Archive for November, 2011

PostHeaderIcon A very special day

Some years ago, when I was about six, maybe seven years old I remember a special day at school when I was allowed out of lessons to watch TV in the communal assembly hall. What was was on TV that was so special that that I was allowed to miss my normal lessons? Well it was the first ever launch of NASA’s space shuttle. I don’t remember its name but I remember being in awe when I saw it lift off. I don’t remember much else about that day other than being amazed that people could propel themselves into space and potentially come back again to tell us about it.

Well yesterday was another one of those days and only second to that day when the first space shuttle lifted off. So what happened yesterday?

Yesterday was a marvellous day for mankind as we saw the launch of United Launch Alliance’s ATLAS V rocket carrying the NASA MSL (Mars Space Laboratory) aka “Curiosity”.

The launch was one of those moments that makes me sit back and think about how ingenious us humans really are….I mean this latest trip to Mars is really amazing. Just imagine that we (well I really meant those great folks at NASA) are going to send a rocket 350 million miles through unknown outer space and then drop a mobile laboratory the size of your average family car down a rope and onto a patch of land not larger than a football pitch…and all that remotely controlled from our own little planet. Oh yeah.. I almost forgot, then they are going to take photos, video and conduct experiments and send the results back to earth! That is like you or me playing darts and throwing a dart over 300 feet (100 meters) and still hitting the bulls eye! Kudos to the NASA team for even trying, lets hope that they succeed!

[EDIT] I just realised that the mission will take 9 months to land on Mars, that means that the spacecraft is travelling at an average speed of 54 thousand miles per hour – WOW!

More about Mars next time…..for now I leave you in awe of the MSL and ATLAS 5.

http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_2117.html

R

 

PostHeaderIcon Long time no post!

Sorry for not posting here for a while. I have been busy with my university studies.

Apart for getting a bamboozlingly good grade on my first assignment I have also been learning a bunch of other cool stuff.

It does not cease to amaze me just how lucky us humans are to have this planet. If we take a deeper look at our planet we can see that so many things in the Universe just came together as if by chance to create this place that we call “home”. For example we have an atmosphere that protects us from the sun’s radiation. Would you believe it if I told you that the sun is just one bloody big nuclear reactor producing 383 000 000 000 000 000 000 Mega Watts of electricity? As I mentioned in my last post that’s the same as 400 million billion nuclear power stations. In fact the atmosphere does such a good job of stopping all that nasty radiation from harming us that we are able to walk around without getting sick. Without the atmosphere a few seconds of exposure to the sun and we’d be toast! In fact the atmosphere does not only protect us from the sun but also from meteorites and other things that career towards us at galactic speeds.

Now as if that’s not enough, by some stoke of luck we happen to be just the right distance from the sun (about 149 million KM on an average day) so that it is not too hot, nor too cold, not too bright, nor too dark. And to add another perspective, what is the chance of finding a planet with water and oxygen needed to sustain life. To top it all off something knocked the earth onto a 23.5 degree incline and its this inclination that gives us our seasons and makes the poles colder and the equator hotter.

And even weirder is the fact that earth’s orbit around the sun is, as luck would have it, just the right speed to prevent that we have winter and summer in one day as happens with other planets (some planets have days that are longer that their years and winter and summer in the same day! So how good do we have it here on earth!)

One more thing, we all know that the earth is turning, well do you know how many degrees it turns every day? Remember that there are 360 degrees in a circle. Well the answer might just surprise you. The earth turns 361 degrees every day. No it’s not a typo it’s really three hundred and sixty ONE degrees every 24 hours!

Oh, and I almost forgot , there is the little issue of gravity, not too much that we are squashed like a bug on a windscreen but not too little so that we remain firmly rooted to our planet and don’t spin off into the vastness of the universe.

Well that’s all for today, next week I will explain in more detail some of these odd facts that I mentioned here.

Till then.Bye for now.

R