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Space

Explore the vast reaches of space and mankind’s continuing efforts to conquer the stars, including theories such as the Big Bang, the International Space Station, plus what the future holds for space travel and exploration.

Topics to Explore

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How Space Elevators Will Work

A space shuttle launch is expensive -- about $10,000 per pound. The LiftPort Group is developing a new system that could cut the cost down to about $400 per pound. Find out how a space elevator might be your ticket into orbit.

What Is the Chandler Wobble?

The Chandler wobble is the change in the spin of Earth on its axis. Think of the wobble you see in a toy top when it first starts spinning or slows down. Its 'poles' do not spin in a perfectly straight line.

Could I see a flashlight beam from Earth on the moon?

If I was on the moon and the earth was black (no lights were on) and a flashlight was turned on facing the moon, would I see the light? If I couldn't, would there be any way to detect any residual matter that came from the light on Earth or does light die after a certain distance?

How are the Voyager spacecraft able to transmit radio messages so far?

The Voyager spacecraft use 23-watt radios. This is higher than the 3 watts a typical cell phone uses, but in the grand scheme of things it is still a low-power transmitter. The key to receiving the signals is therefore not the power of the radio, but a combination of three other things.

Is there any way to see satellites that are in orbit?

Until its fiery landing in the Pacific Ocean in Mach 2001, the MIR space station was one of the largest objects orbiting the planet, so large that it was especially easy to see -- if you knew what you were looking for.

How Satellites Work

Thousands of satellites fly overhead every day, helping us with things like weather forecasts, scientific research, communications, TV broadcasts (and maybe some surreptitious spying). How much do you know about these eyes in the sky?

How do satellites orbit the Earth?

How do satellites orbit the earth? Why don't they fall straight to the ground like everything else?

Can the curvature of the Earth only be seen from outer space?

Can the curvature of the Earth only be seen from outer space? If you didn't know that the Earth is a sphere, there are three common observations you could use to convince yourself that it is.

How can I track the NASA's Starshine satellite?

How can I track the NASA's Starshine satellite?

Can you make a rocket engine using hydrogen peroxide and silver?

At a drag race, I once saw a rocket car that was supposedly powered by spraying hydrogen peroxide on a silver mesh. The resultant reaction produced huge amounts of pure white smoke and apparently enough thrust to propel the car rapidly down the track. Does hydrogen peroxide really react with silver that way?

Is it possible to see (with a telescope) the stuff left behind on the moon?

Is it possible to see (with a telescope) the stuff left behind on the moon by the Apollo astronauts to prove whether the missions were real?

If nature abhors a vacuum, then why doesn't the vacuum of space suck away all of the Earth's atmosphere?

If "nature abhors a vacuum," then why doesn't the vacuum of space suck away all of the Earth's atmosphere?

How are astronomers able to measure how far away a star is?

It turns out that measuring the distance to a star is an interesting problem! Astronomers have come up with two different techniques to estimate how far away any given star is.

Meteors burn up when they hit the Earth's atmosphere. Why doesn't the space shuttle?

In science, we are learning about the atmosphere. It protects us from meteors because it burns them up. So, why doesn't the space shuttle burn up?

How do astronomers detect that a star has a planet orbiting it?

According to an article I read, astronomers are able to detect that star has a planet orbiting it by observing the "wobble" of the star induced by the gravitational pull of one or more planets. At the tremendous distances involved, what is the technology that enables these discoveries?

How Rocket Engines Work

Believe it or not, the hardest part of space exploration is getting a spaceship off the ground. Explore the basics of propulsion and learn about both solid-fuel and liquid-fuel rocket engines.

How does going to the bathroom in space work?

When nature calls, you have to listen. But when you're in microgravity, going to the bathroom can be a major challenge. How do astronauts get the job done?

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