Tag Archives: outer space

Out of this World – Space Junk and Just Junk

Posted on September 3rd, 2019

Where humans lead, trash follows. Space is no exception. Orbiting our planet is an unknown amount of space junk. There is a very real risk of this junk colliding and creating small pieces of debris that go on to damage other satellites. This damage turns into more small debris, setting off a chain reaction of destruction. Low earth orbit would be inundated with these small particles that shred larger satellites. It would be nearly impossible to launch a satellite into orbit without the junk destroying them. This is known as the Kessler Effect. The movie Gravity was a dramatization of this phenomenon. Once again, our lack of forethought and inability to deal with a known issue until we absolutely have to, has left us vulnerable to a catastrophic future. Dealing with the issue afterward is short sighted and at that point it may be too late. Currently, most satellites degrade in orbit until they burn up in the atmosphere, this can take years and it can still be dangerous to surrounding satellites. The European RemoveDebris mission came up with a few options to reduce the junk in space and recently tested it out. On September 16, the RemoveDebris spacecraft released … testContinue reading

Reaching Orbit – Noppity Nope Nope

Posted on May 7th, 2019

Welcome to the first installment of technology gone awry. These are new advancements that get a big NOPE of disapproval. A company called StartRocket has big plans to launch a flock of cubesats with the sole purpose of floating advertisements in low earth orbit. You may be asking yourself if you just wandered into a cyberpunk science fiction novel. You haven’t. Not only is it real, PepsiCo is more than a little interested in this new mode of advertising in the night sky. The Russian branch of PepsiCo partnered with StartRocket on their initial test of the system using weather balloons. After the original story was published to an outraged readership at Futurism, PepsiCo moonwalked away from their first statement, stating they had no plans for future advertising with StartRocket—for now. StartRocket is undeterred and are currently soliciting advertisers for their 2021 launch. The plan is to launch cubesats in a grid formation and then unfurl Mylar sails that reflect sunlight back to your eyeballs. Each cubesat has its own sail that will face the Earth to reflect light or turn to the side to create the negative space in the advertisement. The ideal time for reflection is early morning … testContinue reading

Reaching Orbit – Short Attention Span

Posted on May 1st, 2018

Last month I wrote a rather facetious article for those of us who can’t be bothered to read more than a few sentences at a time. Continuing this trend entertains me, so here we go again. Welcome to the short-short version of space in the news. And no – I’m not talking about the short-shorts my dad wore in the 70’s. TESS is up and at ‘em, launched into space on April 18, 2018. A new generation of planet hunter; it will stalk its prey through 85 percent of the visible sky during its two year mission. Kepler had its eye on small, distant stars. TESS is staying in the galactic neighborhood of 30 to 300 light-years and targeting big mama jamas 30 to 100 times brighter then Kepler’s targets. Enough about TESS, she’s been getting all the attention lately and she’s just as fine as she can be. What about Steve? People still be looking for Steve. He’s been hard to find and NASA is asking the public for help locating him. This is not an episode of America’s Most Wanted and I’m not wandering through some abandoned building in a trench coat. Steve is a recently discovered atmospheric … testContinue reading

Out of This World – Fabric for Space

Posted on May 2nd, 2017

The word ‘fabric’ brings many different images to mind, from clothes to car seat covers. Space fabric, however, is an entirely different animal that can be just as versatile. Taking into account the unique conditions in space, covering surfaces there requires a different perspective. To this end, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory created a prototype fabric that resembles the pixels on your television screen. Small, square boxes that are linked together make the material easily malleable to most surfaces and terrains. The fabric is also insulating as the squares on the front are reflective while the backing absorbs energy. Covering satellites, probes and space crafts with the fabric could protect them from harsh environments and control the temperature inside the craft. Double bonus, the space fabric is created by a 3-D printer. It’s not just really nifty sounding, it makes manufacturing easier and cheaper. Lowering the cost of production is a huge plus for engineers. Space exploration is an expensive endeavor and keeping costs down opens up new avenues for innovation. Hypothetically, the fabric could be made in space using a 3-D printer on board a spacecraft. As we delve deeper into the inhospitable environment of space, astronauts will … testContinue reading

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