While remote-controlled robots are awesome and can do loads of tasks that are too difficult and dangerous for humans, there’s still the problem of time delay. The further away the robot, the longer the lag, which means that space rovers are affected most of all. By the time a warning message travels through space, one of our precious rovers could conceivably be at the bottom of a crater or a probe might be nestled in the arms of an alien (okay, that would be pretty cool). To address these concerns, the good folks at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have been working on a predictive system that will make robot space exploration faster and safer.
As we enter a new era in space travel, we are reminded of those who pioneered the initial space race, and just how historically significant their achievements were. Sadly, there is no time more suitable to reflect on the whole of someone’s life than when they have passed on, as former NASA astronaut Scott Carpenter did yesterday, October 10, 2013, at a hospice in Denver, due to complications following a stroke. He lived 88 memorable years.
As one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts chosen in 1959, Carpenter was John Glenn’s backup pilot and became the second person to orbit the Earth, replacing fellow ‘naut Deke Slayton, who was withdrawn due to medical problems. Carpenter headed out into space on May 24, 1962 in the Aurora 7 spacecraft, which orbited the planet three times, making the trip last around five hours. Incidentally, he was the first man to eat solid food in space. I’d put that plaque on my wall.
While this trip was exceptional for obvious reasons, the mission could have ended in disaster when the spacecraft overshot its planned splashdown location by hundreds of miles. While there are still conflicting arguments over why the overshoot happened in the first place, what’s agreed upon is that Carpenter handled the situation with calm expertise, and managed to live on another 50 years. The incident was captured in a 1962 strip of Charles Schultz’ iconic Peanuts.
Even though NASA has been crippled by the government shutdown, maintaining enough staff and operations to keep our ISS astronauts alive, its spacecraft continue on their missions, supporting the argument that robots and artificial intelligence are indeed smarter than humans. Today, spacecraft Juno will fly by Earth for a boost that will help it reach speeds of roughly 165,000 miles per hour as it heads toward Jupiter.
Legos are easily one of the greatest inventions in human history. That may be bit much, a bit too hyperbolic, but they are certainly one of better toys we’ve managed to come up with across our time on this rock. Over the years, inventive folk have proven time and time again that you can make damn near anything out of those little plastic blocks if you put your mind to it, from replicas of iconic landmarks to fantastic creatures, and even Star Wars paraphernalia. Since they’re so awesome, it makes sense that a fair amount of Lego creations are devoted to celebrating one of the other coolest things humanity has ever done, going into space. A new collection of photos of stellar Lego space recreations shows just how fantastic this combination can be, though they maybe not be exactly what you expect.
When you first think of Lego renderings of space related objects you’re probably thinking giant space shuttles, or that big ass, almost life sized X-Wing Fighter someone made a while back. These, however, are a little different, a little smaller in scale, though just as intricate and interesting as their larger counterparts. Lego artists Peter Reid and Tim Goddard have taken everyone’s favorite tiny plastic building blocks, and used them to recreate some of the more iconic moments from the space race and beyond.
In order to lighten the load—not intended as a euphemism—for the return home, astronauts ditched what is commonly known as their “defecation collection devices,” or emesis bags, which, as you probably guessed, are used to store human waste. And these nifty little sacks of human poo are still there, chilling on the surface of the moon. Most of us will get a ticket if we don’t clean up after our dogs at the park, so it seems a little unfair that astronauts can fling their crap around space with impunity. You have to look no farther than what happened to Dave Matthews to see the consequences of adopting a similar practice here on Earth.
Kepler-7b was, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, discovered by the Kepler telescope back when it was fully operational and in the business of spotting “candidate” planets. In fact, it was one of the first five planets identified, though it wasn’t confirmed until 2009. Like other candidate planets, Kepler-7b orbits a star, though one much larger and hotter than ours, and is often referred to as a “hot Jupiter.” This means that it shares characteristics with the giant planet, but is far hotter due to its closer proximity to its sta. 7b is also much bigger than Jupiter.