A voyage in a vacuum produces a different sort of vacuum

I didn’t know that the Dustbuster was the fruit of the Apollo moon landing program, but it seems it is, along with several other iconic products. The Dustbuster was only made possible thanks to Black & Decker’s work with NASA on developing a lightweight and power-efficient tool for the Apollo Lunar Surface Drill. The same motor design used on the 1969 moon landing was then used to create the Dustbuster. There’s more at the link. There’s a certain wacky circular logic to that.  Design a motor that will work in a vacuum – then use the same motor to power a vacuum-cleaner in atmosphere. 

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That was an “Oopsie!” moment, all right

Last week’s failed test of the SpaceX Dragon 2 capsule has been conspicuous for the absence of any comments from SpaceX or NASA about what went wrong.  Until recently, all that was known was that, from several miles away, smoke was seen drifting from the launch pad. It now appears that the failure was pretty catastrophic.  The Dragon capsule’s ejection rockets were to be tested.  They’re designed to pull the capsule clear of its launch rocket in the event of a malfunction, before the capsule parachutes to a safe landing with its occupants.  This video, allegedly taken from one of the launch

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The Sun as a ribbon in the sky

NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day yesterday was this lovely image of the Sun’s analemma over Scotland during the past year. You can read more about it at the link. Also eye-catching is this video, courtesy of Daily Timewaster, showing four-year time-lapse footage of the explosion of star V838 Monocerotis between 2002 and 2006.  Watch it in full-screen mode for maximum impact. Things like that remind us of how truly insignificant humanity is, on a galactic and universal scale.  We aren’t even a speck of dust by comparison. Peter

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