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Kepler finds nearest twin to Earth yet

First Earth-size planet in ‘habitable zone’ discovered

This diagram compares the planets of our inner solar system to Kepler-186, a five-planet star system about 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. The Kepler-186 system is home to Kepler-186f, the first validated Earth-size planet orbiting a distant star in the habitable zone-a range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the planet's surface.  Image: NASA/Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech

This diagram compares the planets of our inner solar system to Kepler-186, a five-planet star system about 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. The Kepler-186 system is home to Kepler-186f, the first validated Earth-size planet orbiting a distant star in the habitable zone-a range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the planet’s surface. Image:…

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Join in the Cassini Name Game

Join NASA in the Cassini Name Game

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s NASA’s Cassini mission approaches its 10th anniversary at Saturn, its team members back here on Earth are already looking ahead to an upcoming phase.

Starting in late 2016, the Cassini spacecraft will repeatedly climb high above Saturn’s north pole, flying just outside its narrow F ring. Cassini will probe the water-rich plume of the active geysers on the planet’s intriguing…

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Boeing’s CST-100 passes two new milestones in development

Boeing’s CST-100 passes two new milestones in development [via SpaceFlightInsider.com]

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Boeing’s CST-100 recently concluded a hardware design review and software safety test. NASA astronaut may one day travel to the ISS via the Boeing spacecraft. Photo Credit: ULA

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Boeing Company recently announced the completion of more developmental requirements for their Crew Space Transportation 100 (CST-100) spacecraft that includes a software safety test and hardware…

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Jupiter: The gas Giant

Spotlight On Jupiter: The gas Giant

This true color mosaic of Jupiter was constructed from images taken by the narrow angle camera onboard NASA’s Cassini spacecraft in 2000.  Photo: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

This true color mosaic of Jupiter was constructed from images taken by the narrow angle camera onboard NASA’s Cassini spacecraft in 2000.
Photo: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]f all the planets that orbit around our Sun there are two that are easily visible and are fascinating objects to view. These are, of course, Saturn and Jupiter. Of these Jupiter is prominent in our…

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[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen filmmaker Stephen Van Vuuren first saw images of Saturn retuned by the Cassini spacecraft, he saw something more in them. He not only saw the beauty of the ringed planet, he saw a motion picture camera flying through space.  

IMAX film is about 10 times larger than standard 35-millimeter film.  Image: SV Studios

IMAX film is about 10 times larger than
standard 35-millimeter film. Image: SV Studios

Vuuren grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, with dreams of being an astronaut. He was accepted at MIT to major in astrophysics, but Stanley Kubrick’s film “2001: A Space Odyssey” changed his mind. He came to the United States to study filmmaking. Today he’s realizing both dreams and taking audiences along for the ride.

Stephen Van Vuuren works in his basement studio on the IMAX film “In Saturn’s Rings” which will be released this July. Photo: SV Studios

Stephen Van Vuuren works in his basement studio on the IMAX film “In Saturn’s
Rings” which will be released this July. Photo: SV Studios

“In Saturn’s Rings” is a non-profit film which animates over a million photographs from a variety of sources including those from Cassini which first inspired Van Vurren. Some frames of the movie are from a single photograph. Others, such as the movie’s visualization of the Big Bang incorporate thousands of images from the Hubble Space Telescope. The film also draws from imagery from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Messenger, Suomi NPP, Solar Dynamics Observatory, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Venus Express, Rosetta, Dawn, Galileo, Voyager and Apollo programs.

A subject this big requires a big presentation. The film is being made for giant screens like IMAX theaters, fulldome planetariums, and 4k digital cinemas. This requires a tremendous amount of storage space on the computers being used to create the film.

“The final film will consume about 50 to 65 Terrabytes” says Van Vuuren. That’s enough space for over 200 Blu-ray discs, 100,000 CDs or the text in about 250 million books.

Van Vuuren describes the film as a work of art created through science. A soaring performance of Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” by the Greensboro (North Carolina) Symphony accompanies the audience as they fly along with the Apollo 17 astronauts, above the Earth with a Space Shuttle orbiter and as they enjoy a front row seat to the Big Bang.

Theatrical movie poster

Theatrical movie poster

Images don’t just come from NASA and the European Space Agency. Astrophotographer Colin Legg ventured hundreds of miles into Australia’s Gibson Desert to capture the night sky free of any light pollution.  Over 11 days and nights the custom built rig consisting of five digital SLR cameras tracked the sky producing over 111,000 images. Back in Greensboro eight computers are spending six weeks stitching those individual photos together in a super high-resolution image with a stunning view of the Milky Way.

“In Saturn’s Rings” is animated from a million-plus images from NASA and other missions using off-the-shelf and customized software. Image: SV Studios

“In Saturn’s Rings” is animated from a million-plus images from NASA and other missions using off-the-shelf and customized software. Image: SV Studios

Early animation tests were featured on NASA’s Astronomy Photo of the Day and went viral. Two million plays later, a team of more than 35 have volunteered their time and talents in processing images after seeing those early clips.

It all comes together in the basement of Van Vuuren’s Greensboro, North Carolina condominium on an array of computers, most built by Stephen himself.

“In Saturn’s Rings” is scheduled to premier July 2014 and will be rolled out to planetariums, museums, science centers and other large screen theaters for years to come. It is dedicated to the memory of Carl Sagan and Stanley Kubrick.

For more information, please visit the film’s website at: www.insaturnsrings.com/. The movie trailer may  viewed at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJjeo2Br2AY/.

In Saturn’s Rings: One man’s journey to make an IMAX film. It premieres this summer. When filmmaker Stephen Van Vuuren first saw images of Saturn retuned by the Cassini spacecraft, he saw something more in them.

Ann Druyan preserves the legacy of Sagan’s “Cosmos” with “A Spacetime Odyssey”

More than three decades after the debut of "Cosmos: A Personal Voyage," Carl Sagan's stunning and iconic exploration of the universe as revealed by science, COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY sets off on a new voyage for the stars. Seth MacFarlane (FAMILY GUY, AMERICAN DAD) and Sagan's original creative collaborators. Hosted by renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (not pictured), the series will explore how we discovered the laws of nature and found our coordinates in space and time.  Photo: Patrick Eccelsine/FOX

More than three decades after the debut of “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage,” Ann Druyan, the writer and executive producer of Carl Sagan’s iconic exploration of the universe, returns for a new odyssey to explore how we discovered the laws of nature and found our coordinates in space and time. Photo: Patrick Eccelsine/FOX

[dropcap]H[/dropcap]ow often are you so moved by your job that you actually shed…

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Jackee Mohl looks to the future as a structural engineer for Boeing’s V-22 Osprey

Women of Aviation Worldwide Week spotlight: Jackee Mohl looks to the future as a structural engineer for Boeing’s V-22 Osprey

Crew members refuel an V-22 Osprey before a night mission in central Iraq.Photo: U.S Navy/Chief Petty Officer Joe Kane

Crew members refuel an V-22 Osprey before a night mission in central Iraq. Photo: U.S Navy/Chief Petty Officer Joe Kane

What do you get when a talented female engineer is one of the masterminds behind the design of an aircraft crossed between a helicopter and a jet fighter? 

There exists a sort of “hybrid” military, tiltrotor aircraft that takes off and lands as a helicopter, and flies like an

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Cosmos receiving largest ever global TV launch

Cosmos receiving largest ever global TV launch on March 9. Sign up now for free early screening in 10 cities.

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Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey: More than three decades after Carl Sagan’s groundbreaking and iconic series, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, it’s time once again to set sail for the stars. Host and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson walks across the Cosmic Calendar, on which all of time has been compressed into a year-at-a-glance calendar, in the premiere episode airing Sunday, March 9. Photo: FOX

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NASA launches STEM-in-sports online learning program

STEM Mania Flyer

Teachers and students can learn the science behind scoring a touchdown, throwing a slam-dunk or a hitting a homerun with a new distance-learning program called NASA STEM Mania.

NASA’s Distance Learning Network (DLN) will present the two-week series Monday, Feb. 24, through Monday, March 10, and will give educators and students from kindergarten through 12th grade the…

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