Above: What Lies Beyond The Edge Of Our Solar System?
The Voyager space probes have gone further into the unknown than any other spacecraft. With both probes officially in interstellar space, what have we learned?
In 1965, a PhD student figured out that every 176 years the four planets in our solar system align in such a unique way that it is possible to use their gravitational forces to slingshot from one planet to the next.
This insight, that came to fruition using just a slide rule and simple computer programs, became part of an ambitious mission to send two probes and golden records out into space for a grand tour.
Enter: The Voyagers.
The Voyager probes are two obscure looking robots, weighing roughly 800 kilograms with giant arms and big ears, it took 1,500 engineers and scientists to bring these robotic explorers to life.
The Voyagers took some of the first detailed snapshots of planets and moons – revealing Io’s volcanism, close-up details of Saturn’s icy rings, and Neptune’s great dark spot.
After traveling for more than 43 years, clocking in 18 billion kilometers traveled, the Voyagers are taking humanity into the next great beyond: interstellar space.
With the opportunity to visit Uranus and Neptune, the NASA engineers developed a mission within a mission, outfitting the probes with 11 different instruments, redundant systems, and autonomous controls.
Find out more about the Voyager mission, what we’ve learned so far, and the experts behind these remarkable achievements.
A black hole is a region of space where so much mass is packed together so densely that it forms what is called a singularity, and nothing can move fast enough to escape its gravitational pull—not even the fastest thing in the universe (we’re talking light) can escape the clutches of a black hole.
And because light can’t escape, no one can really see what is going on inside a black hole. So we end up relying on theories and equations to deduce exactly what is happening at the center of the event horizon.
There are two competing explanations to describe black holes: Einstein’s theory of general relativity and quantum mechanics.
Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity states the mass of a black hole bends spacetime so much that it becomes one single point of infinite density, but according to quantum mechanics there cannot be an infinitely small point.
It can be very very small, but not infinitely so. And this irreconcilable difference is one of the greatest debates in physics, since general relativity is our best description of gravity, while quantum mechanics has been called the most successful theory ever.
But some physicists believe white holes could square these two predictions. Find out more about white holes and how a white hole could reveal what is really happening inside a black hole on this episode of Elements.
Above: How SpaceX’s Starship Will Become The Most Powerful Rocket In The World | Countdown To Launch.
“When SpaceX was founded, its goal was to establish a human colony on Mars, and Starship might be the way to get there…”
In September 2019, Elon Musk unveiled the first iteration of his next-generation vehicle, Starship.
While SpaceX continues to push the limits, this next endeavor might be its most ambitious yet. SpaceX was founded with the intention of one day creating a human colony on Mars, and Elon Musk hopes that Starship and the Super Heavy rocket will be the way to get there.
Starship was built to carry 100 passengers and will serve as the spacecraft to shuttle both people and cargo to Earth’s orbit and beyond.
Starship has its six Raptors, but the real power behind this transportation system comes from the Super Heavy rocket, which has thirty-seven Raptor engines.
In its final form, the Starship and Super Heavy combination will result in the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, and SpaceX is working fast to bring this super project to life.
Find out more about SpaceX’s latest space transportation and exploration endeavor on this episode of Countdown to Launch.
Above: Elon Musk: The Story of SpaceX | Sending Humans To Mars By 2030.
SpaceX is set to turn the aerospace industry upside down. This isn’t the most amazing thing, because the real achievement is the pure ambition of Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX.
About Elon Musk: Founder Of SpaceX, Tesla Motors, SolarCity, And PayPal
Elon Reeve Musk (born on June 28, 1971) is a multi-billionaire South African born Canadian and American business tycoon, entrepreneur, engineer, and inventor. Elon Musk is the founder of SpaceX, co-founder of Tesla Motors, co-founder of SolarCity, co-founder of Zip2, and co-founder of PayPal. As of June 2016, he has an estimated net worth of $12.7 billion United States Dollars, ranking him among the 100 wealthiest people in the world.
Elon Musk has stated that the goals of SpaceX, SolarCity, and Tesla Motors revolve around his vision to change the world and humanity. The goals of Elon Musk include reducing global warming through sustainable energy production and consumption (clean renewable energy), and reducing the risk of human extinction by making life multiplanetary by setting up a human colony on the planet Mars. Elon Musk has also envisioned a high speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop. The first Hyperloop would probably be developed in California with the initial goal of connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles in approximately 45 minutes (about as fast as flying in a commercial airline plane) instead of the usual 5 hour average drive by car.
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, better known as SpaceX, is an American aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company headquartered in Hawthorne, California, United States of America. SpaceX was founded in 2002 by former PayPal founder and Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk with the goal of creating the technologies to reduce space transportation costs and enable the colonization of the planet Mars. SpaceX has developed the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 launch vehicles, both designed to be reusable, and the Dragon spacecraft which is flown into orbit by the Falcon 9 launch vehicle to supply the International Space Station (ISS) with cargo.
Above: What Are Gravitational Waves? Gravitational Waves For Dummies.
The very first gravitational wave has been detected by LIGO, proving Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Where did this gravitational wave come from and what does it mean for the future of space science and astronomy? This article discusses why this scientific discovery is so important, what it means for astronomy, and what’s next for the future of space science and astrophysics.
What Are Gravitational Waves?
Gravitational waves are ripples in the curvature of spacetime that propagate as waves, generated in certain gravitational interactions and traveling outward from their source. The possibility of gravitational waves was discussed in 1893 using the analogy between the inverse-square law in gravitation and electricity. Predicted in 1916 by Albert Einstein on the basis of his theory of general relativity, gravitational waves transport energy as gravitational radiation, a form of radiant energy similar to electromagnetic radiation. Gravitational waves cannot exist in the Newtonian theory of gravitation, since Newtonian theory postulates that physical interactions propagate at infinite speed.
Gravitational wave astronomy is an emerging branch of astronomy which aims to use gravitational waves to collect observational data about objects such as neutron stars and black holes, events such as supernovae, and processes including those of the early universe shortly after the Big Bang. Various gravitational-wave observatories (detectors) are under construction or in operation, such as the Advanced LIGO which began observations in September 2015.
Potential sources of detectable gravitational waves include binary star systems composed of white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes. On February 11, 2016 the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration teams announced that they had made the first observation of gravitational waves, originating from a pair of merging black holes using the Advanced LIGO detectors.
In Einstein’s theory of general relativity, gravity is treated as a phenomenon resulting from the curvature of spacetime. This curvature is caused by the presence of mass. Generally, the more mass that is contained within a given volume of space, the greater the curvature of spacetime will be at the boundary of its volume. As objects with mass move around in spacetime, the curvature changes to reflect the changed locations of those objects. In certain circumstances, accelerating objects generate changes in this curvature, which propagate outwards at the speed of light in a wave-like manner. These propagating phenomena are known as gravitational waves.
Gravitational waves can penetrate regions of space that electromagnetic waves cannot. They are able to allow the observation of the merger of black holes and possibly other exotic objects in the distant Universe. Such systems cannot be observed with more traditional means such as optical telescopes or radio telescopes, and so gravitational wave astronomy gives new insights into the workings of the Universe. In particular, gravitational waves could be of interest to cosmologists as they offer a possible way of observing the very early Universe. Precise measurements of gravitational waves will also allow scientists to more thoroughly test the general theory of relativity.
Albert Einstein And His Search For Gravitational Waves
In 1916 Albert Einstein predicted gravitational waves, ripples in the curvature of spacetime which propagate as waves, traveling outward from the source, transporting energy as gravitational radiation. The first indirect detection of gravitational waves came in the 1970’s through observation of a pair of closely orbiting neutron stars. The explanation of the decay in their orbital period was that they were emitting gravitational waves. Albert Einstein’s prediction was confirmed on February 11, 2016 when researchers at LIGO published direct observation on Earth of gravitational waves, exactly one hundred years after the prediction by Albert Einstein.
Above: What Are Gravitational Waves? Why Should We Care About Gravitational Waves?
On Feb 11, 2016 scientists at LIGO announced that they had detected gravitational waves for the first time. In the press conference heard around the world, the LIGO scientists explained that two black holes had merged 1.3 billion light years away and had created waves that passed by the LIGO detectors and were finally heard. Albert Einstein predicted the existence of these waves in his 1915 theory of general relativity, but it took a long time for us to come up with the technology to detect them. For one thing, we had to invent lasers, so just in case you can’t tell, we are very excited about this great scientific discovery in astronomy and astrophysics.
What Is LIGO And Why Is LIGO So Important In Astronomy And Space Exploration?
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) is a large-scale physics experiment and observatory that was created to detect gravitational waves. LIGO is a joint project among scientists from several colleges and universities. Scientists involved in the project and the analysis of the data for gravitational wave astronomy are organized by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration which includes more than 900 scientists from around the world.
LIGO is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), with important contributions from the United Kingdom Science and Technology Facilities Council, the Max Planck Society of Germany, and the Australian Research Council. LIGO is also the largest and most ambitious project ever funded by the National Science Foundation. Livingston Louisiana hosts one of the two LIGO gravitational wave detector sites, the other one being located in Hanford Washington. In September 2015, LIGO detected the first direct gravitational wave observation which was reported in February 2016.