Cosmos

Category archives for Cosmos

Why did Skylab die?

Skylab came up in conversation the other day. And then I ran into Amy Shira Teitel’s video. So, naturally, a quick blog post. Skylab was brought down, ultimately, by interaction with the upper reaches of the atmosphere, which was in turn made more likely by solar activity. But, both the nature and extent of solar…

Why is Pluto not a planet?

Short answer: Pluto has only two of the three necessary characteristics to be called a planet. Pluto has not cleared its neighborhood, or orbit. But, of course, there are additional details. The simplest reason that Pluto is not a planet is that planet experts say so, and this is their job. But you may be…

Remember the last Olympics, during the parade, where instead of seeing the athletes march along grouped by country, we saw unidentifiable people who were all either taking selfies or grabbing videos of everything going on around them, but we couldn’t tell who they were because their cell phones were totally covering their faces? These days…

The Challenge of Space Flight

Suddenly and for the first time I saw Amanda as a little child wide eyed with both awe and fear, among other children some sitting on the floor, some in chairs, some standing behind desks, eyes trained on a TV monitor and their teacher as the sudden realization dawned on all of them that the…

That Orion Thing Is Great!

Watch the Orion test flight: Splashdown: Why is it great? Well, speaking as a Gemini (not my horoscope sign, but the space program going when I first gained sentience) … First, it is big, fast, cool looking. It actually looks like a rocket that might have been designed a decade before they ever actually made…

The Comet. It Sings!

Have you heard the comet singing? From the Rosetta Blog this press release: Rosetta’s Plasma Consortium (RPC) has uncovered a mysterious ‘song’ that Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is singing into space. RPC principal investigator Karl-Heinz Glaßmeier, head of Space Physics and Space Sensorics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany, tells us more. Sound_comet2 Artist’s impression of the…

Philae and Philae: Separated at birth?

Just so you know, Philae is a lander planning to land on a comet at this moment being landed on by an Earthling Spacecraft, and it is also an island in the Nile. Before the Rosetta space craft got close, we had no idea what the comet looked like. Now we do. And it looks…

Don’t forget to look up tonight!

Auroras are amazing sites because they are, of course, impossible. When Amanda and I got married a year or so ago in northern Minnesota, there was an amazing Aurora, surpassing what anyone at the wedding had ever seen in the state. Big colored curtains of light. Tonight, and over the weekend, the northern lights will…

Remember that asteroid that was supposed to pass harmlessly by the Earth on Sunday? Well, things didn’t go exactly as planned… Apparently, a meteor hit Nicaragua late Saturday night, forming a 12 meter wide crater. This would be a small chunk to make a crater that little. It has not been confirmed yet, but there…

Near Earth Object Will Be Near Earth

Phil Plait says “Don’t Panic!” and he should know because he is the Death from the Skies!: The Science Behind the End of the World which is about things hitting the earth. The object is called 2014 RC and it was discovered on September 2nd. It will arrive on Sunday. The object is about 20…