Tag Archives: astronomy

What Is Our Place In The Milky Way?



What is our place in the Milky Way? And our place in the Universe? In ancient times, many people had the idea our planet Earth to be at the centre of the Universe, as stated by Aristotle and Ptolomeus in their ptolemaic – aristotelic concept of universe: according to this model, Earth is at the center of the universe and all the other celestial bodies orbit around it. Today lots of people think the same. But is this really the case? To answer this question, let’s try to to a travel in the universe, through space and time; we will start our travel from our planet to reach, in the end, the extreme boundaries of the universe.
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During the 1600s, Galileo Galilei, the famous Italian astronomer, was one of the first people, during modern age, to have some doubts about the geocentric model of universe: thanks to telescopic observations, he was able to demonstrate our Earth is not at the rotation centre of planets and the Sun, but really it is the Sun itself. Moreover, observing planet Jupiter, he discovered that the giant planet is the rotation center for its moons. So, Galileo became aware that the center of the Solar System was the Sun, not the Earth!

The Solar System is made by a star, the Sun, eight planets and different types of minor celestial bodies, like comets, asteroids and dwarf planets.
Well, the Earth isn’t at the center of the Solar System, maybe is the closest planet to our Sun? No it isn’t, because it is only the third planet from the Sun: the closest planet to our star is Mercury, followed by Venus and then Earth. The Earth moves around the Sun, our star, just like all the other celestial bodies in the Solar System do: this implies that the Sun, and not our planet, is the center of rotation of the Solar System! The Earth takes a year, 365 days, to travel its orbit, and its average distance from the Sun is 150 million kilometers, which is the measure unit of distances in the Solar System known as the astronomical unit and abbreviated AU. Why do we talk about average distance? Because the orbit traveled by the Earth around the Sun is not circular but elliptical, and this means that there will be an aphelion (i.e. the point of the Earth’s orbit farthest from the Sun, just over 1 AU away from it) and a perihelion (the point of Earth’s orbit closest to the Sun, just under 1 AU). An alternative way to define the astronomical unit passes through the light time, in particular we can say that the average distance Earth – Sun is equal to about 8 light minutes: this means that sunlight takes 8 minutes to arrive on Earth, so that the sunlight we see at a certain moment is not that of that moment but it is the sunlight which left from the Sun 8 minutes earlier! In other words: if the sun went out for example at 2.30 pm, we would only notice it at 2.38 pm! Or again: if you could travel aboard the Star Wars Millennium Falcon it would take you only 8 minutes to travel from the Sun to the Earth (when in reality it takes a few years). To give a more concrete idea of the dimensions of the Solar System: if the Sun were a sphere with a diameter of 14 cm, Pluto would be at 700 m from the Sun, like seven regular soccer fields!

The nearest celestial body to Earth is the Moon, our satellite: to reach it you should take three days off! It’s the same time taken by Apollo astronauts to cover the distance of nearly 400 thousand kilometers that separate Moon and Earth. But if you had Star Trek Enterprise, and travel at maximum curvature, you would only take less than 2 seconds to reach the Moon!

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#InsaneCuriosity #MilkyWay #Galaxies

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The New Space Race! The Battle Of The Billionaires



We see NASA is firing up its rockets to go back to the moon again and multiple startups and industries have sprung up in this new race with some huge billionaire giants like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson where all are racing to conquer the new space industry. In this video we will talk about all those big billionaires and what are their plans for the future of our space. 
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This time it’s not only the US and the Russia. Several countries and private companies have announced plans for space exploration. This year alone India and China have announced their bids to be space powers with plans of launching missions to to mars and the moon. US has plans for many deep space missions along with Europe and United Arab Emirates, which has recently sent its probe on the red planet. So why has there been such interest in the space recently!! Well it because the space industry is a new gold rush. The economics is making sense and many new industries have formed around space.  Already there are space 3d printing companies that have printed on the International space station (ISS). The manufacturing of more efficient fibre optic cables has also become possible in space. Space manufacturing could create many startling new technologies that would lead to industries that don’t even exist today.  Extraterrestrial colonisation is a fascination for these billionaires, and space tourism is an exciting field for which many have even paid in advance. NASA had announce its lunar program Artemis “to land the first woman and the next man on the moon” and many private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin are competing to provide their services of commercial payloads for the mission. NASA also plans to land Astronauts on the never visited part of the moon, The South Pole, and give astronauts 6.5 days on the lunar surface. For this NASA turns to private companies and the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, jumped at this opportunity. SpaceX founder Elon Musk successfully launched the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Centre on May 30, 2020 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Space tourism seems is also an area which SpaceX and Blue Origin want to accomplish. But there is another player who wants his part in this, Richard Branson and his V*rgin Atlantic. Recently he announced that he has 800 astronauts who have already signed up wanting to go to space. 

So let’s discuss the first Billionaire and also the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos and his company Blue Origin. Jeff Bezos has shown his fascination about Space and possibilities of human life in space. The coming couple of years seem to be a busy year for Blue Origin, and American Aerospace manufacturer led by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos founded in the year 2000 the company has a goal of improving space tourism and make it accessible to everyone and even build space colonies for human beings in orbit complete with hotels, amusement parks, restaurants and other infrastructures. His ventures are comparative to that of Richard Branson and Elon Musk who also have put space Exploration as their foremost business interest.  Blue Origin is planning for a construction of a warehouse in Florida for building and launching rockets with dreams to reach and find many ways to explore the moon. The company has been invested in developing a vertical takeoff and landing spacecraft called New Shepard, named after the astronaut Alan Shepherd who was the first American to go to space. It is a reusable rocket and will not only make safe takeoff and landing but also will save loads of cost of building and launching new rockets and aims to take passengers into space and have a quick view of the earth and feel the weightlessness and excitement of space. It plans to do so by sending a capsule into the orbit which would hold a maximum of six people which might increase.
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#InsaneCuriosity #TheNewSpaceRace #SpaceTourism

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Io: Jupiter's Volcanic Moon!



From the discovery of the moon, to what makes it so volcanic, and more! Join us as we explore Io: Jupiter’s Volcanic Moon!
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8. The Discovery Of Io
In many ways, Io is one of the more popular moons of Jupiter. It’s been referenced many a time as we’ll note later. But how did we learn about this very special moon?
The first reported observation of Io was made by Galileo Galilei on 7 January 1610 using a 20x-power, refracting telescope at the University of Padua. However, in that observation, Galileo could not separate Io and Europa due to the low power of his telescope, so the two were recorded as a single point of light. Io and Europa were seen for the first time as separate bodies during Galileo’s observations of the Jovian system the following day, January 8th, 1610 ( this is used as the discovery date for Io by the IAU).
The discovery of Io and the other Galilean satellites of Jupiter was published in Galileo’s Sidereus Nuncius in March 1610. In his Mundus Jovialis, published in 1614, Simon Marius claimed to have discovered Io and the other moons of Jupiter in 1609, one week before Galileo’s discovery. Galileo doubted this claim and dismissed the work of Marius as plagiarism. Regardless, Marius’s first recorded observation came from 29 December 1609 in the Julian calendar, which equates to January 8th, 1610 in the Gregorian calendar, which Galileo used. Given that Galileo published his work before Marius, Galileo is credited with the discovery.
But the end of the “discovery” did not end there. Because for basically 250 years various astronomers tried to learn more about Io. But because of its place in space all they could usually see was a ball of light. It would take a while for them to start to parse out the details of the moon.
Improved telescope technology in the late 19th and 20th centuries allowed astronomers to resolve (that is, see as distinct objects) large-scale surface features on Io. In the 1890s, Edward E. Barnard was the first to observe variations in Io’s brightness between its equatorial and polar regions, correctly determining that this was due to differences in color and albedo between the two regions and not due to Io being egg-shaped, as proposed at the time by fellow astronomer William Pickering, or two separate objects, as initially proposed by Barnard. Later telescopic observations confirmed Io’s distinct reddish-brown polar regions and yellow-white equatorial band.
Telescopic observations in the mid-20th century began to hint at Io’s unusual nature. Spectroscopic observations suggested that Io’s surface was devoid of water ice (a substance found to be plentiful on the other Galilean satellites).
So as you can see, this wasn’t just a discovery of trying to find the moon, but to try and understand what it was and what it was like in regards to its very nature. Which would be further expanded upon in the future via attempts to explore the moon with probes and satellites.
7. The Exploration of Io Part 1
In the late 1960s, a concept known as the Planetary Grand Tour was developed in the United States by NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). It would allow a single spacecraft to travel past the asteroid belt and onto each of the outer planets, including Jupiter, if the mission was launched in 1976 or 1977. However, there was uncertainty over whether a spacecraft could survive passage through the asteroid belt, where micrometeoroids could cause it physical damage, or the intense Jovian magnetosphere, where charged particles could harm sensitive electronics.

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Credits: Ron Miller
Credits: Nasa/Shutterstock/Storyblocks/Elon Musk/SpaceX/Esa
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Credits: JPL/ university of arizona/ DLR/goddard/scientific visualization studio/SwRi/MSSS/UCLA/USGS
wellcome images
burkhard mùche
horst frank -commonswiki
volcanopele at english wikipedia
rick guidice/Robbie Shade/ Lunar and Planetary Institute/Mailset

#InsaneCuriosity #IoMoon #TheSolarSystem

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What If Earth Was Spinning at the Speed of Light?



The Earth makes one full rotation on its axis every 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4.1 seconds. And it’s not moving at the same speed everywhere. The rotational speed varies depending on your distance to the poles. This rotation makes Earth suitable for life. The diurnal cycle, or the shifting between day and night, helps keep the planet at a habitable temperature. Earth’s rotation is the driving force of weather patterns. Even tides are affected by the Earth’s spin.

So if we were to accelerate this rotation, would we completely destabilize the climate? What would happen to the length of our day? What geographical and climate changes would occur? And at what point would life on Earth cease to exist?

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What If You Traveled to the Hell Planet?



We visit a lot of planets here on WHAT IF, but K2-141b is the most extreme one yet. Are you ready to jump on board this one-way space shuttle? If you’d rather stay safely Earthbound, I want you to take a look up at the night sky and find the constellation of Aquarius. Right there. Now imagine traveling 202 light-years in that direction, and that’s where you’d find the hell planet. What’s that stuff falling from the sky? Why is this planet so different from Earth? How did it get that name?

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What If We Could See Through a Black Hole?

What If We Could See Through a Black Hole?

Get more insightful information about black holes with Pr. Clifford Johnson:

This star is about to transform into a black hole. And we’re about to travel inside it to see what’s on the other side. The only problem is that we’ll never be able to report our findings back to Earth. Because once you go inside a black hole, there’s no coming back. So maybe there’s a better way to find out what’s on the other side. Could we use a special telescope? How would light behave inside a black hole? And why could the first image of a black hole provide all the answers?

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3 Nations Arrive On Mars!

3 Nations Arrive On Mars!

The Mars race to the red planet has long appeared to be exclusive to the biggest billionaires and their corporate backups, but someone else has crossed the white ribbon first. We’ll talk about these folks and more in today’s episode!
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If you’re like me who loves all the news going around about the red planet, you probably would have already heard about the biggest players in the game of getting to Mars first. Of course, first and foremost, there’s the ever popular SpaceX program by Elon Musk. Then we also have Blue Origin by Jeff Bezos.You can really tell that there’s really huge interest in bagging the medal of being the first corporate entity to bring Earth to Mars. I mean, for something to get two of the world’s biggest billionaires? I don’t think they are men who like to waste time on anything they wouldn’t believe have any value whatsoever. Be honest, guys. Who among these two did you place your bets on?
Well, if you did place any money on either of them, then I have bad news for you.

After beginning their 480 million kilometer journey — or, for you Americans watching the show, about 300 million miles — mid July last year, Mars gets visited by not just one, but two unmanned space probes just this February 10th. The first one, arriving at the 9th was United Arab Emirates’ Hope, followed by China’s Tianwen-1 just about a day after.

This amazing feat placed both countries as the fifth and sixth cultures from Earth to successfully be welcomed by our vermillion neighbor. The first four to make it there were, firstly of course, the USA, followed by, India, the old Soviet Union and Europe through the European Space Agency.

Actually, if we include NASA’s Perseverance arriving by the 18th, that puts Elon and Jeff way, way behind. Keep up, boys!

As of the current moment, Hope and Tianwen-1 are already orbiting the Martian atmosphere. A Herculean challenge that they completed with flying colors.

The amazing feat that these two spacecraft accomplished is already super impressive, considering that about half of missions sent to Mars were unsuccessful. You see how many crash-and-burns SpaceX missions had in its lifetime, right?

But, okay, I know that Mars appears to be an extremely popular destination for some of the most important entities and individuals in the world, but these missions did not go there just to have a vacation. Let’s talk about what these probes were sent there to do, shall we? Let’s begin with the first to get there, UAE’s flagship interplanetary mission, Hope…or Al-Amal, as locally known in Arabic.

UAE is not entirely a newbie in terms of sending instruments in space. Officially speaking, Hope is the fourth one in their resume. You can imagine the level of sophistication in the technology that they are bringing, with the history of space missions they have already launched.
Now, let’s move on to the next visitor to our sister planet and potential future home: China’s Tianwen-1. I’d like to talk about the name for a bit before going any further, because I just can’t get over the fact that it is an extremely poetic name.

One translation of the probe’s name is “a quest for the heavenly truth”.
Last but not the least, let’s now talk about the last visitor to Mars, NASA’s Perseverance. Or Percy for short. Pretty cute name, isn’t it?

Following a long line of predecessors, one including the popular names such as Opportunity and Curiosity, this probe is tasked with a mission to know more about the Red Planet. Upon arriving within the vicinity of Mars, it’s scheduled to land on the Jezero Crater.

And did I tell you that Percy didn’t come all by himself? The rover is also carrying Ingenuity, a robotic helicopter that will serve as a part of a handful of tech demonstrations that will be carried out by the rover. The mini helicopter is aimed to determine the feasibility of flight on the red planet. Moreover, Ingenuity will fly over the landing site of Perseverance to help plan its route better, and to look for targets that could be interesting to pick up.

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#InsaneCuriosity #MarsRace #MarsMission

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What If We Settled on an Exoplanet?

What If We Settled on an Exoplanet?

Are you looking for a change of scenery? Are you tired of boring old Earth?
How would you like a new home away from home? Really far away from home. Like outside our Solar System far. What exoplanet would suit us best? Are there any pros? And more importantly, what are the cons?

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Hope: The First "Emirates Mars Mission"!

Hope: The First Emirates Mars Mission!

Every nation right now is racing to make contact with Mars, if not in person, then at least with a robotic spacecraft in preparations for humans to one day land on the red planet.

And I hope you’re all as excited as we are for a new nation joining the quest towards exploring Mars, we’re talking about the United Arab Emirates.

Yes, the United Arab Emirates is going to be the first Arab and gulf region country to send a scientific mission to the red planet on July 20th. How exciting!
China’s Tianwen -1 Mars Mission!
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The motivation for the mission started back in the year 2014, and along six years, the United Arab Emirates Space Agency and its collaborators around the world went into planning the mission and designing its probe, and now, the UAE nation’s dream is finally going to become a reality.

The official name of the mission is “Emirates Mars Mission” and the probe was given the name “Hope Probe” to represent the hope of the Emirati youth and nation to conquer space exploration starting with a mission towards Mars.

Fun fact, the word “Hope” in Arabic is “Amal”, to pronounce it correctly, think of George Clooney’s wife; “Amal Clooney”, it’s literally the same name!

The 200 million dollar mission will be worth every cent, not only for the massive scientific advancements, but also for being the first in the Arab region and the Middle East to push its limits and visit the red planet.

The “Emirates Mars Mission” will not be landing on Mars, it is designed as a probe to orbit the planet and gather information remotely. The probe is very light weight with only 1.35 Kilograms (2.97 pounds) including fuel, and dimensions up to 3 meter x 7.9 meters (9.8 feet x 25.9 feet) and that’s while the solar panels are open.

The probe is equipped with 600 watts solar panels to collect enough power for the equipment on board and a 1.85 meter (72 inch) antenna to communicate back and forth with Earth.

But what exactly will the probe be doing up there orbiting Mars?

The mission goals are aligned with the international goals of “The Mars Exploration Program Advisory Group”; an international group that decides the most important scientific questions to be answered regarding Mars.

The group proposes 4 major scientific goals, the “Emirates Mars Mission” is specially concerned with the second of these goals which is to understand the processes and history of climate on Mars, and more specifically, to study the lower and upper atmosphere of the planet.

These goals are further broken down into 3 scientific objectives:
1. Analysing the lower Martian atmosphere to understand the climate dynamics.
2. Analysing the upper Martian atmosphere to understand the weather changes and the escape of Hydrogen and Oxygen.
3. Identifying why Mars is losing Hydrogen and Oxygen into space.

In satisfying these objectives, the “Hope Probe” will be Mars’ first ever weather satellite; continuously monitoring Mars’ weather during all the seasons from an orbital inclination of 25 degrees and a minimum orbital distance of 20000 kilometers (12.4 thousands miles) to a maximum of 43000 kilometeres (26.7 thousands miles.)

The “Emirates Mars Mission” objectives will be realised by 3 instruments aboard the “Hope Probe”:

The first is the “Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer” or (EMIR) for short, this instrument will study the atmosphere of the red planet in the infrared spectrum of light, and it has a spatial resolution of 100 to 300 kilometers.

The spectrometer will scan Mars’ lower atmosphere to understand the distribution of water vapor and ice water as well as dust, and It will also observe the thermal conditions of Mars’ atmosphere.

The second is the “Emirates Exploration Imager” or (EXI) for short which is a camera that takes 12 megapixel high resolution coloured images of Mars and observes the Martian atmosphere in both the visible and the ultraviolet spectrums of light.

The visible light system has a surface resolution of 4.6 km per pixel when the probe is at the farthest point to the planet and a resolution of 2.2 km per pixel at the nearest point.

The ultraviolet light system on the other hand, has a surface resolution of 4.9 km per pixel at the farthest point, and a resolution of 2.3 km per pixel at the nearest point.
The control and operation of the “Hope Probe” will be a collaborative effort between facilities across the world not only in the United Arab Emirates, let’s start with the launch itself that will entirely be under the control of the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA.)

#InsaneCuriosity #HopeEmiratesMarsMission #HopeMarsMission #MarsFactsAndHistory

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