May 2012

Young students proving to be the future of space travel

Children are the hope for the future.  No saying holds more truth when it comes to the field of space exploration, as a 19-year-old Egyptian student by the name of Aisha Mustafa has recently proven.  She is a student at the Sohag University who has been playing around a bit with all sorts of science that is way too complicated for me to understand, but in the end she managed to potentially develop the next phase in spacecraft propulsion.

The new propulsion device that Mustafa developed involves using theories of quantum physics combined with some more traditional methods of moving about.  Her system apparently takes advantage of particle reactions that occur within a vacuum to cause movement with virtually no energy input.

SpaceX and NASA Making History

The Cooperation of Government and Private Industry in Space Exploration

The launch of space technology company SpaceX’s Dragon capsule this Saturday will make history by rocketing (no pun intended) the field of space exploration into the next phase - that of government and private industry cooperation.  This will be the first flight of its kind, using a private company to move cargo to the International Space Station.  Though this flight is only a test run, if successful it will clear the way for SpaceX to complete 12 more such flights in the next few years, acting as a private contractor to perform duties that NASA had previously outsourced to other countries’ space programs.

Spitzer Space Telescope Reveals More Mysteries of Far-off Planet

Space exploration saw a huge breakthrough recently which may herald a new age of being able to examine planets light-years away from our own.  The NASA Spitzer Space Telescope detected, for the first time ever, light coming off of a super-earth planet 41 light-years away.  Though the planet was discovered back in 2004 and is known to not be habitable, being able to see light coming from it has allowed scientists to gain understanding of the planet’s composition and temperature.

Until now, the way that super-earths were discovered and studied relied on them passing between their parent star and the earth, so that a shadow of the planet could be seen.  Now, there is a whole new way to learn about them and study their atmospheres.

Transit of Venus a unique event that is not to be missed

June 6th brings with it a huge event for all stargazers in the world.  A transit of Venus across the face of the sun will make it visible for a short time from Earth.  The last time this happened was recently, in 2004, though the next time will be in December of 2117 - a long time in the future and well beyond the lifespan of a human being.

The best places to view this unique happening is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, though unless you have an island retreat, it’s unlikely you’ll get such a front row seat.  The transit can be seen from anywhere in the world beside South America and West Africa, at least in part.  The entire process takes around six hours.  Where you happen to be will determine which part of it is visible and for how long.

It may not be the biggest and most spectacular event in the cosmos, but it is definitely one of the rarest.  Those who are dedicated to watching the skies should not miss this once-in-several-lifetimes opportunity.