Space porn: These images are (quite literally) out of this world
A short burst of hail and sleet falling from a cloud over San Diego has caused delays on the subway. Bad organization through social media means that my team exercise drill has been cancelled. It’s actually a relief as I’ve been feeling sick after eating some pork that had a worm in it.
These three sentences may sound odd for a number of reasons. First, there is no subway in San Diego. Second, even if there were one, the chances of its being affected by hail or sleet would be minuscule. (I’m not even going to go into why I might be eating pork with worms in it.) However, the main reason these few sentences are peculiar is that they contain 17 (seventeen!) keywords that will be picked up by government analysts monitoring social media and online news outlets. Believe it or not, what they’re trolling for are signs of terrorist attacks and other threats to the U.S.
A recent Freedom of Information request has forced the Department of Homeland Security to release the keywords and phrases it uses to patrol the web for domestic and external threats. The list contains obvious terms like “dirty bomb,” “assassination” and “Al Qaeda,” but also includes such broad and ambiguous terms as “Mexico,” “agriculture,” and “wave”.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center – the watchdog group that filed the Freedom of Information request—pointed out that the list of keywords includes “vast amounts of First Amendment protected speech that is entirely unrelated to the Department of Homeland Security mission to protect the public against terrorism and disasters.”
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins
On December 28, 2013, Expedition 38 crew member Mike Hopkins participating in the second of two space walks to replace a degraded pump module on the International Space Station. (NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio is reflected in his helmet!)
The Soyuz TMA-10M
The Soyuz TMA-10M headed towards the International Space Station with crew members from Expedition 37 onboard.
40 years ago the Apollo 8 mission flew up to the moon, orbited it ten times and then returned to Earth. This picture was taken from that flight and shows the Earth as it seemingly rises in similar fashion to a sunrise.
Sunrise from Expedition 36
NASA Flight Engineer Karen L. Nyberg of Expedition 36 took this photo of the sun rising -- a sight they saw nearly 16 times per day due to the speed of the International Space Station's orbit around the earth.
A pair of NanoRacks CubeSats -- nanosattelite spacecrafts carrying experiments -- were launched by Expedition 38.
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