There’s no better way of making one feel individually obtuse on a universal scale than by looking outwards and upwards towards space and realising how physics functions around us. Truth is, were an insignificant biological mass blasting through space at around 530 kilometers (330 miles) per second with little understanding of the part we play in the cycle of time. Space facts are an excellent way of reminding us of our scientific ignorance.
First, something most of you know. There are thousands of other planets out there.
We have eight planets in our Solar System. However, outside of our Solar System there are thousands of other planets. The extra-solar planets or exo-planets are in orbit around another star. So far we have almost 1800 confirmed new worlds, with another 3000 awaiting confirmation. Astronomers are looking to a star’s goldilocks zone for planets that may be habitable, just like the Earth. The majority of planets discovered so far are hot gas giant planets.
The light hitting the earth right now is 30 thousand years old.
The energy in the sunlight we see today started out in the core of the Sun 30,000 years ago – it spent most of this time passing through the dense atoms that make the sun and just 8.5 minutes to reach us once it had left the Sun! The temperature at the core of the sun is 13,600,000 kelvins. All of the energy produced by fusion in the core must travel through many successive layers to the solar photosphere before it escapes into space as sunlight or kinetic energy of particles.
In space the skin on your feet peels off
This is a pretty gross fact but in the micro-gravity environment, astronauts are not using their feet to walk. Therefore the skin on their feet starts to soften and flakes off. As laundry facilities do not exist in space, astronauts will wear the same underwear and socks for a few days. Those socks then need to be taken off very gently. If not those dead skin cells will float around in the weightless environment.
The Apollo crews did not have life insurance
On the chance that the 3 man crew of Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins did not return safely from the moon, they were not covered by any life insurance policy. So before their trip all 3 men signed photographs that could be sold in the event of their death. These Insurance covers were also stamped and posted on the start date of the mission, July 16th 1969 by a friend.
The Big Dipper is not a constellation, it is an asterism
Many people consider the big dipper to be a constellation but, in fact, it is an asterism. An asterism is a pattern of stars in the sky which is not one of the official 88 constellations; they are also composed of stars which are not physically related to each other and can be vast distances apart. An asterism can be composed of stars from one or more constellations – in the case of the Big Dipper, it is composed entirely of the seven brightest stars in the Ursa Major (Great Bear) constellation.
If two pieces of metal touch in space, they become permanently stuck together
This may sound unbelievable, but it is true. Two pieces of metal without any coating on them will form in to one piece in the vacuum of space. This doesn’t happen on earth because the atmosphere puts a layer of oxidized material between the surfaces. This might seem like it would be a big problem on the space station but as most tools used there have come from earth, they are already coated with material. In fact, the only evidence of this seen so far has been in experiments designed to provoke the reaction. This process is called cold welding.
You can cry in space but your tears don’t fall
On-board the International Space Station, water floats like bubbles or spheres. However the water will cling to a surface until it is dislodged. This means that tears start to form bubbles around your eyes as the weightless environment is not causing your tears to fall. This sounds really cool but it can be dangerous. ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano suffered a space suit leak whilst on a spacewalk. The water leaked into his helmet covered his eyes and ears, but thankfully he made it back into the Space Station unharmed, but if not he could have drowned in space.
The moon is drifting away from Earth
Every year the moon moves about 3.8cm further away from the Earth. This is caused by tidal effects. Consequently, the earth is slowing in rotation by about 0.002 seconds per day per century. Scientists do not know how the moon was created, but the generally accepted theory suggests that a large Mars sized object hit the earth causing the Moon to splinter off.
Astronauts were placed in quarantine after returning from the moon.
There is a famous image of President Nixon talking to the Apollo 11 crew consisting of Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. This continued until after the Apollo 14 crew returned safely. After this it was decided that the Moon did not contain any deadly diseases. The Apollo 13 crew, who had a malfunction and had to return to Earth, did not have to be quarantined after their re-entry as they didn’t actually walk on the moon.
One million Earths can fit inside the Sun.
Ancient astronomers once believed the Earth was at the centre of the Universe but now we know that the Sun is at the centre of our Solar System and our planets orbit the Sun. The Sun makes up 99.8% of the entire mass of the whole Solar System. One million Earths would be needed to be the same size as the Sun.
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