'American Space Ninja' Back On Earth After Record-Breaking Flight

Astronaut Peggy Whitson smiles after landing in Kazakhstan, wrapping up a record 665 days in space for an American. Photo: Sergei Ilnitsky/AP

By Amy Held/NPR
Imagine more than 600 days in space; that's 21 months cruising the cosmos, or close to two years without flush toilets or pizza. On Saturday, Astronaut Peggy Whitson touched down in Kazakhstan at 9:21 p.m. EDT alongside a fellow American and a Russian in their Soyuz capsule, wrapping up a record-breaking mission. Whitson spent 288 days — more than nine months — on this latest mission aboard the International Space Station. But over the course of her career, she has been away from earth for three long-duration missions, an accumulation of 665 days — longer than any American ever and more time than any woman worldwide.

‘American Space Ninja’ Back On Earth After Record-Breaking Flight

Astronaut Peggy Whitson smiles after landing in Kazakhstan, wrapping up a record 665 days in space for an American. Photo: Sergei Ilnitsky/AP

By Amy Held/NPR
Imagine more than 600 days in space; that's 21 months cruising the cosmos, or close to two years without flush toilets or pizza. On Saturday, Astronaut Peggy Whitson touched down in Kazakhstan at 9:21 p.m. EDT alongside a fellow American and a Russian in their Soyuz capsule, wrapping up a record-breaking mission. Whitson spent 288 days — more than nine months — on this latest mission aboard the International Space Station. But over the course of her career, she has been away from earth for three long-duration missions, an accumulation of 665 days — longer than any American ever and more time than any woman worldwide.

September's Full Moon Just Around The Corner

Harvest Moon with Century Saguaro (over 100 years old) against the Santa Catalina Mountains of southern Arizona, via Randall Kayfes. By EarthSky: 

The moon turns precisely full on September 6 at 3:03 a.m. EDT, 2:03 a.m. CDT, 1:03 a.m. MDT and 12:03 PDT. That’s why we say the full moon falls on the night of September 5, for the Americas. Is this September full moon the Harvest Moon? Not precisely, but it’ll act like one.

September’s Full Moon Just Around The Corner

Harvest Moon with Century Saguaro (over 100 years old) against the Santa Catalina Mountains of southern Arizona, via Randall Kayfes. By EarthSky: 

The moon turns precisely full on September 6 at 3:03 a.m. EDT, 2:03 a.m. CDT, 1:03 a.m. MDT and 12:03 PDT. That’s why we say the full moon falls on the night of September 5, for the Americas. Is this September full moon the Harvest Moon? Not precisely, but it’ll act like one.

How Mosquitoes Use Six Needles to Suck Your Blood | Deep Look

The common house mosquito in California (Culex pipiens) can transmit West Nile virus by biting infected birds, then biting humans. (Josh Cassidy/KQED)

Seen up close, the anatomy of a mosquito bite is terrifying. The most dangerous animal in the world uses six needle-like mouthparts to saw into our skin, tap a blood vessel and sometimes leave a dangerous parting gift. https://youtu.be/rD8SmacBUcU

Scientists have discovered that the mosquito’s mouth, called a proboscis isn’t just one tiny spear. It’s a sophisticated system of thin needles, each of which pierces the skin, finds blood vessels and makes it easy for mosquitoes to suck blood out of them. Male mosquitoes don’t bite us, but when a female mosquito pierces the skin, a flexible lip-like sheath called the labium scrolls up and stays outside as she pushes in six needle-like parts that scientists refer to as stylets.

Earth's Natural Wonders | Extreme Wonders

Earth's Natural Wonders airs on WSKG-TV on August 30, 2017 at 8pm

 

Visit extreme locales — from the highest mountain to the greatest canyon — and learn how these places test their inhabitants to the limit. On Mount Everest, a Sherpa has to rope a route across the notorious Khumbu Icefall in time for the hundreds of foreign mountaineers who will arrive for climbing season. In the Grand Canyon, conservationists desperately try to ensure the survival of one of America’s few surviving condor chicks. And, on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, farmers fight pitched battles with elephants in the dead of night. https://youtu.be/EVKpixVieAQ

The "Earth’s Natural Wonders" series tells the stories of some of our planet’s most spectacular places and how they have shaped the lives of those who live there.

Not A Total Eclipse, But New York Had A Special Day Nonetheless

Ampersand Mountain Summit. photo credits: Nancy Coddington 

​New Yorkers who stayed in-state didn’t see the total eclipse of the sun on Monday. But that didn’t stop people from enjoying the moment. People gathered from all over the state to watch the solar eclipse happen in a variety of places. As Director of Science at WSKG, I had a personal interest in watching the eclipse from a unique vantage point.

Colleges Have Increased Women Computer Science Majors: What Can Google Learn?

Harvey Mudd College students Ellen Seidel and Christine Chen work on a summer research project in computer science. Photo: Harvey Mudd College

By Laura Sydell, NPR

A Google engineer who got fired over a controversial memo that criticized the company's diversity policies said that there might be biological reasons there are fewer women engineers. But top computer science schools have proven that a few cultural changes can increase the number of women in the field. In 2006, only about 10 percent of computer science majors at Harvey Mudd College were women. That's pretty low since Harvey Mudd is a school for students who are interested in science, math and technology.

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to … Interactive Biodegradable Funerary Urns?

The Bios Urn mixes cremains with soil and seedlings. It automatically waters and cares for the memorial sapling, sending updates to a smartphone app. Bios Urn

By Glenn McDonald, NPR

Earlier this summer, a modest little startup in Barcelona, Spain, unveiled its newest product — a biodegradable, Internet-connected funeral urn that turns the ashes of departed loved ones into an indoor tree. Just mix the cremains with soil and seedlings, and the digital-age urn will automatically water and care for your memorial sapling, sending constant updates to an app on your smartphone. At first glance, the concept seems gimmicky — evidently, we're running out of ideas for smart appliances. But the Bios Incubesystem can also be seen as the latest example of a gradual transformation in modern culture.

Why Do Fireflies Light Up?

Photo via Fiona M. Donnelly in Smiths Falls, Ontario. Story by EarthSky. Fireflies are sometimes called lightning bugs. Many a child has spent a summer evening chasing them. And maybe you’ve wondered – how and why are these insects able to light up?