Space porn: These images are (quite literally) out of this world
The acronym for the NSA’s secret elite hacking unit — the Tailored Access Operations unit — is TAO. The Chinese concept of Tao (“way” or “path”) is oddly appropriate in describing the shadowy activity of the special unit, revealed by Edward Snowden’s leaks, that works to find paths into tough-to-access computer and data systems.
Der Spiegel reported on the elite hacking unit Sunday, based on documents provided by Snowden. As the Guardian noted on the latest revelation:
The [Spiegel] magazine portrayed TAO as an elite team of hackers specializing in gaining undetected access to intelligence targets that have proved the toughest to penetrate through other spying techniques, and described its overall mission as “getting the ungettable”.
As well as stealing data and inserting undetectable back door spying devices into computer systems, TAO reportedly intercepts package deliveries of laptops ordered online in order to install spyware on the devices. In the spy agency’s “inderdiction” (which technically means authoritative prohibition, but the government has long played fast and loose with terminology), packages are diverted to secret warehouses, carefully opened and tampered with, then sent on their way again.
The document provided by Snowden dates back to 2007, which should give pause about TAO’s possible capabilities today. The ancient notion that the Tao is in everything has never been so frightening.
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email email@example.com.More Natasha Lennard.
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.