies of the book.

See reviews and more info on Planetology at:
www.AstronautTomJones.com

Fly Me to the Moon – on Apollo 11

The moon taken with panasonic FZ7. B/W - 25 March 2007 20:05
Creative Commons License photo credit: jlcwalker

This weekend, “Fly me to the Moon” – the first animated film created in 3D – debuts in the Wortham IMAX Theatre. The movie follows the story of three flies as they board the famous Apollo 11 space shuttle and blast off to the moon. The “flyboys” (complete with tiny space suits to keep the oxygen in) accompany astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins throughout their legendary journey.

Now as you may have noticed by my weekly Looking Back… posts, I really enjoy history. So, I thought I would write a little bit about the Apollo 11 mission. Some of you probably remember watching the event live on TV or reading about it in the paper the next morning, an advantage I missed, having been born roughly 16 years after it happened. So I decided to write some facts that many of you (yes, even those that watched it live) probably don’t know.

The plaque the astronauts of Apollo 11 left on the Moon was originally worded to say, “We come in peace for all mankind.” President Nixon had it changed to “We came in peace for all mankind.”

There is no wind on the moon, so the flag up there has nothing to billow in (despite what you may assume from the photos). The flag placed there by Apollo 11 has a rod through the top of it that stays horizontal.

The Moon’s temperature ranges between 123C (253F) to 233C (-451F). It’s really hot where the sun is shining and really cold where it’s not.

The first words spoken on the moon were from inside the lunar module. Aldrin said, “Okay. Engine Stop.”

Released to Public: Apollo 11 Bootprint on the Moon (NASA GPN-2001-000014 )
Creative Commons License photo credit: pingnews.com

Neil Armstrong’s famous first words after setting foot on the moon were “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind. His first step on the moon took place at 2:56 UTC time on July 21, 1969.

Buzz Aldrin’s first words after setting foot on the moon were “Beautiful. Beautiful. Magnificent desolation.”

Buzz Aldrin, a Presbyterian, took communion on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission.

Buzz Aldrin had to spend three weeks in quarantine after returning from the moon.

There were an estimated 430 million people listening in to Apollo 11’s epic moonwalk.

Fly Me To The Moon takes you along for the ride on this groundbreaking mission. It’s is a great film for kids, and it presents space, space exploration, and the historic Apollo 11 mission in a fun and educational way. It will be running through November 20, so come on down and watch it with the family.

Still not convinced? Check out a preview: