Popular science fiction of the early 20th century depicted Venus as some kind of wonderland of pleasantly warm temperatures, forests, swamps and even dinosaurs. In 1950, the Hayden Planetarium at the American Natural History Museum were soliciting reservations for the first space tourism mission, well before the modern era of Blue Origins, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic. All you had to do was supply your address and tick the box for your preferred destination, which included Venus.
Today, Venus is unlikely to be a dream destination for aspiring space tourists. As revealed by numerous missions in the last few decades, rather than being a paradise, the planet is a hellish world of infernal temperatures, a corrosive toxic atmosphere and crushing pressures at the surface. Despite this, NASA is currently working on a conceptual manned mission to Venus, named the High Altitude Venus Operational Concept —(HAVOC).
On July 4, 2016, NASA’s Juno spacecraft arrived at Jupiter traveling at a blistering 130,000 mph. Its mission — to orbit the gas giant closer than any craft had done before — was not easy.
Like Earth, Jupiter is surrounded by a field of magnetic radiation. But Jupiter’s is much, much stronger. If Juno didn’t hit a precise region at the poles where the magnetic field is the weakest in its entry, it wouldn’t have survived; the radiation would have fried the craft.
Juno hit its mark, and Scott Bolton, who leads Mission Juno, called it “the hardest thing NASA has ever done.” Since then, Juno has been completing an orbit of Jupiter once every 53 days.
In June, Juno’s mission was approved to continue through at least July 2021. After that, NASA can choose to extend the mission — or it could end it, plunging the craft into Jupiter’s gauzy atmosphere, where it would burn up. If this dramatic ending sounds familiar, it’s because last year NASA crashed Cassini, the spacecraft that orbited Saturn, into that gas giant. It was awesome.
Space is sexy and badass — and it doesn’t necessarily take a government agency to get you there.
That’s the central theme of a brand overhaul unveiled this week at the Commercial Spaceflight Foundation, a trade group for the dozens of startups in the nascent private space travel industry.
The group is hoping that the new look and a more active approach to promoting itself will attract more public attention and allow it to tap into the same awestruck regard that people tend to have for NASA.
“We want to make that that sexy, badass persona that NASA has established in the government space exploration realm is carried forward into the private commercial space industry,” says David Moritz, founder and CEO of Viceroy Creative, the ad agency behind the rebrand.
NASA’s robotic Juno probe began circling the solar system’s largest planet late Monday, ending a nearly five-year journey through deep space and becoming the first spacecraft to enter Jupiter orbit since NASA’s Galileo mission did so in 1995.
The milestone came late Monday, as Juno fired its main engine in a crucial 35-minute burn that slowed the probe down enough to be captured by Jupiter’s powerful gravity. That burn started at 11:18 p.m. EDT and ended on schedule at 11:53 p.m.
Source: NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Enters Jupiter’s Orbit After 5-Year Journey – NBC News
That giant flaming star in the sky does rotate, but moves at a much slower pace than the Earth.
It takes 24 hours for the Earth to make a full rotation, but since the sun isn’t a solid object like a planet, its rotation is harder to pinpoint.
“Since the sun is a ball of gas/plasma, it does not have to rotate rigidly like the solid planets and moons do,” according to NASA.
WHAT IS YOUR favorite space robot? How about stalwart Opportunity, still doing Martian science 11 years after its mission was supposed to end? Canadarm2 is another strong candidate: The 58-foot-long, seven-jointed robot put the International Space Station together, grappling from module to module like a slo-mo ninja warrior. Or maybe you’re more of a humanoid C-3PO fan. In that case, there’s the R5, a bipedal droid from NASA that can do all the repetitive and dangerous things that humans are too busy, bored, or susceptible to radiation to perform. Well, in theory.
Fact is, humanoid robots aren’t quite there yet. Not on Earth (witness the follies from the last DARPA Robotics Challenge), not in space. The world’s best bipedal robots have trouble doing things like opening doors, climbing out of jeeps, and walking in straight lines. That’s something NASA would like to fix, so it’s given a pair of R5s—along with $500,000 each—to two US universities with awesome robotics teams.
Could NASA be looking for funding to gear up for a trip to Mars?
Public interest in manned missions to Mars has been a fantasy for decades and is slowly becoming a reality.
Riding the wave of enthusiasm, NASA has tentative plans for missions to Mars and the asteroid belt. But with the government’s $18 trillion pile-up of debt, how will it be paid for? Perhaps by licensing the right to use technology developed by NASA to energetic new companies.
David Miller, NASA’s chief technologist, says:
“The Startup NASA initiative leverages the results of our cutting-edge research and development so entrepreneurs can take that research — and some risks — to create new products and new services.”
The phenomenon of solar flares is nothing new. We are already well aware of the 11 year solar cycle that sees this fiery cosmic show ebb and flow and this has been going on for millions of years now.
Currently, we are heading towards another solar maximum; a period that sees a spike up in the solar flare and sunspot activity. And NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory has just captured what it dubs as a graceful solar eruption.
Check It Out.
Saturn V SA-506, the space vehicle for the first lunar landing mission, is rolled out of the Vehicle Assembly Building and down the 3.5-mile crawlerway to Launch Complex 39-A. Photo: NASA
Space pioneers, super villains, and delusional architects, get your checkbooks ready. NASA is putting its Mobile Launcher Platforms up for sale, and if you’ve got the cash and a business case, you can snag one of three 4,115-ton space shuttle platforms. But you won’t be able to drive it home.
Built in 1967, the trio of MLPs were designed for the Apollo and Saturn programs, and then modified in the ’70s to support the Space Shuttle. The platforms stand 25 feet tall and measure 160 by 135 feet, with an unladen weight of 8,230,000 pounds. Add on an unfueled Shuttle, and it tops 11 million pounds.
But there’s a problem.
This collection of outer-world shots will give you a whole different perspective on life.
With the discovery of the Higgs-Boson particle unravelling so much of what was thought to be concrete in particle physics, one can only direct their attention upwards, into space, and think of what this means in terms of the universe. If just one type of particle can change the world as we know it, do we even have a chance of understanding all of the unknown? Is there even a point to NASA?