Latest StoriesScience
    Tested Arctic: A Short Film

    Last summer, Tested joined Astronaut Chris Hadfield and a team of photographers, filmmakers, and writers on a two-week expedition into the Canadian high Arctic. Tested Producer Joey Fameli brings you along our journey and recounts the incredible sights, encounters, and emotions felt on this trip to one of the most remote places on Earth. Written, shot, and edited by Joey Fameli

    Examining Boeing’s New Starliner Spacesuit

    Boeing recently unveiled the suit that astronauts will be wearing when they ride their upcoming Starliner capsule to the International Space Station (ISS). Officially called the Starliner Ascent and Entry Suit, it also answers to "Starliner spacesuit". Aside from its bold "Boeing blue" color, the Starliner spacesuit has numerous features worth noting. It is quite different in several ways from any suit that astronauts have ever worn before. These differences reflect an emphasis on mobility and comfort, efforts to blend the suit with its host spacecraft, and the specific emergency scenarios that the suit is designed for.

    The Basics

    The most important thing to understand about the Starliner spacesuit is its role an "ascent and entry" suit. As such, it is only designed to be worn during launch and landing of the spacecraft. You won't see astronauts spacewalking in this suit (at least not for long!). The primary function of an ascent and entry suit is to keep the occupant alive if there is a problem inside the crew compartment during launch or landing. The scenarios with the highest probability (though still relatively unlikely) are loss of cabin pressurization or an internal fire.

    Before getting to the specifics of the Starliner spacesuit, let's discuss the attributes of ascent/entry suits in generic terms. Previous generations of these suits have been derived from the pressure garments worn by pilots of high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft like the U-2 and SR-71. In some cases, the differences were negligible. Whether worn in an airplane or a spacecraft, the job such a suit is to provide its occupant with a tolerable atmospheric pressure, even when the outside pressure conditions are lethal.

    Adam Savage's Apollo A7L Spacesuit Replica!

    Adam gives a tour of his Apollo A7L spacesuit replica, made by industrious suit builder Ryan Nagata. The attention to detail and fabrication techniques make this suit one of Adam's favorites in his collection. You may have seen Adam wear this spacesuit in the final season of Mythbusters!

    Tested in 2016: Kishore's Favorite Things!

    Our science lead Kishore shares his favorite things of 2016! Unsurprisingly, his list is filled with some science-themed recommendations, but Kishore also has a few book picks and one piece of technology that's changed his home life.

    Tested: Stalling and Rolling in a Biplane!

    Since Battlefield 1 came out, we've been in awe of some of the amazing stunts pilots are able to achieve in-game. To see if these manuevers would actually be possible and learn more about how World War 1-era biplanes worked, we jump into a biplane ourselves for a thrilling lesson in stunt aeronautics! (A huge thanks to Hoagy de la Plante for taking us up in his biplane!)

    Photo Gallery: Tom Sachs' Space Program Europa

    After taking part in Tom Sachs' Space Program: Europa mission (in charge of Special Effects, natch), Adam takes us through the exhibit currently on display at San Francisco's YBCA. Here are photos of some of the pieces in the exhibit, featuring Tom's signature build style and obsession with NASA's missions and operating procedures.

    Tested Mailbag: Simone's Space Camp Jumpsuit!

    Simone returns to the Tested office after a few weeks of travel to find this awesome mailbag package from a fan. Its contents combine some of Simone's favorite things. Plus, her first tasting of Astronaut ice cream! Thanks so much to Carley Hansen-Prince for sending this mailbag!

    The Unconventional Ideas Behind National Geographic’s MARS

    Tonight is the premiere of MARS, a new weekly television series on the National Geographic Channel about our neighboring planet. In a departure from the documentaries that we've come to expect from Nat Geo, this series is part documentary and part dramatization. The scripted element follows an international crew during its Mars mission in the year 2033.

    The show's producers claim that the storyline is based on our best guess at what a Martian mission would look like. Many elements seen on the screen, whether it's the vehicles, spacesuits, habitats, mission objectives, and even our motivation for travelling to another planet, are reflections of the ideas of the current-day Mars exploration advocates who were consulted for the show. Sound bites from these advisors make up the documentary elements of MARS. Many of the faces will be familiar to you, such as Elon Musk, Scott, Kelly, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Jim Lovell, and Andy Weir.

    I've watched the first two episodes of MARS and found them enjoyable. I'm easy to please when it comes to documentaries, so that aspect was a slam dunk. At the same time, I'm a harsh critic of space-based dramas. Although I thought the pace of the storyline was a bit slow, it avoided my usual gripe about these types of stories: too much suspension of disbelief. I don't recall many instances where I pointed at the screen yelling "No way! That's not how it works!" The producers did their homework.

    While the dramatic and real-life aspects of the show complement each other, I think that either could stand on its own as well. I won't offer any spoilers here, as I'm sure many of you already have plans to watch tonight's episode. However, I thought it would be interesting to delve into the unique thinking within the book (and TED talk) that inspired the show, Stephen Petranek's How We'll Live on Mars.

    Adam Savage's One Day Builds: NASA Spacesuit Parts!

    Adam dons his replica Apollo-era spacesuit, made by replica spacesuit builder Ryan Nagata. As part of their ongoing collaboration, today's One Day Build entails milling parts for the spacesuit, including a radiation dosimeter and aluminum knobs. But all doesn't go right as Adam has to overcome a maker's slump.

    Features Not Standard: Weather Balloon Launch and Recovery!

    Tested's science editor Kishore Hari teams up with Stanford engineers to launch a weather balloon to photograph Earth from the edge of space. Adam helps Kishore design a balloon payload that pays tribute to space capsules, and the team utilizes the Honda Ridgeline to set up their midnight launch and thrilling retrieval. #sponsored #featuresnotstandard #HondaRidgeline

    An Interview with Astronaut Clayton Anderson

    One of the biggest perks of my time working at NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL) in Houston was the opportunity to mingle with a large portion of the astronaut corps. There was always a steady stream of folks in blue jumpsuits who came to the NBL to train for spacewalks. Other space flyers were poolside in supporting roles. It didn't take much time working with the astronauts to figure out that they do not fit a rigid mold. Sure, all of them that I met were extremely smart people and habitual overachievers. Beyond that, they were subject to the same variables that you would find in any other group of humans.

    Clayton Anderson was an astronaut for 15 years. He spent 167 days in space and logged nearly 40 hours of spacewalking time.

    They Are Only People

    Some astronauts were laser-focused on the tasks ahead, while others seemed to take a more relaxed approach. Many were silly jokesters, but a few were more solemn. The vast majority of astronauts were gracious and easy to work with.

    I think I speak for most of my NBL colleagues when I say that Clayton Anderson was one of our favorite astronauts to have around. He was always quick to shatter any illusions of rank with a self-effacing joke. The next minute, you might find yourself the target of a publicly-delivered, yet good-natured verbal jab from Clay that made you feel like part of his inner circle. Even in such a lighthearted atmosphere, the work never suffered. That was critical, since underwater training at the NBL is full of deadly hazards. Working with Clay convinced me that you don't have to be stuffy to be a perfectionist.

    I was completely flummoxed when a few of my colleagues from the Mission Control Center (MCC) told me that Clay's reputation among flight controllers wasn't nearly as rosy as his NBL image. Some of NASA's "console jocks" felt that he was a troublemaker and difficult to work with. I later learned that there were widely differing opinions of Clay even among his comrades in the astronaut corps. I was never able to reconcile the negative things I heard about Clay with my positive personal experiences working with him. Sometimes I wasn't even sure that we were talking about the same person!

    Imported Warbirds: Appreciating the Nanchang CJ-6

    For many airplane enthusiasts, the term "warbird" invokes images of P-51 Mustangs, T-6 Texans and other American-made military classics. There is also a wide variety of lesser-known foreign aircraft that satisfy the warbird distinction. These metric machines have found favor with many American owners who appreciate the non-traditional attributes that only an imported warbird can provide. I recently spoke with the owner of a foreign warbird to better understand the benefits and challenges that these airplanes offer.

    Flying For Good

    Kimberly and Bill Mills are the driving forces behind Mills Aviation Charities (MAC), which provides scholarships for college students pursuing aviation-oriented degrees. A large part of the organization's outreach efforts involves flying its aircraft at various public events. I visited the organization's hangar in Florida to get a closer look at one of those airplanes, the Nanchang CJ-6.

    The Nanchang CJ-6 is a Chinese military trainer that has found favor with civilian owners due to its ruggedness and affordability. (Chris Dilley photo)

    The CJ-6 is a 2-seat, single-engine trainer that formerly served in the Chinese military. Now that it is a civilian airplane, the Mills' colorful Chinese warbird is one of the most photographed of the American-owned CJ-6s. The couple can be found in the MAC CJ-6 performing in airshows and flyovers across many states…often in formation with other CJ-6 owners. They even host an annual airshow at their home airport in Palm Coast, Florida.

    If you fancy yourself an airplane aficionado but, you're not familiar with the CJ-6, don't feel bad. I felt the same way when I first stepped into the MAC hangar. I walked out with a much better understanding of the airplane and why it's so appealing to private owners.

    Tested: The Best Ways to Sear a Steak!

    Summer is here, and it's time for some food science! We team up with Serious Eats' Managing Culinary Director J. Kenji López-Alt (and the author of James Beard Award-winning cookbook The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science) to test for an ideal way to sear a steak. Adam and Kenji discuss some misconceptions about steak searing, and test four searing methods at different temperatures.