Studying Space Neutrons: Space has radiation, which, at this point in time, is hardly new knowledge. But scientists don’t really know that much about space radiation specifically, let alone how to block it for future long-term space missions. In order to better study the effects of space radiation, NASA is refocusing on neutrons through the
ANS, or Advanced Neutron
Spectrometer. Neutrons are usually hard to study, being as how they’re
electrically neutral and don’t set off the majority of devices used to study
other phenomena, but hopefully NASA will make progress with this specially
designed isotopic lithium sensor.
A More Earth-Like Alien Earth: New planets are being found all over the place. And, as our telescopes and planet-sensing formulae improve, a growing number of those have been specified as in the habitable zone. This means that they have the potential for Earth-like climates and Earth-like living conditions, and also might have alien life. None of that has really been pinned down for sure yet, but there are two planets that are both in the habitable zone and far enough away from their sun to have days and nights. The particular planet in the article is just 42 light-years away – not exactly a distance we’re capable of doing anything with right now, but certainly closer Kepler 22d at 600 light years away, which is the only other planet we know of with the same conditions.
We Might Actually Make It Back to the Moon: I’m skeptical. NASA’s funding for Mars has been increasingly shaky in the last couple of years, and we’ve all heard promises about going back to the moon first. But maybe, just maybe, NASA will have a manned outpost just beyond the moon. Not only would this establish a permanent human presence further out in space, it keeps the momentum going for our potential manned exploration of an asteroid in 13 years. But I’ll believe it when I see it (or if SpaceX says they’ll do it).
Best Space App Ever: It’s increasingly wonderful when space and science become increasingly popular through regular media and news. And while this by no means tops live YouTube coverage of high school science experiments in outer space, having an app that’ll text you when the International Space Station is right over you is definitely up there. 90% of the population on Earth can see the ISS pretty frequently; we just never notice it since it looks kind of like a star. And creating convenient and direct reminders that there are people out in space – and one person or another has been out in space for the last 12 years – is pretty useful. To sign up for the automatic texts through “Spot the Station,” just click here.
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Rachel is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and spends her time writing, studying, and reading what would probably be considered far too many books. Connect with her and Rusty on Twitter and Facebook, and click here to read more of her articles about alien theories and how to survive alien invasion novels.