In a nutshell, comets are small bodies of ice and dust in orbit around the Sun. When they pass near the sun, they start to vaporize creating long tails of dust and gas. Even this small amount of information makes us ask so many questions about these members of our solar system.
Christmas Eve of 1968 saw the arrival of the first humans at the Moon – the crew of Apollo 8. A truly momentous event in history, the arrival of humans to another world for the very first time.
The rapidly-approaching 2019 will let us mark a half-century since human beings took the first steps on a body other than the Earth, namely our own Moon. But, come the New Year, lunar exploration is likely to make the headlines for one other reason: a number of robotic spacecraft built by three different nations will attempt to repeat the feat accomplished by the Apollo programme and land on the Moon’s surface.
Some seven months ago, a NASA spacecraft called InSight was launched atop an Atlas 5 rocket and headed to Mars (Figure 1). If all goes well, the spacecraft will land on the Martian surface at around 8pm UK time this Monday 26th November and begin its science investigation. InSight is a fixed lander (see Figure 2 below), a much simpler affair than the Curiosity rover that arrived in 2012 and continues its trek across the floor of Gale crater to this day. Mobility, is however, not required for the specific aim of the mission.
Have you ever wondered what is it like to live in space? How you put things down when there’s no ‘up’ or ‘down’? How do you sleep when nothing holds you to your bed? How you wash your face when the water does not behave normally? Here are some interesting facts about life in space.
During the summer every year, we observe the International Asteroid Day (“Asteroid Day” for short) on 30th June. The United Nations has proclaimed it will be observed globally on that date “to raise awareness about asteroids and what can be done to protect the Earth, its families, communities, and future generations from a catastrophic event.”
While their topics certainly have some overlap, the date for the Asteroid Day was not chosen in acknowledgment of the film Armageddon (which was released on 1st July 1998), but to commemorate a much more real and to this day somewhat mysterious occurrence: the Tunguska event (which would also make a good movie title!). This summer marks the 110th anniversary of what is believed to be the largest impact event on Earth in recorded history.
Astronomers now know many hundreds of planets orbiting other stars in our Galaxy. These show an incredible amount of diversity in their basic properties such as size and temperature with no two planets being quite the same. But the Earth is still unique among planets within or outside our solar system in its ability to support life
July 20 1969 saw, arguably, the most famous event in all of human history when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the Moon and left his footprints there – a mark still indelibly framed in the lunar dust today, some 49 years later. It may seem almost as incredible that it is indeed nearly half a century ago that this epochal event occurred, one that united all of humanity for a short while, as we stared at that yellow orb in our night skies to know that one of our species was walking on it surface.