Orion and the Seven Sisters (#Extant E4)

I livetweet CBS' sci-fi show Extant every Wed night on Twitter at 8pm - check out the storify at the end of the article or click here!

On the last episode of CBS's new sci fi show Extant, Molly lies in bed with her son Ethan and discusses a very popular set of stars known as the Pleiades Star Cluster. This cluster of stars has been very prominent in the sky over human history, and many cultures have created stories around them.

A color-composite image of the Pleiades from the   Digitized Sky Survey   Credit:   NASA  /  ESA  /  AURA  /  Caltech

A color-composite image of the Pleiades from the Digitized Sky Survey
Credit: NASA/ESA/AURA/Caltech

One of the most famous stories, which Molly shares with Ethan, is that of the seven sisters. According to Space.com:

"Native Americans thought the cluster formed when a group of women chased by bears asked a stone to help them run from the animals. The stone rose up, protecting them and forming Devil's Tower in Wyoming. The women then became the stars of the cluster.

In Greek mythology, Orion the Hunter chased the seven sisters around Earth. After crying out to the gods for help, the sisters were turned into the stars of the cluster. The gods also placed Orion in the sky after the sting of a scorpion killed him."

Tough break for the women in these culture's, huh? I guess they are always being hunted. In any case, it's pretty amazing that different cultures all have stories that are somewhat similar.  The power of the human mind.

For a recap of the complete episode of Extant (spoiler alert), please check out the Storify below!

Science During Inauguration Weekend

rover obama.jpg

Presidents and science have been a fantastic combination over the years. As I mentioned in a previous post, presidents have served as scientific proponents by helping to pass laws as well as speak publicly on the importance of science education for our country and the world.

The Obama inauguration festivities continue this trend by including a life size model of the Curiosity rover in the post-inauguration parade. In addition, there will be a model of NASA's Orion capsule which is being built for longer space travel.  Astronauts, engineers and scientists involved with both projects will also be in the parade.

For a cool set of images of NASA's parade stuff, check out the NASA Flickr photo album!

I'm very excited that science is being prominently featured in one of the largest American celebrations . Now if only I can decide if I'm actually heading down to the madness that will be DC this weekend ...

Source: NASA

NASA Unveils the Orion Spacecraft


NASA has plans for the space exploration, despite the fact that the Shuttle program is over.  NASA's new spacecraft, the Orion, has just been unveiled during the 50th anniversary celebration of the Kennedy Space Center. Orion, in conjunction with the private industry SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, will ensure that NASA has its hands in space exploration for years to come.

The Orion photo above shows the different parts of the spacecraft. On top, a launch abort system is in place if the spacecraft needs to quickly separate from the rocket in case of emergency. The crew module is where the crew hangs out, and the service module has support equipment. It bears a striking resemblance to the old Apollo spacecraft that we used to get to the moon. This reflects NASA's new mission of single purpose, focused spacecraft, as opposed to the one-use-for-everything Space Shuttle.

According to SpaceFlightNow the plans are for a test flights in 2014 in 2017, followed by a flight with a crew of up to four astronauts in 2021.