basilton:

In the early years of space flight, both Russians and Americans used pencils in space. Unfortunately, pencil lead is made of graphite, a highly conductive material. Snapped graphite leads and particles in zero gravity are hugely problematic, as they will get sucked into the air ventilation or electronic equipment, easily causing shorts or fires in the pure oxygen environment of a capsule.

After the fire in Apollo 1 which killed all the astronauts on board, NASA required a writing instrument that wasn’t a fire hazard. Fisher spent over a million dollars (of his own money) creating a pressurized ball point pen, which NASA bought at $2.39 each. The Russian space program also switched over from pencils shortly after.

40 years later snide morons on the internet still snigger about it, because snide morons on the internet never know what they are talking about.

(Source: yourresidentginger)

astronomer-in-progress:

Star birth in the extreme

Hubble’s view of the Carina Nebula shows star birth in a new level of detail. The fantasy-like landscape of the nebula is sculpted by the action of outflowing winds and scorching ultraviolet radiation from the monster stars that inhabit this inferno. In the process, these stars are shredding the surrounding material that is the last vestige of the giant cloud from which the stars were born.

The immense nebula is an estimated 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina the Keel (of the old southern constellation Argo Navis, the ship of Jason and the Argonauts, from Greek mythology).

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of California, Berkeley), and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

astronomer-in-progress:

Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2012 Winners: Earth and Space

astronomer-in-progress:

Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2012: Deep Space

astronomer-in-progress:

Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2012: Special prizes

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A dark prominence can be seen crossing right underneath a coronal loop as they both rotate into view (Aug. 26 - 28, 2012). Prominences are long strands of cooler gases that float above the Sun’s surface. The loops that we see here in extreme ultraviolet light are magnetic field lines being traced by spiraling particles above active regions.

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A dark prominence can be seen crossing right underneath a coronal loop as they both rotate into view (Aug. 26 - 28, 2012). Prominences are long strands of cooler gases that float above the Sun’s surface. The loops that we see here in extreme ultraviolet light are magnetic field lines being traced by spiraling particles above active regions.

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All of the water on Earth, in comparison to Earth’s size.

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Nighttime skyscape of Italy.

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South of Antares, in the tail of the nebula-rich constellation Scorpius, lies emission nebula IC 4628. Nearby hot, massive stars, millions of years young, radiate the nebula with invisible ultraviolet light, stripping electrons from atoms. The electrons eventually recombine with the atoms to produce the visible nebular glow, dominated by the red emission of hydrogen. At an estimated distance of 6,000 light-years, the region shown is about 250 light-years across, spanning an area equivalent to four full moons on the sky. The nebula is also cataloged as Gum 56 for Australian astronomer Colin Stanley Gum, but seafood-loving astronomers might know this cosmic cloud as The Prawn Nebula.

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