Category Archives: Science News

Rare Amateur Video of Challenger Shuttle Tragedy

A new amateur video of the 1986 Challenger disaster has surfaced, more than 25 years after the space shuttle broke up mid-flight, killing all seven crew onboard. The footage, revealed on the New Scientist website, is believed to be only the second such video known to exist. It was shot by Bob Karman of Hicksville, New York, whose daughter now works for the magazine. He and his family were on holiday in Florida at the time, and witnessed the tragedy from Orlando airport. On Jan. 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after launching from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. It fell in pieces into the Atlantic Ocean. In Karman’s home movie, it isn’t immediately clear to onlookers that anything has gone wrong. “There it goes… They must be up there,” one man can be heard to say, while others wonder what they are seeing and remark, “Look at the little tails coming down there.” “After shooting the video, I had a sense that something went wrong but it wasn’t until we were on the plane that the pilot confirmed the tragedy,” Karman told New Scientist. He said he only recently realized the rarity of what he had captured and made a digital copy of the old VHS tape. Only one other amateur recording of the disaster has ever been made public before now, a four-minute recording discovered in a Florida basement in 2010. At the time, the Guardian described it as “the only amateur film in existence of the world’s worst space disaster, recorded in an era before.

Spaced out: Obama to cut funding for Mars program

According to The Washington Post, President Obama’s next budget will slash funding for Mars and Jupiter rovers by as much as 20 percent. The budget is expected to be unveiled on Monday.

The Post reported that the Obama Administration has briefed scientists on its proposed budget, which would slash funding for NASA’s Mars program from $1.5 billion to $1.2 billion annually. And further cuts are proposed over the following four years.

The cuts are likely to be a big blow to researchers who have been working diligently to promote Mars missions. Over the last few years, NASA has sent a number of probes into the planet’s orbit and has successfully landed several on its surface. Last November, NASA launched its Curiosity rover, a $2.5 billion project that should spend more than two years investigating a 100-mile Martian crater, looking especially for organic compounds and trying to detect evidence of past or present habitability.

“We’re doing all this great science and taking the public along with us,” Jim Bell, president of the Planetary Society, and a scientist working on NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity, told the Post. “Pulling the rug out from under it is going to be really devastating.”

In addition to the spending cuts for the rover program, Obama’s budget also calls for a severing of the partnership between NASA and the European Space Agency on Mars probes that were to have been launched in 2016 and 2018, the Post reported.

And while Congressional Republicans have spent much of their time in the majority talking about the importance of cutting government spending, at least one member of the GOP’s House delegation is unhappy with the administration’s new Mars plans.

“You don’t cut spending for critical scientific research endeavors that have immeasurable benefit to the nation and inspire the human spirit of exploration we all have,” Rep. John Abney Culberson (R-Texas) told the Post.

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