The Web's best 'Happy Birthday' cards for NASA

NASA turns 50 today. On July 29, 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower signed his name to the National Aeronautics and Space Act, creating the agency that brought man to the moon, satellites to distant planets, and landers to Mars.

No NASA milestone would be complete without tons of multimedia coverage. So, to help ring in this golden jubilee, here's some of the best multimedia NASA-birthday coverage from across the web. Feel free to post your own links in the comments section below. – NASA just launched a massive, online collection of archival images, video, and audio. The free site partners with the Internet Archive to constantly update its galleries and will soon hold millions of pictures and thousands of hours of audio/visual project.

Wired's Best-Of Galleries – The snarky science-lovers at Wired rolled out three NASA picture galleries this week: The Space Suit Makes the NASA Astronaut, NASA's Most Amazing Extraterrestrial Vehicles, and NASA's Most Embarrassing Goofs. Also check out their coverage of yesterday's Virgin Galactic press conference, where Richard Branson unveiled a prototype of the White Knight Two commercial spacecraft.

BBC's Video Timeline – Digging through its archive, the BBC pulled together an eight-part series of web video clips that recounts the rise of NASA. The brief videos – a few minutes each – trace the space agency's history from Kennedy's promise to reach the moon to Bush's 2004 pledge return there after decades of astronauts venturing no more than 386 miles from Earth.

"Every space launch ever"Popular Mechanics designed an interactive graphic that tracks man's cosmic journeys launch by launch. Starting with Sputnik and reaching toward last year's German TerraSAR-X satellite launch, the timeline lets you zoom through the missions and see how far they flew. For an interesting perspective, it labels the launches by country, letting you see the wane of the Soviet space program, and the current rise of China's. Popular Mechanics also links back to the magazine piece that launched this graphic: a special look at the next 50 years of space travel.

Living on Mars ran a quirky feature on the NASA team that has set its clocks to Mars time. Since Red Planet spins on a different schedule than Earth, these scientists, which mind the Phoenix Mars Lander, need to wake up 40 minutes earlier each day. There's no multimedia component here, but it's worth a read.

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