Posts Tagged 'space'

NASA’s First Deep Space Craft is Powered Up for the First Time

This week NASA just accomplished a major milestone in its continuing mission of space exploration. For the past few years NASA has been developing a deep-space spacecraft named Orion that is designed to take humans beyond Earth’s orbit. Well NASA just powered parts of that spacecraft up for the first time. While much has been made about the retirement of the space shuttle without anything else ready to replace it, this is what NASA has been working on. NASA has been shooting people into orbit for over 50 years and the furthest away from Earth a human has ever gone was to the Moon. This spacecraft is designed to try to send people far beyond the Moon towards asteroids and Mars and progress is being made towards that endeavor.

The Orion test module is scheduled to be launched into space without a crew next year for two Earth orbits at 20,000 miles per hour about 3700 miles above the Earth’s surface. The mission of that flight is to gather data regarding how well the ship’s systems work in space in preparation for a manned flight in 2020. Though most of us are destined to spend our whole lives on the Earth’s surface, the idea of humanity traveling into deep space beyond the Earth’s gravity really excites me. It is also the only way humanity can survive for the long haul tens of millions of years from now because the sun will eventually make the Earth too hot to support life. These may be baby steps into the cosmos but it is progress that that future generations will be able to build upon to do extraordinary things that science fiction writers only dreamed about. Besides I’d love to be a shareholder in a potential Martian real estate market.

That’s what it will look like in space.

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Scientists Identify Three Super-Earths Nearby

The European Southern Observatory recently announced that they have discovered three “Super-Earth” exoplanets orbiting the star Gliese 667C. These planets are several times bigger than Earth and closer to their star but the star that they orbit isn’t as hot as our sun, which allows for liquid water to exist on its surface. These planets right now represent the best possible hope for humans to colonize another planet outside of our solar system due to their solid crust and them being in their star’s “Goldilocks zone”. We can’t tell whether or not the planets have large amounts of liquid water or if they have an atmosphere we can breathe from here but they have that potential. Though in in cosmic terms these planets are close to our sun, at 22 light-years away don’t expect us to be sending any people over for a closer look soon. A spacecraft traveling at the speed that Voyager 1 is moving would take about 382,000 years to reach these planets and Voyager 1 is the fastest moving spacecraft ever made by humans.

Still the best long term hope for the continued survival of humanity is to colonize outer space. No matter what we humans do, the continued warming of the sun will make the Earth too hot to support life in about a billion years and the only way for humans to survive that fate is to colonize other planets in outer space. We just made one of the first steps towards that reality by finding three potential planets that our descendants can eventually colonize and that is incredibly exciting.

They’re orbiting that big star in the middle

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