Every day thousands of people around the world log onto NASA's website and download a small software program to calculate the local viewing s of the International Space Station for the coming week. A few times every month. in almost any location on earth between 60 degrees north and 60 degrees south, spectacular overhead passes grace the skies just after sunset or just before dawn as sunlight reflected from the station's massive panels.
As of Feb 2011, The Kepler has discovered 1,235 potential planets. What makes this so striking is the satellite's instruments always point at the same tiny arc of the Milky Way near the constellation called the Northern Cross - only one four-hundredth of the sky. If Kepler could see the whole sky, it would have found some 400,000 planets.
UFO movement seems to have fizzled out. Internet has exposed methods used by fakers and given opportunity for any real proof to be circulated quickly. Absent that proof, just collapse into absurdity.
A Florida tabloid newspaper named 12 American senators as being aliens from outer space. One of them replied that he only had one thing to say to them " Kbatch bilada nikto"
The International Space Station cost 30 times its own weight in gold.
Radiation levels in the deserted streets and apartment blocks of Chernobyl are now safe enough for tourists. But anyone visiting the site of the 1986 nuclear accident is warned to avoid the fungi, which are still highly radioactive because they eat radiation. Now scientists are sending the strange mushrooms into space to see how they might help humans and plants to cope with the effects of radiation — a particular problem with planned missions to Mars. The “black fungi” seem to use the pigment melanin to convert radiation into energy and use it to grow. This month, samples will be sent to the International Space Station. The hope is that better understanding of the mechanisms used may provide clues to engineering radiation-resistant plants.
New Scientist magazine ran a competition asking readers what they would ask an alien if they met one. Most of the suggestions were reasonably predictable: What took you so long? What powers your ship? Can I have a ride? Will you please take back Michael Jackson? Is that a laser in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?
The ones the judges liked best included: Have you ever been abducted by aliens? Do you have crop circles on your planet? Did you think our planet was full of little green men?
Arthur C Clarke reckoned he could prove logically that there were no space-going nations in our neighbourhood, on the basis that our TV programs have been spreading out at the speed of light for 50 or 60 years, and no one has showed up to complain
The Fermi paradox is the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and the lack of evidence for, or contact with, such civilizations. As Enrico Fermi asked, "Where is everybody?"
One answer is that extraterrestial life sufficiently advanced to be capable of interstellar travel or communication must be rare, since otherwise we would have seen evidence of it by now. This in turn is sometimes taken as indirect evidence for the improbability of life evolving at all in our universe.
Two alternate reasons why we haven't heard from extraterrestrials:
"Intelligent species might reasonably worry about the possible dangers of self-advertisement and hence incline towards discretion" - the "Undetectability Conjecture," Strengthening that argument: "Evolutionary selection, acting on a cosmic scale, tends to extinguish species which conspicuously advertise themselves and their habitats."
There are at least 10 times as many stars in the known universe as there are grains of sand in all the world.
There are 6 vehicles and 50 tonnes of litter on the Moon, left behind by Apollo missions.
Even a small cut doesn't heal in space - minor cuts just don't heal until the astronauts land. Reason not understood, but seems cell's mitochondria - it's energy source - doesn't function properly in zero gravity
The Asteroid Belt is very very empty, despite what you see in SF films. If you could put them all together, they would make a body about 4% mass of our Moon, and 1/3 of that mass is in one asteroid, Ceres, which is 600 miles across. Most are named after astronomers scientists authors and artists, but also No 9951 Tyrannosaurus 4147-50 named after the 4 Beatles and 9617-22 after Monty Python principals. Most of Alice in Wonderland characters are represented, with Mad Hatter at 6735 and Cheshire Cat 6042. There are also asteroids named Gary (4735) and Eric (4954)
An unlikely multidisciplinary scientific collaboration has discovered that an electronic nose developed for air quality monitoring on Space Shuttle Endeavour can also be used to detect odour differences in normal and cancerous brain cells. The results of the pilot study open up new possibilities for neurosurgeons in the fight against brain cancer. Neurosurgeons from the City of Hope Cancer Center, along with scientists from the Brain Mapping Foundation in West Hollywood and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, used NASA's electronic nose to investigate the role of cellular odours in cellular trafficking, brain cancer metastasis, stem cell migration, and the potential of the device to be used for intraoperative imaging. The electronic nose, which is to be installed on the International Space Station in order to automatically monitor the station's air, can detect contaminants within a range of one to approximately 10,000 parts per million. In a series of experiments, the Brain Mapping Foundation used NASA's electronic nose to sniff brain cancer cells and cells in other organs. Their data demonstrates that the electronic nose can sense differences in odour from normal versus cancerous cells. These experiments will help pave the way for more sophisticated biochemical analysis and experimentation.
If only cars could last so long.
This month, a satellite resembling a shiny spinning drum and orbiting 21,156 miles above Earth celebrated its 41st birthday, astounding engineers and scientists, some of them the children of those who built it. It was supposed to live for only three years when it was launched in 1967. But the spacecraft, known as ATS 3, isn't alone. Many satellites are operating well past their life expectancy, so much so that manufacturers are hurting from lack of demand for new, replacement satellites. Some satellites are living longer because the initial estimates of their longevity were conservative, but many have operated well beyond even the wildest expectations."In designing them, we had to take into account all the worst-case scenarios," said Art Rosales, Boeing's director of commercial and civil satellite services and a 29-year veteran of the satellite business. Because most satellites can't be repaired once they're in space, every contingency was considered. "The worst cases didn't happen, and that has translated to longer life," he said. Last month, a satellite that was providing an Internet connection for scientists at the South Pole was retired, more than three decades after it went into service. It was designed for a life span of five years.The satellite's longevity "has been truly remarkable," said Kay Sears, president of a government services subsidiary of Intelsat Ltd., a satellite operator. "No one could have ever imagined that its power supply and batteries could have lasted this long."
The space tourist Charles Simonyi, a former Microsoft executive responsible for Word and Excel, describes the optical sight on the Soyuz: "It's like a very old-fashioned--I don't know what it is. There is nothing, no items like that anymore. ... That instrument could have been constructed in the 19th century." Famously, the Russian space program employs a brutalist approach: its engineers use the crudest, oldest technology that works. (Since the first Soyuz flew in 1966, only those parts that have failed or are obviously obsolete have been redesigned.) But the technology aboard the space station, much of which was constructed by the U.S. and European space agencies as well as the Russian, is only a little shinier. Simonyi says, "The space station is so messy. Words don't do justice. It's like going into the messiest hardware store you have ever seen."
Future space travel will provide some amazing sights, as well as the obvious Saturn's rings:
the Earth viewed from the Moon but also:
the volcanoes on Io
the fluorescent aurora on Io when goes behind Jupiter
Jupiter from any of its moons