Voyager Golden Record Kickstarter »

A new Kickstarter project has grabbed my attention:

Experience the historic interstellar message for extraterrestrials the way it was meant to be played.

In 1977, NASA’s Voyager I and II probes were sent to explore the outer solar system1 and beyond. In fact, Voyager I holds the distinct record of being the first human-built object to enter interstellar space.

In addition to cameras and sensors, the space craft are carrying a special payload:

Mounted to each of these spacecraft is a stunning golden phonograph record, an interstellar message to introduce our civilization to extraterrestrials who might encounter the probes, perhaps billions of years from now.

The Voyager Golden Record contains the story of Earth expressed in sounds, images, and science: Earth’s greatest music from myriad cultures and eras, from Bach and Beethoven to Blind Willie Johnson and Chuck Berry, Senegalese percussion to Solomon Island panpipes. Dozens of natural sounds of our planet — birds, a train, a baby’s cry — are collaged into a lovely sound poem. There are spoken greetings in 55 human languages, and one whale language, and more than one hundred images encoded in analog that depict who, and what, we are.

The project includes LPs so the sounds etched on these records can be played for the first time outside of NASA. Pretty cool.

  1. Sadly, Uranus and Neptune haven’t been visited by any probe other than Voyager 2. 

Juno Beams Home Images From First Perijove »

Emily Lakdawalla at The Planetary Society:

On August 27, Juno soared across Jupiter’s cloud tops from pole to pole, with all instruments operating. NASA posted some terrific first results from several of the instruments today. And the JunoCam team released all 28 raw images taken during the close encounter. I’ve collected all the data onto a single page for easy browsing and downloading; I’ll have more to say about that below.

Her post is full of breathtaking imagery of Jupiter. There’s going to be a lot more where this came from:

SpaceX Falcon 9 Explodes on Pad 

News broke this morning that a Falcon 9 rocket due to launch later this weekend exploded on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral.

There are few details known at this point, but early reports say the failure occurred leading up to a static fire test, in which the rocket’s motors are fired while the vehicle is clamped down to the pad. Some tweets have indicated the explosion took place during a “catastrophic abort” of the test.

Here is SpaceX’s initial comment on the accident:

SpaceX can confirm that in preparation for today’s static fire, there was an anomaly on the pad resulting in the loss of the vehicle and its payload. Per standard procedure, the pad was clear and there were no injuries.

This is the second failure SpaceX has seen in 14 months.

The payload for this weekend’s launch was a $200 million satellite.

Update: US Launch Report has published video of the accident.

NASA’s Juno Completes First Jupiter Flyby »

Tony Greicius at JPL:

While results from the spacecraft’s suite of instruments will be released down the road, a handful of images from Juno’s visible light imager — JunoCam — are expected to be released the next couple of weeks. Those images will include the highest-resolution views of the Jovian atmosphere and the first glimpse of Jupiter’s north and south poles.

It’s an exciting time to be a space enthusiast.


Nola Taylor Redd at

In 2023, a bit of the primordial solar system will return to Earth. That’s when NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex mission will return a sample of the asteroid Bennu, a carbon-rich rock hosting traces of the early solar system. While there, the mission will conduct an in-depth study of the rocky body, learning more about how sunlight can shift its position, before gathering a small sample to return to Earth.

This mission seems so much like science fiction, but it’s real, and it’s launching in just a couple of weeks.

NASA names investigations for future planetary missions »

DC Agle, writing on the JPL blog:

NASA has selected five science investigations for refinement during the next year as a first step in choosing one or two missions for flight opportunities as early as 2020. Three of those chosen have ties to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The submitted proposals would study Venus, near-Earth objects and a variety of asteroids.

One or two of these will be funded for future missions. I think I’m partial to the VERITAS and NEOCam missions myself.

One Year of Earth »

This is an amazing video:

NOAA’s DSCOVR satellite’s EPIC camera captured its first imagery of Earth on July 6, 2015. Since then, it has delivered thousands of images of our world, including the moon’s shadow being cast on Earth during a solar eclipse.