Category Archives: Just for Fun

Friday Fun: Plop Plop, Fizz Fizz…in Zero-G

During his 340-day-long One-Year Mission in 2015-2016 NASA astronaut Scott Kelly conducted—and was the subject of—countless experiments on the effects of long-duration space travel aboard the ISS. But he did manage to have a little fun too; the video above shows what happens to a blob of water free-floating in microgravity (that’s the technical term for zero-g in orbit) when Kelly adds some food coloring and a piece of Alka-Seltzer. The results are interesting to say the least as well as quite beautiful…be sure to watch in high-definition to catch the castoff watery “meteors!”

Learn more about the One-Year Mission here (and h/t to Aeon Magazine editor Corey Powell for the video!)


NASA Releases Mars Rover Game for Curiosity’s 4th Anniversary

NASA's new Mars Rover game lets you test your driving skills on the Red Planet.

NASA’s new Mars Rover game lets you test your driving skills on the Red Planet

Friday, August 5 marks the 4th anniversary of Curiosity’s landing on Mars and to celebrate NASA has released a video game that lets you rack up high scores while trying to drive a rover on Mars (warning: it’s trickier than it looks!)

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Death in Space

Here’s a bit of fun for you: an animated short of ways one could meet one’s end on a space adventure, by professional animator and illustrator Tom Lucas.

Obviously this is more science-fiction than science fact, what with the hungry aliens and all, but you still wouldn’t want to smash yourself in the faceplate with a chunk of asteroid. (Not without some Duct Tape handy, that is.) The timing is great, and I’ll admit to actual LOLs at the end.

Find more of Tom’s work here, including the equally-spacy short “Botanical Nightmare!” (Perhaps Tom should be getting a NASA contract for outreach videos!)

HT to 

What If You Had a Black Hole in Your Pocket?

What would happen if you somehow had a coin-sized black hole to play with? (Come on, you know you’ve been wondering about this.) Well, besides the fact that you’d quickly be dead (spoiler alert) a lot of things would happen—to you, to the world around you and, depending on the kind of black hole, to the entire planet. Munich-based design studio Kurzgesagt has created a handy informational video to illustrate what you can expect should you suddenly find yourself in possession of a miniature black hole*—check it out above, and find more fun info videos by Kurzgesagt here.

Also learn more about what black holes are (and why it’s important that we study them) in this PHDComic here.

*Private ownership of black holes is not recommended and is possibly illegal.**

**If not it should be. Contact your representative.

The Scale of the Solar System With a Soccer Ball, a Drone, Pin Heads, and Planet Nine

I love models that demonstrate the incredible size and space of the Solar System, very much so because many illustrations and diagrams fail to portray it accurately (and for very good reason…it’s enormous.) The most recent is shown here, enthusiastically created and narrated by former NASA engineer Mark Rober. This particular demonstration is unique in that it’s the only one (that I’ve seen so far) that includes the newest possible-planet in the Solar System, “Planet Nine,” a Neptune-mass world that may orbit the Sun up to four times farther away than Pluto. Check it out above, and you can find some other cool scale models of the Solar System I’ve encountered previously below.

(And remember kids, space is really, really, really BIG.)

How Big is the Solar System?
What is Space?
If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel
A Matter of Scale
A Scale Model of the Solar System Like You’ve Never Seen Before

Apollo 10’s “Outer-Space-Type Music” Explained

The Apollo 10 CM "Charlie Brown" photographed from the LM "Snoopy" in lunar orbit (NASA)

The Apollo 10 CM “Charlie Brown” photographed from the LM “Snoopy” in lunar orbit (NASA)

There’s been some buzz recently (no pun intended, Mr. Aldrin) concerning supposed “space music” heard by Apollo 10 astronauts while they were traveling around the far side of the Moon in May of 1969. This is in no small part due to the season three opener of NASA’s Unexplained Files* on the Science Channel, which aired on Feb. 23 and featured a rather dramatic recap of said event.

Long story short, as Apollo 10 passed behind the Moon during day 5 of the mission on May 22, 1969, it was blocked from any communication with the Earth for well over an hour. During that time the astronauts—Tom Stafford, Gene Cernan, and John Young—noted hearing some curious sounds in their headsets, likened to “outer-space-type music.” Hesitant about sharing this unanticipated discovery with Mission Control (astronauts were a notoriously competitive lot and didn’t readily elect to divulge errors in perception) it was kept quiet until they returned to Earth, after which time the recorded in-flight transcripts were filed and stored…and were never digitized for the web until 2012. This led many conspiracy groups to claim that the recordings were kept hidden from the public and are evidence of some sort of alien encounter on the lunar farside… although anyone who listens to the sounds now should be able to tell what they really are. (And no, it’s not alien Muzak.)

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