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Pretend to be NASA at the Mission Control Desk

You don't have to work for NASA to have a cool desk loaded with buttons, switches, knobs, and flickering lights. To encourage his sons' love for space, Jeff Highsmith built them a one-of-a-kind Mission Control Desk.

"I researched the Apollo Program, as well as NASA's Mission Control Center, and designed my own console roughly based on those," Highsmith wrote in his tutorial. "I say 'roughly' because the actual Mission Control does more monitoring than controlling, and isn't awash in the whiz-bang rocket noises young kids appreciate. I took great liberties and made more of a 'space-themed' play console than an accurate simulator. My goal was simply to provide some extra ideas and sound effects for my two sons to play 'space' together."… Read more

Full-moon curse lifted? Looks like dusty mirrors are to blame

The moon has been worshipped as a god and hailed as a fertility booster, but it's also been credited with driving people insane, and, of course, gotten a bad rap for all those pesky werewolf conversions. So it's only natural that when scientists started observing a strange phenomenon related to the moon, they named it the "full moon curse."

This curse doesn't involve fangs or fertility, however. It has to do with measurements scientists have been taking of the moon's distance from Earth. … Read more

Buy the only camera to go to the moon and back (allegedly)

NASA sent 14 handheld cameras along on its manned lunar landings of the late 1960s and early 1970s, but only one of them made it back to Earth -- or at least that's what the Austrian auction house that's putting it up for bid next month is claiming.

Vienna-based WestLicht says that astronaut Jim Irwin took exactly 299 pictures on the moon during the Apollo 15 mission with the Hasselblad 500 "EL Data Camera" that will start with an initial bid of 80,000 euros ($108,136) at auction on March 22.… Read more

NASA to pay tribute to its fallen astronauts

NASA said Wednesday that it is planning to celebrate a day of remembrance for its fallen astronauts on Friday.

In a release, the space agency said that it will commemorate astronauts who died in the ill-fated Apollo 1, and Space Shuttle Challenger and Columbia missions.

NASA said that the day of remembrance will honor "members of the NASA family who lost their lives while furthering the cause of exploration and discovery."

On January 27, 1967, a fire erupted in the Apollo 1 capsule as astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee were still on the launch pad. … Read more

One (alleged) cause of climate change you've never heard of

Last week, the latest IPCC report on climate change said it's "extremely likely" that humans are to blame for our warming planet, which has been playing host to increasingly freaky and extreme weather in recent years.

The evidence in the report is convincing, but doesn't answer the next logical question: specifically, which humans are to blame?

Before you go shouting about coal-fired power plants and the Americans and the Indians and the Chinese, let me clarify the question even further. Who are the actual individual people that set into motion a chain of events that has led to melting permafrost, epic hurricanes, and the past really disturbing year here in the Rocky Mountains, where we've been plagued by wildfires followed by floods.

I mean seriously, WTF?! Who's responsible here? I want names!… Read more

Jeff Bezos IDs recovered Apollo 11 rocket

Saturday marks 44 years to the day since the late Neil Armstrong set the first human foot on the moon. And on the eve of this milestone, Jeff Bezos -- a guy who wants to sell you everything on Earth while also preserving our means for escaping its bonds -- says his team has finally identified the remains of one of the rockets that took that Apollo 11 team the first leg of the journey toward our satellite.… Read more

Moon dust gathered by Neil Armstrong discovered in warehouse after 40 years

Several miscellaneous bits and pieces of the first moon mission have orbited back into view lately.

In March, it was pieces of the rocket that propelled Apollo 11 spaceward, kindly dragged from their watery grave by Amazon CEO and space enthusiast Jeff Bezos.

And more recently, the auction block played host to Buzz Aldrin's space jammies, as well as Neil Armstrong's jumpin' heartbeat as he first set foot on the lunar surface.

Now, thanks to Karen Nelson, a tidy archivist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, about 20 forgotten vials of moon dust collected by Armstrong and Aldrin have been rescued from a grave of their own: a warehouse at the Berkeley lab, where they'd sat quietly gathering, um, Earth dust for the last 40 years or so.… Read more

Mars rover Opportunity hits new record for miles driven in space

The plucky little Mars rover Opportunity has proven itself to be the Marco Polo of space. This extraterrestrial robot has set the new record for miles explored by a NASA vehicle in a world other than Earth, according to NASA.

On its 3,309th Martian day on the planet, Opportunity drove 263 feet along the western rim of the Endeavour Crater and broke records by putting its total distance traveled on Mars at 22.22 miles.

The previous record was set 40 years ago by Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt when they visited the moon for a … Read more

Crave Ep. 120: Be careful where you leave your DNA

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An artist combs public places for gum, hair, and cigarette butts, and then 3D-prints portraits of the unsuspecting people who've left their DNA behind. Plus, we take a look at a laser-powered flashlight, and get our heads chopped off in an app for the Oculus Rift head-mounted display. … Read more

Neil Armstrong's moon walk EKG reading up for auction

We've all seen the video of man's first step on the moon. NASA's medical team back down on Earth saw that first step in a slightly different light, in the form of Armstrong's electrocardiogram reading from the moment he set his foot down. That little 6-inch strip is going up for online auction at RR Auction.

The strip comes in a presentation frame along with an Armstrong autopen signature and various mission patches. "After the landing, this EKG report was saved by the Manager of Medical Administration for the Space Center. It was cut up into five pieces; four were presented to the attending physicians on the medical team," reads the description.… Read more