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Reblogged from howstuffworks
From How Space Stations Work:
On May 14, 1973, NASA launched its first space station — Skylab 1 — into orbit. During the launch, the station was damaged. A critical meteoroid shield and one of the station’s two main solar panels were ripped off and the other solar panel was not fully stretched out. That meant that Skylab had little electrical power and the internal temperature rose to 126 degrees Fahrenheit (52 degrees Celsius).
The first crew, Skylab2, was launched 10 days later to fix the ailing station. The crew consisted of Commander Charles “Pete” Conrad, Paul Weitz and Joseph Kerwin. The Skylab 2 astronauts stretched out the remaining solar panel and set up an umbrella-like sunshade to cool the station. With the station repaired, the astronauts spent 28 days in space conducting scientific and biomedical research.
Modified from the third stage of a Saturn V moon rocket, Skylab had the following parts:
- Orbital workshop - living and working quarters for the crew
- Airlock module - allowed access to the outside of the station
- Multiple docking adapter - allowed more than one Apollo spacecraft to dock to the station at once (However, there were never any overlapping crews in the station.)
- Apollo telescope mount - contained telescopes for observing the sun, stars and Earth (Keep in mind that the Hubble Space Telescope had not been built yet.)
- Apollo spacecraft - command and service module for transporting the crew to and from the Earth’s surface
Skylab was manned by two additional crews. Skylab 3 consisted of Commander Alan Bean and astronauts Jack Lousma and Owen Garriot. They spent 59 days in space. The final crew, Skylab 4, consisted of Commander Gerald Carr and astronauts William Pogue and Edward Gibson. This crew spent 84 days in orbit, conducted experiments and photographed comet Kohoutek.
Skylab was never meant to be a permanent home in space, but rather a workshop where the United States could test the effects of long-duration space flights (that is, greater than the two weeks required to go to the moon) on the human body. When the flight of the third crew was finished, Skylab was abandoned. Skylab remained aloft until intense solar flare activity caused its orbit to decay sooner than expected. Skylab re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere and burned over Australia in 1979.
Learn more about Skylab over at NASA’s mission hub. Image credit: NASA.
Reblogged from smarterplanet
Quantum computing took a giant leap forward on the world stage today as NASA and Google, in partnership with a consortium of universities, launched an initiative to investigate how the technology might lead to breakthroughs in artificial intelligence.
The new Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab will employ what may be the most advanced commercially available quantum computer, the D-Wave Two, which a recent study confirmed was much faster than conventional machines at defeating specific problems. The machine will be installed at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing Facility at the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley and is expected to be available for government, industrial, and university research later this year.
Google believes quantum computing might help it improve its web search and speech recognition technology. University researchers might use it to devise better models of disease and climate, among many other possibilities. As for NASA, “computers play a much bigger role within NASA missions than most people realize,” says quantum computing expert Colin Williams, director of business development and strategic partnerships at D-Wave.
Reblogged from emergentfutures
Biologist Paul Ehrlich gives dire prediction for global civilization
“We’re a small-group animal, both genetically and culturally. We have evolved to relate to groups of somewhere between 50 and 150 people,” he said. “And now suddenly we’re trying to live in a group not of 150 or 100 people, but of seven billion people, somewhat over seven billion people at the moment, and that is presenting us with a whole array of problems.”
Full story: VTDigger