October 2012

Clouds of debris slowly growing in Earth’s orbit

With each new piece of space junk, space missions become more and more in danger.

Just a few weeks ago, on October 16th, a Russian Briz-M rocket failed and exploded while in orbit.  While no one was on board and thus there were no casualties, the explosion of the rocket does present a problem as well as bringing to light a concern for organizations seeking to further the progress of space travel.  That problem is the growing cloud of space debris that is cluttering the orbit of the planet Earth.

Just one rocket left more than 500 fragments of itself floating around the planet.  While some of these may harmlessly pass into the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up upon reentry, most of the pieces will simply continue to circle.  Since they are moving at such a high speed, they are potential threats to not only the International Space Station, but any satellite or future space mission that has to fly through them.  One small piece, moving at high velocity, can cause major damage to the complicated machinery of space craft.

Man jumps to Earth from near-space

The spirit of adventure is alive and well and pushing us to greater things

Just in case you’ve been living in a cave that’s been buried by an avalanche, thus leaving you completely without contact to the outside world, you’ve probably heard by now of Felix Baumgartner.  This is the guy who just recently ascended to the very reaches of space only so he could jump back down to the Earth again and break all sorts of records. Eight million people got a view of his jump via YouTube, making it the most watched stream in the Internet’s rather brief history.  And, of course, the man was successful in his endeavor, else we would be hearing more about his funeral than about his crazy jump.

Buddha from space

Scientists find Buddhist carving made from a meteorite.

In what has to be one of the more interesting finds in recent times, scientists have discovered that an 11th century carved Buddhist statue in fact originated from space.  This is not to suggest that aliens are Buddhists and sent their treasure to Earth or perhaps accidently dumped the statue out a garbage chute.  The Buddha is man-made, but the material it’s made from is a meteorite that crashed to the planet somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago.