We’re big fans of space and science here at Firstpost Tech, and when it comes to cool videos, you can’t get much cooler than some of space and science videos in 2011.

It was an historic year in space, especially with the end of the Space Shuttle era. For anyone with space dreams, it was a poignant moment.

As India and China continue to pursue their space programmes, one interesting development in 2011 has been the expansion of commercial space ventures. However, what these videos show is that even amateurs are now reaching into space with their own rockets.

As always, these are our favourites, but if you know of any great science or space videos, let us know about them in the comments.

An artist's rendering shows a planet called Kepler-20e in this handout released December 20, 2011. Reuters

1. Time lapse video from the international space station

Let’s start out with the most obvious candidates for best space video of the year. Michael Knig edited together time lapse photos taken by expeditions 28 and 29 of the International Space Station between August and October of this year. He not only edited the images together, but he also cleaned up the images a bit. The result is stunning. The sequences are all explained over the Vimeo.

2. Quantum Levitation

As Neo in the Matrix says, “Woah!” If this video doesn’t bake your noodle, I don’t know what will. The video shows the amazing effects of quantum levitation. The demonstration shows how a super-conducting magnet can be “locked in three-dimensions” using an effect called “quantum trapping”. Discovery News has a brief explanation of how this works, although if you’re like us, you still might be scratching your head afterwards.

3. Nasa’s Mars Curiosity Rover Mission

Nasa’s Mars Curiosity Rover is currently hurtling towards the red planet, and this animation shows how the mission will work. The bit that got everyone online talking is about two minutes and 18 seconds into the video when the simulation shows how the rocket crane will lower the car-sized rover to the surface of Mars. The mission was just launched on 26 November, and the latest news is that the launch was so accurate that a planned course adjustment was not necessary.

4. A hopping rocket

2011 will be remembered for the year when commercial space operations really began, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos isn’t content to remake retailing. He also has a commercial space venture, called Blue Origin. This video shows a test flight in which the rocket rises to a few hundred feet before slowing and then coming back down to earth gently, a vertical-takeoff-and-landing system. It’s pretty impressive to watch.

5. DIY extreme model rocket

After those impressive space videos, it’s worth checking out what hobbyists are doing with their extreme model rockets. Derek Deville built his own rocket, which he named Qu8k. In 92 seconds, it zooms to an altitude of 121,000 ft. On this rocket, he has attached a couple of video cameras to record the amazing flight. It’s quite something to watch. If you’re interested in high power amateur rocketry, check out Tripoli, a club with members in 23 countries around the world.

Bonus watch: A Space Shuttle tribute

We know that we said the top five space and science videos, but with the last Space Shuttle flight, we thought we’d add an end of the year bonus: A tribute to the Shuttle.

Publish date: December 22, 2011 11:28 am| Modified date: December 22, 2011 11:28 am

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