Cool space facts that are out of this world.
|Space is silent. If you shouted to another astronaut while in outer space, they wouldn’t hear you – even if they were right beside you. That’s because sound vibrations are carried by air and there is no air in space. |
|What’s that smell? While astronauts can’t just stick their head out the door of the space station and take a whiff, a strange odour reportedly lingers on their suits after a spacewalk. Most astronauts have described the smell as metallic, smoky or burnt, almost like charred meat on a BBQ or welding fumes.|
|Astronauts get taller in space. Because there is no gravity in space, the discs between the vertebrae can expand, causing astronauts to gain up to five centimetres in height while they’re floating above Earth.|
|Litter is a big problem. An estimated 500,000 pieces of space junk are circling the planet at speeds of up to 25,200 kph. Consisting of rocket parts, old satellites and small particles of paint and metal, this flying debris can be dangerous. Even the smallest flecks of paint have been known to badly damage shuttle windows.|
|Black hole caught on film. The first-ever image of a black hole was taken in April 2019 by the Event Horizon Telescope. The image shows the shadow of a supermassive black hole (6.5 billion times the mass of our sun) at the center of Messier 87, a galaxy 55 million light years from Earth. Since a black hole itself cannot be seen, the image actually shows the brightly shining disk of material that encircles it.|
|Exoplanets galore. These are planets that orbit another star in a different solar system, and are categorized as either gas giants, Neptune-like, super earths, terrestrial or unknown. Thanks to ever-evolving technology, NASA’s latest count of confirmed exoplanets stands at over 4,000. The closest one is the super earth Proxima Centauri b, at a mere four light years from Earth. The farthest? A gas giant about 13,000 light years away, called OGLE-2014-BLG-0124L. |
|The universe is this big … The Big Bang happened about 13.7 billion years ago, and the universe was born. Since then, the universe has been expanding, and current calculations figure it’s about 150 billion light years across. Scientists estimate that around 13 trillion galaxies make up the roughly five per cent of the universe we can see. The other 95 per cent is invisible since it’s made up of dark matter and vast empty spaces. Oh yeah, and scientists have determined that the universe is flat.|
The little copter that could … on Mars
In April 2021, NASA's space helicopter, Ingenuity, lifted off from the Martian surface, flew and landed safely, using technology that could change the way humans explore other planets.
In order to gain enough traction to be able to lift off the ground in the thin Martian atmosphere, the 1.8-kilogram solar-powered drone spun its four carbon-fibre blades at about five times the speed helicopter blades would spin on Earth. Ingenuity then climbed to its maximum altitude of three metres and hovered for 30 seconds before returning safely to the soil. And although Ingenuity was only in the air for a total of 39 seconds, it was the first powered, controlled flight ever conducted on another planet.
The purpose of Ingenuity's flight was to simply to determine whether rotorcraft technology can work in Mars’s harsh environment. Mission accomplished.
Your next vacation destination
Like something straight out of a sci-fi movie, California-based start-up Orbital Assembly Corporation is planning to build the Voyager Station by the year 2027. When complete, it will be the largest man-made structure in space and will be able to accommodate up to 112 crew members and 280 guests, including researchers from national space agencies and wealthy space tourists.
The company plans to use automation and tele-robots to construct the structure in low Earth orbit. Shaped like a Ferris wheel, the ring will spin with enough velocity to generate artificial gravity. It will include a docking hub at the centre and 24 habitation modules on the outside of the ring housing the crew quarters, hotel rooms and villas, a gym, a restaurant/bar and kitchen, as well power systems, supply storage and research labs.
If you fancy a celestial trip, you’d better start saving, as a vacation in outer space is likely to have an astronomical price tag.