What's new here?

Archive for the ‘Space Exploration’ Category

New Product Line: Mastercraft Models Collection – Space Shuttle and other Space Exploration models.

We have added a new line of models at Spectrum Scientifics: Mastercraft Models. These models are painstakingly crafted from Phillipine Mohagany and hand-painted with exact detailing. Mastercraft primarily builds commercial and warfare aircraft models, but for now we are carrying their line of Space Exploration models.

These means Space Shuttle models!



SpaceProb.es – I’m on your webz, tracking your Space Probes!

The various NASA and European Space Agency Space Probes have produced wonderful results: gorgeous pictures, incredible scientific data, treading where no human can go, and much more. The problem is that there really hasn’t been any comprehensive way to keep track of all the various Space Probes out there. Sure each NASA probe will have a detailed page on the NASA page, but since each probe is a different project with different webmaster, servers and engineers each one will have a different layout style (NASA’s style guide seems to be limited to suggestions). Not to mention finding those Space Probe pages can involve quite a bit of google-fu sometimes, especially if you are forgetting the name and mission (“The probe on Mars? Which one?”). The situation isn’t horrible, mind you, but it could be so much better.

Enter Spaceprob.es, which was launched on Feb 19th of this year and covers 29 active Space Probes:



Space Oddity…performed in SPACE!

OK. there’s really not too much I can add to this video.  It is Commander Chris Hadfield performing David Bowie’s Space Oddity. Mind you he is doing this while on the International Space Station.

Some complained that this cover is the most expensive music video ever made since it was done on the ISS, however some point out this simply is not true.




Happy President’s Day and an anniversary of a Space Milestone

Its President’s Day, but it is perhaps more important to note that today is the 50th anniversary of John Glenn’s orbital flight on the Freedom 7!

John Glenn was not the first person in space, but he was the first American in space, and while the USSR was racking up a lot of ‘firsts’ in the Space Race but the the Mercury program  was actually much more effective research and testing for space exploration in the long run.

That’s all for today. Its kinda busy here!


Opportunity on Mars – Still going after 8 years.

On January 24th, 2004 NASA’s Opportunity Rover touched down on Mars with its sister rover, Spirit. Today, eight years later, Opportunity is still going, well beyond expected performance. Spirit died last year after getting mired in the sand in such  a way that it could not use its solar panels to recharge . Both rovers were not expected to last beyond a 90 working period. But they ended up lasting well beyond their operation period and Opportunity still rolls along. With this “opportunity” NASA scientists have been using the rover to search out as much information as they can on the Endevour Crater.

Opportunity has traveled over 21 miles since landing (poor Spirit only covered a little under 5 miles). Detailed trverse maps can be found on NASA’s webpage.







More details on Opporunity


40th Anniversary of the first spacecraft to orbit Mars

40 years ago, November 14th 1971 the Mariner 9 became the first spacecraft to orbit another planet. It wasn’t supposed to be the first; Mariner 8 was supposed to have that honor. But Mariner 8’s engine cut out soon after launch on May 8th, 1971 and it crashed to Earth. Mariner 9, the survivor of the pair was launched on May 30th, 1971 and went on to orbit Mars as well as send back large amounts of data. Mariner 9 was able to confirm that Earth basesd assumptions that there were sand-storms on Mars were a reality. because these storms were obscuring the view Mariner was kept in orbit longer than originally planned. When the dust cleared the first images of canyons, craters, and volcanos were obtained.

Mariner was shut down in October of 1972 having used all of its altitude control gas. Its orbit around Mars will fail on or after 2022.


Sputnik Day!

On this day, in 1957, the Soviet Union launched the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik, into orbit.  This was the first step on people in space and the landing on the Moon. It also was the first ‘shot’ in the Space Race between the USA and the USSR and a massive propaganda victory for the latter.

Sputnik did not do very much, simply sent a beeping radio signal on two bands that amateur radio operators could listen to. It also only remained in orbit for a few months before burning up in January of 1958.  But its effect was amazing. In the USA, which had been muddling through the 50’s, Sputnik jump-started an incredible amount of science education initiatives. Science Education in the US had taken a bit of a back seat to to other fields of study but soon many resources were poured into technology and science education. Sputnik also caused a minor panic in the USA as people now worried that the USSR could use satellites to drop nuclear warheads on top of them. This would become reality shortly (the fact that both the US and USSR could drop waheads, mind you, not that they did).

54 years later and the world is much different. Artificial satellites are common in our orbit, but plans for manned space programs are slow to move in the USA. Meanwhile, China has said it plans on a whole host of manned space missions.  Oh and the USSR collapsed, making its propaganda victory a bit hollow.

Fun with TWISST, or Getting Notification to see the ISS

A fun side-hobby in astronomy is to get quick glimpses of the largest man-made object in our orbit: The International Space Station.








The Space Station is a nifty, bright object from our view. It moves quickly from horizon to horizon and comes up fairly often. But knowing when it will show up is a bit of a problem, especially since its visits are over quite quickly. There are computer programs, Smartphone Apps, and other online aids to help you plan but not much that really helped let you know when it was coming if you weren’t specifically looking for it.

Well, here  to help with that is TWISST. If you have a twitter account TWISST will send a tweet  to everyone in your location when the ISS is going to make an appearance! TWISST uses  your entered location on Twitter and makes tweets appropriately!

ISS viewing is one of those hobbies that requires no special equipment, you can view many of the ISS passings with the naked eye! All you need is a twitter account and maybe a phone that can get tweets!



I was honestly expecting this launch to be delayed again, given the disruptive weather. But the last Space Shuttle launched yesterday.

Paper Space Models!

So, are you the type who likes to make stuff with your hands? Have you ever done Origami? If you have or you haven’t you can still have fun putting together some paper models of NASA Space Probes! You can download any fifteen paper model pdf’s, print them out  and fold them into space probes like the Mars Express shown on the right or probes the Cassini, Galileo, NEAR and others. There is even a balloon powered nanorover (you have to provide the balloon – they are not downloadable yet).

The skill level varies from the simple to the challenging. So start out with a simple Cassini model and work your way up to the challenging Galileo probe! Enjoy!