Search results for: "apollo missions"

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Richard Branson Says He’s Determined To Start A Population On Mars

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There have been some pretty amazing moments in space exploration these past few months, from Curiosity landing on Mars, to SpaceX becoming the first commercial spacecraft to dock with the ISS, to director James Cameron announcing plans to mind the freakin’ asteroid belt. With private companies such as SpaceX tossing their hats into the…er, space ring, commercial spaceflight has the potential to drive space exploration forward in a way that hasn’t been seen since the Apollo missions. Now eccentric billionaire Richard Branson has spoken out about his ambitious plans for the industry: he wants to “start a population on Mars.”

That’s a mighty ballsy goal, given that we have yet to even land one human on the Red Planet. Branson isn’t known for playing it safe, however, and his Mars goal is just part of an overall plan to make space travel – eventually – affordable enough that many average families will have the chance to do what only astronauts have done so far. “There are only 500 people who have ever been into space,” said Branson during an interview with CBS News. “They are the privileged astronauts … we just want to enable people to become astronauts and experience it.”

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Lunar Super Computer Could Be A Huge Help To NASA’s Space Missions

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Created in 1958, NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) has been a huge part of robotic missions outside of Earth’s orbit. The collection of antennas and communication facilities from Spain, Australia, and the US has the important responsibility of tracking robotic spacecraft beyond Earth’s orbit and has even been used to track important craft closer to home, like the Apollo missions. As important as the DSN is, though, it’s starting to show its age as space traffic seems to be growing rapidly. Now an engineer has put forth an idea that might take the load off of the current DSN while expanding its capacity. And the best part is, it provides a really good reason for going back to the moon.

In a presentation to the AIAA Space Conference last week, Ouliang Chang, from USC, presented a plan to bring the DSN into the modern age, not by upgrading the existing network, but by installing a supercomputer on the moon. According to New Scientist, Chang believes that by putting a supercomputer and some accompanying dishes in a crater near the poles of the moon’s far side, it would be able to tap into lunar ice for cooling. The lunar supercomputer would not only drastically reduce traffic on the current DSN, but it could also provide computational power for the first lunar base and even be used in conjunction with the current network to perform long-baseline interferometry, and combine multiple radio telescopes into one large telescope. With such a complicated and important piece of machinery in place on the surface of the moon, it seems like a no-brainer that a lunar base would soon follow in order to at least maintain and upgrade the equipment if for no other reason.

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NASA Time-Lapses Take Us Through The Mercury And Gemini Missions

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We’re used to seeing some pretty amazing space footage these days, whether it’s shots of Mars from the Curiosity rover, images of distant nebulae, or scenic vistas of our home planet from the International Space Station. The 21st century doesn’t hold exclusive rights on outer space beauty, however, and for proof you need look no longer than this video comprised of time-lapse footage from NASA’s Mercury and Gemini missions.

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The Moon Was A Hit And Run Accident

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For decades, scientists have accepted the explanation for the origins of the Moon involved a large Mars-sized object colliding with Earth. The result sent debris and other materials into outer space and over time it collected and coalesced into the Moon. They call this popular theory “The Big Splat,” and now there is evidence to compare the Moon’s origin to a quick hit-and-run car accident rather than a slowly moving head-on crash.

Apparently the Moon and the Earth have the same iron core. A recent analysis from the lunar samples taken from the Apollo Missions has shown very close similarities between the two. If the Big Splat Theory is true, then oxygen isotopes and isotope ratio of the metal titanium of the Earth and the Moon should be different.

Andreas Reufer, a scientist from the Center for Space and Habitability in Switzerland, has suggested that instead of a collision with a slow-moving object, a much larger and faster moving, sideswiping object hit the Earth. This new object would have lost only a small amount of material in the collision and would have continued on its way, like a hit and run car accident. This explains why the raw materials on the Earth and the Moon are so similar.

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Watch Video From The Dark Side Of Our Moon

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It’s been the title of a Pink Floyd album and a Transformers movie, but we don’t often get a look at the dark (or back) side of our moon’s surface. The side that faces us, the side with the man in the moon’s face on it, is the only one we ever see. Astronauts flew around the back side during the Apollo missions and there have been a few photos taken of it, but now thanks to NASA’s new GRAIL missions we’re getting high quality video from the dark side of the moon.

The thing is, the dark side of the moon isn’t actually dark. It gets just as much sunlight as we do here on Earth. You’ll see bright sunlight shining off the surface in the video from GRAIL below…