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Taraji P. Henson to Play Math Genius in New Film ‘Hidden Figures’

“Empire” star Taraji P. Henson will play mathematics genius Katherine Johnson in “Hidden Figures” for Fox 2000.

The story centers on Johnson, a brilliant African-American mathematician who, along with her colleagues Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson, served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history — the momentous launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, and his safe return. The three women crossed all gender, race and professional lines while embarking on the mission. [+]

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I officially bow down to the artists working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Also, thanks to NASA for recognizing and celebrating the power of art like this. 

These STUNNING posters can all be downloaded directly from JPL (in hi-res). And their mere existence is reason enough for a new Wednesday theme: World Tour Wednesday. 

Stay tuned for some more awesome posters that are out of this world* and worth touring

- Summer

*too easy?

Star Streams and the Whale Galaxy : NGC 4631 is a spiral galaxy found only 25 million light-years away, toward the well-trained northern constellation Canes Venatici. Seen ege-on, the galaxy is similar in size to the Milky Way. Its distorted wedge shape suggests to some a cosmic herring and to others its popular moniker, The Whale Galaxy. The large galaxys small, remarkably bright elliptical companion NGC 4627 lies just above its dusty yellowish core, but also identifiable are recently discovered, faint dwarf galaxies within the halo of NGC 4631. In fact, the faint extended features below NGC 4631 are now recognized as tidal star streams. The star streams are remnants of a dwarf satellite galaxy disrupted by repeated encounters with the Whale that began about 3.5 billion years ago. Even in nearby galaxies, the presence of tidal star streams is predicted by cosmological models of galaxy formation, including the formation of our own Milky Way. via NASA

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NASA vs Amtrak vs the National Park Service

Space tourism is still a ways off, but NASA, everybody’s favorite government agency, released some pretty sweet posters for destinations you’ll (hopefully!) be able to visit someday. 

Turns out, they’re not the only agency with some pretty rad graphic design. Here’s one of Amtrak’s iconic rail lines. 

And this poster for Yellowstone National Park, from 1938. 

Although NASA claims there might be a few more geysers to see on Enceladus

Or maybe take a trip closer to home.

Or go visit the histroic Sequoia National Park. This poster is from the early 40′s. 

For the history buff, see some of NASA’s historic sites, on Mars!

But even NASA knows, there’s only one Earth, “Your Oasis in Space.” 

See the full NASA collection over at their website. 

-Austin

Spot the International Space Station

Right now, there are humans living and working off the Earth on the International Space Station. They orbit our planet from 250 miles above every 90 minutes, which means the crew sees 16 sunrises and sunsets every day.

If you’re in the right place, at the right time, the space station is visible to the naked eye. It looks like a fast-moving plane, only much higher and traveling thousands of miles an hour faster. The fact that it’s the third brightest object in the sky makes it easier to spot…if you know when to look up.

That’s where we can help! Our Spot the Station site allows you to enter your location and find out when the space station will be flying overhead. You can even sign up to receive alerts that will send you email or text messages to let you know when and where to look up.

Why is the space station visible? It reflects the light of the Sun, the same reason we can see the Moon. However, unlike the Moon, the space station isn’t bright enough to see during the day.

To find out when the space station is flying over your area, visit: http://spotthestation.nasa.gov/

Learn more about the International Space Station and the crew HERE.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

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Today on the Podcast: NASA’s Hidden Computer Women

When NASA was formed in 1958, its prized pool of all-female “computers” desegregated. Until then, mathematicians of color – including Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Katherine Johnson – worked, ate and used the restroom in a separate facilities. Cristen and Caroline shed overdue light on Johnson and her brilliant West Computer teammates who helped launch America into space.

Way back in 1978, NASA scientist Donald J. Kessler proposed that all this space junk would eventually result in a horrific chain reaction, in which one bit would collide with another bit, creating more bits to collide with, and so on until the entirety of low Earth orbit was covered in an impassable 14,000-mile-per-hour swarm of shit. At that speed, a single five-centimeter hunk of junk has the explosive power of1.8 kilograms of TNT – more than enough to completely obliterate your GPS’s ability to get you to the nearest Burger King, stat.

And the most terrifying part? This chain reaction is already happening. It started with the accidental 2009 collision of the satellites Kosmos-2251 and Iridium 33. The impact resulted in a spectacular shotgun blast of debris, and that’s only the beginning. Also in 2009, the upper stage from a Chinese rocket narrowly missed the massive eight-metric-ton sleeping behemoth known as Envisat. There’s up to a 30 percent chance of the now-useless Envisat colliding with something else during its remaining time in orbit, and the number only stays that low if we never launch another thing into space.

5 Apocalyptic Chain Reactions (That Have Already Started)