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Are you throwing all your money into a black hole today?

Forget Black Friday — celebrate #BlackHoleFriday with us and get sucked into this recent discovery of a black hole that may have sparked star births across multiple galaxies.

If confirmed, this discovery would represent the widest reach ever seen for a black hole acting as a stellar kick-starter — enhancing star formation more than one million light-years away. (One light year is equal to 6 trillion miles.)

A black hole is an extremely dense object from which no light can escape. The black hole’s immense gravity pulls in surrounding gas and dust. Sometimes, black holes hinder star birth. Sometimes — like perhaps in this case — they increase star birth.

Telescopes like our Chandra X-ray Observatory help us detect the X-rays produced by hot gas swirling around the black hole. Have more questions about black holes? Click here to learn more.

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

[Updated!] First Product from NASA Fanboy: Astro art prints!:

Updated: I’ve struck a better deal for the printing process and am thrilled to offer a drastically reduced price on this 24"x36" print! I’ve been wanting to do this for quite some time, and am thrilled to finally introduce the first canvas print from Keep Looking Up. I’m working with some incredible craftsmen to create this limited edition run of 24"x36" canvas prints of the iconic Earthrise image from the Apollo 8 mission. I’m looking forward to offering more images in the future and having a full site dedicated to the prints. Check it out, and Keep Looking Up!

Part of the appeal of Thanksgiving is how easily we settle into the familiar: cherished foods, friends and family, and favorite activities like football, puzzles or board games. As anyone who has spent Thanksgiving with someone else’s traditions knows, those familiar things can take on seemingly unusual forms. That’s especially true when you’re 200 miles up in space.

Holidays in space weren’t very common early in the program, but as astronauts start the 20th year of continuous habitation they will also be celebrating the 20th consecutive Thanksgiving in orbit. As it turns out, everything’s the same, but different.

Food

Early in the space program, astronauts didn’t have much choice about their meals. A turkey dinner with all the trimmings was as much a pipe dream in the early 1960s as space travel had been a few decades earlier. Food had to be able to stay fresh, or at least edible, from the time it was packed until the end of the mission, which might be several weeks. It couldn’t be bulky or heavy, but it had to contain all the nutrition an astronaut would need. It had to be easily contained, so crumbs or droplets wouldn’t escape the container and get into the spacecraft instrumentation. For the first flights, that meant a lot of food in tubes or in small bite-sized pieces.

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Examples of food from the Mercury program

Chores first, then dinner

Maybe you rake leaves to start the day or straighten up the house for guests. Perhaps you’re the cook. Just like you, astronauts sometimes have to earn their Thanksgiving dinner. In 1974, two members of the Skylab 4 crew started their day with a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk, replacing film canisters mounted outside the spacecraft and deploying an experiment package.

After the spacewalk, the crew could at least “sit down” for a meal together that included food they didn’t have to eat directly from a bag, tube or pouch. In the spacecraft’s “ward room”, a station held three trays of food selected for the astronauts. The trays themselves kept the food warm.

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A food tray similar to the ones astronauts used aboard Skylab, showing food, utensils and clean wipes. The tray itself warmed the food.

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The ward room aboard Skylab showing the warming trays in use. The Skylab 4 crew ate Thanksgiving dinner there in 1974.

Fresh food

It can’t be all mashed potatoes and pie. There have to be some greens. NASA has that covered with VEGGIE, the ongoing experiment to raise food crops aboard the space station. Though the current crop won’t necessarily be on the Thanksgiving menu, astronauts have already harvested and eaten “space lettuce”. Researchers hope to be growing peppers aboard the space station in 2020.

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Astronaut Kjell Lindgren enjoys lettuce grown and harvested aboard the International Space Station.


Football

Space station crews have been able to watch football on Thanksgiving thanks to live feeds from Mission Control. Unfortunately their choices of activities can be limited by their location. That long walk around the neighborhood to shake off the turkey coma? Not happening.

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Football in space. It’s a thing.

Be Prepared for the Unplanned

No matter how you plan, there’s a chance something’s going to go wrong, perhaps badly. It happened aboard the Space Shuttle on Thanksgiving 1989. Flight Director Wayne Hale tells of plumbing problem that left Commander Fred Gregory indisposed and vacuum-suctioned to a particular seat aboard the spacecraft.

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 This is not the seat from which the mission commander flies the Space Shuttle.

Hungry for More?

If you can’t get enough of space food, tune into this episode of “Houston, We Have a Podcast” and explore the delicious science of astronaut mealtime.

And whether you’re eating like a king or one of our astronauts currently living and working in space, we wish everybody a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

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

[Updated!] First Product from NASA Fanboy: Astro art prints!:

Updated: I’ve struck a better deal for the printing process and am thrilled to offer a drastically reduced price on this 24"x36" print! I’ve been wanting to do this for quite some time, and am thrilled to finally introduce the first canvas print from Keep Looking Up. I’m working with some incredible craftsmen to create this limited edition run of 24"x36" canvas prints of the iconic Earthrise image from the Apollo 8 mission. I’m looking forward to offering more images in the future and having a full site dedicated to the prints. Check it out, and Keep Looking Up!

[Updated!] First Product from NASA Fanboy: Astro art prints!:

Updated: I’ve struck a better deal for the printing process and am thrilled to offer a drastically reduced price on this 24"x36" print! I’ve been wanting to do this for quite some time, and am thrilled to finally introduce the first canvas print from Keep Looking Up. I’m working with some incredible craftsmen to create this limited edition run of 24"x36" canvas prints of the iconic Earthrise image from the Apollo 8 mission. I’m looking forward to offering more images in the future and having a full site dedicated to the prints. Check it out, and Keep Looking Up!

[Updated!] First Product from NASA Fanboy: Astro art prints!:

Updated: I’ve struck a better deal for the printing process and am thrilled to offer a drastically reduced price on this 24"x36" print! I’ve been wanting to do this for quite some time, and am thrilled to finally introduce the first canvas print from Keep Looking Up. I’m working with some incredible craftsmen to create this limited edition run of 24"x36" canvas prints of the iconic Earthrise image from the Apollo 8 mission. I’m looking forward to offering more images in the future and having a full site dedicated to the prints. Check it out, and Keep Looking Up!

[Updated!] First Product from NASA Fanboy: Astro art prints!:

Updated: I’ve struck a better deal for the printing process and am thrilled to offer a drastically reduced price on this 24"x36" print! I’ve been wanting to do this for quite some time, and am thrilled to finally introduce the first canvas print from Keep Looking Up. I’m working with some incredible craftsmen to create this limited edition run of 24"x36" canvas prints of the iconic Earthrise image from the Apollo 8 mission. I’m looking forward to offering more images in the future and having a full site dedicated to the prints. Check it out, and Keep Looking Up!

[Updated!] First Product from NASA Fanboy: Astro art prints!:

Updated: I’ve struck a better deal for the printing process and am thrilled to offer a drastically reduced price on this 24"x36" print! I’ve been wanting to do this for quite some time, and am thrilled to finally introduce the first canvas print from Keep Looking Up. I’m working with some incredible craftsmen to create this limited edition run of 24"x36" canvas prints of the iconic Earthrise image from the Apollo 8 mission. I’m looking forward to offering more images in the future and having a full site dedicated to the prints. Check it out, and Keep Looking Up!

[Updated!] First Product from NASA Fanboy: Astro art prints!:

Updated: I’ve struck a better deal for the printing process and am thrilled to offer a drastically reduced price on this 24"x36" print! I’ve been wanting to do this for quite some time, and am thrilled to finally introduce the first canvas print from Keep Looking Up. I’m working with some incredible craftsmen to create this limited edition run of 24"x36" canvas prints of the iconic Earthrise image from the Apollo 8 mission. I’m looking forward to offering more images in the future and having a full site dedicated to the prints. Check it out, and Keep Looking Up!

The Island Named After a Satellite

It is so small that you cannot see it on Google maps. It measures 25 by 45 meters (27 by 49 yards), about half the size of a football field. This barren bit of rock off the coast of Canada also has an unusual namesake: the Landsat 1 satellite. The small size is actually what made the island notable in 1973, when it was initially discovered. Well, that, and the polar bear trying to eat one of the surveyors.

Betty Fleming, a researcher with the Topographic Survey of Canada, was hunting for uncharted islands and rocks amidst data from the new Landsat 1 satellite. She was particularly interested in the new satellite’s ability to find small features. Working with the Canadian Hydrographic Service, Fleming scanned images of the Labrador coast, an area that was poorly charted. About 20 kilometers (12 miles) offshore, the satellite detected a tiny, rocky island. Surveyors were sent to verify the existence of the island and encountered a hungry polar bear on the island. The surveyor quickly retreated. Eventually, the island became known as “Landsat Island,” after the satellite that discovered it. Watch the video to learn more about Betty Fleming and how Landsat Island was discovered by satellite and ground surveyors.

For more details about Landsat Island, read the full stories here:

The Island Named After a Satellite

The Unsung Woman Who Discovered an Unknown Island

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