As part of a new series of experiments aboard the International Space Station to study how plants grow in microgravity, astronauts have planted and cultivated an entire flower garden. This weekend, astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted a signficant step in their research: this firey zinnia bloom, the first flower grown entirely in space. Plants like lettuce have aready been grown and eaten aboard the ISS, but the VEG-01 project is meant to explore how astronauts will eventually grow more complex foods like tomatoes. (via Neatorama)
Trying to imagine the scope of the cosmos is nearly impossible, but musician and artist Pablo Carlos Budassi decided to make a visual attempt by cramming the entire known universe into a single image. Using scores of satellite images and photos snapped from NASA’s rovers, he painstakingly pieced together many of the prominent features of the universe as observed from our solar system in the form of a logarithmic map. Logarithms are useful for understanding large numbers or distances, so in Budassi’s map each consecutive ‘ring’ around the circle represents several orders of magnitude further than the one before it.
Budassi was aided by similar (though less visually stunning) logarithmic maps produced by astronomers at Princeton back in 2005. In this map, our sun and solar system are seen in the middle, followed by the Milky Way Galaxy, another ring of nearby galaxies like Andromeda, all the way out to cosmic radiation and plasma generated by the bing bang on the furthest outskirts of the image.
Photographer Navid Baraty was looking for a new side project and decided to pickup up cross stitching. His current goal is to make the entire solar system with thread and he’s already finished Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto (!), each of which requires anywhere from 20 to 35 different colors. If you’re a stitcher yourself, his different patterns are currently available on Etsy. (via mental_floss)
Glass artist Satoshi Tomizu sculpts small glass spheres that appear to contain entire solar systems and galaxies. Planets made of opals, flecks of real gold, and trails of colored glass seem to spin and loop like twists in the Milky Way. While photographed here in a macro view, the pieces are actually quite small and include a small glass loop so each piece can be turned into a pendant. I can’t help but be reminded of this pivotal scene from the acclaimed Men in Black film.
Astronaut John L. Swigert, Jr., Apollo 13 Command Module Pilot, holds the “mailbox,” a makeshift device used to purge carbon dioxide from the Lunar Module that played a significant role in saving the doomed astronauts lives. Apollo 13 Hasselblad image from film magazine.
During the course of the Apollo space program astronauts were charged with enduring unknown perils, conducting science experiments, piloting spacecraft, walking on the surface of the moon, and comprehending sights, sounds, and physical stresses never before experienced by humans. All the while, they were also asked to snap a couple thousands photographs of practically every moment with a modified Hasselblad camera.
While we’re all used to seeing the more iconic photos like Blue Marble, the Apollo 11 bootprint, or this image of Buzz Aldrin, this random assortment of mundane moments and blurry horizons seems to highlight the humanity of the entire endeavor. Collected here are a few of our favorite shots, and you can see thousands more organized by mission on Flickr. Digg and PetaPixel also have collections of their favorites.
Taiwanese design firm Acorn Studio recently announced a new lighting system that mimics the color and shape of a moon. Luna is a dimmable halogen light housed inside a glass fiber and non-toxic latex housing that comes in 7 different sizes ranging from 3.2″ to 23.6″ in diameter. Learn more over on Indiegogo. (via Laughing Squid, The Awesomer)
When looking in a science textbook or a toy mobile of the solar system, it’s easy to depict the sun, planets and moon to scale in comparison to each other. What’s not so easy to visually comprehend the staggering distance that separates each planet on its individual orbit around the sun. Filmmakers Alex Gorosh and Wylie Overstreet challenged themselves to build such a model and the result is this fascinating short film To Scale.
Starting with the Earth as the size of a marble, it turns out you need an area about 7 miles (11.2km) to squeeze in the orbit of the outermost planet, Neptune. The team used glass spheres lit by LEDs and some GPS calculations to map out the solar system on the dry bed of the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Once nighttime arrived they shot a timelapse from a nearby mountain that accurately reflects the distance of each orbital path at a scale of roughly 1:847,638,000. Amazing.