He picked a good day to retire. After overseeing a successful impromptu spacewalk to fix an ammonia leak at the International Space Station, beloved Candian Commander Chris Hadfield transferred command to Russia's Pavel Vinogradov. Hadfield and two other crew members expect to return to earth tonight.
According to a NASA press release, the space program governing body lost communication with the International Space Station this morning around 9:45 AM EST. While the situation sounds frightening, NASA made sure to note that the communication breakdown happened during a routine onboard software update, and that the flight crew was able to make contact with Mission Control Houston when the station flew over Russian ground stations before 11:00 AM EST:
Here's the best space video we've ever seen: 18 time-lapse sequences of photos taken from the International Space Station, gorgeously processed and edited by Michael König. There's so much going on it's hard to know where to focus while you watch—the North and Southern Lights? The flickers of lightning in the clouds? The cobwebs of settlement light stretching across continents? A list of the locations being passed over can be found here; the first two sequences were taken above the United States. We published a similar video a few months ago, but this one's the real deal. [via Kottke]
Here's a gorgeous time-lapse video constructed (by James Drake) out of 600 publicly-available photos taken from the International Space Station as it orbited around the Earth. Our only gripe: No music! We would have gone with this, or maybe this. But we're open to hearing your suggestions for a space jam if you post them in the comments.
NASA's most-flown shuttle, Discovery, landed for the final time today at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Over the course of 39 missions spanning the course of 26 years, Discovery traveled 148,221,665 miles. Career highlights: Launched the Hubble telescope, delivered new modules to the International Space Station. NASA's other two remaining space shuttles—Endeavour and Atlantis—are scheduled for the glue factory later this year. [ABCNews, Image of Discovery above the northwest coast of Morocco via AP]
The laptops up on the International Space Station have been infected with a virus — the W32.Gammima.AG worm, to be precise — which raises an interesting challenge: How do you wipe a computer clean when you're 217 miles away from Earth and moving at 17,000+ miles per hour? According to the BBC, the ISS isn't net-connected. All data is subject to scan before transmission upstairs. So the laptops were probably infected via flash drive before they left. The worm itself doesn't threaten the station — all it wants is your gaming passwords — and the laptops aren't connected to mission-critical computers. But the lack of an Internet connection makes fixing things tricky.The solution to the problem is the same one you would use for your grandma who refuses to get off of her 56K connection. Pack a free version of AVG and their update files onto a flash drive and talk them through the installation and cleaning process. Don't forget the part where they owe you a beer or dinner for helping them out. You have plenty of time to plan — the next supply run is due to leave on or about November 10 from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center. (Virus-protein image by Allen Portner and Gopal Murti)