The International Space Station

April 23, 2008

The International Space Station (ISS) is a research facility currently being assembled in space. The on-orbit assembly of ISS began in 1998. The ISS has been continuously inhabited since the first resident crew entered the station on November 2, 2000, thereby providing a permanent human presence in space. Early crew members all came from the Russian and U.S. space programs. The ISS was also the destination of the first five space tourists. At an estimated cost of $157 billion for the ISS project from its start until the program will end in 2017, the ISS is the most expensive object ever built by humankind. This is dwarfed by the price of the Iraq War with the total cost to the U.S. economy estimated at $3 to 5 trillion in five years.

Site – http://en.wikipedia.org


The Arthur C. Clarke Gamma Ray Burst?

March 28, 2008

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Larry Sessions, a columnist for Earth & Sky, has suggested in his blog that the gamma-ray event whose radiation reached us a few hours before Arthur C. Clarke died, and which occurred 7.5 billion light-years away, be named the Clarke Event. Even the faintest stars visible to the eye are merely hundreds or thousands of light-years distant, all well within our own Milky Way Galaxy. But staring toward the northern constellation Bootes on March 19th, even without binoculars or telescope you still could have witnessed a faint, brief, flash of light from this gamma-ray burst. The source of that burst has been discovered to lie over halfway across the Universe. The Gamma Ray Burst now holds the distinction of the most distant object that could be seen by the unaided eye and the intrinsically brightest object ever detected, the cosmic explosion is estimated to have been over 2.5 million times more luminous than the brightest known supernova.

Site – http://science.slashdot.org


Endeavour on way to international space station

March 13, 2008

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In a rare middle-of-the-night launch, the shuttle blasted off with an almost blinding flash. But the darkness meant fewer pictures than usual to look for signs of possible damage to the spacecraft during the climb to orbit. NASA knew the nighttime launch would come at a photographic cost. But past successes at preventing the shuttle’s fuel tank from losing big chunks of foam insulation during liftoff and the accuracy of heat shield inspections convinced managers the night launch was a good choice. Putting together Dextre, the robot, will be one of the main jobs for the seven Endeavour astronauts, who are scheduled to blast off in the wee hours of Tuesday, less than three weeks after the last shuttle flight. They’re also delivering the first piece of Japan’s massive Kibo space station lab, a float-in closet for storing tools, experiments and spare parts. For the first time, each of the five major international space station partners will own a piece of the real estate. At 16 days, the mission will be NASA’s longest space station trip ever and will include five spacewalks, the most ever performed while a shuttle is docked there. Three of those spacewalks will feature Dextre, which is sure to steal the show.

Site – http://www.cnn.com

Site – http://www.physorg.com


Astronomers vie to make biggest telescope

February 8, 2008

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A telescope arms race is taking shape around the world. Astronomers are drawing up plans for the biggest, most powerful instruments ever constructed, capable of peering far deeper into the universe — and further back in time — than ever before.The building boom, which is expected to play out over the next decade and cost billions of dollars, is being driven by technological advances that afford unprecedented clarity and magnification. Some scientists say it will be much like switching from regular TV to high-definition. In fact, the super-sized telescopes will yield even finer pictures than the Hubble Space Telescope, which was put in orbit in 1990 and was long considered superior because its view was freed from the distorting effects of Earth’s atmosphere. But now, land-based telescopes can correct for such distortion. Just the names of many of the proposed observatories suggest an arms race: the Giant Magellan Telescope, the Thirty Meter Telescope and the European Extremely Large Telescope, which was downsized from the OverWhelmingly Large Telescope. Add to those three big ground observatories a new super eye in the sky, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for launch in 2013.

Site – http://www.cnn.com


The Universe within 1 billion Light Years

January 24, 2008

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Galaxies and clusters of galaxies are not uniformly distributed in the Universe, instead they collect into vast clusters and sheets and walls of galaxies interspersed with large voids in which very few galaxies seem to exist. The map above shows many of these superclusters including the Virgo supercluster – the fairly minor supercluster of which our galaxy is just a minor member. The entire map is approximately 7 percent of the diameter of the entire visible Universe. Individual galaxies are far too small to appear on this map, each point represents a group of galaxies.

Site – http://www.ldps.ws


The Universe: Search for ET

August 28, 2007

Ray Kurzweil, SETI senior astronomer Seth Shostak, and other experts will be featured on The “Universe: Search for ET,” kicking off a new series on the History Channel, “The Universe,” Tuesday, August 28 at at 9:00pm, 8:00 Central. “In a galaxy filled with a billion stars, in a universe filled with a hundred billion galaxies–are we alone? SETI–the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence–is a privately funded project using radio telescopes and optical telescopes to scan the stars for signals. NASA is planning missions to Mars, Jupiter’s sixth moon, Europa, and Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, to look for primitive, microbial life in ice concentrations. Whether we discover primitive or intelligent life, how will that knowledge impact humankind’s view of itself? Cutting-edge computer graphics are used to bring the universe down to earth to show what life would be like on other planets, and to imagine what kind of life forms might evolve in alien atmospheres.”

Site – http://www.history.com


Huge Hole Found in the Universe

August 24, 2007

The universe has a huge hole in it that dwarfs anything else of its kind. The discovery caught astronomers by surprise. The hole is nearly a billion light-years across. It is not a black hole, which is a small sphere of densely packed matter. Rather, this one is mostly devoid of stars, gas and other normal matter, and it’s also strangely empty of the mysterious “dark matter” that permeates the cosmos. Other space voids have been found before, but nothing on this scale. Astronomers don’t know why the hole is there. “Not only has no one ever found a void this big, but we never even expected to find one this size,” said researcher Lawrence Rudnick of the University of Minnesota.

Site – http://www.space.com