Category Archives: Solar System

Five space probes leaving the solar system (for now)

As of 2019, only five space probes are leaving the solar system: Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, Voyager 1, Voyager 2 and New Horizons. The Voyagers already left the solar system and entered the interstellar space (Voyager 1 on August 25, 2012, and Voyager 2 on November 5, 2018. The others also will leave the heliosphere Notes 1 and reach the interstellar space in a few years.

All of these spacecraft are launched by NASA.

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Speed of Light – See how torturously slow it is

The speed of light is the Universal speed limit – nothing can travel faster than light. In the vacuum (commonly denoted c), its exact value is 299,792,458 meters per second (around 186,000 miles per second). In other words, if you could travel at the speed of light, you could go around the Earth 7.5 times in one second.

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Watch: How far can Voyager 1 go before we lose contact?

Launched by NASA on September 5, 1977, to study the outer solar system, the Voyager 1 is the furthest human-made object from Earth. As of January 10, 2019, the space probe is more than 13,491,481,615 miles (21,712,434,988 km) away from our home planet. It is also moving away at a speed of 38,026.77 mph (61,198.15 km/h) relative to the Sun. But, thanks to NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) Notes 1, we can still communicate with it (also with its sister, Voyager 2). But how far can Voyager 1 go before we lose communication?

The video published by the Primal Space channel below looks at how we communicate with Voyager and when it will eventually stop receiving our signals.

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Farout: the most-distant body ever observed in Solar System

Researchers discovered the farthest known object in our solar system and named it “Farout” (far-out-there). It is about 120 times farther than Earth is from the Sun (120 AU Notes 1). For comparison, the most distant planet, Neptune is about 30 AU from the Sun. At its most distant, once upon a time the ninth planet, now a dwarf planet, Pluto, can be 49 AU (7.29 billion km, or 4.53 billion miles) from the Sun. Currently, Pluto is at about 34 AU, making  Farout more than three-and-a-half times more distant than the Solar System’s most-famous dwarf planet.

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Watch: Yet Another Scale Model of the Solar System

Previously I posted articles titled “If The Moon Were Only 1 Pixel – A Tediously Accurate Map Of The Solar System” and “A Scale Model Of Solar System Drawn In The Desert And The Result Is Stunning”. Since the human brain cannot deal with the really large numbers, these articles provide amazing ways to understand how big actually our Solar System is.

Now, in his YouTube channel, The Science Asylum, physicist Nick Lucid provides yet another scale model of the solar system. A very nice video conceptualizing how mind-bogglingly big our solar system (and space) is.

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Life on the Moon? New study suggests there was a habitability window 4 billion years ago

The Moon is completely uninhabitable and lifeless today – a dusty, dry rock. It has no atmosphere, there is no liquid water on the surface, and, maybe the most important, it has no magnetosphere to protect its surface from solar wind and cosmic radiation. But, according to a new study published in Astrobiology, it may have looked quite different around four billion years ago: its surface was not as dry as it is today, and conditions to support simple life on the Moon existed twice during the early years.

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