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Basic Space

Basic Space

Space and astrophysics research made simple

What a fake Mars mission says about our own sleep habits

On 4 November 2011, six men emerged from a windowless capsule based on the site of the Institute of Biomedical Problems in Moscow, Russia. They had been inside their spaceship for 520 days, enough time to (optimistically) go to Mars and back...

January 22, 2013 — Kelly Oakes

Voyager 1 is still not out of the solar system

Remember when I said back in October that Voyager 1 might have finally left the solar system? Well, it turns out that the spacecraft, which has been skirting the edge of the solar system for a long time now, is finding it difficult to say goodbye.According to scientists working on the mission, Voyager 1 has just entered a "magnetic highway"...

December 3, 2012 — Kelly Oakes

How Henrietta Leavitt started building a cosmic ladder

Today is Ada Lovelace day, which is all about celebrating the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. I want to use it as an excuse to highlight the work of Henrietta Leavitt.Leavitt was a pioneering woman astronomer at a time when women were mainly employed in observatories to be nothing more than 'human computers'...

October 16, 2012 — Kelly Oakes

Voyager 1: beyond the edge of the solar system at last?

It was on my first birthday that the Voyager 1 spacecraft turned around and took a picture of the pale blue dot we call home. That picture was Voyager's last glimpse of Earth before its camera was switched off and it began to sail, uninterrupted, towards interstellar space...

October 8, 2012 — Kelly Oakes

Pale blue dot or not? What the colour of alien worlds can tell us

Most people are familiar with the pale blue dot image of Earth taken by Voyager in 1990. Its blueness is significant, of course, because it is Earth's abundant liquid water that makes it look that way.But if you looked at the light that is reflected from Earth carefully, you would see several interesting features...

September 28, 2012 — Kelly Oakes

Supernova 1006 lived fast and left no companion behind

A supernova that lit up the skies in the year 1006 lived and died fast, leaving no companion star behind, astronomers have found. The result is the latest clue in a puzzle that has been troubling astronomers for some time – how does this type of stellar explosion happen?Supernova 1006 exploded, as seen from Earth, in the year 1006 (hence the name)...

September 26, 2012 — Kelly Oakes

Voyager: a binary love story

On its 35th birthday, the Voyager 1 spacecraft is a little closer to home than we had hoped it would be at this point.The Voyagers, 1 and 2, are right at this moment speeding away from us towards interstellar space...

September 5, 2012 — Kelly Oakes

The Sun's Bright Idea

Here's an eruption from the sun that happened just a few days ago. It is a coronal mass ejection that loops out from the sun, looking slightly like a lightbulb that has just switched on...

August 28, 2012 — Kelly Oakes

Could life arise around a dying star?

In five billion years the sun is going to blow up into a red giant, then collapse back down again into a white dwarf - a dying star roughly the same size as Earth itself.

August 17, 2012 — Kelly Oakes

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