European Space Agency Solar Orbiter Makes History with Close Solar Approach

by Moises A. Hernandez, age 15

Space science took a new step forward as the European Space Agency (ESA)’s Solar Orbiter traveled closer to the sun than any other spacecraft in history. On Monday, June 15, 2020, the Solar Orbiter reached 48 million miles from the sun’s surface, making its first close pass of the sun. The Solar Orbiter launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 11:03 p.m. EST on Sunday, February 9, 2020, as part of a joint mission between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the ESA. This is the first mission in this global space collaboration.

Being the first of its kind, this mission will produce images of the north and south poles of the sun using six telescopes on board to capture the spacecraft’s view. The importance of having a visual understanding of the sun’s poles is that it can provide more information about the sun’s powerful magnetic fields. These magnetic fields affect Earth in numerous ways, including space weather, which affects networked systems like the Global Positioning System (GPS), communications, and astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS). To take these images, the Solar Orbiter must be at a distance close to the sun.

The spacecraft’s first perihelion, the point nearest to the sun in the path of an orbiting celestial body (such as a planet), was about half the distance between the Earth and the sun. Daniel Müller, the ESA’s Solar Orbiter project scientist, reported the closest approach of the probe to be around 3:35 a.m. EST. Since then, the spacecraft advanced to the “cruise” phase of its mission, in which it will travel even closer to the sun’s surface--around 26 million miles closer than Mercury. This distance will allow the Solar Orbiter to make never-before-seen observations of the sun that would be impossible from a farther distance. [read more]

Our Solar System May Be Stranger than We Thought

by Vanessa Shell, age 15

Lauren Weiss, a Parrent Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawai’i, Manoa, encountered an interesting pattern among the planetary systems newly discovered by the Kepler spacecraft. But, our solar system does not adhere to the pattern she discovered. Weiss’ research raised the question of whether our group of planets is an outlier, or whether her discoveries were simply based on coincidences.

The Kepler--named after the 17th century German astronomer--is a NASA spacecraft that launched in 2009 with the singular purpose of finding new planets in our universe. Since then, over 400 multi-planet systems have been found. The Kepler has spotted these other solar systems by way of continuously measuring the brightness of other stars and waiting for the light coming from the star to dim slightly, which signifies a planet passing in transit. Using Kepler’s findings, Weiss was found that planets in the same system tended to be the same size. Giving an example, she said, “If one planet is 1.5 times the radius of Earth, the other planets in the system are very likely to be 1.5 times the radius of Earth, plus or minus a little bit.”

The whole population of exoplanets discovered ranges from one fourth of the size of Earth to twenty times the size of our planet. With this in mind, Weiss stated, “Despite the wide range of possible sizes, planets tend to be the size of their neighbors.” These solar systems with like-sized planets were soon dubbed “peas in a pod” by the group studying them. Weiss decided then to develop an experiment to test the “peas in a pod” theory, asking the question, “Could some sort of bias in Kepler’s method of finding planets--which favors the detection of large planets close their stars--contrive to make the planets in each of my imaginary systems appear to fit the pattern?” [read more]

What Would Happen if the Earth Spun Faster?

by Eowyn Gomez Cruz, age 15

Have you ever wondered why we never feel the Earth spin? Do you wonder if the Earth ever speeds up or slows down?

The Earth spins fastest at its waistline, the equator, so how fast the Earth spins in a certain place depends on the location and distance from the equator. A spot on the equator travels farther in 24 hours than other places on the Earth do. For example, Chicago spins at approximately only 750 mph, while the equator spins at 1037 mph.

Speeding up Earth's rotation by 1 mph would cause the water from the poles to gather around the equator, making sea levels rise there. It may take some time for people to notice the gradual change. That one extra mile would also affect our satellites, which would then interfere with our TV broadcasting and even our military intelligence. Many of those satellites would have to be replaced. [read more]

NASA Astronauts Describe 'The Moment When it all Changed'

by Zainab Yahiaoui, age 15

During research voyages in space, astronauts have the opportunity to see our planet Earth from many miles away. Countless others remain hopeful to someday have the same experience. Six astronauts, who had the chance to go into space, described their individual experiences during their time away from the planet. Chris Hadfield, Jerry Linenger, Nicole Scott, Mae Jemison, Leland Melvin, and Mike Massimino have all spent at least a week in space, if not longer. They each had different and distinct moments in space when their perspectives of the world changed, a shift which is called the “overview effect.”

One of the astronauts, Chris Hadfield, spent 166 days in space. He said his change of perspective happened quickly and that his emotions crept up on him while he was not prepared. Hadfield said in space, one has to take a lot of pictures because everyone is so busy working, there is not enough time to look outside. His “aha” moment occurred when he was taking a picture of Pakistan from the spaceship; he referred to the country as “us” instead of “them,” despite him not being from Pakistan. This event made Hadfield realize that humans are all on the earth together and are not truly divided by countries of origin. [read more]

Laser Sails Could Reach Alpha Centauri in 20 Years

by Devika Pal, age 14

Using new technology created by researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, a spacecraft would be able to be launched to the closest star, Alpha Centauri, which is 437 light-years away.

Chemical reactions are used to propel standard rockets. However, the bigger the rocket is, the more propellant it needs, making the spacecraft heavy and inefficient. For long trips, this is a waste of money and resources. In 1977, NASA launched the Voyager 1 Spacecraft into interstellar space, which it reached 25 years later. If Voyager 1 had been launched to Alpha Centauri, it would have arrived there in 75,000 years.  [read more]

Is Titan the Most Earth-Like Body in the Solar System?

by Hanna Eyobed, age 15

The thought of living on another planet may seem like something out of a science fiction book. But what if we could sustainably live on another planet that contains similar qualities and could host life, like Earth? What if I told you a small moon revolving around Saturn could do just that?

Titan is the only place in our solar system that has characteristics most like Earth’s. Water in the atmosphere shelters Earth from galactic cosmic rays (GCRs). These rays are energetic particles that, if it weren’t for Earth’s atmosphere, would make the Earth uninhabitable. GCRs can cause cancer because of their radiation. Exposing mice to GCR radiation results in brain damage and a loss of simple activity within the mice, according to a study performed by Vipan K. Prihar and colleagues in Science Advances. The methane and ethane in the atmosphere of Titan is similar to the water in the Earth’s atmosphere, and could potentially allow Titan to maintain human life. [read more]

Space: Our New Habitat

by Sandy Flores, age 13

Did you know that one day Earth may no longer be habitable?

If this becomes a reality, people will have to learn how to adapt to life in outer space. Scientists are envisioning what is needed to live in space. Humans will have to learn how to do this since Earth will no longer have the capacity to hold them. Most of humanity would die if this happened. The survivors who remain alive will have to learn how to adapt to life in a capsule. [read more]

NASA's Great Space Mission, Cassini

by Makya Rodriguez, age 14

One of NASA’s greatest space missions was the launching of the Cassini spacecraft. Starting on June 30, 2004 and ending on September 15, 2017, the Cassini spacecraft overcame several challenges in order to enter Saturn’s atmosphere. It traveled a complicated path to gain speed from other planets’ gravity. The cost of the mission totaled approximately 3.26 billion dollars.

Cassini settled in Saturn’s orbit on July 1, 2004. Its main mission was to find more of Saturn’s moons and gather more information about Saturn’s rings. Cassini’s most important task was to release the Huygen Lander on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. The Huygen Lander went though a mysterious haze and landed on June 14, 2005. Researchers examined pictures sent back of the rock fields, and discovered more about its climate. [read more]

The Massive Meteor Explosion that Scientists Almost Missed

by Kara Nichols, age 16

In 2018, a meteor, crossed the sky before exploding with ten times the power of an atomic bomb.

On December 18th 2018, a space rock going 71,500 miles per hour passed into the earth’s atmosphere before exploding. The explosion occurred between Russia and Alaska right over the Bering Sea. The meteor was 16 miles above the ocean and it discharged 173 kilotons of energy after the explosion. [read more]

Space Economy is Threatened by Orbiting Junkyard

by Mariama Bah, age 13

When you see images of Earth from outer space, you don’t notice the 500,000 pieces of debris floating around in low-earth orbit. All of that debris is affecting the satellite business, threatening the future commercialization of space, and jeopardizing the growth of the space economy.

The space economy includes both public and private sector developers of space-enabled products and services. In the space economy, there are three main industries. One industry is focused more on Earth, which includes things that deliver something to space, or something that is in space, but benefits the people on Earth. Another industry is focused on space itself, including space travel and tourism in space. The last main industry is under development and includes the process of mining asteroids and exporting resources from space. Even though the industries are developing, the space economy is already helping businesses on Earth. [read more]

Astronomers Discover Bizarre “Whiplash” Planet

by Leilani McNeal, age 15

Astronomers are in shock as they have recently discovered a foreign planet that is three times bigger than Jupiter. Planet HR 5183 b has quickly earned a notorious reputation because it has a strong, elliptical orbit — so strong that if it orbited in our solar system, it would completely shift the orbits of our outermost planets.

“A wacky object,” is how a California Institute of Technology graduate student Sarah Blunt described HR 5183 b. The wackiness could remind one of either an amusement park ride or a rocket ship where the object slows down and speeds up unpredictably. Since the exoplanet’s ellipse is much more elongated than other planets, scientists began to question the origin of its abnormal orbit. “It seems like every time we think we’ve found the weirdest solar system, something else totally strange is discovered,” Blunt stated in an email. [read more]

Read More Recent Space Science Articles

The world's largest refracting telescope is located at Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay on Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. It was used by many well-known space researchers in the past. The facility was recently donated to the Yerkes Future Foundation by the University of Chicago. The foundation has plans to refurbish the 123-year-old facility, and hope to have it open to the public as soon as spring 2021. The many refurbishments will improve research capabilities and the very structure itself. [read more...]
Lauren Weiss, a Parrent Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawai’i, Manoa, encountered an interesting pattern among the planetary systems newly discovered by the Kepler spacecraft. But, our solar system does not adhere to the pattern she discovered. Weiss’ research raised the question of whether our group of planets is an outlier, or whether her discoveries were simply based on coincidences. [read more...]
Space science took a new step forward as the European Space Agency (ESA)’s Solar Orbiter traveled closer to the sun than any other spacecraft in history. On Monday, June 15, 2020, the Solar Orbiter reached 48 million miles from the sun’s surface, making its first close pass of the sun. The Solar Orbiter launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 11:03 p.m. EST on Sunday, February 9, 2020, as part of a joint mission between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the ESA. This is the first mission in this global space collaboration. [read more...]
Have you ever wondered why we never feel the Earth spin? Do you wonder if the Earth ever speeds up or slows down? [read more...]
Sin duda alguna, los vehículos autónomos están destinados a cambiar el estilo de vida no solo de los conductores sino también, la de todos los transeúntes, trayendo consigo seguridad y comodidad. También conocidos como automóviles autónomos, estos vehículos tienen un mercado que alcanzará aproximadamente los $ 42 mil millones de dólares para 2025 y la tasa de crecimiento anual compuesta (CAGR en inglés) prevista en 21 por ciento hasta 2030. Este cambio será excelente ya que trae consigo nuevos tipos de negocios y servicios; pero la implementación de este sistema en los autos también generará implicaciones éticas igualmente importantes. Según la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS), alrededor de 1.35 millones de personas en todo el mundo mueren cada año en accidentes de tránsito, la mayoría causados ​​por errores humanos. El objetivo principal de los autos con este sistema autónomo es escencialmente el de reducir estos accidentes. Se estima que con la ayuda de estos vehículos se podría disminuir hasta en un 90 por ciento los accidentes de tránsito. A pesar de que los beneficios de los automóviles autónomos son claros, aún existen desafíos que, si no se les pone atención, probablemente podrían arruinar la promesa que trae consigo la tecnología. [read more...]
During research voyages in space, astronauts have the opportunity to see our planet Earth from many miles away. Countless others remain hopeful to someday have the same experience. Six astronauts, who had the chance to go into space, described their individual experiences during their time away from the planet. Chris Hadfield, Jerry Linenger, Nicole Scott, Mae Jemison, Leland Melvin, and Mike Massimino have all spent at least a week in space, if not longer. They each had different and distinct moments in space when their perspectives of the world changed, a shift which is called the “overview effect.” [read more...]
Using new technology created by researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, a spacecraft would be able to be launched to the closest star, Alpha Centauri, which is 437 light-years away. [read more...]
Have you ever heard of antimatter? Antimatter is composed of antiparticles such as antiprotons, antineutrons and positrons. These particles have the same mass as normal matter but have opposite charge and properties. [read more...]
The thought of living on another planet may seem like something out of a science fiction book. But what if we could sustainably live on another planet that contains similar qualities and could host life, like Earth? What if I told you a small moon revolving around Saturn could do just that? [read more...]
One of NASA’s greatest space missions was the launching of the Cassini spacecraft. Starting on June 30, 2004 and ending on September 15, 2017, the Cassini spacecraft overcame several challenges in order to enter Saturn’s atmosphere. It traveled a complicated path to gain speed from other planets’ gravity. The cost of the mission totaled approximately 3.26 billion dollars. [read more...]
If this becomes a reality, people will have to learn how to adapt to life in outer space. Scientists are envisioning what is needed to live in space. Humans will have to learn how to do this since Earth will no longer have the capacity to hold them. Most of humanity would die if this happened. The survivors who remain alive will have to learn how to adapt to life in a capsule. [read more...]
When looking for life on other planets, we tend to look at exoplanets, which are planets that are orbiting a star outside of the solar system. But, there is a new theory for a new type of planet called “eyeball planets.” [read more...]
In 2018, a meteor, crossed the sky before exploding with ten times the power of an atomic bomb. [read more...]
Mars is a very interesting planet. It is also one of the only planets we might be able to live on. [read more...]
When you see images of Earth from outer space, you don’t notice the 500,000 pieces of debris floating around in low-earth orbit. All of that debris is affecting the satellite business, threatening the future commercialization of space, and jeopardizing the growth of the space economy. [read more...]
Astronomers are in shock as they have recently discovered a foreign planet that is three times bigger than Jupiter. Planet HR 5183 b has quickly earned a notorious reputation because it has a strong, elliptical orbit — so strong that if it orbited in our solar system, it would completely shift the orbits of our outermost planets. [read more...]
A historical moment was recognized earlier this month when two NASA astronauts stepped out of the International Space Station and went on the first ever all-women spacewalk. [read more...]
Twenty years ago, two teams of astronomers independently found a unique exoplanet a planet outside our solar system which they named K2-18b. They speculate they might have found Earth’s cosmic twin. [read more...]
The star Sirius, also known as the Dog Star, is the brightest star in the night sky. The brightness of the star is caused by the amount of energy that the star gives off in all directions. [read more...]
Venus is a planet that is unlivable for humans, having an atmosphere filed with carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid clouds. The temperature can rise very high, reaching up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit. [read more...]
Our solar system is made of nine planets. The sun uses its gravity to keep the planets circling around it. [read more...]
“Our universe is full of lots of weird solar systems totally unlike our own” states Sarah Blunt, a graduate student at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Blunt is part of a team of scientists behind the discovery of a new exoplanet, which is a planet in a solar system outside ours. [read more...]
The Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is widely known for the Apollo 11 lunar landing on July 16, 1969. [read more...]
Avid readers of Simpson Street Free Press know we love road trips. We often hit the road with our students, sometimes to visit a museum, a historic landmark, or geographic oddity. Most recently, several Free Press writers and staff were invited to speak at the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium conference at UW-Platteville. [read more...]
In 1969, Neil Armstrong uttered the famous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” as he took the first steps onto the moon, sparking the interest of millions across the world. [read more...]
Are we alone in the universe? Maybe not. Scientists think there could be life on other planets. [read more...]
Earth is the planet we live on, which is a round ball of rock. The rock is hard and solid on the outside. On the inside, it is hot enough to melt rock. There are times when you can see hot rock showering out of an erupting volcano. [read more...]
Neutrinos are one of the oldest riddles in physics and astronomy. Thanks to IceCube, though, scientists learned about them. [read more...]
Did you know that spacesuits protect astronauts from the dangers of space? [read more...]
Things took a turn for the worse, however, when doctors noticed an irregular heartbeat during one of Slayton’s training sessions. They realized Slayton had atrial fibrillation, which did not affect his physical performance but made people in Washington nervous. Slayton was deemed unfit to fly just two years before his flight. He was pulled as an astronaut from Project Mercury and Slayton decided to return home to Wisconsin. [read more...]
The iconic phrase, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” was said by Neil Armstrong. He became the first man to set foot on the moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission. That was 50 years ago. [read more...]
There has been a possible discovery of an exomoon, a moon that orbits around a planet outside our solar system. Scientists think that moons exist around other planets in outer space, but they have never been proven. [read more...]
Do you know what ingredients make a star? At first, the star starts off as dust. Then hydrogen is burned into helium which also makes balloons float, in a process called nuclear fusion. That is how a star is born. [read more...]
Not many people know about constellations even though they are all around us. Constellations are conspicuous groupings of stars that look like objects and figures in the sky. Astronomers use constellations to assist them in locating artificial satellites and finding specific stars. [read more...]
The universe is made up of galaxies and stars. [read more...]
Exoplanets are Earth-like planets that orbit outside of our solar system. Cornell astronomers, Lisa Kaltenegger and Jack O’Malley-James, are discovering more about exoplanets one light year at a time. [read more...]
The Sierra Nevada Corp. recently completed a 20-million-dollar facility on the site of the former Badger Army Ammunition plant near Baraboo. SNC’s goal is to test rocket engines in hope of making it an all-state division. [read more...]
A group comprised mostly of freshman from Madison West High School is set to compete in the International Paris Air show in late June. The team’s goal? To send three large eggs 856 feet into the air, and to bring them back down in a safe and uncracked landing. [read more...]
Mars is the fourth planet away from the sun. Mars has a thin atmosphere, which can possibly trap water and make it as thin as ice beneath the surface of Mars. There’s even a chance that Mars can have fossils of life forms. In 1984. scientists discovered there was a meteorite that landed in Antarctica and came in the form of a four pound rock which came from Mars. [read more...]
Saturn's thick rings, which make it so unique in the Solar System, are not permanent. According to data first gathered from Earth-based observations, a phenomenon called “ring rain” pulls material from Saturn's rings into the planet. Subsequent data from the Cassini spacecraft shows even more inflow going from the rings to the planet. Combined these mean Saturn's rings could be gone in as little as 100 million years: not long in terms of the Solar System. [read more...]
Uranus is the coldest planet in the solar system. There are a total of 27 moons orbiting around Uranus; most are named after characters in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. The five major moons are Titania, Oberon, Miranda, Arie, and Umbrick. [read more...]
The Milky Way got its name because it looks like someone spilled some milk across space. The Milky Way has as many planets and stars as there are grains of sand on a beach. It contains stars, planets, moons, and our own solar system. There are relatively bigger galaxies than the Milky Way, but there are also smaller ones. A galaxy is an empty space between the stars and if two galaxies get too close to each other they can put each other out of shape. [read more...]
If you ever want to see the birth of a star, you are not in luck because it takes “just” millions of years for them to form. [read more...]
The first ever image of a black hole, taken in an international effort, has been released by the National Science Foundation. The seemingly ominous mass is located in the Messier 87 (M87) galaxy, 55 million light years away from our planet. [read more...]
Again this year student reporters from Simpson Street Free Press will attend the nation’s largest High-Powered Rocket Competition for Native American college students. [read more...]
Recent developments have uncovered huge termite mounds completely covering a vast area in northeastern Brazil, previously covered by thick forests. These masses of earth can be up to three meters tall, and up to ten meters wide. They cover an area roughly the size of England. The combined mass of all the mounds can be seen from low earth orbit, though it is difficult to see individual mounds from that height. [read more...]
The space capsule was once the safest form of transportation. This was because the amount of money and expertise put into the United States’ space research made sure that the program was, statistically, safer than driving on a freeway during rush hour. [read more...]
A galaxy is a group of stars that exists in the universe. Scientists think that there might be over 100 billion galaxies out there. [read more...]
Pluto’s status as a full-fledged planet was fleeting, lasting only a few decades. The planetary object was later classified as a dwarf planet in 2006. But only a few people know what a dwarf planet is, much less why the label played such a big role in Pluto’s fate. [read more...]
When you hear about an asteroid hitting Earth, you probably think about Hollywood movies. But have you ever thought of what would happen if an asteroid actually struck Earth? The chances are slim, but it is possible. And if it did happen, the human race as we know it would be obliterated. [read more...]
The Sun is a star that gives humans living on Earth light and heat so that they can survive. Without the sun, there would be no life and everything would be cold and dark. [read more...]
It was an agonizing 6.5 seconds. The members of the InSight lander mission team and NASA officials waited with bated breaths as the $850 million lander shot through Mars’ atmosphere at 12,300 mph, entering at precisely 12 degrees. InSight’s heat shields endured temperatures of 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit. Atmospheric forces managed to decelerate the lander before it parachuted down, towards the surface of the Red Planet. [read more...]
In a decade or two, the famous Great Red Spot (GRS) on Jupiter will not be as big as it is today. [read more...]
Astronomers are inventing new ways to detect life on planets in the universe. As of now, they have not found any habitable land outside of the Earth. [read more...]
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) describes Near-Earth objects as comets and asteroids that are pulled into Earth’s orbit by gravity. NASA has put together a plan to prevent one of these objects from crashing into Earth and potentially causing the end of the world. [read more...]
Las estrellas no brillan todo el tiempo. En un punto de sus vidas, todo el gas que usan para generar energía se acaba y estas mueren. La muerte de una estrella puede causar eventos únicos como el crecimiento de un gigante rojo, una supernova, y puede incluso causar un agujero negro. [read more...]
¿Te has preguntado alguna vez de qué estará hecho el planeta Mercurio? ¿Qué es lo que le hace tan diferente? ¿Y desde cuándo lo empezamos a observar? Pues ahora lo sabrás porque les diré todo sobre Mercurio. [read more...]
El 20 de junio de 1969 fue un día memorable para todos los humanos, ya que la misión de los Estados Unidos en el Apollo 11 logró lo que muchos pensaron que era imposible y aterrizó en la Luna. Lo más notable de este logro no fue la distancia de 239,000 millas entre la Tierra y la Luna, sino lo que los astronautas de Apolo encontraron una vez que llegaron a la Luna. [read more...]
¿Te has preguntado por qué la marea cambia sus niveles a lo largo del día? El Sol y la Luna juegan una gran parte en estos cambios. [read more...]
Have you ever wondered what Mercury is made of, what is different about it, and when it has been observed? Well, now you’ll know because I will be talking all about Mercury. [read more...]
El universo está compuesto por galaxias; en la que nosotros vivimos es la Vía Láctea. ¿Has pensado alguna vez de dónde vinieron o cómo eran formadas? Muchas galaxias tienen historias largas y asombrosas. [read more...]
Do you think time travel is a myth? Well, some scientists think time travel is possible. According to a new book called Secrets of the Universe, time travel is something humans do all the time. It's easy because we go forward in time every day. Going backward in time or jumping way forward in the future is what seems hard. [read more...]
Stars don’t always shine. At one point, they run out of gas to make energy and die. This can cause unique events like a red giant, supernova, and even a black hole. [read more...]
Un acelerador de partículas es una máquina grande usada por físicos para romper átomos en pedazos y aprender sobre lo que los compone. Los físicos son científicos que tienen un conocimiento especializado en la interacción entre la materia y la energía. Para estudiar las partículas, los físicos aceleran partículas subatómicas a casi la velocidad de la luz, que es más de 186,000 millas por segundo. [read more...]
It takes eight years to get to Miranda, the 11th moon of Uranus’s 27 moons. The weather on Miranda is about -355 degrees Fahrenheit. It has huge canyons, craters, and a rough surface. Due to this, scientists refer to it as Frankenstein's Monste [read more...]
Ever wonder how the tides in the sea change their levels almost everyday? The Sun and Moon both play a great part in that change. [read more...]
Galileo Galilei was known for his discoveries and experiments in mathematics, force, and motion. Those experiments helped Galilei discover that the Earth moved around the Sun and not the other way around. [read more...]
Space – the final frontier. Companies are inventing new ways to live – and thrive – in the vast blackness that surrounds us. [read more...]
The universe is made up of galaxies; the one we live in is the Milky Way. Have you ever wondered where galaxies came from or how they were formed? Most galaxies have a long and amazing histories. [read more...]
Have you ever wondered why the Hubble Telescope has such a weird name? It was named after the observational scientist, Edwin Hubble. [read more...]
Many people think of time capsules, as small boxes buried in a backyard, filled with items that are possibly ancient. But what if we could put one on Mars for future astronauts to find? Emily Briere, an aerospace engineering student, thinks this could become a reality soon. [read more...]
No doubt the root of some ‘potty humor’, Uranus is pronounced two different ways, Yoor un us or Your Anus. This planet has many interesting and unique features compared to its neighboring planets. [read more...]
A spinning mass of debris that has been around since the beginning of the solar system can only mean one thing: an Oort cloud. [read more...]
In March of 2015, astronaut Scott Kelly headed to the International Space Station (ISS) for 340 days in space, the longest space mission so far, nearly double the average 4-6 month mission. Along with him was Mikhail Kornieko from Russia. While Scott was on the ISS, he saw 13 astronauts come and go and had three spacewalks (two planned, one emergency). He also gathered lots of data about his health, like blood samples and ultrasounds for scientists to compare to his twin brother, and fellow astronaut, Mark Kelly. [read more...]
On August 17, 2017, a neutron star collision - one of the rarest events to happen in space - shook the universe with a cataclysmic explosion. Alarming scientists, gamma rays and gravitational waves blasted ultraviolet and infra-red lights. [read more...]
This past summer, there was a lot of excitement about the solar eclipse. What many may not know, is that another rare astronomical event happened around the same time. Two interferometers, instruments that measure interference phenomena between waves, detected merging neutron stars on August 17, 2017. [read more...]
Asteroids are small rocky objects that orbit the sun, just like planets do. But unlike planets, asteroids are much smaller. They are typically formed out of matter leftover from the formation of the solar system. Most asteroids are found in the asteroid belt, which is between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. [read more...]
Millions of years ago, the dinosaurs went extinct due to an asteroid hitting Earth. Could humans be next? At the end of last year, an asteroid classified as “Potentially Hazardous” came near Earth. However, it may not be as dangerous as this classification implies. [read more...]
The ice giant, better known as Neptune, was the first planet located through mathematical predictions rather than from observing the sky. [read more...]
Do you know how a solar eclipse forms? It happens when the moon gets between the sun and the Earth. [read more...]
Do you know what plasma is? Many people are not familiar with plasma and do not know where it can be found. [read more...]
Venus, a planet named after the ancient Roman goddess of love and beauty, is our solar systems’ hottest planet. Although it is only the second planet from the sun and relatively the same size as Earth, the climate and conditions on Venus are drastically different compared to most planets in our solar system. [read more...]
Earlier this week, NASA released the farthest photos ever taken from space. [read more...]
June 20, 1969 was a memorable day for all humans as the U.S. Apollo 11 mission achieved what many thought was impossible and landed on the Moon. What was most remarkable about this achievement was not the 239,000 mile distance between the Earth and the Moon that Apollo traveled but instead what the Apollo astronauts found once they arrived on the Moon. [read more...]
Mars has intrigued and fascinated scientists and space enthusiasts since the advent of the telescope. Despite many obstacles, sustaining life on the “Red Planet” may soon become possible with recent advancements in technology. [read more...]
Over thousands of years, generations of stargazers and astronomers from every culture have located and named the constellations known to humanity. We have been fascinated by space for so long that, amazingly, we may know more about space than our own Earth. Nevertheless, with newer technology, we are always learning more about far distant parts of our skies. [read more...]
In rural Wisconsin, there are barns everywhere--or nearly everywhere, it seems. Most of them are red. This is no coincidence. [read more...]
Made of liquid and gas, Jupiter and Saturn are important planets. [read more...]
NASA’s planet-hunting telescope called Kepler, which was launched in 2009, has recently discovered 10 new planets outside our solar system that look to be the right size and temperature to sustain life, according to a recent article in the Wisconsin State Journal. [read more...]
Do you know how the Universe began? Many scientists believe it has to do with a theory called the “Big Bang.” [read more...]
El lunes 21 de agosto de este año tendremos la oportunidad de presenciar un eclipse solar en toda Norteamérica, incluyendo los Estados Unidos y aunque en Wisconsin no podremos apreciarlo de forma total, aun podremos disfrutar de una gran vista parcial. [read more...]
Space is filled with countless, marvelous stars. For many centuries, scientists have worked to uncover the many details that make stars so appealing. [read more...]
Ancient people described the Milky Way galaxy as 'a river, milk, and a path', according to legend. The Milky Way galaxy in which we live is just like billions of other galaxies. Most of the stars in the Milky Way are older than the 4.5 billion-year-old sun. [read more...]
It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's a comet! Comets are small lumps of ice that move on the outskirts of the solar system in the direction of the sun. When a comet gets hot, a beam of light shoots out from its front and forms two shining “tails” on its back. Comets are parts of matter left over from the creation of the Solar System. [read more...]
The year 1969 was especially exciting; the U.S. officially won the “space race” when Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. The space race was a competition between the Soviet Union (now Russia) and the United States to see who could launch the first man in to space successfully. [read more...]
People all over the world took notice when Neil Armstrong became the first man to step on the moon in 1969. However, a far smaller population knows of Margaret Hamilton’s contribution to the Apollo 11 mission and moon landing. Recent national interest in understanding the historic role of women in science has generated new enthusiasm for Hamilton’s work. [read more...]
Saturn, “the gas planet,” is composed of 96 percent hydrogen and four percent helium. But it's 100 percent my favorite planet! Galileo Galilei first discovered Saturn in 1610. He described its rings as “handles.” Conveniently, Dutch mathematician Christiaan Huygens also reported seeing Saturn, which he once described as having “a thin flat ring which nowhere touches the body.” [read more...]
Everyone knows you’re supposed to make a wish when you see a shooting star. But do you ever wonder what causes these special, lucky meteors to exist in the first place? [read more...]
Although the Sun and Moon may appear to be similar from a distance, the two are actually very different. The Sun is a large ball of gas that is full of energy and heat. Seventy-three percent of the Sun is made of hydrogen, while 25 percent of it is helium. The remaining two percent is made up of traces of approximately 60 other elements. [read more...]
No one has visited the Moon since 1972 when the last of the Apollo missions left. [read more...]
For decades, mankind has used rockets to travel into space. But one rocket alone is not powerful enough to launch into space. In fact, the rockets we hear about are actually several rockets stacked on top of one another: these pieces are called stages. [read more...]
There are many planets in the universe, but there aren’t many that can sustain life. Recently, scientists and astronomers have started looking for and finding planets that are potentially habitable. [read more...]
In a year that claimed many lives, famous and otherwise, the world has lost a great scientific mind. While she has never been a household name, Vera Rubin was a groundbreaking scientist. [read more...]
For thousands of years, humans have been watching the sky. They’ve mastered the patterns of the stars and can easily find constellations like the zodiacs, Pleiades, the Big Dipper, Orion, and many other star clusters. Ancient people knew their way around the night sky; if you want to learn to be as skilled in astronomy and stargazing as they were, follow these tips below. [read more...]
Did you know that the force of gravity travels at the speed of light? Gravity is the invisible glue that pulls us down to the ground. It was first discovered and named by Isaac Newton in the 17th century. Since this time, many scientists, and researchers have theorized about gravity. In 1937, for example, physicist Paul Dirac suggested that gravity itself might actually be changing very slowly over time. [read more...]
On December 8, 2016, America bade farewell to an American legend. John Glenn, senator, lifelong pilot, decorated war veteran, and one of NASA’s first astronauts passed away in his home state of Ohio. [read more...]
The Sun is one of the largest stars in our galaxy. It lies 149.6 million kilometers away from Earth. Unlike other stars, the sun is not seen as a little point of light in the sky. Made out of large amounts of gases—92.1 percent hydrogen and about eight percent helium—the Sun gives life to all creatures on the Earth. We see this important star so differently than many others because it's actually a lot closer to us than the majority of other stars. [read more...]
Scientists suspect that the Milky Way may have dwarf galaxies all around it. One of these galaxies is known as "Segue 2." Segue 2 is an abnormally small galaxy located right outside of our galaxy, the Milky Way. This dwarf galaxy only has 1,000 stars; they are held together by a clump of dark matter. First discovered in 2009, Segue 2 is primarily known for its unique size. [read more...]
Pluto used to be characterized as the ninth planet but, in 2006, scientists revoked Pluto’s full-fledged planet status. Instead they classified it as a dwarf planet. True to this new name, Pluto’s diameter is 1,432 miles, which makes it more than 1,500 miles smaller in diameter than Mercury, the smallest planet. [read more...]
Io is one of the four large moons that orbit Jupiter. Similar in size to our moon, Io is also the most volcanically active body in our solar system. [read more...]
Quasars are huge, energetic, mysterious objects in space. Modern technology has allowed humans to understand these objects better. Quasars create a massive amount of light, allowing them to be seen from great distances. [read more...]
We've all heard of Galileo Galilei, but how did he become a famous inventor in the first place? Galileo was born in Pisa, Italy on February 15, 1564. At the age of 10, he was sent to school at the Monastery of Vallombrosa. His father, Vincenzo, took him out of school at the age of 14, because he worried that his son would become a poor man. Vincenzo then sent Galileo to Florence to spend a few years with tutors. [read more...]
Venus and Mars are the two closest planet to Earth. Scientists have discovered a lot about these planets. Venus is the hottest planet in our solar system. Venus has toxic clouds and acid that would burn human skin. Heat From the sun gets trapped by clouds around the planet. This is what makes Venus so hot. Even though Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, Venus is still the hottest. [read more...]
In the early 1960s, President John F. Kennedy told Americans that it was time to go to the moon. Nine years later, Neil Armstrong was the first human to ever walk on the moon. [read more...]
Found in between Mars and Jupiter, many asteroids are made up of rocks and left over metal. They have a dusty layer of shattered rock on their cratered surfaced, and they can be as big as 567 miles in diameter. [read more...]
Have you ever dreamed about soaring through the sky? Using the flying rocket belt, better known as the jet pack, these dreams can become a reality. [read more...]
Saturn's rings are among the most beautiful things in the solar system. There have been different opinions about Saturn's rings, over the years. When astronomer Galileo Galilei thought that Saturn’s rings were two large moons. Christiaan Huygens, another astronomer, thought the so-called “moons” were an encircling ring structure. [read more...]
You might not know that the Sun is actually a star, which the Earth and other planets orbit around. A glowing ball of plasma, the Sun is a gaseous state of matter. This plasma ball’s surface temperature is over 9,900° Fahrenheit! [read more...]
Humans are always asking questions and looking for answers. Important findings from a cosmic ray detector sent into space in 2011 suggest a possible answer to one of humanity’s biggest questions—what makes up the universe? [read more...]
More than thirty years ago, two lucky astronauts, Bruce McCandless and Bob Stewart took the ride of their lives. [read more...]
Through mathematical modeling and computer simulations, Caltech researchers have found evidence of a ninth planet—no, not Pluto—in our solar system. “For the first time in over 150 years, there is solid evidence that the solar system’s planetary census is incomplete,” said Konstantin Batygin, one of the investigators on the project and an assistant professor of planetary science. [read more...]
Two of Jupiter’s 63 moons are thought to be “twins.” The two moons were formed at the same time and are the same shape and size, but they are far from identical. [read more...]
In 2006, Pluto was downgraded from full planetary status to dwarf planet. This decision was met with an enormous amount of controversy. Recently, however, scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have argued for the return of Pluto as the ninth planet. [read more...]
For years, many myths and mysteries have surrounded the Moon. One of the most talked about myths is how the Moon was created. [read more...]
Have you ever wondered how rockets work? [read more...]
Traveling to space is an incredible feat. To leave the bounds of Earth requires great ambition, endurance, nerves of steel, and even a dash of luck. [read more...]
The universe is constantly changing, and people are always discovering new things about our world. One famous explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, was one of the first Europeans to see the galaxies that are now known as the “Magellanic Clouds.” [read more...]
The thought of Martians has been on the minds of humans for years. In science fiction movies, Martians are often portrayed as little, green men with antennae. Of course, this isn’t an accurate depiction. Experts suggest that any life forms on Mars would be microscopic. Also, there would have to be water present on Mars for life to exist here in the first place. [read more...]
Although Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system, most planets discovered outside of our solar system, or exoplanets, are larger. In 2009, the largest known exoplanet was CT Cha B which, in comparison to Jupiter, is twice as large in diameter and 17 times larger in mass. How much do we know about exoplanets like this, and how do we find them? [read more...]
Saturn, or the “ringed planet” as space scientists have nicknamed it, is the sixth planet from the Sun in the solar system. It is also the second largest planet out of the eight planets. [read more...]
Many people are familiar with the famous line “Beam me up, Scotty!,” which is attributed to the popular show Star Trek. Well, scientists today can do just that – sort of. [read more...]
Black holes may be the most mysterious astronomical phenomena. In fact, astronomers only know that they exist because small flashes of hot gas are visible right before they are sucked into the invisible holes. [read more...]
In order to save money, scientists at NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) are currently working to compress the size of solar panels, which are typically bulky and hard to transport. To do so, they have turned to a unique solution: origami. [read more...]
Think you saw the stars at the last Oscars? Let me tell you about the real stars in the greatest show on earth. At a star party, which anyone can have, family and friends can gather to gaze at nature's most beautiful nightlights. [read more...]
There are four small planets in our solar system: Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. While these planets are each littler than the rest, they also have distinct and unique traits. [read more...]
Black holes are very dangerous. They use the force of gravity to suck particles away from stars. Many black holes are thought to exist in the middle of galaxies, where they may contain as much matter as millions of stars. [read more...]
Spacecraft, including unmanned probes, artificial satellites, and manned spacecraft, are highly-advanced technology required to operate in extreme conditions. All types of spacecraft have powerful rockets that help them reach space, survey the planet, explore the universe, and communicate. [read more...]
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is Hubble space telescope captures vivid pictures of different stars and galaxies never seen before. The Hubble rapidly orbits above our planet's atmosphere to view the universe more clearly than ground-based telescopes. It takes only 97 minutes for the Hubble to travel around the Earth. [read more...]
The possibility of an asteroid hitting the Earth is real, but unlikely. In fact, scientists have spotted over 500 asteroids whose orbits cross the Earth’s. However, they have lost sight of most of these asteroids over time. [read more...]
Since Apollo 17, human beings have not traveled more than 380 miles above the Earth's surface. But later this year, that will change. NASA is currently working to build a capsule designed to send astronauts more than 3,600 miles into deep space. [read more...]
The Rosetta probe is a spacecraft that was launched into space March 2, 2004 by the European Space Agency. The unmanned probe was sent to pursue comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. [read more...]
The phrase “Houston, we have a problem” has been adopted into everyday life. It is a clever way of saying: “Uh-oh.” This phrase originated nearly 25 years ago on April 13th, 1970, when the Apollo 13 spacecraft experienced an accident. [read more...]
Throw an object, like a ball, into space from Earth at an approximate speed of 25,000 miles per hour. The object would have enough momentum to escape Earth's gravity and reach outer space. This speed is scientifically referred to as an escape velocity and differs for all gravitational fields. The more mass a planet or star has, the stronger its gravitational field, thus the greater its escape velocity. Black holes' masses are so large that their theoretical escape velocity is greater than the speed of light, making them appear colorless or black. [read more...]
The sun’s magnetic field, referred to as the heliosphere, spans the entire solar system. It extends past Pluto and reaches out to the Voyager probes that are sent into interstellar space. The direction of the sun's magnetic field, known as its polarity, reverses roughly every 11 years. During a magnetic field reversal of the sun, the magnetic field weakens, becomes neutral, and then emerges again with the opposite polarity. [read more...]
A little over four and a half billion years ago, a solid mass called the Moon was formed. The Moon has given rise to many myths, legends, and mysteries. Some, for example, believe that it influences our lives and destinies. Others once thought that the Moon may even be a god or goddess. [read more...]
Saturn has 53 known moons, but NASA now believes that there may be one more. Recently, NASA’s space probe, Cassini-Huygens, spotted what may be a new moon in Saturn's outermost ring. Scientists have nicknamed this potential moon ‘Peggy’. [read more...]
Recently, scientists of the University at Geneva declared the finding of a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri B, our sun’s nearest neighbor. The planet has a mass similar to Earth’s, a key feature vital for human survival. Although the planet is much too close to its sun to sustain life, it gives astronomers and space junkies alike hope that there are more planets near it that fit the requirements to host living things. A closer analysis of this mystery planet, however, is causing scientists to question its existence. [read more...]
While staring out into the black night sky, you can often see that Venus is one of the brightest objects in your view. Venus is the second planet from the sun and is similar to Earth in size and mass. It’s also known as Earth’s twin sister. Both planets were born at about the same time, formed by similar materials, and had similar atmospheres. [read more...]
When you think of astronauts, you don’t typically think of women. However, the history of women in space has recently hit the 50-year mark. [read more...]
Nothing sounds more like science fiction than a box that creates an entire meal from a gel-like substance, and then literally prints it out. As crazy as it seems, scientists believe that contraptions like this may actually exist in the next 20 years. [read more...]
Curiosity, NASA’s most advanced rover yet, landed on Mars in August 2012 and continues to survey the planet today. The car-sized rover weighs a ton and contains cutting-edge technology, enabling it to explore Mars’ rocky terrains. Since its landing, the rover has harvested stunning photographs and evidence that points to the existence of microbial life. [read more...]
An eclipse is a phenomenon when the sun or moon is hidden from sight, of which there are three types. [read more...]
On a clear and crisp evening reporters from Simpson Street Free Press set out for the UW-Madison campus. There, we got a chance to visit the Washburn Observatory and catch a glimpse of some well-known planets in the night skies. [read more...]
Many people are familiar with the Big Bang Theory: a large explosion created the entire universe. However, most people are unfamiliar with how matter was formed. Scientists have theorized that the key to this puzzle is the Higgs particle. [read more...]
Recent images taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show dark lines in the mid-latitudes of Mars’ southern hemisphere. Scientists think flows of salt-water may have formed these lines. These lines, however, are very rare. Only seven have been observed. They vary from half a meter to five meters, and could potentially have carried thousands of gallons of water. [read more...]
Although there is a difference between asteroids and meteoroids, both are solid bodies in space. A meteoroid is a small piece of space debris, usually made up of rock or iron. This meteoroid is re-labeled a meteorite when it enters a planet’s atmosphere. An asteroid is described as a larger, solid body of rock that orbits around a star. [read more...]
The mystery of Saturn’s rings has puzzled humans for centuries. During the 20th century, many astronomers theorized that Saturn’s moons had years ago collided with each other, or with an asteroid, leaving behind debris. This debris then formed Saturn’s characteristic rings. If this hypothesis were true, however, rock particles like those that make up Saturn’s moons would be found in its rings. These moons are about half rock and half ice. More recently, scientists discovered that the rings are 95 percent made of ice. In other words, there is much less rock in the rings than in the moons. [read more...]
About 4.5 billion years ago, a Mars-sized asteroid collided into the newly molten Earth. The powerful impact threw scattered debris into space. Over millions of years this rubble formed a roughly-shaped sphere that started to orbit the Earth. Today we call this sphere Earth’s moon. [read more...]
Astronomers have found and labeled “Goldilocks” planet. [read more...]
Scientists searching for extraterrestrial life once faced amused skepticism. But according to Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Life (SETI) Institute of California, the general concensus is shifting. [read more...]
Astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian center for astrophysics recently discovered a blue star that is running quickly through the galaxy came from the center of the Milky Way. Scientists now think this strange star began its journey about a million years ago. [read more...]
Of the 118 known elements, six are essential for life: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur— or so scientists thought. [read more...]
Molten lava, volcanic rock and just volcanoes themselves are considered among Earth’s natural wonders. But a new discovery half way across our solar indicated a different kind of volcano exists on a giant moon called Titan. [read more...]
Fire is caused when oxygen reacts with another substance, like carbon. The result of that chemical reaction is known as combustion. But there is no air in space, so how does the sun burn? Well, the sun doesn’t really “burn” like a campfire, it actually boils. Its atoms crash into each other, which creates a unique process called nuclear fusion. [read more...]
Although star formations have been in existence much longer than human beings, little is understood about them. Astronomer Deidre Hunter has been studying small galaxies known as dwarf irregular galaxies for the past 17 years. She and her team at Lowell Observatory hope to shed some light on these mysterious stars. [read more...]
The Hayabusa explorer is a Japanese space probe that was launched in 2003. Its goal was to bring back asteroid samples that might provide clues to the evolution of our Solar System. [read more...]
Since the first Viking missions to Mars in 1976, the mysterious Red Planet has been explored many times. Initially, the possibility of water on Mars intrigued scientists. Now that researchers have confirmed the existence of water, scientists are pushing to find out if life too, exists there. This curiosity has compelled NASA to plan an elaborate mission to investigate the rock and soil of Mars. [read more...]
There have been many news reports lately about the Obama administration’s decision to end NASA’s role in manned space flights. Instead, private companies will be encouraged to take leadership in the area. [read more...]
Stars are everywhere in the universe. They can be seen all over the night sky. But how do they start? How do they end? The mysteries of the skies have fascinated astronomers for generations. [read more...]
In late April, President Obama outlined a new direction for NASA that would significantly alter our country’s space exploration program. [read more...]
William Borucki of the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California recently made a fascinating discovery. While using the powerful Kepler space telescope, Borucki and his team discovered five new and unusual planets orbiting nearby stars. [read more...]
We all have a sense of wonder. It’s part of what makes us humans. For many of us this sense of wonder leads to questions about how, when, and why the universe began. One explanation to this mystery is the Big Bang theory. [read more...]
An asteroid is a rocky, metallic object in the sky that orbits the sun. An asteroid belt is filled with many kinds of asteroids whose shapes have been formed by years of collisions. [read more...]
You have undoubtedly heard of hurricanes on Earth, but have you ever heard of tornadoes on Mars? It may sound far-fetched, but tornadoes and hurricanes happen in many places all over the universe. [read more...]