Virgin Galactic has successfully tested their SpaceShipTwo rocket. While there hasn’t been much news about them the past couple years what with SpaceX and the like stealing the thunder with the cargo contracts with NASA, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipOne actually won the Ansari X Prize worth $10 Million for the first privately developed piloted spacecraft.
What does all this mean you may ask? Well this is one of the biggest milestones in the long and hard path for Virgin Galactic to begin providing commercial suborbital service from Spaceport America in New Mexico.
If anyone wants to take notes now, I will accept a paid trip on a Virgin Galactic flight as a present. Just sayin’.
Check out full article and a few videos on space.com
Yahoo Travel had an article the other day talking about the Mars One mission, that’s trying to put a human colony on Mars by the mid 2020′s. The only thing is, being a faithful follower of Nerditronics you already knew that because we reported about it months ago!
Over 20,000 people have submitted applications for the one way trip already! And good news is, no science or astronaut skill required! If you’re interested, submit your application and one minute video, and pay the fee. Just give us credit and you’ll get… well nothing actually but we’ll really like you.
When I first moved to Denver, Colorado from the middle of nowhere Oklahoma where I grew up, one of the first things I realized was that I no longer had a very good view of the stars on a clear night. While this may not seem like a big deal to to some, but for someone who loved to lay out in the back yard and stare up at the stars at night, not having that available without a minimum 30 minute drive was more than disappointing.
Why does this happen you might be asking? Well to put it simply, it’s light pollution. Yes, I said light pollution. Every light, especially streetlamps in towns do not do a very good job of directing light where they actually want to go, so there’s a lot of light pollution. Because everything we see is light hitting the back of our eyes, the more pollution we have the less we can see from the sky. The graphic below shows a great example of what I’m talking about. I grew up with the night sky generally being halfway between number 3 and number 5 on the picture where as now I’m between 7 and 9.
Big deal you might be saying. There has been multiple news articles stating that in numerous inner cities, when they’ve had blackouts people were actually able to see hints of the Milkyway Galaxy (most likely around number 3 on the picture) and called 911 because they had no idea what it was and thought it was smoke and thought something exploded or some other emergency.
Fear not though! BBC.co.uk reports that researches from Mexico and Japan believe they’ve developed a new LED streetlamp design that will greatly lessen the light pollution of street lamps.
Space.com reported the other day that in a new agreement NASA will now foot the entire bill to ramp up our Plutonium-238 production. Originally the bill was going to split between the U.S. Energy Department and NASA, however as NASA is the only expected user of the Pu-238 they’ve been told they’ll now foot the entire bill.
Now this may not seem like too big of a deal but keep in mind, that we as a country, have not produced any Pu-238 in over 25 years. Now this is not used for bombs, it’s the wrong type of fuel, Pu-238 is used to fuel deep space probes (Voyager 1 and 2), and even some long running rovers (Curiosity).
Since the U.S. stopped producing it’s own, we’ve been getting our Pu-238 from Russia. Our last shipment was in 2010 and we’re starting to run out. Add to this that NASA is being tasked with getting deeper and deeper into space, we’ll need more Plutonium-238 sooner rather than later. This restart will cost an estimated $75 million to $90 million.
Orbital Sciences Corp, has successfully launched a test rocket and released a dummy cargo pod payload. The rocket took off from Wallops Island on Virginia’s Eastern Shore after two previous launches were scrubbed due to a technical failure and poor weather.
This is the second company that NASA contracted to help deliver supplies to the International Space Station. Unlike SpaceX’s Dragon Capsule, that can take experiments and cargo back to Earth, the Cygnus capsule will be loaded with garbage on it’s return trip and will burn up in the atmosphere similar to the Russian, European and Japanese cargo ships do.
Space.com has an article about a few planets that were announced that are in the ‘habitable zone’ of the star, which is the area that’s just far enough from the star to be able to contain liquid water. The planets were discovered by the Kepler Space Telescope and are called Kepler-62e and Kepler-62f. Unfortunately the system is over 1200 light-years away which means we won’t be going there anytime soon.
Based on computer models the systems may be covered in continuous oceans, meaning that they’re the best chance of extraterrestrial life.
Discoverynews.com has a cool article (linked below) about a software engineer who used some of this existing software to try and create a model of what Mars would look like with oceans of water.
They used the information by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to find out where the water would most likely gather. The engineer, Kevin Gill, has done several similar models of Earth, so he applied the same techniques to the model of Mars.
Gill also used examples of climates from Earth to help render the ecology. Higher altitudes would be mostly desert where little vegetation grows and lower, cooler, wetter altitudes were rendered with most of the greenery.
Check out the article here its a very interesting read and shows us that we really know next to nothing about anything outside of Earth.
In about 10 hours (11:30pm MDT) from now the newest robotic rover will land on Mars! You can watch live on NASA TV and see the entire event! There is a ton of information on the NASA website which details all aspects of this new rover and what they plan to do with it over the next 2 years.