Space Exploration

Starfish PrimeIt was hypothesized at the time, the radiation might provide a defensive shield above the U.S. against Soviet nukes, but aside from the light show, it ended up frying many of our satellites. The radiation took 10 years to dissipate, which made study of our natural radiation belts, the Van Allen belts, problematic during that period.

Wikipedia has a good article explaining the test and NPR has a good article and video about it from a few years ago:

Back in the summer of 1962, the U.S. blew up a hydrogen bomb in outer space, some 250 miles above the Pacific Ocean. It was a weapons test, but one that created a man-made light show that has never been equaled — and hopefully never will:

1971japanspaceencyclopedia03 Sometimes strange and wondrous things are closer than we realize. For instance, did you know that space is only an hour’s drive away, if you somehow drove your car straight upwards? Perhaps someday you will. Via

Space always seems so far away and much of it actually is. But space is actually quite close to where we are all sitting right now. The Kármán line, the commonly accepted boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and space, is only 62 miles above sea level.

A distance of 62 miles can covered by a car on the interstate in less than an hour. Stable Earth orbits are achievable at only 100 miles above the Earth, with the ISS and Space Shuttles usually orbiting at a height of ~200 miles.

DionePallab Ghosh reports on BBC News:

A NASA spacecraft has detected oxygen around one of Saturn’s icy moons, Dione.

The discovery supports a theory that suggests all of the moons near Saturn and Jupiter might have oxygen around them.

Researchers say that their finding increases the likelihood of finding the ingredients for life on one of the moons orbiting gas giants.

The study has been published in Geophysical Research Letters. According to co-author Andrew Coates of University College London, Dione has no liquid water and so does not have the conditions to support life. But it is possible that other moons of Jupiter and Saturn do …

Discovered two days ago (likely due to its small size). Reports BBC News:

The asteroid, estimated to be about 11 m (36 ft) in diameter, was first detected on Wednesday. At its closest, the space rock — named 2012 BX34 — passed within about 60,000 km of Earth — less than a fifth of the distance to the Moon. Astronomers stressed that there had been no cause for concern. “It’s one of the closest approaches recorded,” said Gareth Williams, associate director of the US-based Minor Planet Center.

“It makes it in to the top 20 closest approaches, but it’s sufficiently far away …” he told the BBC. The asteroid’s path made it the closest space-rock to pass by the Earth since object 2011 MD in June 2011.

Here’s more from

Canis MajorisFor those of you who hated this proposed Earth-centric view of our Solar System, check out this video below. (VY Canis Majoris RULES for now; Giordano Bruno would be proud …):

VY Canis Majoris is a red hypergiant star located in the constellation Canis Major. At between 1800 and 2100 solar radii (8.4–9.8 astronomical units, 3.063 billion km or 1.7 billion miles in diameter), it is currently the largest known star and also one of the most luminous known …

Is this where humankind will be living in a couple millenia? In a solar system 600 light years away spins the newly-spotted Kebler 22-b, a rocky planet with oceans covering two-thirds of…

Dan Vergano writes in USA Today: NASA hauled back loads of rocks and dust from the moon, but apparently hasn’t kept good track of those samples on Earth. The space agency has…

This could be your neighborhood. Via the Public Domain Review, think tank concepts for possible off-Earth colonies — a glorious glimpse at what could have been in an alternate reality: In the…

The U.S. government considers anyone who travels 264,000 feet above the ground as an astronaut. So, this rocket did pretty good. The video is more telling, quite the backyard project:

Led by Derek Deville, the rocketeers launched their custom-built 26 ft. (8 meter) Qu8k (pronounced “Quake”) rocket on September 30, 2011 from the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. It reached an altitude of 121,000 feet (36,880 meter) in 92 seconds, at speeds of 2,185 mph (3,516 km/h).

R. Prasad writes in the Hindu: No-fly zones will come into effect on the moon for the very first time by the end of this month! Why, even buffer zones that spacecraft…