March 2012

Runaway stars and planets

 

In 1988, astronomers made an interesting prediction: Stars need not be stationary in the vastness of space.  What they theorized are referred to as “hypervelocity stars” and they travel through the galaxy at speeds of up to 1.5 million MPH.  In 2005, these predictions were justified when the first hypervelocity star was sited.  Since that time, 21 such heavenly bodies have caught the eyes of scientists and they continue to search for more.

At first, the thought of a star racing through space seems a bit odd.  Apparently these stars have their origins in binary systems which manage to wander a bit too close to the vast black hole that resides in the center of the Milky Way.  The immense pull from the black hole’s gravity rips one of the stars inward, to be absorbed, while the other is whipped about and sent hurtling through the cosmos.  They then fly through the galaxy until they reach its edge and proceed to travel into the depths of the universe.

Space Tourism Getting Closer

In an age where government-funded space programs have taken a nose dive, it may look like we are stuck here on Earth forever.  There may be hope, however, in the form of a popular movement to achieve space flight in the name of tourism.  The prospect of commercial space flight has several companies racing to be the spaceline of choice for those with enough money to take a trip into the blackness beyond the atmosphere.

People are already lining up and shelling out their $100,000 plus to reserve a spot on the first flights.  One major player, Virgin Galactic, already has 500 people signed up at $200,000 a seat, despite the fact that the first flights are at least a year or two away.

Russia Attempts to Revitalize its Space Program

Once thought to be mostly defunct, the Russian Federal Space Agency (RFSA) is looking to get back into the game of space exploration.  For the last few years, the only activity that the RFSA has been regularly involved in is giving rides to and from the International Space Station (ISS), though this may change if they have their way.  Recently, the RFSA has approached Russia’s government with a detailed plan of what they hope to accomplish during the next 20 years.

On the list of hopeful projects is the sending of probes to Jupiter and Venus, the construction of a network of unmanned stations on the surface of Mars and another manned moon landing.  While accomplishing all this, the RFSA also wishes to put their new SAR-400 humanoid space robot to the test.  The first stop for the SAR-400 is the ISS, where it will be helping with simple repairs, though its creators are hoping the robot can eventually fulfill a much greater role.

Solar Storm Activity May Play Havoc with Earthling Technologies

"Generally, solar storms are nothing to be worried about. "

The latest news from space concerns the fact that the Earth is currently undergoing the largest solar storm in five years.  While this is not considered big in comparison to what we have experienced in the past, it is still 10 times larger than what the planet has to deal with on a regular basis.  This event is nothing to panic at, however, and is simply part of the sun’s natural 11 year cycle which comes to a peak next year.