Expedition 15 Launch!

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The launch of Expedition 15, the next crew to the International Space Station, is scheduled to takeoff today at 1:31PM (EDT) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. You can watch it live on NASA TV. On board will be the fifth space tourist to be launched into space, Charles Simonyi. He is President, CEO, and co-founder of International Software and worked for Microsoft from 1981 to 2002. While onboard ISS, Simonyi will be performing a series of experiments for the European Space Agency (ESA), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Hungarian Space Office.

Climate Change Report

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The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has released a summary of the Climate Change 2007 report. The report details how climate change will affect every region of the earth. The full 1,572-page report will be available on the IPCC web site.

Team Moon

Most people have seen the historic footage of Neil Armstrong's first step on the moon (July 20, 1969) and are familiar with the crew of Apollo 11:Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. But not many have heard of Eleanor Foracker who was a seamstress for ILC Dover, the company that made the spacesuits, or Richard Ellis who tested the suits. Neil “Fox” Mason worked the Parkes Radio Telescope in Australia, Kirby Hinson worked on the parachute recovery systems, and Joe Gavin was vice president of Grumman Aerospace Corporation. Thousands of people worked long, hard hours and most never received recognition even though they also played a vital role in one of the greatest projects of the 20th century. Meet some of them in Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon by Catherine Thimmesh.

Great News for Hackers and Hobbyists!

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Grab your Dremel, soldering iron, and those old electronic parts that are collecting dust in your closet. The Downtown Library, Pittsfield Branch, and Malletts Creek now carry the magazine Make: technology on your time.

Make combines articles on science, technology, and art with DIY projects reminiscent of 1960s Popular Mechanics. The latest issue shows you how to assemble a cloud chamber that will track cosmic rays, build a panoramic pinhole camera, make a $5 crackerbox amplifier, plus oodles of other things that you can construct using a bit of ingenuity, passion, and free time. Want even more info or to interact with other makers? Visit Make’s website and check out their blog, podcasts, projects, and more.

And the winner is...

ISSISS

Today NASA announced Harmony as the name of the new module of the International Space Station. The name was chosen from an academic competition involving thousands of students in kindergarten through high school which required students to learn about the International Space Station, build a scale model of the module, and write an essay explaining their proposed name.

Harmony is a pressurized module that will act as a connecting port and passageway to additional international science labs and supply spacecraft. It also will be a work platform for the station's robotic arm. Find out more at NASA's website.

A Bog, A Kettle, A Lake

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Washtenaw County Naturalist Extraordinaire Faye Stoner will lead a hike at Park Lyndon South's Lake Genevieve on Sunday, March 11, 2-4 p.m., exploring and explaining kettle lakes, bogs, fens and fauna. Meet Faye at the West Lot and wear boots and pants that can get wet.

45th Anniversary of Americans in Orbit!

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Forty-five years ago today, John Glenn successfully completed the first American manned orbital mission aboard Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962.
To celebrate the anniversary of this event, NASA has added some interactive features to their website. Visit nasa.gov to take an inside look at the Friendship 7, explore bios and a photo gallery, and conduct virtual interviews with the surviving Mercury astronauts. You can also watch a 30 minute special online on NASA TV: 45th Anniversary of Americans in Orbit, at 7pm on February 20th.

Calling All Bird Counters

Join beginners and experts in the 10th annual Great Backyard Bird Count Feb. 16-19, 2007. Take part wherever you are – at home, in school, at a local park. Have a field guide to Michigan birds handy. For extra fun, try identifying our feathered friends by their birdsongs.

The Mercury 13

On June 16, 1963, Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space—during the Vostok 6 mission. It was 20 years later (almost to the day) that Sally Ride became the first American woman in space—as a crewmember on Space Shuttle Challenger for STS-7 on June 18, 1983.

In Martha Ackmann’s The Mercury 13, we are introduced to 13 women who should have been among the first in space. They included Jerrie Cobb, Wally Funk, Myrtle Cagle, and Bernice "B" Steadman, who were some of the most accomplished pilots of their time, male or female. These women passed the same rigorous tests (in 1961) that the original Mercury 7 astronauts underwent in the late 1950s. The women's testing program was eventually scrapped and women astronaut candidates weren’t selected by NASA until the 1978 class of Space Shuttle astronauts.

To find more books on women astronauts click here.

22 Hours and Counting

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NASA Astronaut Sunita L. Williams set a record Sunday for most total time spacewalking by a woman. Her record is 22 hours and 27 minutes but she has another spacewalk scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 8th. Future woman astronauts can launch their career by attending a Sally Ride Science Festival. Details of the University of Michigan festival are still in the works but plan on one for Fall, 2007.

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