Years Old: Engineers at NASA have started looking at the F-1 rocket engine that the Saturn V used. It’s the most powerful engine, so that’s something, but it’s about forty years old and it’s a bit pitiful that we haven’t gotten beyond this point in our space technology yet. Any time technological progress at NASA is described with the word ‘resurrected,’ is a pretty sad day. But they seemed to be just looking at it to create something much better, which they will hopefully be able to do. In the article, Director of the Propulsion Systems Department in Marshall Engineering Directorate Tom Williams says that they’re looking into liquid oxygen and kerosene – which hasn’t been used in a while – and that, "These tests are only the beginning.” They better be only the beginning; technology four decades old shouldn’t be the end of it.
Beetles Using Stars to Navigate: This news isn’t exactly Earth-shattering or as intellectually significant as it is kind of being played up to be, but it’s interesting. Just as some insects revolve around local bits of light, dung beetles also use light to pick what direction they’re going in. During the day, they use the sun. At night, they can use the moon. But the moon isn’t always reliable, and scientists discovered that the beetles use the stable glow of the Milky Way to navigate.
Getting Closer to Long-Term Space Exploration: In NASA’s Advanced Explorations Systems Program, there is a standing objective of developing deep space habitats for people to live in and explore space beyond Earth’s orbit. And we might get closer to that starting in 2015, when SpaceX will ship up an expandable habitat to attach to the ISS. Called the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), this expanding habitat will be tested for two years to see if it can withstand space conditions and not kill potential people inside of it. If it works, not only will Bigelow Aerospace become a bigger name in the space industry, we’ll be that much closer to having people on Mars and exploring actual space.
It’s Not Just Asteroids and Our Sun That We Have to Worry About: The Universe just became a bit scarier of a place. Scientists have figured out a likely explanation for a strong burst of gamma radiation that hit Earth in 775. They’ve ruled out supernovas and solar flares, but think that it might have been two objects in far off space colliding and merging. Space objects like black holes, neutron stars, or white dwarfs anywhere from 3,000 to 12,000 light years away from us. This is kind of horrifying, not least because the scientists expect that any similar event today would play havoc with our electronics. No, the article is concluded by one of the scientists noting that, had the source of the radiation been any closer, some terrestrial species might have gone the way of the dinosaurs.
Monkeys in Space: Iran is also making its way into space. Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi reports that their launch of a live monkey into suborbital space was a success as the Pishgam space capsule returned the monkey alive. The United States is protesting this, as the same technology that makes good space travel possible makes a good missile system possible, but Iran still has plans to send a human into space by 2020 and a human to the moon by 2025. I guess that explains why the U.S. is picking up the pace a little with our space tech.
Want to share all the good news? Please be sure to recommend this post on StumbleUpon – all it takes is a click!
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.