Tag Archives: NASA

An Overview of the New space Race

Space – I came across the article “Private companies are launching a new space race – here’s what to expect” this morning. it gives a very good overview of the companies and governments that are currently pursuing space programs.

If you are interested in space exploration, as I am, you will find this article of interest. The next decade will see many significant events if todays forecasts can be believed.

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Future of Interstellar Travel

Space – I came across the article “Here Is the Future of Interstellar Spacecraft” yesterday and thought it was a good overview of the propulsion technologies that are likely to take future spacecraft beyond the Solar System.

In short the alternatives that are covered are:

  1. Thermonuclear propulsion
  2. Lightsail
  3. Bussard ramjet
  4. Antimatter rockets
  5. NASA’s Eagleworks Lab “Warp bubble” drive

None of these are really going to be ready in the near future, with possibly the exception of the Lightsail. I am glad to see though that the ideas are being kept in front of people, particularly those budding STEM students who will lead the way over the next few decades.

Is a ‘Warp’ Drive Feasible?

We have all heard of Warp or other Faster Than Light (FTL) drives in science fiction, but are they really possible?

This short (11:54) video goes into the details of the Alcubierre Drive. While so far this drive is just theoretical, there is a strong technical basis for the drive. Certainly there are several barriers to building one of these today, but there are new achievements and discoveries every day that may break down some of these.

There has been some experimental results out of NASA that tends to support some of the aspects of the Alcubierre Drive, but at this point the Alcubierre Drive is mostly theory.

Finding the ISS

Space Travel Space International Space Station Iss

If you are interested in space, you may have tried to get away from the city lights and look up at the night sky. One of the bright objects in orbit is the International Space Station (ISS).

The ISS is in a fast orbit of the Earth, traveling at over 17,000 mile per hour. This means that the ISS completes an orbit about every 90 minutes. If you are in a spot that is relatively free of light pollution, seeing the ISS is easy.

To plan ahead for such an excursion you can use the “Spot the Station” site from NASA. You can enter where you will be into the site and it will then give you a list of the dates and times the ISS will be visible from that location. The site also gives you directions as to where to look for the ISS in the evening sky.

You can even sign up for alerts for when the ISS will be passing within view of your location. Taking advantage of this would be a great way to involve kids in STEM activities. For me the current closest location with a list of sighting opportunities is for Georgetown, TX, just a few miles north of where I live. The next viewing opportunities will be at:

Date Visible Max Height Appears Disappears
Tue May 2, 5:42 AM 4 min 26° 11° above S 21° above E
Wed May 3, 4:52 AM 2 min 12° 11° above SE 10° above ESE
Thu May 4, 5:35 AM 3 min 88° 30° above SW 28° above NE

“Into the Unknown”- The Story of the James Webb Telescope

Space – This video is a great, 38+ minute story of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWT) which is scheduled for launch in 2018. The video has a good explanation of why the infrared capabilities of the JWT will vastly extend our view into the universe. It is also hoped that by identifying the gasses in exoplanet atmospheres it will be able to discover any exoplanets that support life.

Popular Engineering Related Channels on YouTube

EWeek – With this being the first day of Engineers Week 2017 I thought that these videos and YouTube channels might be of interest.

  1. Grant Thompson’s YouTube channel “The King of Random” includes videos with a range of experiments and DIY projects. Some recent titles are : “Making Homemade Missiles That Explode“, “Is It a Good Idea to Make Party Poppers With Hydrogen?” and “Making Glass Vacuum Chambers Implode“.
  2. Bill Hammack’s YouTube channel “engineerguy” where the University of Illinois Chemical Engineering professor gives “the engineering details of all the stuff you wanna know about“. From his web site: Make called Bill a “brilliant science-and-technology documentarian”, whose “videos should be held up as models of how to present complex technical information visually” Wired called them “dazzling.” Scientific American’s blog called him a “smart, easygoing everyman with a firm understanding of the science.”
  3. Jason Fenske’s YouTube channel “Engineering Explained” has a more narrow focus on the subject of “How Cars Work”.
  4. The YouTube channel “Cody’s Lab” includes various experiments and adventures, most science or engineering related.
  5. NASA’s “NASA Goddard” YouTube Channel features views of various NASA technology. Expect to see the latest in NASA’s research into planetary science, astrophysics, Earth observing, and solar science on the channel.
  6. The YouTube channel “SciShow Space“, as the name implies, focuses on space exploration. The hosts, Hank Green, Caitlin Hofmeister, and Reid Reimers, cover topics ranging from what happened after the ‘Big Bang’ to the latest space related news.
  7. The “Numberphile” YouTube channel from the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) covers a variety of mathematic topics.

Some of these may be good to share with K-12 students interested in STEM careers.