The Mysteries Of Outer Space – How Far Science Has Advanced
For years and years, people have asked the age-old questions about outer space. Is there life on other planets? What does the moon look like? How far away are the stars really? Although all of these questions cannot completely be answered, scientists have been able to take giant steps toward at least partially solving some of the mysteries of outer space. The universe is so vast and so far away from mankind that it takes some really high-tech equipment, along with highly trained personnel, in order to explore it.
The most talked about planet, as far as life on other planets, is Mars. From old shows and movies, aliens or “little green men” have been depicted to show life on Mars. There are a lot of theories that float around the internet about aliens being real; and, for certain, numerous box office hits about aliens. In actuality, there is no “known” concrete proof that any such aliens exist on Mars or any other planet. In order for any life form to exist on Mars or other planets, certain resources have to be available. Sources such as water, energy like the sun, and organic compounds (such as carbon) have to be available in order for life to be possible.
Scientists have ruled out most of the known planets as possibilities. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune consist mostly of gases, and Mercury and Venus reach temperatures as high as 800 degrees Fahrenheit. The most likely candidate is Mars, which is what scientists are focusing on the most.
NASA began sending astronauts into outer space in rockets to explore and bring back information that would hopefully help mankind. Some information has been obtained through satellites, but science wanted to go further than that. It had been a long-term dream of many to put a man on the moon. In fact, John F. Kennedy wanted to see that happen, but, unfortunately for him, he was assassinated before it actually did happen in 1969 as part of the Apollo program.
The first “spacewalk” was in 1965 during the Gemini flight by astronaut Edward White. Sadly, just two years later, when he was about to make his next flight into space, he died in a horrible fire in Apollo 1 with two others while doing a “plugs-out” test. The flight was to have taken place that next month
Curiosity is the perfect name for this rover. The name was chosen through an essay contest, in which a 12-year-old girl from an elementary school in Kansas won. Curiosity is the size of an automobile that launched in November of 2011 and landed on Mars in August of 2012. Originally meant to be a two-year mission, by December of 2012, it was extended indefinitely. Goals of its mission included determining whether there was ever life on Mars as well as studying its climate, geology, and water substances. Some very high tech equipment is aboard Curiosity that includes cameras and communication devices to send back the data that scientists use to advance our knowledge of what is actually out there in space.
Besides sending Curiosity up to Mars, NASA wanted a more “hands-on” approach. Even though a lot of safety improvements were made since the late 1960s, when Edward White and his fellow astronauts died, a much better approach was to send up a non-human person. With increased technology, Robonaut (R1) and Robonaut2 (R2) were developed. Robonaut2 has the ability to use its hands much like humans with the ability to grasp tools and manipulate them to make repairs and all sorts of other related tasks. Robonaut2 was launched in February of 2011 and sent to the International Space Station (ISS). In 2014, Robonaut2 was upgraded with legs; however, these new legs created some issues that NASA did not expect and was not aware of right away. There was an electrical problem that caused an intermittent power supply failure. When they attempted to diagnose it, they were actually causing more electrical shorts, which they, at the time, were unaware of. After seven years of being in space, NASA had it packed up and sent back to earth for repairs, which was May of 2018.
Other ways information has been obtained about outer space is through the use of telescopes, some of which are huge. The Kepler Telescope has been in operation since 2009. Its job is to look for similar planets like earth that are outside of our solar system. The results have been staggering, which are estimated to be one planet for every star in our galaxy.
There are other types of telescopes in various places in the United States and around the world, which are technologically advanced to observe outer space from earth. One of these is called the Minerva Telescope.
Another telescope that claims to be the world’s largest telescope is called the FAST telescope located in China. Construction on it began in 2011, and by 2016, it saw its first light. In 2017, it discovered two new pulsars and 44 more pulsars by September of 2018. For various reasons, the FAST telescope is not operating at full capacity, so the hopes of what this massive telescope can do have not yet been achieved.
Another massive optical telescope is one that is located on top of a huge mountain in Mount Graham, Arizona. This telescope is one of the world’s most advanced telescopes with all types of mirrors and other high-tech gadgets to observe outer space. The project is a joint venture termed the “Columbus Project” and the telescope was originally named “L.U.C.I.F.E.R.” but was shortened to Luci. The letters stand for (L) large binocular telescope near-infrared, (U) utility with, (C) camera and, (I) integral, (F) field unit for, (E) extragalactic, (R) research. The telescope was fully operational by 2008. In 2017, it was able to observe the OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft during its route.
“To boldly go where no man has gone before.”
With all the technological advances and upgrades, who knows what mysteries will be unlocked and uncovered in the future. Only time will tell.
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