Science Friday: New Lunar Pics + Sewer Aliens + Martian Snow Angels + NASA-Starfleet + more

This week in Science Friday, see the first images gathered from our latest return to the moon, discover real life alien sewer creatures, make snow angels on Mars, and transform NASA into the UFP. All this and more, plus our gadget of the week: BMW Halbo!


First Images from our Latest Return to the Moon
Last month, TrekMovie’s Science Friday reported the launch of NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC). Just this week, the spacecraft sent its first images of the moon back to Earth. LROC is in a terminator orbit around the moon, meaning it is circling the moon at the point that separates the day side from the night side. This means that the images show a nice contrast and really highlight the craters. Check out a full resolution detail of one of the very first images sent back on this generation’s return to the moon! Also, for updates of how LROC is doing, follow them on twitter: @LRO_NASA.

Image width is 1400 meters, north is down. (click for a full size version)

Pulsating Alien Sewer Creature! (turns out to be worms)
Slimy pulsating sacs were filmed in a Raleigh, NC sewer that really look like some crazy alien creature from a sci-fi film. Footage of the creatures was posted on YouTube leading to speculation that a new alien creature was living in the sewers of Raleigh, North Carolina. Biologists have now confirmed that these are colonies of tubifex worms coiled together. The colonies attach themselves to roots that gradually work themselves into weak points in the pipes. The worms seem to react to the cameras light, possibly due to the heat it emits.

Snowfall on Mars? Phoenix Lander has the Scoop
The first batch of papers resulting from the Mars Phoenix Lander mission have appeared in the new issue of Science, with the most striking of them describing what appears to be night-time snow falling on the landing site. The lander is not currently on active duty, as scientists lost communication when it likely froze to death during the Martian winter. The overall conclusion from Phoenix is that the northern pole has an active water cycle. This had been suggested by a variety of evidence from orbital sensors, as well early images returned from Phoenix. It’s also not a huge shock, given the seasonal growth and retreat of the polar ice cap. Still, Phoenix provided some significant details on the cycling of water in the area where it landed.

A snowy martian landscape

Is it Time to Start the Federation?
In a recent blog post on NASA BLOGS, Steven Gonzalez, a deputy for the advanced planning office at the Johnson Space Center, draws parallels between the United Federation of Planets and the new direction being taken by NASA. He cites use of the private sector, international partners, and venturing beyond low Earth orbit (LEO) missions as being a step towards creating a real life Federation. If people in NASA are thinking this way, could we be on our way to a world more like that of Star Trek? There has always been some collaboration between the worlds of Star Trek and NASA. Heck, they are even donning the uniforms these days! Read the full article.

NASA and the UFP

Gadget of the Week: BMW Halbo — Half a motorcycle; Twice the danger.
If you’re into crazy forms of transportation, and you don’t mind, well, dying on one, the BMW Halbo concept motorcycle may be just the thing for you! It’s tiny and it’s got a front wheel motor combined with a sphere form rear wheel. The target user for this vehicle is a “vibrant eco-minded young individual.” Speed on! I guess using half the building materials makes this baby eco-friendly. Not so much I-don’t-wanna-die-friendly, though, if you ask me. This is just another installation of gadgets that scare the crap out of me (see Micro space flight and the Seabreacher Submarine)!

BMW Halbo: death on 1 1/2 wheels!


If you are on Twitter, you know there are plenty of amazing people out there tweeting away. And, many of them are scientists! Every Friday I’ll be bringing you a new list of great scientists and techies to follow on Twitter. This week…

  • @SkyandTelescope: The Essential Magazine of Astronomy. Sky and Telescope is the world’s leading compendium of information about the science and hobby of astronomy.
  • @geologynews: The latest and greatest geology news from around the world.
  • @Discovery_Space: Discovery Space: everything astronomy, cosmology, physics, NASA, space travel, aliens, exoplanets, Mars and more… Maintained by @astroengine

Science Quickies
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a look.


TrekMovie’s Science Friday is an homage the the great NPR radio show Science Friday. Science Friday® is a registered service mark of ScienceFriday Inc.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

those BMWs look smooth

Sheesh…we used to get stuff like this on the evening news. Thanks again, Kayla!

I think Sector 001 has a long way to go before it can meaningfully claim to be part of any Federation. We have quite a few things to sort through ourselves.

However it is important the countries stop considering that space exploration is a ‘race.’ It’s obviously dominated by the richest countries, and is now becoming somewhat of a consumer travel product.

Here’s hoping for a man on Mars in our lifetime.

the half-bike needs a transparent aluminum cowl sweeping up and over the victim,… errrr.. rider.

Birth of the United Federation of Planets!!!

Ths cycles look like a 21st Century Penny Farthing

Great article! Thanks Anthony for the great @twitter links. I have followed them and look forward to many exciting tweets!

Trekwebmaster is on twitter!


Looking forward to reading all those great tweets!

Science Friday always makes my day. Thanks Kayla!

whatever you do, don’t fall asleep near one of those blobby creatures,
worms my backside!!! errr?

My first reaction to the photo of the BMWs was “Vader and a Storm Trooper?”

And I thought s*%&-eating albino gators were the grossest things in the sewers…

Death Race 2010 is now a one-man event…

Are mid-range black holes more eco-friendly… when they’re devouring your planet?

As always, thanks Kayla!!

ps- 1 You’re right. TV News used to cover science stories, before the mega bosses decided American Idol, MJ, and other celebutards were more important than science or anything else.

oops… meant that for AJ at #2.

It’s 5pm. I’ve been up since 11pm last night. Brain not working. Wake me when they invent a replacement.

New class of black holes? I hope not the time travelling type…

Those sewer worms freak me the HELL OUT!!

Nature. WTF?

The bikes look like Spy v Spy.

I really enjoy Science Friday. I can’t listen to it at work, but love getting the @scifri tweets. I listen to it online after I get home. I really like that TrekMovie is doing homage to this excellent NPR show!

Can I just say… ummm… worms = ewwwwwww!!!!!

I have lived very close to the sewer worms and have personally contributed to that sewer. I am such a proud papa, sniff . . . no, no don’t sniff!

Some of the Lunar terminator craters have extremely unusal shapes, reminds me of . . . let’s not go there.

Love me some BMW motorcicles, butt the seat looks like a pain in numerous body parts.

All hail, the joy of Kayla. }:-D>

Part of the worms video (very gross, BTW) looked like it could be a close up of Horta hide.

I was gonna click on the full-size image of the lunar landscape, but then I realized it would be pointless as my monitor is nowhere near 1,400 meters wide.

Well, after looking at those “alien” blobs I will never eat Swedish meatballs again!


#19 – Don’t you mean you won’t eat Breen from the homeworld?

The nicest thing about Tech Friday is that it gives you all weekend to ponder the new technology and sciences that humanity creates or develops and ponders about.

That is why Ant Trekkie (or post 1990’s Trekker) is far more likely to help save or at at least make a better world than your drug loving or just fun loving person. People with Trek in their mind are more likely to think in the frame of what can I do that will help everyone else and who cares if it helps me and if it does it just proves that it can help all equally. As where the other frame of mind likes to think it’s got to improve me or my life first before all the losers get helped.

And on this 4th of July the one thing that the world has selfishly viewed the America as is we are the pigs and hogs since we have freedom and can take or steal every thing first. They fail to see that our freedom or any ones freedom if their leaders can stop taking from their peoples freedoms to give themselves greater power and money. The people of those places can go even farther and fast than America has, all because we have done it and blazed roads of troubled paths they now know how to travel those roads in much more safety.

America has shown what freedom can give, all any one or place on this planet if they have freedom can thus become the fore leader of this planet. America still dreams of being a leader the big problem these days is today they feel it needs to become a zero gain sum of anyone doing better can not because your gains are to be equally enjoyed by the bum in the park as you the inventor gets.

By this zero sum gain the dinosaurs that are now gone have equal right to be alive and we are doing genicide by burning up their remains in our cars. And when the next asteroid comes we have no right to protect ourselves because the dinosaurs were unable to protect themselves. To make everything a zero sum gain we must die when the next big space rock arrives.

I could go on for days on how to regain what the zero sum gain people have converted to their majic number of zero value, but most may not understand at to reach those that do understand may have no interest in coming here to a forum that is not meant to cover those topics and is far better at expressing dreams of a better future and what tools we may use to make a better future.

Just remember this 4th that even evolution has winner an losers, and those that think progrss is evil is not or ever was in the hearts of those that inspired the fireworks that you will enjoy and have enjoyed since July 4th, 1777 or for 232 years.

opps. thats A TREKKIE not the typo of Ant Trekkie.

check the picture out – its locutis in his youth!!!!!

Sorry Nasa , one of the main points of the federation and starfleet is cooperation with others , Nasa already seemly turned there back on the ISS, and now only want to work on their own for Orion.

24. Irishtrekkie… “Sorry Nasa , one of the main points of the federation and starfleet is cooperation with others , Nasa already seemly turned there back on the ISS, and now only want to work on their own for Orion.”

What? How has NASA turned its back on ISS? ISS was designed for a 15-year service life and first element launch was in Nov. 1998. Space Station operations are approved through 2015 (more than 15 years), and there is interest on both sides of the Atlantic to extend it through 2020 (much more than 15 years.) Beyond that, ISS will almost certainly start to act like Mir was in its old age… astronauts constantly fixing parts that are breaking down, instead of doing any real science. Shuttle’s retirement in 2010 leaves a big hole in US support for ISS, but hopefully only temporarily: NASA is funding two commercial vehicles (SpaceX’s Dragon and OSC’s Cygnus) to provide cargo delivery to ISS. SpaceX plans to eventually launch crews on Dragon, as well.

NASA is “going it alone” on the new Orion, true. But Orion is just the manned spacecraft part of the program, and it isn’t unreasonable for NASA to want most of Orion built in America, just as most of ATV is built in Europe and most of HTV is built in Japan. International partners are already talking to NASA about how they can participate in Project Constellation’s later objectives, including the moon base. Spacesuits, robotics, rovers, and lunar habitats are all areas where it seems likely international partners will be involved.

And remember, NASA still has a bad taste in its mouth from Pres. Clinton putting Russia in the ‘critical path’ on ISS. Bringing in Russia in 1994 was proclaimed to save the US several billion dollars and a couple of years development time, because Russia already had Space Station hardware to sell. Turns out, Russia was broke, and they couldn’t finish that hardware on time, and making the Russian hardware work with the US hardware was a lot more complicated and expensive than it looked on paper. ISS ended up being $5 billion more expensive than the last Space Station Freedom design, and first flew in late 1998 instead of Freedom’s 1996 target launch date. And because the US abandoned its own lifeboat in favor of paying Russians for their Soyuz, the US had no independent transport to ISS after the Shuttle Columbia went down, leaving the US vulnerable to whatever price and political favors Russia demands in order to get crews to a Space Station that is 75% American.

So yes, NASA is a little wary of depending on international partners for key parts of their next generation space program.

Beep, beep.

Hmmm… don’t think we’re quite ready for the good old UFP just yet. I thought a condition of entry was a stable world government, having moved beyond the virtually medieval concept of nation states…

But given that I’m English and fiercely patriotic, probably not much room for me to pass comment! :-)

I here by give Mr. Thorney the right to flog the IrishTrekkie,

You have to understand that both the US and USSR have had space experiance since 1957. And the United States basicly started the ISS to give the Euro wimps a bike with training wheels to learn how to venture into space. And if it were not for the Space Shuttle all Europe would have to brag about is the Mars probe, which needed NASA’s orbiting Mars Communications Relay Network to not lose connection with Earth due to Solar Storms.

Yes we have made mistakes and errors but that is far more likely to happen to those at the front of the line than those hiding for shelter at the back of the line. And if Europe had been at the front of the line, it’s possible they may have made even Russia’s errors look small.

If Europe had the balls they would try something new like go to an Asteroid and mine it for it’s materials and sell it to the US or USSR for their space projects. But hurry up NASA is looking to do that after we land on Mars. And in some 30 years a possible Space Elevator from a cable from Earth to an orbiting Asteroid. That means even Joe Blow with only his cell phone may one day only need street Skives to go to Mars and play Soccor (or in Euro-speak Football. you know the easy non Pig skin game).

I find it funny how the internet is getting worse and worse…. more and more useless for Non-Americans…

I wanted to see the space worms video.. and couldn’t, because I don’t live in the Us, its blocked. Whatever happened to the free exchange of ideas and information???????