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DISPLAYING POSTS TAGGED: international space station (2)

Celebrating Space Week

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by Tanya
Publish date
10 October 2013
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World Space Week is a celebration of curiosity and determination. It’s about what can happen when we dream big, and use cutting-edge science and technology to realise those dreams.

Currently NASA has over 20 spacecraft exploring our Solar System and beyond. Here are just three of my favourites.

Voyager 1 : What is there not to love about this spacecraft?  Like me, you may have grown up with the Voyager missions - I was a young child when they launched, watched them show us new views of the outer planets during my school years, and now, 36 years on, Voyager 1 is exploring unknown territory as it journeys through interstellar space. Its twin, Voyager 2, is set to do the same in the next few years.

What’s remarkable is that this goal has been reached while the spacecraft still has the capacity to tell us about it. The faint signals from Voyager 1 have about the same power as the light bulb in your refrigerator and that’s before they travel the 19 billion km across space to provide a daily briefing of what conditions are like out there. The two Voyagers are expected to last until at least 2020, so there’s a good few years of space exploration ahead of them.

Voyager 1 Earlier this year it was announced that Voyager 1 had officially crossed into interstellar space on 25 August 2012.
Source: NASA
 

New Horizons : This will be the first spacecraft to visit Pluto. What the Voyagers did for our understanding of the gas giants, New Horizons is set to do for Pluto and the other worlds of the Kuiper Belt. The spacecraft was launched back in 2006 and has been in hibernation for most of the journey. It has almost two years to go before reaching its destination and is expected to deliver fantastic photographs and insights on its Pluto flyby.

New Horizons spacecraft New Horizons will provide the first close-up views of Pluto. It will take one year to beam all the data back to Earth, 7.5 billion km away.
Source: NASA

International Space Station : Every day for the last 13 years visiting astronauts have woken up to a day in the office, floating 400km above Earth, on board the International Space Station. The space station is a floating laboratory built to progress science. Certainly seeing how things behave on the space station, gives a great insight into how things work. Like this demo on youtube of trying to wring out a towel in weightlessness. But if you’re like me, you’ll end up following all of Chris Hadfield’s videos and they’ll draw you into the human side of working in space. Be sure to finish up with his rendition of David Bowie’s Space Oddity.

  Dinosaur in space The space station is not only a science lab, it’s a home. Astronaut and crafter Karen Nyberg made this dinosaur for her son, crafted from material salvaged onboard the space station.
Image: Karen Nyberg
Source: NASA
 

Bright light in the sky

Author
by Tanya
Publish date
1 July 2011
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As I collected my boys from after school care the other evening, my seven year old stopped in the middle of the playground and cried out “Mum, what’s that in the sky? It looks like a rocket!”

He had stumbled upon the International Space Station, and let me tell you, it really couldn’t be missed. It was shining more brightly than any star and of course, it was moving. We stopped to watch it for a minute or so, as it slowly made its way across the sky before becoming lost in cloud.

International Space Station Sunlight glinting off the International Space Station.
Source: NASA
 

The boys were thrilled, especially when I told them that people were living up on that shiny dot of light. Right now, it’s home to “Expedition Crew 28”, made up of six astronauts who will live on the station from May to September.

We wondered what kind of view they were getting of the Earth. Perhaps looking down on us and seeing the twinkling lights of Melbourne and the other capital cities.

ISS Expedition 28 Crew The Expedition 28 crew members (from left to right): Flight Engineers Satoshi Furukawa, Mike Fossum, Ron Garan, Alexander Samokutyaev, Sergei Volkov and Commander Andrey Borisenko
Source: NASA
 

Maybe, like us, the astronauts were looking forward to dinner. The boys were chuffed to discover that even astronauts can eat Spaghetti Bolognese (a favourite in our household). Of course, up there you have to bolt your dinner plate down or have it float away.

If you haven’t seen the ISS, I really suggest you try. We might have lucked upon it, but there are great websites like Heavens Above that give the precise time and direction for your next chance to see it.

And while you stare up at that bright little light, travelling steadily across the night sky, I encourage you to imagine what it might be like to trade places, just for a moment,with a spacefaring astronaut.

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