Evening Poems: Wonder

Stars sing a melody we cannot understand.
How rare it is to live as we are.
The planets hum in a language we’ve never known.
We are always compelled to look up.
We used to think that the light touches everything.
But Space is so incredibly big.
The Stars, glittering like a jewel on a quilt.
Objects in an endless, weaving dance
You see, the Magnificence of it all haunts me.
The void gaping above as always.
And there are deep corners we know nothing about.
Forever drags further than we know.
Yet, in odd irony, It all goes by so fast.
Because we are here as only Smoke.
But, We act like this is all unbeknownst to us.

Jellyfish in Space

I have taken a brief break from my writing related posts to bring you this statement:

There are jellyfish who have been to space.

The fact that this statement is true makes me happy as well as utterly curios, as I am sure you are (and a little bit jealous now that I think about it. These little creatures have been to space and somehow I haven’t? The injustice!).

So, why exactly did we, as a human race, decide to send jellyfish to space? Don’t we already have enough weird hobbies?

The answer is actually quite simple: for science.

Funnily enough, this occurred all the way back in the 1990’s (and I’m only just now finding this out! My education has failed me!)

The long answer is it was for a project NASA came up with to launch a load of 2,478 jellyfish polyps. These creatures were contained within flasks and bags that were filled with artificial seawater. Another fun little sub-fact about this experiment is the species they sent into space were called “Moon Jellyfish”.

They then reproduced to where there were near 60,000 jellyfish orbiting our little planet. A whole giant sub group of space jellyfish had been born without any knowledge of Earth’s gravity.

Which was the point.

Scientists did this bizarre experiment to figure out how a jellyfish that developed in space would respond to earthly gravity, because, despite the sea creatures not having legs, they do have a sensitivity to gravity. Turns out a space jellyfish has more issues getting used to earth’s gravity when they were raised in space, implying that a creature raised space’s inner ear and overall body’s sense of gravity is impeded when they are raised in space with 0 gravity. In short, jellyfish, when raised in space, were found unfit for life on Earth.

So what does this prove?

Well it implies the effects being raised in space might have on a person and may mess up their sense of gravity as well. This is important for people to know if we ever want to pursue a space colony of sorts or what would happened if a child were raised on a space expedition.

So yeah! For science!

Rating NASA’s Robots

Hi everyone! And welcome to my blog post where I rate all of NASA’s cute lil mechanical astronauts on their missions, hardwork, and how adorable they are. Are you ready?

  1. Robonaut

This guy was designed to be about as humanoid as scientists dared to make a robot in the 1970s. Robonaut was designed to replace humans in space exploration. While its very hard to make a human-like robot and duplicate our emotions and the way our minds work, scientists manage to give this guy fourteen degrees of freedom and touch sensors at the tips of its fingers.

According to the very reliable source of Wikipedia, “There are currently two working robonauts, R1 and R2. R1 and R2 are both highly capable robots and are able to handle a wide range of tools and tasks. Robonaut 2 or R2 was flown to the space station as part of STS-133 mission and was the first humanoid robot in space.”

In the future, legs will hopefully be added.

So, now onto the rating.

While I give this robot my upmost respect, I cannot deny he looks a bit creepy. But given the importance of his work, I think I will give him a solid 6/10

2. Spidernaut

Spidernaut! | This robot is amazing. Does whatever a spidern… | Flickr

I’m not going to lie, Spidernaut scares the living crud out of me. A mechanical spide that is not only strong but HUGE. Sign me up, you do not. But, I will say, this design is really cool. The problem scientists have been having with our upcoming generation of space science platforms and vehicles are too large and too fragile to launch and deploy as self-contained payloads. They are breakable, present us challenges whenever we want to send them somewhere.

Spidernaut is supposed to remedy this.. The multipoint stance of an arachnid’s eight legs, with as many as 7 down during a step, allows simply-supported footholds that spread climbing loads more evenly across a space structure and impart no torques.

However, as of right now, it is simply a concept, theory, and an unlaunched model.

5/10

3. SPHERES

What are those large D&D looking dice things you might ask? Well, you probably won’t ask as this is a list all about robots and you can use deductive reasoning, BUT let me just pretend for a moment that you actually DID ask.

These are called SPHERES. The Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellite (SPHERES). They are a series of miniaturized satellites.

Too, quote and article, their exact purpose is this:

” to be used as a low-risk, extensible test bed for the development of metrology, formation flight, rendezvous, docking and autonomy algorithms that are critical for future space missions that use distributed spacecraft architecture, such as Terrestrial Planet Finder and Orbital Express.”

Each SPHERES satellite is an 18-sided polyhedron, with a mass of about 4.1 kg and a diameter of about 21 cm. So they’re small, compact, and super useful. In short, they are used for a wide diversity of experiments, basically functioning as a space lab partner.

These satellites get all my love.

8/10

4. Curiosity Rover

Curiosity Self-Portrait at 'Big Sky' Drilling Site.jpg

How could we even make such a list as this and not include our loyal Curiosity.

Originally Rover was sent to Mars to a explore a crater. A simple mission, right? But in December 2012, Curiosity‘s two-year mission was extended indefinitely. He remains operational and to this day, collecting samples for scientists to analyze.

8/10

5. Oppy Rover

NASA Mars Rover.jpg

You probably already know the extensive tale or Opportunity Rover, effectionately nick named Oppy for short. Part of NASA’s Mar’s exploration program, Oppy landed on the Planet on January 25, 2004, three weeks after its twin Spirit (MER-A) touched down on the other side of the planet. Rover spent its days on the planet doing various tasks for scientists, being powered by its solar panels and hibernating during dust storms. This careful operation allowed Opportunity to exceed its operating plan by 14 years, 46 days (in Earth time), 55 times its designed lifespan.  However, Oppy did not reboot after a dust storm in 2018, suggesting to scientists that it had some sort of failure, or that, perhaps, the machines solar panels got too covered by dust to operate. Scientists hope to go back soon and reactive this little machine. But until this, this little machine occupies a little space in our hearts.

“More than 835 recovery commands were transmitted since losing signal in June 2018 to the end of January 2019 with over 1000 recovery commands transmitted before February 13, 2019.[16][31][32] NASA officials held a press conference on February 13 to declare an official end to the mission. NASA associate administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said, “It is therefore that I am standing here with a deep sense of appreciation and gratitude that I declare the Opportunity mission is complete.”[33] As NASA ended their attempts to contact the rover, the last data sent was the song “I’ll Be Seeing You” performed by Billie Holiday.”

10/10

Diary of Weird Black Holes

Black holes are weird and little bit scary. When I was a kid and first learned about them, I was constantly fearing that our planet would be sucked away by one of inky vacuums. But, as I got older, I learned that objects in space are getting farther and farther apart. And I can’t say I’m disappointed considering these weird monstrosities. But, somehow, I can’t help but be morbidly fascinated with them.

Here are a few of my favorite terrifying, but oh-so-hungry space holes.

Lets start with The Biggest.

Now, defining how big a black hole is is kind of difficult concept in of itself. Because they are black (as the name suggests, duh) its kind of hard to see where they begin and end. But, we can see the effects of them. We call this area where black holes interact with the rest of the universe the event horizon. That is where the magic happens.

So, scientists have stumbled upon area of space with black holes whose event horizon is the biggest they have ever seen. The gravitational range, or “event horizon,” of these black holes is about five times the distance from the sun to Pluto. For comparison, these black holes are 2,500 times as massive as the black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, whose event horizon is one-fifth the orbit of Mercury.

One of the biggest space suckers that they have found is 9.7 billion solar masses which is so huge that my little human brain is have trouble comprehending. I can’t really think of a comparison but let’s just say the word “big” falls very, very short as a descriptor. But this isn’t even the biggest one they’ve found. Scientists have found in NGC 4889, the brightest galaxy in the Coma cluster more than 335 million light years away, has a black hole of comparable or larger mass.

The Cannibalistic Black Hole

Black Holes aren’t picky eaters- they’ll consume pretty much everything. So it should be a little shock to scientists that when a bigger black hole encounters a smaller one, it won’t hesitate to consume it as well.

Using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, investigators detected two black holes at the center of a galaxy dubbed NGC3393, with one black hole about 30 million times the mass of the sun and the other at least 1 million times the mass of the sun, separated from each other by only about 490 light-years. Now that might sound like a lot, but in space, especially where black holes a concerned, that’s not a lot of elbow room.

Its a strange concept if you really think about it.

What happens when nothing collides with nothing?

Well, apparently, according to science, it makes a whole lot of nothing. A lot of violent confusing nothing, but nothing nonetheless.

Because Black holes are basically weird distortions of reality, when they merge, it’s really hard to say precisely when that moment is. As the colliding black holes become very close to one another, just seconds before the final merger, their gravitational fields and velocities become extreme and the math becomes far too complex for standard analytical approaches. 

However, we do know, that by the end of it, we’ve got one big space sucker that is a little bit less than the mass of the two holes added together.

The Black Hole that Spits Up

Sorry for the very un-cool wording, but when it comes to space, the english vocabulary becomes very lackluster I’ve found. But that’s neither here, nor there.

The point is, my human friends, that Astronomers have found a black hole that doesn’t just inhale, but exhales as well. While observing a black hole called H1743-322, which harbors five to 10 times the mass of the sun and is located about 28,000 light-years from Earth, scientists have found that it apparently pulled matter off a companion star, then spat some of it back out as gigantic “bullets” of gas moving at nearly a quarter the speed of light.

Basically spit up, right?

Rogue Black Holes

Hopefully this name makes up for the last because that sounds pretty cool.

So what is a rogue black hole exactly?

Well, when galaxies collide, black holes can get kicked away from the site of the crash to roam freely through space.

The first known such rogue black hole, SDSSJ0927+2943, may be approximately 600 million times the mass of the sun and hurtle through space at a whopping 5.9 million mph (9.5 million kph). Scientists think that hundreds of rogue black holes might wander the Milky Way.

How’s that for a scary bedtime story?

The Brightest Black Hole

Seems kind of silly doesn’t it? That something that is called a “Black Hole” can be bright? Oxymoron much. But black holes have never really been ones for obeying the physical laws of matter, energy, and so on.

As supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies suck in surrounding gas and dust, they can spew out huge amounts of energy which can appear in the form of light. The brightest quasar we see in the visible range is 3C 273, which is roughly about 3 billion light-years away.

The Fastest Spinning Black hole

Sometimes the way illustrations in textbooks show black holes, is a model that resembles a spinning top. This actually isn’t super far from the truth as some black holes are actively spinning and at tremendous speeds. One black hole called GRS 1915+105, in the constellation Aquila (The Eagle) about 35,000 light-years from Earth, is spinning more than 950 times per second. This is an insane amount of speed. To give you an idea of how fast this is, an item placed on the edge of the black hole’s event horizon would spin around it at a speed of more than 333 million mph (536 million kph), or about half the speed of light.

All that to say, black holes are weird.

Diary of Weird Planets

55 Cancri e

You’ve heard it rains diamonds on Saturn and Jupiter, right? I always thought that in of itself was weird. But guess what? They’ve found a planet that is basically just a solid diamond. Meet 55 Cancri e, where at least a third of the planet’s mass is likely pure diamond. Apparently scientist have theorized that these kind of planets have existed but, until now, have never really found one.

Gliese 436 b

This planet, in many respects, shouldn’t exist. Also known asthe Planet of Burning Ice, Gliese is one of the most exotic contradictions within the realm of human knowledge, for it is known to literally be a planet coated by flaming ice

So how does this work exactly?

Well, I’m probably not smart enough to tell you in my own words but I’ll give it a shot.

The ice on this planet is kept solid due to the crazy strong gravitational force emitting from the planet’s core, which intensifies with increases in depth, thereby preventing the water from evaporating as it does on Earth.

So it just burns I guess?

Haumea

Ladies and gents, I don’t think I could do this planet justice in words so here ya go:

Chickens in space confirmed?

Anyway, this little guy is a dwarf planet with a most… unusual shape? But not only that, but he has a thin ring as well and one of the most beautiful orbit patterns I’ve ever seen, resembling a flower.

Wasp 12 b

A neat little planet-if you can see it of course which isn’t likely as this planet has a unique trait where it absorbs, instead of reflects, 94% of light. It’s also weird shaped as well, shaped and oblong. But this is probably due to the fact that it’s so extremely close to its parent star not to mention its probably going to be ripped apart and absorbed in the next million years or so, give or take a few.

Earth

Alright. Hear me out on this. I know our planet does have a spectacular icy ocean, nor two suns, or is even egg shaped. However, I think its pretty cool for multiple reasons.

First off, we’re here, and, in my humble opinion, the mere fact that we exist, is pretty awesome.

Second, we’re the only known planet in the universe to have rainbows. (This is due to the fact that we need sunshine and liquid water which, for some reason, is pretty scarce in space)

Third, we’re the only known planet to support life. Period. There are gazillions of planets out there and out of all of the ones we’ve discovered, still not humans. That would leave one to believe that we are, perhaps, the weird ones. The ones out of ordinary. Because saying we’re one in a million isn’t doing the odds justice when I say that by every right, we shouldn’t here. At least by chance. And I would say, that’s not just pretty amazing, it’s pretty weird.