Road Trip: Kepler 452b

NASA’s timed announcement yesterday got quite the bump from social media. It’s only one of 1,030 exoplanets, so let’s not get too excited.

NASA’s Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the “habitable zone” around a sun-like star. This discovery and the introduction of 11 other new small habitable zone candidate planets mark another milestone in the journey to finding another “Earth.”

The newly discovered Kepler-452b is the smallest planet to date discovered orbiting in the habitable zone — the area around a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of an orbiting planet — of a G2-type star, like our sun. The confirmation of Kepler-452b brings the total number of confirmed planets to 1,030.

“On the 20th anniversary year of the discovery that proved other suns host planets, the Kepler exoplanet explorer has discovered a planet and star which most closely resemble the Earth and our Sun,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “This exciting result brings us one step closer to finding an Earth 2.0.”

It’s also worth noting this planet is 1,400 light years away. Pluto, for comparison, is 4 light hours away. That’s why it took 4+ hours to send commands to the New Horizons spacecraft. So if we send a signal to Kepler 452b, it would take 1,400 years to get there.

To get to Kepler 452b at the same rate it took New Horizons to get to Pluto (10 years), it would take us approximately 30 million years. Ain’t nobody got time for that! The only way we could make this kind of trip is to be able to “fold space” or change dimensions. Heim Quantum Theory may help us get there by changing dimensions. Fascinating.

Two Launches in One Day!

Both Atlas V and Ariane 5 rockets went up recently. Both were equipped with rocketcams, but the weather was better at The Cape than in Kourou, so the Atlas launch’s lookback was really cool.

Pluto Fly-by

Pretty exciting, actually.


DIY Friday: Satellite Skate Park

Old C-band dishes do make good skate park features, which showed up on this Mashable piece on skateboarders who never made to pro.

Watch this documentary on skateboarding from Boston to New York.

11+ Years of Mars Roving in 8 Minutes

Brilliant time-lapse video covering NASA’s Mars Opportunity Rover’s 26-mile trip over the last 11 years.

SpaceX Launch Anomaly

I was bummed to hear of the Falcon 9’s launch failure yesterday.

Click here for a frame-by-frame analysis.

The images coincide with the initial clue that “an oxidizer tank in the rocket’s upper stage, which SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said became overpressurized.”

Audi’s Jet-Fighter Mode

Yes, this has been around for a while, but it’s still very cool.

Ukrainian Engines Help Vega Launch

Regardless of the final outcome regarding Sea-Launch and Boeing’s mess (Boeing Co. et al. v. KB Yuzhnoye et al., case number 13-cv-00730, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California), Ukrainian rocket engines are a good alternative to Russian RD-180’s.

The Arianespace Vega launch yesterday (#VV05) was powered by Yuzhnoye’s RD-843 engines, which are good for LEO/sun-synch orbits and earth observation missions. Their technical reliability — combined with Ukrainian honesty — makes them viable alternatives. In fact, they should be encouraged to join the ESA, too!

Hendo Hoverboard

Nice work by Hendo Hover, which people got to try at Smithsonian’s “The Future is Here 2015” festival last month.

Here’s Tony Hawk’s go at it…

Taco Tuesday in Space!

Putting together a taco on the ISS is not a simple matter. With mackerel, leek cream, dried tomatoes and quinoa salad? Interesting.