Tag Archives: Space.com

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.

 

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Just In: This Morning An Asteroid About The Size Of A City Bus Buzzes By Earth Closer Than The Moon

An asteroid about the size of a city bus buzzed by Earth earlier today (May 3, 2014). The asteroid came closer to the Earth than the moon, but fortunately did no damage.

Asteroids flying by Earth is not totally uncommon, in fact it actually happens quite a bit. The combination of the distance from Earth and the size of the asteroid are what made this asteroid such a potential threat.

According to NASA’s Asteroid Watch project based at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif…

“The asteroid is about 25 feet (7.6 meters) wide… It made its closest approach to Earth at 4:13 a.m. EDT”

It is hard to tell exactly what the damage would have been from a collision with an asteroid about this size. Here at The Higher Learning we have covered many posts that are asteroid related, from posts about asteroid mining to posts about the threat of asteroid collisions to earth.

Fortunately in this case no collision took place, so no damage was done. According to Space.com

“The newly discovered asteroid 2014 HL129 came within 186,000 miles (299,338 kilometers) of Earth when it made its closest approach on Saturday morning, which is close enough to pass between the planet and the orbit of the moon. The average distance between the Earth and moon is about 238,855 miles (384,400 km).”

The asteroid has been named Asteroid 2014 HL129 and was discovered by scientists only days before its close encounter to Earth. According to Space.com

“Saturday’s close shave by asteroid 2014 HL129 came just days after its discovery on Wednesday, April 28, by astronomers with the Mt. Lemmon Survey team, according to an alert by the Minor Planet Center, an arm of the International Astronomical Union that chronicles asteroid discoveries. The Mt. Lemmon Survey team scans the night sky with a telescope at the Steward Observatory atop Mt. Lemmon in Arizona’s Catalina Mountains.”

You can view a video animation of the asteroids orbit around the sun to see just how close asteroid 2014 HL129 came to colliding with Earth here. 

NASA scientists and researchers around the world are constantly monitoring the skies for potentially dangerous or threatening asteroids. Space agencies around the world are united with the common goal of locating these threatening asteroids and providing solutions to protect Earth and mankind from dangerous collisions.

Check Out the full story from Space.com here. 

 

How Old Do You Think Our Planet Is?

Ever wonder exactly how old our planet is? Well, according to Space.com…

Scientists have calculated that Earth is 4.54 billion years old

For a comparison the Milky Way galaxy that holds our solar system is is determined to be 13.2 billion years old and the universe as a whole is determined to be 13.8 billion years old.

Scientist have determined the age of our planet by using several different methods of research. These methods include observing and studying other bodies in our solar system as well as rocks on our planet’s surface.

According to Space.com

The oldest rocks on Earth found to date are the “Acasta Gneisses” in northwestern Canada near the Great Slave Lake, which are 4.03 billion years old. Rocks older than 3.5 billion years can be found on all continents. Greenland boasts the Isua Supracrustal rocks (3.7 to 3.8 billion years old), while rocks in Swaziland are 3.4 to 3.5 billion years. Samples in Western Australia run 3.4 to 3.6 billion years old.”

Check Out the full story to see how we determined the age of our planet here!

 

NASA Astronaut Talks Sochi Winter Olympics From Space (Video)

On Jan. 31st, Space.com’s Miri Kramer (@MiriKramer) interviewed NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio about the Sochi Winter Olympics. Did we mention Rick was aboard the International Space Station?

It is funny to hear Mr. Mastracchio talk about betting food rations with the Russians over a potential hockey match-up. I think it just shows how far we have come, a man or woman can discuss a current topic with us here on Earth from space like its NBD (no big deal).

Not  only are the 2014 Sochi Olympics being discussed in space, but the actual Olympic Torch was brought to space. The torch was brought to space in November 2013 and held by fully suited astronauts outside of the Space Station in the openess of space (the torch was harnessed for safety of course).

Check out the video below to see the Olympic torch travel from Earth to Space! Credit: NASA and Space.com

Planet 11 Times the Size of Jupiter Discovered

A planet known as HD 106906 b has recently been discovered. The planet is 11 times the size of Jupiter and it circles its star at a distance that is 650 times the average distance between Earth and the sun. This planet is not only possibly the largest planet ever discovered, but it also breaks the record for most distance between itself and its parent star. Astronomers are amazed by the scale of this new discovery and new questions have risen. Researchers are wondering how worlds this large and with such a distant orbit can form at all. Space.com provides the full story