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A space-weathered  @SpaceX #Dragon looking great moments before release today.  Credit: NASA/Reid Wiseman

A space-weathered @SpaceX #Dragon looking great moments before release today – Oct. 25, 2014 . Credit: NASA/Reid Wiseman

Concluding a busy five week mission, the SpaceX Dragon CRS-4 commercial cargo ship departed the International Space Station (ISS) this morning, Oct. 25, after delivering a slew of some 2.5 tons of ground breaking science experiments and critical supplies that also inaugurated a new era in Earth science at the massive orbiting outpost following installation of the ISS-RapidScat payload.

Dragon was released from the snares of the station’s robotic arm at 9: 57 a.m. EDT while soaring some [click to continue…]

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You could fit all the planets within the average distance to the Moon.

You could fit all the planets within the average distance to the Moon.


I ran into this intriguing infographic over on Reddit that claimed that you could fit all the planets of the Solar System within the average distance between the Earth and the Moon.

I’d honestly never heard this stat before, and it’s pretty amazing how well they tightly fit together.

But I thought it would be a good idea to doublecheck the math, just to be absolutely certain. I pulled my numbers from NASA’s Solar System Fact Sheets, and they’re a little different from the original infographic, but close enough that the comparison is still valid.

Planet Average Diameter (km)
Mercury 4,879
Venus 12,104
Mars 6,771
Jupiter 139,822
Saturn 116,464
Uranus 50,724
Neptune 49,244
Total 380,008

The average distance from the Earth to the Moon is 384,400 km. And check it out, that leaves us with 4,392 km to spare.

So what could we do with the rest of that distance? Well, we could obviously fit Pluto into that slot. It’s around 2,300 km across. Which leaves us about 2,092 km to play with. We could fit one more dwarf planet in there (not Eris though, too big).

The amazing Wolfram-Alpha can make this calculation for you automatically: total diameter of the planets. Although, this includes the diameter of Earth too.

A nod to CapnTrip on Reddit for posting this.

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Google’s Vice President of Search, Alan Eustace, has just smashed the altitude record for stratospheric skydiving. His liftoff was from Roswell, New Mexico is where the record was first set in 1960 by USAF Colonel Joseph Kittinger. (Credit: Paragon Space Development Corporation)

Google’s Vice President of Search, Alan Eustace, has just smashed the altitude record for stratospheric skydiving. His liftoff from Roswell, New Mexico, is where the record was first set in 1960 by USAF Colonel Joseph Kittinger. (Credit: Paragon Space Development Corporation)

Just a little over two years since Felix Baumgartner broke USAF Colonel Joseph Kittinger’s stratospheric jump record, Alan Eustace from Google has independently smashed the high altitude skydiving record again. This brings home to Silicon Valley a record that might stand for a while. Eustace took a minimalist approach to the jump. His setup involved a helium filled balloon and just him hanging from the balloon in a spacesuit. Pure and simple, this permitted his system to reach 135,890 feet above the Earth, over 41 kilometers altitude, exceeding Baumgartner’s record by 7000 feet.

The simple design of his balloon launch might remind one of a bungy jump. This one maxed out at 822 mph and created a sonic boom. How can anyone break his record now? Can someone rise to a higher altitude? What is next for the Google high flyers? Will Baumgartner take this as a challenge to retake the record?

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Making Cubesats do Astronomy

Will cubesats develop a new technological branch of astronomy? Goddard engineers are taking the necessary steps to make cubesat sized telescopes a reality. (Credit: NASA, UniverseToday/TRR)

Will cubesats lead to a new technological branch of astronomy? Goddard engineers are taking the necessary steps to make cubesat-sized telescopes a reality. (Credit: NASA, UniverseToday/TRR)

One doesn’t take two cubesats and rub them together to make static electricity. Rather, you send them on a brief space voyage to low-earth orbit (LEO) and space them apart some distance and voilà, you have a telescope. That is the plan of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center engineers and also what has been imagined by several others.

Cubesats are one of the big crazes in the new space industry. But nearly all that have flown to-date are simple rudderless cubes taking photos when they are oriented correctly. The GSFC engineers are planning to give two cubes substantial control of their positions relative to each other and to the Universe surrounding them. With one holding a telescope and the other a disk to blot out the bright sun, their cubesat telescope will do what not even the Hubble Space Telescope is capable of and for far less money.

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Weekly Space Hangout – Oct. 24, 2014

Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain)

Guests:
Ramin Skibba (@raminskibba)
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