Earth & Space

Printing out the orbital infrastructure

3-D printing is going viral. With 3-D fabrication technology at for the desktop, for LEGOs, and for nanoscale materials, it was only a matter of time before the paradigm found its way into spaceand corporate science fiction. But this promising technology still has to prove itself in terrestrial infrastructure first.

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Dust-laden Hayabusa returns to Earth

IN 2005, the Japanese probe Hayabusa made its rendezvous with Itowaka, a five-hundred-meter long, sausage-shaped asteroid whose circular orbit intersects that of Earth. Yesterday, Japan's space agency announced that the probe had collected the first material ever gathered from an asteroid and delivered successfully to Earth.

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How to paint a fireball in the sky

"Some flashes of lambent light, much like the aurora borealis, were first observed on the northern part of the heavens....as soon as the meteor emerged from behind the cloud, its light was prodigious."

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Looking for Mars

The Red Planet has been the object of science fiction, paranoia, and fakery. And with numerous spacecraft now beaming back publicly-available images from our neighboring planet, Martian fantasizing is a growth industry. This film is one of the most convincing, and it isn't even from Mars. Video after the jump.

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Narwhals join climate debate

Narwhals don't go to graduate school, and they're not much use as grant-writers. But they're able to do a few things oceanographers find challengingsuch as dive to depths of nearly six thousand feet beneath the ice of Baffin Bay in winter. So scientists have enlisted them in gathering climate-change data in the Greenland Current.

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Corporate Sci-Fi: the Luna Ring

The Tokyo-based Shimizu Corporation is one of the world's leading construction and engineering contractors. It's also a prolific producer of corporate science fiction: fanciful, high-concept design projects that offer glimpses of astonishing futures. Its "Luna Ring" envisions such a future for the moonand for Shimizu.

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Are you spacecrafty?

The Space Shuttle Program, which employs five thousand people and comprises more than a quarter of NASA infrastructure, is set to end in early 2011. How to commemorate the program that has defined manned spaceflight for more than thirty years? How about with an astronaut-helmet tea cozy!

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Space, gentrified

It's getting pretty plush up there. Yesterday, NASA released this image of Expedition 25 commander Doug Wheelock in the "cupola," a bay window installed on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station in February 2010.

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