Science Fiction Brewed Fresh Daily

Solar System Artwork

Artist Licoti created a huge (30,000 pixels long) representation of the solar system, including each planet’s major satellites. It’s gorgeous.

The full GNU-licensed image is available at Wikimedia, and he’s also posted a video “tour” of the image on YouTube:

(via Forgetomori)

Posted in Space August 13th, 2010 by Chip
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Sci-Fi Air Show

SpindriftBill George is a Visual Effects Supervisor who works at Industrial Light and Magic, and is a huge fan of the prop spaceships used in SF movies and TV. He’s put together the Sci-Fi Air Show, featuring an Eagle from Space: 1999, a Colonial Viper from the original Battlestar Galactica, and several others.

I am a little fuzzy on what the air show actually consists of; several photos on the site show what appear to be fans inspecting the various props, but other photos show the ships flying. The actual descriptions of the ships also make it clear that they’re supposed to be fully functional; part of the history of the Orion Space Plane says, for instance:

For the film “2001: A Space Odyssey,” director Stanley Kubrick (famously averse to flying) had a second-unit crew, led by assistant cinematographer John Alcott, shoot exterior scenes of the Orion in space in the last weeks of October 1967; the live-action segments that took place in the weightless interior followed immediately thereafter. The actors aboard could only perform for short periods in the weightless environment of space before getting violently sick. Kubrick directed the actors and Alcott via a closed-circuit TV link furnished by Bell Telephone.

I’m thus not sure if the ships are actually all the property of one collector who displays them in prop “air shows,” or if the site just pretends they are.

Either way, the site is well done, and it’s fun to read about incidents like the “infamous ‘Buckinghamshire crash'” which resulted when one of the Eagle’s stunt pilots overshot a target.

Posted in Conventions & Fandom, Space August 6th, 2010 by Chip
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Moonbase Alpha

NASA has developed a commercial-quality video game called Moonbase Alpha, which requires players to get a lunar base’s life support back online running before everyone suffocates.

The game imagines a base in the year 2020; a meteor strike disables its life-support systems, and one or more players must get it running in 25 minutes. The game requires an understanding of the base’s systems, and the use of robots in areas that are too dangerous for humans. The project is a proof-of-concept to determine whether a video game can inspire interest in real-life science and technology.

Here’s a trailer for the game:

(via Discoblog)

Posted in Computers & Internet, Space July 26th, 2010 by Chip
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Fifty Years of Space Exploration

Exploration Chart

This extremely cool infographic is part of one of National Geographic’s Map of the Day, where it’s zoomable and scrollable. It’s also been liberated from its Flash-based bondage here.

(via Dark Roasted Blend)

Posted in Space July 21st, 2010 by Chip
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Neat Retro Space Colony Print

Space Colony

BoingBoing has a reasonably new marketing venture, the BoingBoing Bazaar, where makers and other artists peddle interesting oddities. Illustrator Chris Reccardi has a new limited-edition print called 2464 Dream which is like a cross-section of Hugo Gernsback’s brain.

It’s lovely, and actually reasonably affordable. Limited to 250, at $65 each. Pretty!

Posted in Space June 16th, 2010 by Chip
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They’re Probably Not Parasitic Slug-Things

There’s new evidence of consumption of hydrogen that may suggest life on Titan.

Posted in News, Space June 8th, 2010 by Chip
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Take a Walk on the Moon, Virtually

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera has taken lots of new extremely high-resolution pictures of the moon, and they’re crowdsourcing their analysis. The public is invited to visit the Moon Zoo site to view and interpret the new images.

“We need Web users around the world to help us interpret these stunning new images of the lunar surface,” said Chris Lintott of Oxford University and chair of the Citizen Science Alliance. “If you only spend five minutes on the site counting craters you’ll be making a valuable contribution to science and, who knows, you might run across a Russian spacecraft.”

Behold the power of the Internet.

See this article at the NASA site for more details.

Posted in Science, Space May 26th, 2010 by Chip
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Send Fan Letters to “Martian” Crewmen

Over at BoingBoing, Maggie Koerth-Baker makes an excellent point: The six people who are going to spend 520 days in a mocked-up Martian spacecraft are getting kind of a bum deal.

You get all of the inter-personal stress, all of the isolation from family and friends, all of the crappy food, all of the monotony … minus space, minus the thrill of visiting Mars, minus the adulation of school children. It reminds me of Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book: “Do you want to visit the wonderful far-off Land of Oz? Well you can’t, because there is no Land of Oz, and there is no Tin Woodsman, and there is no Santa Claus! Maybe someday you can go to Detroit.”

She’s going to try to find an address where we can all send “cute, home-made, crayon thank-you cards” so the team can experience another side of being a space explorer. She’s promised to keep us posted on her progress.

Posted in Space May 12th, 2010 by Chip
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Time Sink du Jour

Clear your schedule and head over to NASA’s Eyes on the Earth (plugin installation may be required). It’s a dashboard that displays the positions of NASA’s Earth-observing satellites and describes what they’re doing.

Posted in Space April 28th, 2010 by Chip
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Four Girls, One Orbit

A rather niche record was set yesterday when the shuttle launched: The most women in orbit at the same time. Three of the seven astronauts on Discovery are women, and there’s a woman on the International Space Station. The four are scheduled to rendezvous on Wednesday and will form “the largest gathering of women in space in history.”

Very cool, but I’m looking forward to the day when we don’t feel the need to keep track of that kind of thing any more.

Posted in News, Space April 6th, 2010 by Chip