1. The week’s best photojournalism

    In some of the week’s most moving images, an astronaut peeks out from a spaceship, a collie keeps watch, and more


  2. Twenty-seven years ago today, on January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded during its 10th flight mission (STS-51-L), just 73 seconds after liftoff. The mission was originally scheduled to begin on January 22, 1986, but it had to be rescheduled several times before the Challenger finally departed from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Jan. 28. After the failure of an O-ring seal on one of the shuttle’s Solid Rocket Boosters, the vessel burst into flames and exploded. The tragic events were captured during a live broadcast, and all seven crew members lost their lives.  

    Today in history: Looking back at the 1986 Challenger Shuttle disaster

    Photo: NASA


  3. NASA’s new spacesuit looks awfully familiar…


  4. NASA requires its astronauts to exercise on space flights to fight off the debilitating effects of zero-gravity on the body’s bone and muscle. But Sunita Williams, U.S. commander of the Expedition 33 crew at the International Space Station, took things to another level when she completed the first ever triathlon in space — running, biking, and even swimming to compete with Earth-based athletes 240 miles below in Southern California. 

    Since quarters are a bit cramped at the I.S.S., Williams used special exercise equipment to keep up with triathletes competing in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon in Southern California. For the half-mile “swimming” portion, Williams strapped into something called the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED), which uses weights to imitate water resistance while swimming through anti-gravity. For the 18-mile biking portion she used a stationary bike, and for the four-mile run she used a specially outfitted treadmill that strapped her in to keep her from floating off. 

    Watch Williams in action


  5. During a 1983 Girls Club of America reception in her honor, Sally Ride (center) chats with tennis star Billie Jean King (left) and the Ms. Magazine founder Gloria Steinem. The day after Ride’s historic launch, Steinem said: "Millions of little girls are going to sit by their television sets and see they can be astronauts, heroes, explorers, and scientists."


  6. What does space smell like? 

    Astronauts returning to the space station’s confines after a space walk have described the lingering aroma on their suits as everything from “hot metal” to “seared steak.”  

    "It is hard to describe," says astronaut Don Pettit, not as easy as “describing the palette sensations of some new food as ‘tastes like chicken.’” His best effort: “A rather pleasant sweet metallic sensation." Another astronaut, Thomas Jones, describes it as a “distinct odor of ozone” that’s also “sulfurous.” Confusing matters, recent studies have shown that a giant dust cloud residing at the heart of our galaxy is made of ethyl formate, which which gives raspberries their flavor and smells, some say, like rum. (Perhaps deep space smells “like a fruity summer cocktail,” ventures Veronique Greenwood at Discover Magazine.)

    Keep reading


  7. With NASA taking a backseat to private enterprises like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, the future of space exploration is essentially in the hands of anyone with deep enough pockets and an overflow of ideas.

    Now, a new Dutch group calling itself Mars One is throwing its hat into the mix, and has announced an earnest (yet ”achievable”) plan to set up a fully manned station on the Red Planet by the year 2023.

    On the “surprisingly specific date” of September 14, 2022, Mars One aims to send four astronauts on a 10-month, one-way journey to set up permanent residence on Earth’s closest neighborsays Chris Taylor at Mashable. What separates this particular undertaking from earlier projects is that no one comes back, saving invaluable time and expensive equipment; consider the Mars base the “Plymouth Rock” of a new era. 

    Read on


  8. "Frequent travel may be required."

    Good news, space fans: NASA is hiring astronauts. The pay is good — anywhere from $64,724 to $141,715 a year. But to be considered, you’ll need to meet NASA’s “highly competitive” criteria. Only nine candidates were picked out of more than 3,500 applications in 2009. The incoming class of eight to 12 candidates will begin training in 2013, and will work on the next generation of spacecraft meant to take humans into deep space. Do you have what it takes? Here, some highlights from the job application