Is the Truth in Asteroid Dust?

Is the truth in asteroid dust? Perhaps we’ll soon learn the answer. This month, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully brought asteroid dust back to Earth for the second time in history. A small asteroid doesn’t have a heated interior. Scientists believe that means that since the materials on an asteroid have never experienced that intense heat and altered, they have the “initial characteristics of the solar system.” Studying this material could lead to a new understanding of the history and development of our solar system. What Is an Asteroid It’s an irregularly shaped celestial body usually found between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. (See the illustration above.) They can be as small as pebbles or hundreds of miles in diameter. Most asteroids are rocks, but some have clays or metals in them. There are currently 1,038,96 known asteroids. Scientists believe that during the formation of our solar system some rocks and materials were “left overs.” These left overs are what we call asteroids.  How Do Scientists Study Asteroids? Astronomers have spent years observing celestial bodies like asteroids with powerful telescopes. Some scientists have been fortunate enough to work with meteorites, tiny bits of asteroids that survived the […]

It’s Not Just the Oceans that Need a Cleanup

Garbage. It’s a familiar, man-made problem. On land and in the oceans. But it’s not just the land and the oceans that need a cleanup. Garbage is an orbital problem. A Growing Problem Accompanying the September 12, 2009 NASA Image of the Day (above) was a statement. “Approximately 19,000 manmade objects larger than 10 centimeters orbit the Earth.” By 2013 NASA reported more than 500,000 pieces of space junk were being tracked. According to National Geographic, as of January 2019, more than 128 million pieces of debris smaller than 1 cm (0.4 in or approximately the  diameter of AAA battery), about 900,000 pieces of debris 1–10 cm (up to the length of a regular crayon or the diameter of drink coaster) and around 34,000 of pieces larger than 10 cm were estimated to be in orbit around the Earth. This amounts to close to 6,000 tons of materials in low Earth orbit. It’s expensive to remove space debris from orbit. And there are no international space laws that require space agencies to clean up debris in LEO. So LEO is the world’s largest junk yard. Houston. We’ve got a space junk problem. Who Tracks Orbiting Garbage? In cooperation with NASA, the Space Surveillance Network a group […]

Would You Like to be a Space Tourist?

There is getting away from it all and soon there will be opportunities for getting 240 miles above it all. That’s right. Soon you can be a space tourist. The First Orbital Vacation SpaceX says tourists will ride its rockets late this year or early next. SpaceX is the corporation behind the first successful commercial launch to the International Space Station. They are working with the space tourism company, Space Adventures. For an undisclosed price, up to four tourists will ride the Falcon 9 rocket and the Crew Dragon spacecraft to orbit the earth three times at about 250 miles up. On the Space Adventures website they also offer a flight to within a few hundred kilometers of the moon, a visit to the ISS, and a spacewalk. Cool, huh? Private Citizens in Space Seven private citizens have had adventures in space with the help of Space Adventures. Each of them spent more than 20 million each and a lot of time training before their flights. American Dennis Tito blasted off from Kazakhstan on April 28, 2001, and spent nearly 8 days on the Russian space station.  English/South African businessman Mark Shuttleworth flew Soyuz Flight TM-34 on April 25, 2002. Gregory […]