On February 6, 2018, SpaceX successfully tested Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket that the American company ever built. When lifted off, it became also the most powerful operational rocket in the world. Powerful rockets like Falcon Heavy may one day carry humans to the Moon or Mars. But there might be even more important use of powerful rockets like SpaceX’ Falcon Heavy and BFR, Blue Origin’s New Glenn or NASA’s SLS: asteroid mining.
Continue reading Asteroid Mining: We Need Powerful Rockets like Falcon Heavy
NASA’s asteroid-sampling OSIRIS-REx spacecraft captured a new Earth-Moon image on Jan. 17, 2018, from a distance of 39.5 million miles (63.6 million kilometers). Spacecraft used its NavCam1 imager to take this photo, as part of an engineering test. In the image, The Earth and the moon are just two bright dots against the vastness of black space – which reminds us Carl Sagan’s famous speech: “That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.”
Continue reading OSIRIS-REx Captures New Earth-Moon Image from 39.5 Million Miles
It took 27 years, but finally, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft beat Voyager 1’s record for being farthest from Earth while capturing images. Taken on December 5, 2017, New Horizons image of the open star cluster NGC 3532 (also commonly known as the Football Cluster or the Wishing Well Cluster) became the farthest image ever made by any spacecraft, breaking a 27-year record set by Voyager 1. But for a very short time! About 2 hours later, New Horizons broke its own record with images of two Kuiper Belt objects.
Continue reading New Horizons beats Voyager 1’s Record for being farthest from Earth while capturing images
Today (January 31), with popular terms, there was a “super blue blood moon”. It will be the first full total moon eclipse since September 27/28, 2015. What’s more, it was the first Blue Moon / Blood Moon visible from the United States since 1866.
Continue reading Super Blue Blood Moon 2018
On 15 February 2013, an approximately 20-meter (66 feet) meteoroidNotes 1 entered Earth’s atmosphere over Russia, with a speed of 19.16 ± 0.15 kilometers per second (60,000–69,000 km/h or 40,000–42,900 mph). Its mass is estimated at 7,000 to 10,000 tons, one of the largest meteoroids entered Earth’s atmosphere in the recent history. Then, at 9:20 am local time (03:20 UTC), it exploded some 20 to 30 kilometers above the city of Chelyabinsk and created a gigantic fireball (known as a superbolideNotes 1) brighter than the Sun. An estimated 500 kilotons of energy was released by the explosion. For a comparison, the “Little Boy”, the atomic bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 exploded with an energy of approximately 15 kilotons of TNT. So, the Chelyabinsk meteor’s explosion was about 33 times stronger. The shock waves damaged several thousand buildings and injured approximately 1,500 people. No deaths were reported.
Continue reading Why meteoroids explode before they reach Earth?
Philip Metzger is a physicist/planetary scientist who works on technologies for mining the Moon, Mars, and asteroids; for developing extraterrestrial spaceports; and for starting robotic industry in space. He took early retirement from NASA, where he co-founded the KSC Swamp Works. He is now with the planetary science faculty at the University of Central Florida.
Edited by Corey S Powell
Mining asteroids might seem like the stuff of science fiction, but there are companies and a few governments already working hard to make it real. This should not be surprising: compared with the breathtaking bridges that engineers build on Earth, asteroid-mining is a simple, small-scale operation requiring only modest technological advances. If anything is lacking, it is the imagination to see how plausible it has become. I am afraid only that it might not arrive soon enough to address the urgent resource challenges that the world is facing right now.
Continue reading Want faster data and a cleaner planet? Start mining asteroids
An amazing image showing both the Earth and Moon. The distance between our planet and its satellite is actually much more than many would conceptualize. It is 384,400 kilometers (about 239,000 miles) on average, but as usual, our brains cannot deal with such large numbers. Only seeing that distance makes us realize how far even the closest body in the solar system to us – and gives some clues how big is our Solar system actually. What’s more, we’ve actually been there, the humanity managed to cover that vast distance and walked on the moon!
Continue reading Earth and Moon in the same photo
Are we alone in the universe? Or are there any other “living planets” other than Earth? Until 1992, we even don’t know if there are any other planets around the other stars or not. In 1992, two Swiss astrophysicists, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz the first “exoplanet” (planet around other star than Sun). Then discoveries continued. Especially after the launch of Kepler space telescope on March 7, 2009, which is a space observatory launched by NASA to discover Earth-size planets orbiting other stars, we quickly learned that our Solar System is not a rare phenomenon at all. As of November 2017, scientists have confirmed more than 3,500 exoplanets in more than 2,700 star systems. Now, the question is: are any of these planets (or the planets waiting to be discovered in the future) harbor life? If so, how we can find out? How to tell if a planet harbors life?
Continue reading Watch: How to tell if a planet harbors life?
In September 2017, Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX has revealed a new plan to colonize Moon and Mars with giant reusable spaceships. They are ambitiously planning to send the first humans to Mars as early as 2024 to build the foundations for the first Martian city. But is Mars really the best place for humans to settle? Some scientists, like Amanda HendrixNotes 1, the American planetary scientist, thinks it’s not, and we should be looking somewhere else and colonize Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, instead.
Continue reading Living on Mars is a terrible idea, scientist say. We should colonize Titan, instead
Earth is actually a fragile and isolated rock, a “blue marble” in a vast, cold and hostile space. But only after seeing our planet from space we truly understood that. Seeing the Earth first time from a distance was a powerful experience which has changed the way we see our planet. Here are the top 10 most iconic photos of Earth from space.
Continue reading Top 10 Most Iconic Photos of Earth from Space