Tag Archives: Aliens

Some Of The Dangers Of Outer Space

Okay so everyone hopefully understands that you can’t just simply survive in the openness of outer space. That’s why astronauts are required to wear sophisticated suits to keep them safe.

There are many reasons why outer space is not naturally habitable for humans, the lack of air and extreme temperatures being just the tip of the iceberg.

But with a proper suit built to provide protection and breathable air, one can spend limited amounts of time in outer space.

NASA’s futuristic new Z-2 concept suit. Click to learn more


According to Space.com four of the most hostile elements in space are:

1. The Empty Vacuum – The vacuum force, caused by a lack of air in space, can be large and significant. If instruments are unsealed they can break apart. If an astronaut has a suit leak or damage it will be exposed and compromised.

2. Extreme Temperature/Temperature Variation – According to Space.com,

“If an astronaut’s back is facing the sun and the front is not, the temperature difference can be as much as 275°F”

That is an extreme temperature difference for just the direction that you are facing. Astronaut suits must have heavily shielded face plates to protect astronauts from the sun, as well as the capability to handle both temperature exteremes (hot and cold).

Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide takes a selfie with the Sun behind him during a mission in 2012. Click to enlarge (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Universetoday.com did a great piece called “How Cold is Space” that helped answer a few questions on how extreme the temperatures get in outer space. According to them, the International Space Station…

“…under constant sunlight can get as hot as 260 degrees Celsius (500 F). This is dangerous to astronauts who have to work outside the station. If they need to handle bare metal, they wrap it in special coatings or blankets to protect themselves. And yet, in the shade, an object will cool down to below -100 degrees Celsius (-148 F).”

3. Meteorite Impacts – Although colliding with other objects in space is rare, it is entirely possible and a legit threat. If you are within the orbit of a planet, where much of this debris gets captured, the threat is even higher.

The amount of satellites in space is growing by the day, steadily increasing the amount of “space junk” within Earth’s orbit. Aside from that, small meteorites zoom past the outskirts of space and into our ozone everyday.

The recent film Gravity touched on some of the potential dangers of space junk

4. Radiation Damage – This is one of the most significant threats in space, especially to equipment. There are several sources and forms of radiation in space which can all be harmful to human health in a large enough dose.

The main issue, however, is that this radiation can damage the finely-tuned instrumentation used by astronauts to do experiments in space. The radiation can alter and destroy data, and eventually renders almost all instruments in space useless.


NASA: “In the Next 20 Years We Will Find Out We Are Not Alone in the Universe”

The search for extra-terrestrial life has been one NASA’s most important missions in recent years. NASA has estimated that in our galaxy alone, there are 100 million planets that cold possibly host alien life.

Speaking at their Washington headquarters on Monday, NASA outlined new plans to use current telescope technology to help in the search. They also announced that they would be launching the Transiting Exoplanet Surveying Satellite in 2017 to aid in the search.

“Just imagine the moment, when we find potential signatures of life. Imagine the moment when the world wakes up and the human race realizes that its long loneliness in time and space may be over — the possibility we’re no longer alone in the universe,”

said Matt Mountain, who serves as director at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. The Institute will be launching the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018 to help in the search as well.

Mountain also added,

“What we didn’t know five years ago is that perhaps 10 to 20 per cent of stars around us have Earth-size planets in the habitable zone… It’s within our grasp to pull off a discovery that will change the world forever.”

Matt Mountain, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI)

NASA Administrator and former astronaut Charles Bolden also weighed in on the announcement:

“Do we believe there is life beyond Earth? I would venture to say that most of my colleagues here today say it is improbable that in the limitless vastness of the universe we humans stand alone.”

Read the original story from CBS News here.

Sophisticated Spacecraft: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Reusable Successful Test Flight (Video)

Last month, on May 2, SpaceX conducted a test flight of their new Falcon 9 Reusable (F9R) spacecraft. Check out the video below to see it in action.

The “rocketcams” in the video feature a shot from the nose of the rocket followed by video footage from the ground. The test flight took place in McGregor, Texas under a FAA Experimental Permit.

*The coolest part is the landing in my opinion*

This was a successful 1000m test flight of the F9R, a developing spacecraft that will have the ability to carry astronauts to and from space.

The “steerable fins” included on this spacecraft are unique and allow the rocket to carefully maneuver in mid-air to facilitate a smoother landing. These types of steerable fins have been used on smaller spacecraft by SpaceX earlier this year, but they are now incorporating them on their more important and larger crafts, like the F9R.

The successful testing of the F9R means that SpaceX may soon be sending U.S. astronauts to the ISS (right now we’re contracting Russian shuttles to launch them into orbit). Rocket development and the growth of the space industry are truly in full steam.

NASA’s Official “Tour Of The Moon” (Video)

“We will build new ships to carry man forward into the universe, to gain a new foothold on the moon and to prepare for new journeys to the worlds beyond our own.” -George W. Bush

NASA takes us up close and personal with our beloved Moon in their recently released “Tour of the Moon” video seen below…

You may know the Moon best as a satellite you see in the night sky or the landing-place of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in 1969. But the Moon is not just some gray rock or sterile desert, it is actually Earth’s closest companion.


Buzz Aldrin gazes at the American flag during his first moon walk

Since 1969 the Moon has been a key point of interest in the space industry, but the Moon was not just a focus in the 60s and 70s. In fact, just in the last six months China made their first ever lunar landing.

How, you may ask, would the Moon bring significant value at all to these agencies? The answer is that the Moon actually serves as a very valuable laboratory environment and testing ground for these space agencies.

A photo taken of the Earth from the surface of the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission

Scientists use the Moon as a stable location to do tests that require extremely controlled environmental variables (since it has very little air and virtually no atmosphere) and/or lower gravity.

Also, space agencies can practice launching and landing techniques in an environment with a much thinner atmosphere and lower gravity than that of Earth, which may prove essential for the progression of the space industry.

Check out this previous Higher Learning post, which contains a video from NASA that details NASA’s plans to put an asteroid into orbit around the moon for launching and landing testing.


NASA’s Curiosity Rover Takes Photo of a Strange Light on Mars

A photo recently captured by NASA’s Curiosity Rover has according to Space.com

“…set the Internet abuzz yet again about the possibility of life on Mars.”

Check out the photo that has created such a buzz below.

A bright flash of light appears to be visible in this image taken by the right-side navigation camera on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on April 3, 2014.
A bright flash of light appears to be visible in this image taken by the right-side navigation camera on NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on April 3, 2014.

Although many UFO advocates are loving this photo and referring to it as evidence of extraterrestrial life, the rover’s handlers have made no such claims.

According to Space.com, they believe the light most likely came from a shiny rock or from,

“super-energetic cosmic rays slamming into the CCD device on Curiosity’s right-side navigation camera”.

Regardless of exactly what caused the light, the professionals don’t think it is anything too unusual so I’ll take their word for it. 


NASA Chief Says the “Ultimate” Goal is Landing and Living on Mars

The talk about reaching and landing humans on Mars has been going on for quite a while in the space agency community. NASA has successfully landed rovers on the surface of Mars, but bringing actual people any further than the moon has still remained a challenge.

In a former Higher Learning post we covered a video interview with Elon Musk, “The Man Who May Be Leading Us To Mars”. In this interview Mr. Musk , founder of Space-X, discusses creative solutions to reaching and even possibly having people live on Mars in the near future.

In fact, this month Chief of NASA Charles Bolden said (according to Space.com)

“The ultimate thing … is to put boots on the ground on Mars, and that’s not just to do a touch and go. It’s to live there one of these days.”

One crucial step that NASA believes will bring us closer to this goal, is to capture a space rock and put it into orbit around our Moon.

According to Space.com

“The space agency is planning an ambitious mission to send a robotic spacecraft to an asteroid, bag the space rock and bring it into orbit around the moon. NASA’s wild plan to capture an asteroid and park it near the moon is only one step on the way to Mars, NASA chief Charles Bolden said Wednesday (March 26).

Although the mission is far from landing humans on Mars, it is still…

 an important step that can be used to test propulsion systems and other technology that could help humans get to Mars.”

Check Out the full article on the Mission Involving Capturing a Space Rock and Putting it Into Orbit Around Our Moon.

Z-2 Spacesuit: NASA Releases Futuristic Astronaut Suit Design Photos (Photo Gallery)

March 24th NASA released photos and information about a new futuristic suit design known as the “Z-2 Spacesuit”. The suit is one of the most mobile spacesuits ever created and is expected to be used in missions as soon as 2016 according to NASA.

The suit has a functional Buzz Lightyear like appeal and of course is equipped with a life support system. Unlike clothing the suit is not worn but rather entered into from a rear-entry hatch similar to how you’d enter a spacecraft.

Check Out the images of the Z-2 Spacesuit from Space.com.