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Space edition: Earth without the Moon and the Mars Space Exploration Vehicle

Without the Moon we would have a short day, since the planet would spin faster. A day would be only 6 hours long. Also, without the Moon the tilt of Earth would vary so much that seasons would be wildly inconsistent from year to year. So, the Moon is very important.

Also, in this space edition we ask: how would you walk around on Mars in 30-40 years? Well, using the Space Exploration Vechile:

Read more about the Space Exploration Vehicle from PopSci.

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Yay. NASA is restarting supply to ISS. About time, guys! Video live NOW!

You can check now the status of the cargo which flies now to the ISS on NASA Ustream channel. The private company United Launch Alliance uses an Atlas V rocket to carry an Orbital ATK Cygnus commercial resupply spacecraft in order to get much needed cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) “following a pair of launch failures over the past year”.

It was about time that US started the reppluy mission. Until now only the Russians could send cargo up there and if they would have gone rogue, then ISS astronauts would’ve been in peril. It is always to have at least two choices when doing everything, because having two companies or states competing for the same thing will lead to better results.

Unfortunately NASA has had its funds slashed over the last decades and it struggles to make great progress with a tinier and tinier budget. Granted, they do have several hundred millions a year, but they would really need a 10 billion a year at least. Heck, I’d like to see a world in which countries like Romania can pay and fund NASA for at least 100 million a year in order to allow it to continue doing great things.

Go NASA and United Launch Alliance 😀 Once again, the private space companies are a proof of why US is the greatest country of them all.


Vsauce: messages for the future

Vsauce investigates how humanity tries to communicate with aliens. We have already send a gold platter with the Voyager missions and we have tried to explain who we are and where we are.

Nobody knows if we will ever find aliens or if aliens will find the space probes, but at least we tried. Vsauce explains the difficulties of sending a message to another culture or race when you don’t even know who they are and how they even speak. The video is totally worth your time.

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The physics of space battles

Joe Hanson, from Its Okay To Be Smart, tried to imagine a real space battle in light of physics. It turns out that a space battle would not be in any way similar to those that you see in Star Wars.

First off, you don’t hear any sound in space. Shoooo. Then, once you have a given speed, you won’t need to use the thrusters unless you change direction. Also, using lasers will make aiming hard. Using nukes would be a better idea.

In any case Joe Hanson does not remind us of one thing: if a war needs to be waged in space, be sure that the human kind will find ways to fight in there too. Several physics issues aside, a combat space shuttle would be possible even today and you could make it quite versatile. You have computers that can handle a lot of the things you would need to handle. You just need to use the joystick and push the buttons.

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Hollywood lied to us: we can live in the vacuum of space for up to 180 seconds

Hollywood is notoriously anti-scientific in many regards. How often did you head explosions in space? Pretty often. But the explosions in space sound pretty much like … You saw it: they don’t sound at all. There is no matter to transmit that sound. Hollywood, busted.

Now, to another myth: that if you land outside the space shuttle without the suit you will boil and die and become instantly a block of ice. Well, not so fast

First off, if you expel the air from your lungs then you will be still conscious for 15 seconds, then you will faint and then, if someone recovers you in 1 – 3 minutes and puts you in a pressurized cabin, then you’ll be saved. For a full minute you can stay in the vacuum of space and survive.

How is that possible? Well, first, the vacuum of space means that there is no matter that would suck the heat from you. like cold air or water does. In the vacuum of space, you lose heat via IR radiation as each one of us emits photons in the IR and heat with them. Radiating heat is a slower process than direct contact.

Worse is the fact that there is zero pressure and you can’t hold your breath. Worse than this is the radiation from the sun. After a space walk you may suffer more from radiation bruising than from the loss of air or heat.

Read more about surviving vacuum here and here too.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson about dying on other celestial bodies

If you try to live on the Sun, then you die instantly. On mercury, Venus or other planets you get to live a couple of seconds and then you die. The only place safe is still Earth. Why would you die on other planets? Let Neil deGrasse Tyson explain it to us.

Via Business Insider.

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Better images than with Hubble Space Telescope? Yes, with E-ELT.

The E-ELT, European Extremely Large Telescope, will be an engineering marvel when it will be completed in the next decade. With a main mirrors of 39 meters in diameter, it will be the biggest telescope ever built. The main mirror consists of over 700 hexagonal pieces that are 5 centimeters thick and are so flexible that they can be bent over 1000 times a second.

Due to the fact that these segments, the hexagonal pieces, can be bent in this way the telescope can adjust for the irregularities in the images dues to Earth atmosphere and it can obtain pictures far better than Hubble Space Telescope. E-ELT is a project coordinated by ESO, the European astronomy organization which also has the NTT, the VLT and now ALMA in Chile’s Paranal Desert.

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A star within a star? We finally got to see this too: a Thorne–Żytkow object

Scishow space reports that a Thorne–Żytkow object had been discovered. It is a star within a star. Basically what we have here is a star that exploded into a supernova and a neutron star remained as a result. That neutron star was then engulfed by a red supergiant from the binary system they were in and so we have a star within a star. Not even sci-fi movies could have thought of that 😀

It is about HV 2112 in the Small Magellanic Cloud and the researchers were able to tell that it is about a Thorne–Żytkow object because such objects are theorized to have certain amounts of rubidium, lithium and molybdenum.

From EurekAlert:

Past research has shown that normal stellar processes can create each of these elements. But high abundances of all three of these at the temperatures typical of red supergiants is a unique signature of TŻOs.

The Universe gets increasingly overwhelming, that’s sure!

Read more on EurekAlert.

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Phobos and Deimos, those tiny moons of Mars explained

Phobos and Deimos are the two tiny moons of Mars and, since they are way smaller than our Moon, those satellites don’t even have a spherical form. They have a potato form and are, most likely, asteroid pushed by Jupiter from the asteroid belt into Mars’ orbit.

In any case, we still could use those moons as waiting station before landing on Mars, right?

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SciShow space: secret space plane and Curiosity’s curiosity

X-37b is a space plane that flies since 2012, for 500 days in a row now, at about 175 km altitude. Nobody knows for sure what it does up there as it has no crew inside, but it is believed that it is used as a test bed for future reusable space shuttles. YAY.

On Curiosity news side, it has taken a new sample of dirt from Mars and it is trying, yet again, to see how Martian sand deposits turn into sandstone so that they can better understand how water helped the formation of other rocks. In any case, Curiosity is on its way to Mount Sharp and it has rolled about 4 kilometers since it landed in there.