In the end, everything dies, even plucky space robots. Today we examine the last days of a series of missions. How do spacecraft tend to die, and what did in such heroes as Kepler, Spirit, and Galileo (the missions… not the people).
Even the ancient astronomers knew there was something different about the planets. Unlike the rest of the stars, the planets move across the sky, backwards and forwards, round and round. It wasn’t until Copernicus that we finally had a modern notion of what exactly is going on.
Sometimes a trilogy needs four parts! The Astronomy Cast team of Fraser Cain and Pamela Gay have taken a look at the history and modern era of space stations, as well as peering into the future at some space station concepts still in the works. You can listen to this four-part series at the Astronomy Cast website, or at the links below:
And the podcast is also available as a video, as Fraser and Pamela now record Astronomy Cast as part of a Google+ Hangout. You can see their latest Hangouts at the Astronomy Cast YouTube page. They record most Mondays at 18:00 UTC (3:00 PM EDT, 12:00 PDT) at Google+.
The mighty Arecibo Radio Observatory is one of the most powerful radio telescopes ever built – it’s certainly the larger single aperture radio telescope on Earth, nestled into a natural sinkhole in Puerto Rico. We’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the construction of the observatory with a special episode of Astronomy Cast.
Astronomy Cast has recently uploaded several new podcasts, and while we normally post them separately here on Universe Today, since there are a number of them arriving at once, here’s a list of the new ones:
We’ve recently had a ‘changing of the guard’ at Astronomy Cast as far as getting things posted to the AC website and getting podcasts loaded to the feed, and are now getting caught up. But as you probably know, Fraser and Pamela now record Astronomy Cast as part of Google+ Hangouts. You can watch them record live at Google+ (they usually record on Mondays at 12 noon Pacific time) or at the AstrosphereVids You Tube channel (where you can watch past Hangouts as well).
Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. These are the seasons we experience here on Earth as our planet completes an orbit around the Sun. But what’s going on? Why do we experience such different temperatures and weather over the course of 365 days? Do other planets experience the seasons like we do?
We’ve all seen the classic science fiction space explosions, full of flames and loud sounds. Beautiful on the screen but, totally lacking in any kind of… science. What’s wrong with science fiction? What would chemical and nuclear explosions really look like? What would we hear? And what are some natural explosions that nature detonates in space?
In order to allow for a static Universe, Albert Einstein introduced the concept of the Cosmological Constant Lambda to make the math work out. Once it was discovered that the Universe was actually expanding, he threw the number out calling it his “biggest blunder.” But thanks to dark energy, the Cosmological Constant is back.
When Edwin Hubble observed that distant galaxies are speeding away from us in all directions, he discovered the reality that we live in an expanding Universe. Hubble worked to calculate exactly how fast this expansion is happening, creating the Hubble constant – which astronomers continue to refine and reference in their research.
When an object is orbiting the Earth, it’s really falling. The trick, described in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, is how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. There are several different kinds of orbits, and they are good for different reasons. From suborbital jumps to geostationary orbit, time to learn everything there is to know about going around and around and around.