Space

Here’s what our solar system looks like while flying through space.

We know that planets revolve around the Sun but did you know the entire solar system is moving through space? The Sun and the entire solar system orbit around the center of the Milky Way galaxy at a speed of about 500,00 MPH. If we take into account the movement of the solar system, the planets movement around the Sun looks more like the animation above.
Tell me more Reeko! »
Space

Here’s what a flame looks like in space, where there is no gravity.

How a flame burns in space When a flame burns on earth, heated gases rise from the fire, drawing oxygen in and pushing combustion molecules out. As the flame burns, it heats the air around it and causes it to expand and rise upward. Denser air sinks downward to fill the void. The process continues in a sort of loop. This upward rising of air is what causes the classic teardrop shape we see in a candle flame. In microgravity however, hot gases do not rise. Air pretty much remains unmoved in all areas around the flame. So an entirely different process, called molecular diffusion, drives flame behavior and gives it an unusual round appearance. Since no flow of air replaces the oxygen that is…
Tell me more Reeko! »
Space

NASA announces its next mission “Dragonfly” – will explore Saturn’s moon Titan with a drone-like lander.

As part of NASA’s New Frontiers program, they have selected their next mission – a drone-like lander that will explore the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan. The Dragonfly mission will send a dual-quadcopter to the surface of Titan. About every 16 days it will fly tens of miles above the surface for about an hour before stopping to rest and recharge. During these “hops”, Dragonfly will sample the moon’s surface material and observe its weather patterns. The Huygens probe (carried by Cassini) was the first to give us a good view of the moon’s surface. It was found that Titan had a thick atmosphere and liquid methane coverings its surface. This interested NASA scientists who have been longing to send a lander to the moon…
Tell me more Reeko! »
Space

For the first time, scientists have captured a picture of a black hole in space and it’s amazing!

Astronomers have done what was thought to be impossible – they captured the unseeable, a picture of a black hole, an object so dense, nothing, not even light, can escape it. The photo was taken by scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The picture of the black hole shows a lopsided ring of light surrounding a dark circle – the black hole itself. The black hole is in a galaxy known as Messier 87 in the constellation Virgo. The black hole is 55 million light years away from earth. That is so far, if you hopped a ride on the Space Shuttle, it would take you 20,450,000 years to reach it. Here's what messier 87 looks like through a telescope. To capture the image…
Tell me more Reeko! »
Space

NASA launches fastest manmade object in history – Parker Solar Probe will travel more than 400,000 miles per hour and “touch” the Sun!

It hasn’t made it into the popular news channels much which is puzzling (and sad) because the device, and its mission, is so very, very cool. On August 12, 2018, NASA will launch the Parker Solar Probe, a car-sized spacecraft with a mission to examine the Sun’s corona. It’s no small feat and will require the probe maintain speeds of 430,000 miles per hour as it whirls around the sun. The Polar Solar Probe is an attempt to unravel some of the mystery around the Sun’s corona, that layer of hot plasma that floats millions of miles around the sun. The corona is the source of the Sun’s solar wind and is what causes the beautifully, colorful aurorae in the Earth’s magnetosphere. Parker's mission is…
Tell me more Reeko! »
Space

Scientists discover earth-like planet in Alpha Centauri star system – say hello to Proxima-B!

  Astronomers say it’s the most exciting thing since Childress’s 2003 Anti-Gravity Handbook (which they claim is impossible to put down) – the discovery of a new earth-like planet creatively named Proxima-B. It’s an incredible discovery because Proxima-B is roughly the same size as earth, the same mass as earth, and orbits a star in the habitable zone (the distance from the star which allows liquid water to exist). This of course means, yes, little green aliens! Proxima-B’s star, Proxima Centauri, is part of a triple-star system called Alpha Centauri and is the closest star to Earth. The three stars in Alpha Centauri include Alpha Centauri A, Alpha Centauri B, and Proxima Centauri (the star Proxima-B was found orbiting around). You can see Alpha Centauri in…
Tell me more Reeko! »
Space

NASA satellite captures comet plunging into Sun at a mind-boggling 373 miles per second!

A sungrazer comet (technically known as Kreutz sungrazers) crashed into the sun on August 4, 2016 and lucky for us, the entire event was captured on video by NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). Analysis of the video shows the comet plunged into the sun at a mind-boggling 373 miles per second! That’s million miles per hour! At that speed, you could drive completely around the earth in about a minute. Kreutz sungrazers are fragments of larger comets, called Kreutz comets, that have broken apart as they neared the sun. When the sun pulls these smaller fragments toward it, they accelerate until eventually, they are vaporized by the intense forces near the sun. Kreutz comets travel around the sun on a path called the Kreutz…
Tell me more Reeko! »
Space

Amazing gravitational waves discovery – what they are and why they’re so important

In 1916, Albert Einstein predicted that any event that disturbs spacetime will produce ripples that spread throughout the entire Universe. He called these ripples gravitational waves. This week, one hundred years after Einstein’s prediction, scientists revealed they had finally detected gravitational waves. The discovery being called the greatest scientific advance this century.  Here’s how they did it and why the discovery is such a big deal. What’s all this mumbo-jumbo about gravitational waves and spacetime? In scientific geek-speak, gravitational waves are disturbances in the fabric of spacetime. If you drag your finger through a bowl of water, you will notice waves follow the path of your finger and ripple outward towards the edge of the bowl. Einstein predicted that the same thing happens when a heavy object…
Tell me more Reeko! »
Space

The Mars Curiosity rover happily whiling away its time working in the sand

This past week, NASA's Curiosity rover spent quite a bit of its time happily playing in the sand – on Mars.  In December 2016, Curiosity reached a new frontier on Mars – the Bagnold Dunes.  The dunes are located on the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp (officially given the rather geeky name, Aeolis Mons), a mountain at the center of the Gale Crater, and feature a landscape unlike anything Curiosity has come across before.  In fact, in some photos, the sandy dunes and mountainous Mars terrain in the background look quite earthly.   Here is Curiosity earlier in the year.  You can see the dunes in the distance as Curiosity makes it way toward them.   The dune to the left of Curiosity is Namib…
Tell me more Reeko! »
Space

China’s Yuto rover sends back remarkable hi-def, full color pictures from Moon

China's Chang'e 3 lander and its little companion rover, Yutu, have sent back a set of truly remarkable pictures of the Moon's surface – all in full color and hi-def resolution!  These are the first photos taken from the surface of the moon in nearly 40 years. On December 23, 2013, the Chang'e 3 lander sent back this four-segment mosaic of Yutu (which means "Jade Rabbit" in Chinese) as it set off to study the Moon.     Chang'e 3 landed in a lava-filled crater, Mare Imbrium, the largest basin on the moon's near side.  In 2014, Chang'e 3 sent back this mosiac showing Yutu's seemingly willy-nilly tracks as it trekked across the surface of moon.     Here's what the rocks on the moon look…
Tell me more Reeko! »