60 years ago in space

Laika, Russian cosmonaut dog, 1957. Laika was the first animal to orbit the Earth, travelling on board the Sputnik 2 spacraft launched on Nov. 3, 1957. The Soviet space program used dogs and other animals to ascertain the viability of later space travel. (Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

From the New Yorker;

On the evening of November 3, 1957, barely a month after the Soviet Union sent humanity’s first artificial satellite into orbit, a rocket lifted off from a secret site in Kazakhstan, carrying its second. The launch of Sputnik 2 was timed to coincide with the fortieth anniversary of the October Revolution, and the craft itself was an appropriately showy statement of Communist know-how—six times heavier than Sputnik 1, designed to fly nearly twice as high, and, most impressive of all, containing a live passenger. A week before the mission began, Moscow Radio had broadcast an interview with the cosmonaut in question, described as “a small, shaggy dog.” Western newspapers, however, were initially confused about what to call her. Introduced as Kudryavka (“Little Curly”), she was also known as Limonchik (“Little Lemon”) and Damka (“Little Lady”). A Soviet spokesman eventually clarified that her name was Laika (“Barker”), which did nothing to stop a columnist at Newsday from referring to her exclusively as “Muttnik.”

It kind of went like this:

Well, not really;

But the story of Laika had a dark lie at its core. In 2002, forty-five years after the fact, Russian scientists revealed that she had died, probably in agony, after only a few hours in orbit. In the rush to put another satellite into space, the Soviet engineers had not had time to test Sputnik 2’s cooling system properly; the capsule had overheated. It remained in orbit for five months with Laika inside, then plunged into the atmosphere and burned up over the Caribbean, a space coffin turned shooting star. Turkina quotes one of the scientists assigned to Laika’s program: “The more time passes, the more I’m sorry about it. We shouldn’t have done it. We did not learn enough from the mission to justify the death of the dog.”

And this final word from Laika’s trainer:

Laika’s trainer, Adilya Kotovskaya, a Russian biologist, recently told Agence France-Presse of her remorse as she prepared to send Laika into space: “I asked her to forgive us and I even cried as I stroked her for the last time.”

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Here comes the Sun, so walk on by

NASA put together a 4K experience with the Sun about a year ago:

And 20 years ago, this song was released:

Even if you had a space suit that could withstand a few million degrees and incredible pressure to keep you alive, you can’t walk on the Sun. There’s no surface. It’s just a big ball of gas and plasma, mostly hydrogen.

Meanwhile, I can’t believe this song is 20 years old. That seems like a long time. But then, the sun is 4.6 billion years old, so from that perspective, the song just happened less than a fraction of a millisecond ago.

Singing in the rain (on giant planets)

From the Guardian:

Diamond rain might sound like the stuff of poetry, but deep within the ice giants of our solar system it is thought to be reality – and now scientists say they have recreated the phenomenon.

The furthest flung true planets of our solar system, the ice giants Neptune and Uranus, are about 17 and 15 times the mass of Earth respectively.

While both have solid cores and atmospheres rich in gases including hydrogen and helium, the planets are largely made up a huge, slushy ocean of water, ammonia and substances known as hydrocarbons – molecules, such as methane, that are composed of hydrogen and carbon.

But researchers have long theorised that deep within these vast, blue planets something astonishing occurs: high temperatures and pressures act on the hydrocarbons deep in the oceans to produce diamonds that rain down, falling towards the planets’ interiors.

Of course, this is the best song for our progeny who get to Neptune in the distant future.

First rule of eclipse: Don’t look directly at the sun

Yesterday’s eclipse was a United States only event, starting in Oregon and ending in South  Carolina. In just about every news report leading up to the eclipse, one message was dominant:

SHIELD YOUR EYES

If you’re planning to catch the eclipse — either in totality or even partially — in person, you’ll need a few things to view it safely. Even though an eclipse effectively turns day into night, never look directly at the sun.

Solar eclipses are especially dangerous. Not because of anything special about the light during the eclipse, but because the sudden changes in luminosity can cause retina damage before your eyes have a chance to adapt, or before you have an opportunity to look away.

So, guess what the kopper krusted kook did:

I’ll bet 10 seconds before he did this, Melania said: “Obama says you shouldn’t look directly at the sun.”

Buzz Aldrin told a ‘Toy Story’ joke. Babyman is confused.

Babyman did something involving space and NASA this past week. I don’t feel like I have to explain it because he didn’t know what he was doing, so what’s the point? Anyway, he continues his never-ending efforts to show he doesn’t have a clue, even though he loves ceremonies where they give him a pen so he can write his name in big-boy letters on papers people put in front of him. (Via Gizmodo):

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday to revive the National Space Council, signifying a renewed (yet vague) focus on space exploration. Colonel Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, was there to witness the event. He tried to liven the room with a Buzz Lightyear quip, only to have Trump crash and burn on the landing pad.

It kind of went like this:

Babyman: We know what this is, space. That’s all it has to say, space. (Then, to Aldrin), There’s a lot of room out there, right?

Buzz Aldrin: Infinity and beyond. (Laughter)

Babyman: This is infinity here. It could be infinity. We don’t really don’t know. But it could be. It has to be something, but it could be infinity, right?

 And the world erupts in one great face palm.

Beyond clouds: Meet the Milky Way

Here’s a timelapse flight from Europe to South America and the view a pilot has at night.

Now I know it’s beautiful, but I can’t help thinking “wouldn’t it be great to get from Europe to South America in less than three minutes?”

According to the pilot:

Our flight is packed and some 340 passengers are settling in for a long night flight. Its my turn to be at the flightdeck for the first part of the journey, as my other co-pilot gets the chance to rest in the crew bunk above the passenger cabin. We are heading our westbound, along the clearly visible Alps to our left. Just before reaching Geneva and the western tip of Switzerland we are making a shallow left turn to join the Rhone valley leading us to Marseille and onward onto the Mediterranean Sea. Our routing will bring us towards Algeria and on across the northwestern part of the vast Sahara. We will be flying past Dakar in Senegal where we will be heading out onto the Atlantic Ocean. Our south-westerly course will get us across the wide blue – in fact it was pitch-black during the night – to the north eastern shore of Brazil. Landfall is expected just north of Rio de Janeiro and the remaining few hundred miles will get us straight towards Sao Paolo. Our landing is expected around 6am local time, still before the sun will rise.