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Solar system; Formation, planets, wonders and everything you need to know

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Solar system
The solar system is one of the billions of star systems of the Milky Way galaxy, which includes eight planets and a huge collection of comets and asteroids.

Solar system; Formation, planets, wonders and everything you need to know

The solar system is one of the billions of star systems in the Milky Way galaxy, which consists of the average central star of the Sun. The order of placement of the planets in this system from the nearest mass to the sun are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and possibly the ninth planet.

The solar system starts from the sun continues to the Kuiper belt and finally reaches the boundary of the Heliopass. According to scientists, the edge of the solar system is approximately 15 billion kilometers away from the sun. On the other side of the Heliopass, there is a huge oval-shaped cloud called the Oort cloud, which surrounds our solar system.

Table of Contents

  • What is the solar system?
  • The origin of the solar system
  • Size and distance in the solar system
  • Sun
  • The planets of the solar system
  • What is a planet?
  • Mercury
  • Venus
  • planet Earth
  • planet mars
  • Jupiter
  • Saturn
  • Uranus
  • The planet Neptune
  • asteroid belt
  • Kuiper belt
  • Pluto
  • The ninth planet
  • edge of the solar system
  • The largest planets in the solar system
  • Discoveries and travels of the solar system
  • Photos of the solar system
  • Conclusion

What is the solar system?

The solar system is a collection of planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and gas and dust that revolve around the Sun star. This system consists of rocky planets including Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars, gas giants including Jupiter and Saturn, and ice giants including Uranus and Neptune.

Between Mars and Jupiter, there is a set of asteroids known as the Asteroid Belt, and on the other side of Neptune, a set of small icy bodies known as the Kuiper Belt revolve around the Sun. Objects such as the dwarf planet Pluto are also considered part of the Kuiper belt.

Solar system

The origin of the solar system

About 4.6 billion years ago, a dark cloud of gas and dust underwent a gravitational collapse. This cloud compressed and turned into a rotating disk known as the solar nebula. The heat and pressure were eventually so great that the hydrogen atoms fused together to form helium. Nuclear interactions released large amounts of energy and the Sun was formed.

The Sun collected approximately 99% of the material in the solar nebula, and the rest of the material formed similar clumps inside the rotating disk. Some of these materials reached enough mass and gravity to form globular masses or planets, dwarf planets, and moons. The remaining fragments formed meteorites, comets, and other moons that make up the solar system.

Meteorites, or celestial rocks that fell to Earth, helped scientists estimate the age of the solar system. Some of these small fragments originated from moons or planets that can provide fascinating scientific information about the chemical properties and history of their parent matter. Some others were circulating in the solar system from the very beginning and before the formation of planets. The Allende meteorite, which fell to Earth in 1969, is the best-known meteorite with an age of 4.55 billion years.

According to scientists, the solar system was created during the explosion of a nearby star or the supernova process . According to this theory, the explosion caused shock waves to be sent into space and these waves compressed the solar nebula and finally led to its collapse. The supernova likely drove material into the nebula.

Solar system

The stages of the formation of the solar system

Size and distance in the solar system

The solar system is so big that it is almost impossible to imagine its size using units like kilometers. The distance from the Earth to the Sun is approximately 150 million kilometers, but the distance from the Sun to the farthest planet in the solar system, Neptune, is 4.5 billion kilometers. Now compare this distance with the average distance that a healthy person can walk non-stop in one day (32 km) or the distance to the International Space Station (400 km).

The best way to estimate the size of the solar system is to create a scale model that shows the distance of the planets from the sun. Astronomers use the distance between the Earth and the Sun (150 million kilometers) as a unit of measurement known as the astronomical unit. Therefore, 150 million kilometers is equal to one astronomical unit, or AU for short.

Thus, the distance between Mercury and the Sun (0.43 AU), Venus is 0.7 AU, Earth is 1 AU and Mars is 1.5 AU. Then we reach the asteroid belt, which is 2.8 AU away from the Sun. The gas giants Jupiter and Saturn are 5.2 and 9.5 AU from the Sun, respectively, and the ice giants Uranus and Neptune are 19.8 and 30 AU, respectively.

The Kuiper Belt is 50 AU away from the Sun and finally, the border of the Solar System or Heliopass is 123 AU away from the Sun.

Read More: The International Space Station

Sun

Solar system

An artist’s rendering of the Parker probe exploring the Sun

The sun is at the center of the solar system and constitutes approximately 99.8% of the mass of its system. The sun provides the necessary energy for life on Earth. This composite yellow dwarf star consists of 91% hydrogen and 8.9% helium. The Sun is relatively small compared to other stars and is one of hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

The planets of the solar system

The four inner planets of the solar system, Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars, are classified as terrestrial planets or rocky worlds due to their rocky surface.

The four outer worlds of the solar system, namely Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, are called Jupiter-like planets due to their larger size than the rocky planets. Most of these planets are made up of gases such as hydrogen and helium, although some planetologists believe that some of these planets have solid cores.

The planets Jupiter and Saturn are called gas giants, while Uranus and Neptune, the two outermost worlds of the solar system, are classified as ice giants because they are composed of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium, such as oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur, and have a thick mantle. They have methane, ammonia, and frozen water.

What is a planet?But before introducing the planets of the solar system, it is necessary to get acquainted with the definition of a planet. According to the standard definition, a planet is a mass of sufficient size that revolves around the Sun and itself. But it is not big enough to undergo nuclear fusion like a star. It has also cleared its vicinity of a large number of other objects.

The exact definition mentioned above shows what should be included in the category of planets and what should not be included in this group. However, the problem arose when astronomers discovered a large number of planet-like bodies in the solar system. For example, Pluto was one of the objects that could not meet all the above conditions and was classified as a dwarf planet.

Solar system

Most of the gaseous planets are composed of hydrogen and helium and probably have a solid core; While the core of rocky planets is often molten.

Pluto’s problem is its small size and strange orbit that cannot clear nearby objects. It also has a lot in common with the Kuiper belt. According to the IAU definition, this planet and other small globular worlds including Eris, Haumea and Makimaki, other Kuiper belt objects are classified as dwarf planets.

Ceres is another globular body in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, which belongs to the group of dwarf planets. Ceres was classified as a planet when it was first discovered in 1801 but was later recognized as an asteroid. However, this definition was not enough because it was much larger and more spherical than asteroids. Therefore, astronomers classified this object as a dwarf planet in 2006.

Mercury

Solar system

Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun from the perspective of NASA’s Messenger probe.
  • Discovery: It was known to the ancient Greeks and can be seen in the sky with the naked eye.
  • Naming: Mercury, derived from the name of the messenger god in Roman mythology
  • Diameter: 4878 km
  • Year: 88 Earth days
  • Day: 58.6 Earth days
  • Number of moons: zero

Mercury is the closest world to the sun and the smallest planet in the solar system. This planet is only slightly larger than the Earth’s moon and completes its orbit around the sun in 88 days.

The temperature difference between the day and night of Mercury is significant. The temperature of Mercury during the day reaches 450 degrees Celsius, which is enough to melt lead. During the night, the temperature drops to minus 180 degrees Celsius. Mercury’s atmosphere is very thin and contains elements such as oxygen, sodium, hydrogen, helium, and potassium. Since this weak atmosphere cannot prevent meteorite collisions, Mercury’s surface is full of impact craters, just like Earth’s moon.

During its five-year mission, NASA’s MESSENGER probe made interesting findings about Mercury that defied astronomers’ expectations. One of these findings was the discovery of water ice and frozen biological compounds in the north pole of Mercury, as well as the significant role of volcanic activity in the formation of the planet’s surface.

Venus

Solar system

 

This image of Venus was captured in 2020 by NASA’s Mariner 10 probe.
  • Discovery: It was known to the ancient Greeks and can be seen with the naked eye.
  • Naming: Venus, derived from the name of the goddess of love and beauty in Roman mythology
  • Diameter: 12,104 km
  • Year: 225 Earth days
  • Day: 241 Earth days
  • Number of moons: zero

Venus is the second planet from the sun and the hottest planet in the solar system. The thick atmosphere of Venus is composed of compounds such as sulfuric acid clouds. Venus can be considered as one of the clear examples of the greenhouse effect.

The average surface temperature of Venus reaches 465 degrees Celsius and its surface pressure is 92 bar (9200 kilopascals), which can disintegrate a human being. Strangest of all, Venus rotates slowly and rotates against the direction of other planets, i.e. from east to west.

Venus is sometimes called Earth’s twin because the planet is close in size to Earth and, based on radar images, has numerous mountains and volcanoes. But in reality, Earth and Venus have many differences from each other.

Since Venus is the brightest object in the night sky after the moon, the Greeks thought that they were two different objects; Hesperus as a night star and Eospherus as a morning star. This very brightness is why Venus is sometimes mistaken for a UFO.

planet Earth

Solar system

One of the most accurate pictures of the Earth. This composite image is the result of images recorded by the Processing Infrared/Visible Image Radiometer (VIIRS) of the Suomi NPP satellite.
  • Name: Earth is derived from the German word “Die Erde” which means earth.
  • Diameter: 12,760 km
  • Year: 365.24 days
  • Day: 23 hours and 56 minutes
  • Number of moons: 1

Earth, our home, is the third planet from the Sun. Earth is a blue world with two-thirds of it covered by water. Earth’s atmosphere is rich in nitrogen and oxygen, making it the only life-friendly world we know.

The earth rotates at a speed of 467 meters per second. But this speed is slightly higher in the equator. The speed of the earth’s rotation around the sun reaches 29 km/s. Earth is also the largest rocky planet in the solar system and has one moon. According to scientists, an object hit the earth early in its formation and a piece of it was thrown into the sky and thus the moon was formed.

planet Mars

Solar system

A mosaic image of the Vals Marineris hemisphere of Mars. This image is the result of combining 102 Viking orbiter images.
  • Discovery: It was known to the ancient Greeks and can be seen with the naked eye.
  • Name: Mars, derived from the name of the god of war in Roman mythology
  • Diameter: 6787 km
  • Year: 687 Earth days
  • Day: 24 hours and 37 minutes
  • Number of moons: 2

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun. This desert-like and cold planet is covered with iron oxide dust and therefore appears red. Mars has similarities with Earth. It is primarily rocky like Earth, has mountains and valleys, and has a storm system like Earth’s, ranging from small tornado-like ovens to dust storms that cover the entire planet.

Scientific evidence shows that Mars was a warmer and wetter world billions of years ago, and probably had rivers and maybe oceans flowing in it. Although the Martian atmosphere is too thin for surface liquid water to flow, wetter Martian remnants exist today. Martian ice sheets the size of the state of California are located under the surface of Mars, and on the other hand, both poles of Mars have water ice covers.

According to scientists, ancient Mars had the necessary conditions to support life such as bacteria and other microbes. They hope to find signs of this past life and possibly present life forms. This hypothesis became the basis for launching several missions to Mars; So that today the red planet is one of the most familiar and most explored objects in the solar system.

Jupiter

Solar system

An extraordinary image of Jupiter captured by the Hubble Space Telescope on August 25, 2020.
  • Discovery: It was known to the ancient Greeks and can be seen with the naked eye.
  • Naming: Jupiter, derived from the name of the god of gods in Roman mythology
  • Diameter: 139,822 km
  • Year: 11.9 Earth years
  • Day: 9.8 Earth hours
  • Number of moons: 95

Jupiter is the fifth planet from the sun and the largest planet in the solar system. This gas giant has twice the mass of all other planets in the solar system.

Jupiter’s swirling clouds are colorful due to the combination of a variety of materials such as ammonia ice, ammonium hydrosulfide crystals, and water ice and vapor. One of Jupiter’s most famous features in its swirling clouds is the Great Red Spot, which is more than 16,000 kilometers in diameter and is so large that it can swallow almost three Earths.

Jupiter also has the strongest magnetic field and 95 moons, the most famous of which are Ganymede, Io, Callisto, and Europa, also known as the Galilean moons.

Saturn

Solar system

The Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of Saturn during the Northern Hemisphere summer on July 4, 2020.

  • Discovery: It was known to the ancient Greeks and can be seen in the night sky with the naked eye.
  • Naming: Saturn, derived from the name of the god of agriculture in Roman mythology
  • Diameter: 120,500 km
  • Year: 29.5 Earth years
  • Day: approximately 10.5 hours by land
  • Number of moons: 145 moons

Saturn, the sixth planet from the Sun, is famous for its huge and bright ring system. Although Saturn is not the only ringed planet in the solar system. When Galileo first studied Saturn in the early 1600s, he thought it was a three-part mass: a planet and two large moons on either side. He didn’t know he was seeing a ringed planet. More than 40 years later, Christian Huygens proved the existence of Saturn’s rings.

Like Jupiter, Saturn is a gas giant and the least dense planet in the solar system. This planet also has a large number of moons, according to the latest statistics, their number reaches 145. With this number of moons, Saturn is considered the king of the solar system’s moons. Enceladus is one of Saturn’s moons covered with an icy ocean, which astronomers say could be a promising target for extraterrestrial life.

Saturn’s rings are composed mostly of ice and rock, and scientists are still unsure how they formed.

Uranus

Solar system

Image of Uranus captured by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.
  • Discovery: 1781 by William Herschel (before this date people thought Uranus was a star).
  • Naming: the embodiment of heaven and the name of one of the gods in Greek mythology
  • Diameter: 51,120 km
  • Year: 84 Earth years
  • Day: 18 hours on land
  • Number of moons: 27

The planet Uranus, the seventh planet from the sun, has strange and unique features. The clouds of Uranus are composed of hydrogen sulfide, which is the same chemical that causes eggs to rot and smell bad. In the second degree, like Venus, Uranus rotates from east to west, but unlike Venus or any other planet, its equator is perpendicular to its orbit and it can be said to rotate sideways.

According to astronomers, a mass twice the size of Earth collided with Uranus about 4 billion years ago and caused Uranus’ extreme axial deviation. This deviation leads to marginal seasons with a duration of at least 20 years, so that sunlight shines on one pole of Uranus for 84 years.

It seems that the said collision transferred some of the rock and ice of Uranus into its orbit and these rocks and ice later formed the moons of Uranus. Methane in the atmosphere of Uranus is the main reason for its blue-green color. Uranus has 13 sets of rings.

The planet Uranus also holds the record for the coldest temperature recorded in the solar system, minus 224.2 degrees Celsius. The average temperature of Uranus reaches minus 195 degrees Celsius.

The planet Neptune

Solar system

Neptune is the planet with the fastest winds in the solar system.

  • Discovery: 1846
  • Naming: Neptune, derived from the name of the god of water and sea in Roman mythology
  • Diameter: 49,530 km
  • Year: 165 Earth years
  • Day: 19 hours on land
  • Number of moons: 14

Neptune is the eighth and farthest planet from the Sun. The average temperature of Neptune in the upper part of the clouds reaches minus 210 degrees Celsius. This planet is about the same size as Uranus and is known for its strong supersonic winds.

Neptune was the first planet to be discovered using mathematics. German astronomer Johann Galle used mathematical calculations to find Neptune with a telescope.

Neptune is about 17 times heavier than Earth and has a rocky core. The main composition of Neptune is water, methane, and ammonia, which surround this rocky core. The speed of Neptune’s winds reaches 2000 km/h. This planet also has 14 moons.

asteroid belt

The asteroid belt is located between Mars and Jupiter. According to NASA estimates, there are between 1.1 and 1.9 million asteroids in the main asteroid belt that are larger than one kilometer in diameter. The dwarf planet Ceres with a diameter of approximately 950 km is located in this part of the solar system. Several asteroids have orbits that occasionally collide with Earth and other inner planets.

Kuiper belt

Astronomers have long suspected the existence of a band of icy material known as the Kuiper Belt, which lies beyond the orbit of Neptune at a distance of 30 to 55 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun. Since the 20th century, more than a thousand crimes have been discovered in this belt. According to scientists’ estimates, the Kuiper Belt probably hosts hundreds of thousands of icy bodies larger than 100 km, as well as almost a trillion comets.

Pluto, which today belongs to the group of dwarf planets, is located in the Kuiper belt. Of course, Pluto is not the only one, and Makimaki, Haumea, Eris, and Quavar are among the other known non-Neptunian objects from the group of dwarf planets. Aracut (Altima Tully) is also a binary asteroid located in the Kuiper Belt that was visited by the New Horizons probe in 2019.

Pluto

Solar system

A panoramic view of the dwarf planet Pluto
  • Discovered: 1930 by Clyde Tamba
  • Naming: Pluto or Pluton derived from the name of the god of the underworld in Roman mythology
  • Diameter: 2301 km
  • Year: 248 Earth years
  • Day: 6.4 Earth days
  • Number of moons: 5

The dwarf planet Pluto was once considered the ninth planet, but since 2006 it has been classified as a dwarf planet. The reason for this problem was the non-compliance with the existing criteria in the definition of the planet. According to the definition of the International Astronomical Union, a planet is a celestial body that firstly orbits the Sun, secondly has enough gravity to become a spherical or almost spherical body, and thirdly clears the vicinity of its orbit. be Pluto did not fit the third criterion of logic and therefore was removed from the group of planets.

Pluto has a highly elliptical orbit so it sometimes even interferes with Neptune’s orbit. On the other hand, Pluto’s orbit is not in the same plane as other planets, but it revolves around the Sun at an angle of 17.1 degrees above or below them.

Because of this strange orbit, Pluto was considered the eighth planet from the Sun from 1979 to early 1999, but on February 11, 1999, when it crossed the path of Neptune, it again became the most distant planet in the Solar System, until it was officially removed from the Sun in 2006. The group of planets is out.

Smaller than Earth’s moon, Pluto is a cold, rocky world with a thin atmosphere. On July 14, 2015, the New Horizons probe performed several low-altitude flybys around Pluto, presenting a new view of the dwarf planet to the scientific world that defied many expectations.

Pluto is actually a very active ice world, covered in glaciers, ice mountains, icebergs, and possibly even glaciers that spew ice made of water, methane, or ammonia.

The ninth planet

Solar system

According to estimates, the hypothetical ninth planet has approximately 10 times the mass of Earth.

In 2016, researchers raised the possibility of the ninth planet . This object, also known as Planet X, is estimated to have 10 times the mass of Earth and orbits the star of our system at a distance between 300 and 1,000 times the distance between Earth and the Sun. In fact, this planet’s year may last between 10,000 and 20,000 Earth years. Scientists have not been able to observe the ninth planet so far and have guessed its existence based on its gravitational effects on other objects in the Kuiper belt.

According to some hypotheses, the hypothetical ninth planet could be a primordial black hole that formed shortly after the Big Bang and was trapped by the solar system. Unlike black holes that result from the collapse of massive stars, primordial black holes were formed by gravitational perturbations less than a second after the Big Bang and may be very small (as little as five centimeters in diameter), making them difficult to detect.

Astronomers have not yet reached a clear conclusion regarding the ninth planet. Based on a 2022 survey by the ACT telescope in Chile, there are thousands of candidate sources for the planet, but none have yet been confirmed.

Edge of the solar system

The heliosphere surrounds the solar system like a bubble and its boundary is called the heliopass.

By passing through the Kuiper belt, we reach the edge of the solar system or the Heliopass. The heliosphere is a vast, tear-shaped region of space with a large amount of charged particles received from the sun. According to many astronomers, the boundary of the heliosphere, which is called the heliopass, is approximately 15 billion kilometers from the sun.

The Oort cloud is located after the Kuiper belt at a distance of 2,000 to 2,500 AU from the Sun, and the distance of its outer edge from the Sun is estimated to be between 10,000 and 100,000 AU. As mentioned in the previous sections, one astronomical unit is approximately equal to 150 million kilometers. The Everett Cloud is home to billions or perhaps trillions of particles.

The largest planets in the solar system

Solar system

Jupiter compared to other planets

Jupiter is by far the largest planet in the solar system, so if you add the mass of all the planets in the solar system together, Jupiter will still be two and a half times more. Compared to Earth, Jupiter is 318 times the size of Earth. The radius of this planet reaches 69,911 km or one-tenth of the sun. Saturn is the second largest planet in the solar system. Saturn has 95 times the mass of Earth; however, it is the least dense planet in the solar system, so that it can float on water.

Discoveries and travels of the solar system

According to NASA, more than 254 probes have left Earth’s orbit so far. A large part of these spacecrafts and probes were dedicated to the exploration of the solar system.

Parker probe is the only spacecraft that managed to reach the closest distance to the Sun and will break this record in the coming years. The probe will release information about the solar radiation, surface, corona, and solar wind.

Famous probes such as NASA’s MESSENGER, Mariner 10, and Beppy Columbo have visited Mercury and revealed valuable information such as the discovery of water ice and the thin atmosphere of Mercury.

In general, 46 probes have visited Venus so far, the most successful of which are the Venus Express, Mariner 10, and Magellan missions. These probes released information about the atmosphere of Venus and its possible volcanic activity.

There are many satellites in the earth’s orbit whose task is to check weather and atmospheric conditions. Also, the International Space Station is the largest man-made structure in space, and astronauts are engaged in research work there.

In the last 60 years, six lunar landers have landed on the surface of the moon, the first of which was the Apollo 11 mission. Also, in recent years, orbiters were placed in the orbit of the moon, whose most important achievement was finding water ice around the poles of the moon. Space agencies aim to land on the surface of the Moon again in the coming years and use the Earth’s moon as a research base.

Solar system

Apollo 11, the first human landing on another world.

Mars is the most explored planet in the solar system, which has been assigned more than 50 exploration missions. The most famous Mars missions include the Curiosity rover, Perseverance, and the MRO orbiter. Each of the Mars rovers and probes is investigating a certain area and so far they have published important and valuable data such as the discovery of water ice, polar ice cover, and methane on Mars. In the not-too-distant future, human explorations will be added to this collection.

Among the outer planets of the solar system, Jupiter and Saturn are two of the most explored examples. So far, eight spacecraft have been sent specifically to visit Jupiter, and two other probes have performed low-altitude flybys of the planet. The Juno probe is still in Jupiter’s orbit and has provided valuable information about Jupiter’s atmosphere and its important moons.

Solar system

Voyager 2, is the first and so far the only probe to visit the planets Uranus and Neptune.

Cassini is the most famous probe that visited Saturn, and in addition to recording beautiful images of Saturn and sending information about its atmospheric conditions and rings, it investigated two important moons of Saturn, Titan and Enceladus. Two of Cassini’s most important discoveries in visiting these moons were the discovery of methane lakes on Titan and glaciers and ice oceans on Enceladus.

The two famous probes Voyager 1 and 2 successfully visited the outer planets of the outer solar system, including Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Voyager 2 is the only probe that visited Uranus and Neptune up close.

New Horizons is the only probe to visit the dwarf planet Pluto, sending back important information about surface conditions, moons, and other Kuiper Belt objects.

In addition to the probes that visited the planets of the solar system, a series of missions were dedicated to the study of objects in the asteroid belt. Also, the Hubble and James Webb telescopes have sent important images and data from the solar system.

Conclusion

The solar system is a collection of planets, moons, asteroids, and comets around the sun. The planets of the solar system are divided into two groups: rocky and gaseous planets. Earth is a rocky planet and the only planet known to host life in the entire universe. So far, many probes have been sent to different planets of the solar system. Meanwhile, Mars is considered the most explored and familiar planet of the solar system, which mankind has made the most efforts to investigate. Today, humans are carrying out missions and building new probes to investigate the potential of life on the planets and moons of the solar system, and in this way, they will get help from ground and space telescopes.

Space

The moon of the Earth; Features, discoveries, interesting facts and everything you need to know

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The Moon
The moon is the only natural moon of the Earth, which has been the target of research more than any other celestial body.

The moon of the Earth; Features, discoveries, interesting facts and everything you need to know

The moon is Earth’s constant companion and the only moon you can easily see in the night sky. The phases of the moon have always been a guide for mankind for thousands of years; For example, calendar months are roughly equal to the time elapsed from one full moon to the next. Although the moon is close to Earth, it has many secrets hidden in it. For example, it always shows us one side, and at the same time, its apparent size in the sky depends on its position relative to the Earth and the sun.

The Latin word for moon is Luna, from which the English word lunar is derived. Also, in the Greek language, Selene is the name of the mythological god of the moon, from which the word selenology is derived.

Table of Contents
  • How was the moon formed?
  • The distance of the moon from the earth
  • What is the moon made of?
  • Surface characteristics of the moon
  • Moon’s atmosphere and weather
  • The orbit and phases of the moon
  • lunar eclipse
  • The seasons of the month
  • Photos and images of the moon
  • Earth rising from the moon
  • A close-up view of the impact crater
  • Full supermoon
  • Apollo 10 souvenir
  • The mountains of the moon
  • A station on the way to Jupiter
  • Image of Artemis
  • Discoveries and observations of the moon
  • space competition
  • Current missions
  • The future of lunar exploration
  • Interesting facts and tips about the moon
  • There are other theories about the formation of the moon
  • The moon’s atmosphere has a mysterious composition
  • The moon has a magnetic field
  • The moon once had a thicker atmosphere
  • Jules Verne wrote one of the most famous stories about traveling to the moon
  • Neil Armstrong was the first man to land on the surface of the moon
  • NASA plans to build a base on the moon
  • Conclusion

How was the moon formed?

According to a leading theory, the Earth’s moon was formed about 4.5 billion years ago and about 95 million years after the birth of the solar system (the age of the solar system is 4.6 billion). At that time, many space rocks were moving in the vicinity of our planet. According to astronomers, it was at this time that the early Earth collided with a body the size of Mars called Tia. This collision caused parts of our world to melt and leave the earth’s atmosphere. The materials removed from the earth formed the moon.

Some astronomers have proposed changes to the above theory. For example, the early Earth turned into donut-shaped molten rock after the collision with Theia. As this space donut cooled, the material on its outer edge turned into small moons and eventually formed the moon itself.

Half moonThe moon was formed approximately 4.5 billion years ago.

The distance of the moon from the earth

The average distance of the moon from the Earth is approximately 384,400 km. However, this distance is not constant because the Moon orbits the Earth in an elliptical orbit. At the closest distance of the moon from the earth, this distance decreases to 363 thousand kilometers. When the moon is at its furthest point from the earth, this distance reaches 405 thousand kilometers.

What is the moon made of?

The moon probably has a very small core that makes up only 1-2% of its mass and its diameter reaches 680 km. Most of this core is probably composed of iron, but a lot of sulfur and other elements are also found in it.

The diameter of the rocky mantle of the moon is approximately 1330 km and it is composed of iron and magnesium rocks. Magma in the mantle made its way to the moon’s surface in the past and was released through volcanic eruptions over a billion years. This eruption occurred between four billion and three billion years ago.

The thickness of the moon’s crust, which forms the lunar surface, reaches 70 km. The outermost part of the shell is broken and disorganized due to the large number of collisions.

In general, the moon, like the four inner planets of the solar system, is a rocky body and is covered with a large number of impact craters that were formed by the impact of asteroids millions of years ago.

The average composition of the lunar surface by weight is as follows: 43% oxygen, 20% silicon, 19% magnesium, 10% iron, 3% calcium, 3% aluminum, 0.42% chromium, 0.18% titanium and 0. 12 percent of manganese.

Orbiters have also discovered traces of surface water on the moon’s surface, possibly originating from beneath the surface. Continuous observations by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) show that water is more abundant on the south-facing slopes of the moon, and according to a 2017 study, the interior of the moon could also be full of water.

Surface characteristics of the moon

Ancient lava flows on the surface of the moonAncient lava flows on the surface of the moon

You can clearly see large dark areas on the surface of the moon. These areas are called “Maria” or “Maria” which is the Latin word for sea. The reason for choosing this name is that in the past people considered these areas to be seas of the moon. Today we know that these areas are actually scratches on the moon’s crust that were formed by lava flows billions of years ago.

Due to the absence of weather, almost no erosion occurs on the surface of the moon

Impact craters are other surface features of the moon. These craters are the result of meteorite and asteroid bombardment about a few billion years ago. Since the Moon has almost no atmosphere or active plate tectonics, no erosion has occurred to erase these craters, and as a result, these craters have remained unchanged since their formation.

On the other side of the moon, there is the Aitken Antarctic Basin, which is a crater with a diameter of 2,500 km and a depth of 13 km. The blue regions of the moon are located in the dark polar regions, which can be used for future exploration.

Moon’s atmosphere and weather

A very thin atmosphere covers the moon, with a density of only 100 molecules per cubic centimeter. In contrast, the Earth’s atmosphere has a billion billion times more molecules per cubic centimeter at sea level. The total mass of lunar gases reaches 25,000 kilograms, which is almost the same as a full cargo truck.

Water moleculesAs the temperature increases, water molecules are separated from the surface and as the temperature decreases, they disperse in colder regions and the moon’s atmosphere.

Moon’s atmosphere, which is also called the exosphere, is a combination of argon 40, helium 4, oxygen, methane, nitrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sodium, potassium, radon, polonium, and even small amounts of water. Some of these elements are left over from the cooling of the moon. Others were brought to the moon by comets.

Moondust is a combination of small and sharp particles of volcanic glass that shatter the lunar soil due to the impact of small meteors. The very thin atmosphere of the moon makes these particles rarely erode; For this reason, moon dust can damage astronauts’ equipment and clothes. This dust is extremely harmful to human health.

The orbit and phases of the moon

The influence of the moon’s gravity on the earth causes the rise and fall of the sea level or the phenomenon of tides. These tides occur on a smaller scale in lakes, the atmosphere, and even the Earth’s crust itself. The pull of the moon also slows down the speed of the earth’s rotation, which is called tidal braking; An event that increases the length of the day by 2.3 milliseconds per century. The energy that the Earth loses is absorbed by the Moon and increases its distance from the Earth. The moon moves 3.8 cm away from the Earth every year.

The moon appears in eight phases in its orbit around the Earth. One of the important points about the lunar phases is that the sun always illuminates exactly half of the moon. Lunar phases are created by changing the angle (relative positions) of the Earth, Moon, and Sun compared to each other. In simpler terms, the phase cycle of the moon can be described as follows: new moon and full moon and the phases in between.

The new moon appears when the moon is between the earth and the sun and these three bodies are in relative alignment with each other. In this case, the bright part of the moon is exactly on the other side of the moon, which terrestrial observers cannot see due to the ecliptic lock. In the full moon phase, the earth, moon and sun are in relative alignment just like the new moon phase, but this time the bright side of the moon is placed towards the earth, and the dark side is completely hidden from view.

Lunar eclipse

lunar eclipseSometimes the moon appears red during a total lunar eclipse

During a lunar eclipse, the Moon, Earth, and Sun are in a straight or relatively straight line. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth is directly between the Sun and the Moon and the Earth’s shadow falls on the face of the Moon. A lunar eclipse occurs only during a full moon. During a total lunar eclipse, the moon may appear red in the night sky because it is in shadow.

The seasons of the month

The axis of rotation of the Earth has a deviation of 23.5 degrees with respect to the plane of the ecliptic, and this issue causes the seasons on the Earth. On the other hand, the axial deviation of the moon is only 1.5 degrees, and for this reason, no significant difference can be seen in the seasons of the month. In this way, some areas of the moon are always exposed to sunlight and some areas are permanently in darkness.

Photos and images of the moon

Due to the close distance between the moon and the earth, many spacecraft and ground and space telescopes have photographed it. In this section, we introduce some of the most attractive images of the moon from different angles.

Earth rising from the moon

Earth rising from the moonA view of Earth rising from the moon captured by South Korea’s Danori spacecraft

The sunrise is one of the most beautiful events that can be seen from the surface of the moon. This image shows Earth’s view of the Moon as our planet rises above the lunar surface, captured by South Korea’s Danori spacecraft in November 2022.

A close-up view of the impact crater

Moon impact craterTico impact crater

You can see a close-up of Tico’s impact crater in the image above. This massive impact crater is located on the southern side of the moon and was captured by the Greenbank Telescope in West Virginia. This photo is the most detailed image ever taken by a ground-based telescope of the lunar impact crater.

Full supermoon

Full supermoonA view of the full supermoon in front of the New York World Trade Center antenna

A full supermoon is a popular subject for many amateur and professional astrophotographers. This image shows the full supermoon in front of the World Trade Center antenna in New York City.

Apollo 10 souvenir

The moon from the perspective of Apollo 10The moon from the perspective of Apollo 10

The above image was captured by the Apollo 10 spacecraft in 1969. This spacecraft was NASA’s second manned spacecraft to orbit the moon and was a preparatory mission for the Apollo 11 landing, during which, for the first time in human history, astronauts landed on the surface of the moon.

The mountains of the moon

The mountains of the moonThe mountains of the moon

In this image, you can see the mountains of the moon from the perspective of NASA’s Lunar Exploration Orbiter in 2009. Moon mountains are formed by asteroid impacts.

A station on the way to Jupiter

Galileo spacecraft photo of the moonGalileo probe image of the moon

This beautiful image was captured by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft on its way to Jupiter in the mid-1990s. Galileo’s main mission was to study the planet Jupiter and its moons.

Image of Artemis

The moon as seen by the Orion spacecraftThe sunrise of the earth and the moon from the perspective of Orain spacecraft

The image above shows the Earth rising from behind the Moon as captured by the Orion spacecraft on NASA’s Artemis 1 mission in 2022.

Discoveries and observations of the moon

Some ancient societies believed that the moon is a ball of fire, while others thought it was a mirror that reflected the land and seas of the earth, but according to the ancient Greek philosophers, the moon was actually a sphere that revolved around the earth and the light of the sun. reflected

The ancient Greeks also believed that the dark areas of the moon were seas and the light areas were land. It was from this time that the names “Maria” and “Ter”, the Latin words for sea and land, were chosen for these areas. Galileo Galilei, the famous Renaissance astronomer, first observed the moon using a telescope in 1609. He described surface mountains that were completely different from popular belief.

Space competition

In 1959, the Soviet Union landed the first spacecraft, Luna 2, on the surface of the moon, and in the same year, the Luna 3 spacecraft captured the first images of the far side of the moon. These missions marked the beginning of the unmanned missions of the Cold War and the Soviet-US space race to reach the moon.

The missions of many early probes were either failures or partial successes. However, over time, these missions brought back valuable information about the moon’s surface and its history. The United States launched a series of missions called Pioneer, Ranger, and Surveyor, while the Soviet Union sent probes called Luna and Zond to the moon.

Apollo 12 lunar moduleApollo 12 lunar module

The United States sent astronauts into orbit and the surface of the moon in the 1960s and 1970s. Apollo 8 was the first manned mission to orbit the moon in 1968.

In 1969, astronauts landed on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. Since then, five more surface missions have been successfully completed. Apollo 13 failed to land on the surface and returned home safely. Since then, the moon has remained the only space body on which humans have managed to land.

In total, the Apollo missions returned 382 kilograms of rock and soil to Earth for examination. Scientists continue to study rocks and make new discoveries as technology advances. For example, in 2013, water was discovered in Apollo 15, 16, and 17 samples.

The Soviet Union was still active in the field of robotics in the 1960s and 1970s. The first robotic sampling mission was launched with Luna 16 in September 1970 after several failed attempts. The Russians built the first robotic lunar rover named Lunakhod 1 just two months later. Lunakhod 2 was unveiled in 1973. The last successful Soviet mission to the moon was carried out in 1976 with Luna 24, and after that, the only moon of the earth was forgotten in the field of space exploration for several years.

Current missions

After the Apollo program ended more than a decade later, lunar exploration resumed in the 1990s. Since then, the space organizations of other countries such as Japan, the European Space Agency, China, and India have also joined the moon space race. China and India have succeeded so far among the new countries in the field of conquering the moon.

The future of lunar exploration

Other countries such as Japan, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates are currently planning and implementing a mission to the moon. In 2019, US President Donald Trump announced that NASA was working to send humans back to the moon by early 2025. Of course, this deadline is no longer achievable and the return of man to the moon will probably not be possible before 2028.

The Return to the Moon program, now called Artemis, is a project involving international and commercial partners that strives to carry out manned missions and permanently establish humans on the Moon, using NASA’s new space launch system, the Space Launch System (SLS), and the Starship rocket. SpaceX uses

The first Artemis mission, Artemis 1, completed an unmanned lunar orbit mission and returned to Earth in November 2022, setting the stage for subsequent manned missions. NASA’s Artemis 2 mission will send the first humans into lunar orbit in half a century, and then Artemis 3 will land the first female astronaut as well as the first person of color on the lunar surface.

Interesting facts and tips about the moon

The moon is one of the most attractive objects in the night sky for earthlings. Due to the proximity of this moon to the Earth, we can learn a lot of data about its formation and also about the planet Earth. Despite all the discoveries and research, the moon has many secrets. In this section, we introduce some examples of the most interesting facts about the month.

There are other theories about the formation of the moon

Apart from the theory of Tia’s collision with the Earth and the formation of the Moon, another theory claims that the Earth rotated so fast in its early life that its molten rocks flew into space and eventually formed the Moon. However, there is no evidence of rapid Earth rotation to support this idea. According to another theory, the moon is actually a dwarf planet similar to Pluto that is trapped in the Earth’s orbit. Scientists also reject this theory.

The moon’s atmosphere has a mysterious composition

Today we know that the moon’s atmosphere is a mixture of argon, helium, neon, sodium, polonium, potassium, and radon. However, some scientists raise the question of why, like the atmosphere of other objects, traces of oxygen and nitrogen are not seen in the moon’s atmosphere. On the other hand, the crust of the moon has both elements besides magnesium, hydrogen, and carbon. So far, scientists have not been able to find an answer to the mystery of the lack of nitrogen and oxygen in the moon’s atmosphere.

The moon has a magnetic field

One of the lesser-known facts about the moon is its magnetic field. Of course, this magnetic field is very weak compared to the Earth. Evidence from manned missions to the moon shows that the ancient moon had a magnetic field equal to that of Earth. Because of these findings, scientists believe that this magnetic field has weakened as the core of the moon has cooled and solidified.

Aldrin on the moon againA photo of Buzz Aldrin on the moon taken by Neil Armstrong

The moon once had a thicker atmosphere

According to a NASA discovery in 2017, the moon’s atmosphere was thicker in the past. The early moon’s atmosphere had sufficient elements despite continuous volcanic activity and a strong magnetic field. Over time, with the disappearance of volcanic activity and the weakening of the magnetic field, the solar winds destroyed the moon’s atmosphere.

Jules Verne wrote one of the most famous stories about traveling to the moon

Jules Verne, a French novelist, wrote the novel From the Earth to the Moon in 1865. The story of this novel focuses on the construction of a cylinder that can send an insulated object to the moon. Passengers are also inside this object. Finally, this cylinder is successfully built and launched. Verne describes the actual journey to the moon and the return of the passengers to Earth in the sequel to this novel, In Lunar Orbit.

Neil Armstrong was the first man to land on the surface of the moon

The Apollo 11 mission, launched on July 16, 1969, made history by landing on the lunar surface on July 20. Neil Armstrong, holding the American flag, set the record of being the first man to land on the surface of the moon. At the moment of stepping on the moon, he said this historical sentence:

A small step for a man and a giant leap for humanity

About 500 million people watched this historic moment from the ground.

NASA plans to build a base on the moon

From the beginning of this century, NASA began its plans to return to the moon by the end of the 2020s. The goal of the US space agency’s latest effort is to build the first permanent habitat on the moon by 2028. The success of this plan could have many implications for life on the Moon and other planets.

Conclusion

The moon has been the only moon of the Earth and one of the most attractive destinations for human exploration. The moon is full of impact craters that have remained unchanged for years due to the lack of weather. Also, this moon shows us only one side due to the tidal lock with respect to the Earth. Also, the gravity of the moon causes the creation of gravitational forces and so-called tides in the oceans and seas of the Earth.

Ancient people thought that the dark areas of the moon were seas and the light areas were land. However, later Galileo showed with more observations that these regions are only surface features and mountains of the moon. Competition to reach the moon intensified in the 20th century with Soviet and US missions, and finally, in 1969, the US landed the first man on the surface of the moon.

In the 21st century, mankind dreams of permanent and long-term residence on the surface of the moon. One such effort is NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to return the first humans to the moon in half a century and pave the way for permanent lunar bases.

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14 strange things we have sent into space

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14 strange things we have sent into space
14 strange things we have sent into space. From Tesla cars to disco balls to the hair of US presidents, humans have sent strange objects into space.

14 strange things we have sent into space

Space is increasingly being filled with man-made objects. Most of these objects are what you would expect to find in space, such as active spacecraft, astronaut equipment, or space debris. But there are also strange things that humans have placed in space, and of course it was not always intentional.

From dinosaur bones and a big disco ball to musical instruments and gorilla clothing, here are 14 of the strangest things that humans have sent into space, citing Live Science.

Tesla car and its astronaut driver

Elon Musk's Tesla RoadsterThe camera shows SpaceX’s Starman mannequin and Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster flying above the Earth.

On February 6, 2018, billionaire Elon Musk decided to use his car and a Starman mannequin as a test payload for the first mission. the Falcon Heavy rocket’s first mission, SpaceX sent the billionaire’s cherry Tesla Roadster into space.

The Tesla carrying Starman was originally supposed to be in orbit around Mars, raising concerns that the vehicle could become a potential biothreat and contaminate the planet if it crashed on its surface. But the vehicle drifted too far from the Red Planet and is now trapped in an orbit around the Sun with an orbital period of 557 days.

You can track the car and its passengers in real time on the website whereisroadster.com you can track. By May 2023, the Tesla Roadster has completed about 3.4 orbits around the sun and traveled more than 4 billion kilometers; This means that the mentioned car has exceeded its warranty more than 73 thousand times. Starman stopped sending images to Earth a long time ago. Astronomers predict that the car and its passengers may have suffered significant damage.

Manhole valves (by atomic explosions)

Nuclear test site in NevadaTest site in Nevada during Operation Plumbab

Between May 28 and October 7, 1957, the US military conducted a series of nuclear tests in the Nevada desert under the name Operation Plumbab. These tests consisted of 29 nuclear explosions, two of which were called Pascal A and Pascal B, conducted underground to test whether radioactive fallout could be contained. Pascal A was conducted on July 26, during which an atomic bomb was detonated at the bottom of a 152-meter-deep hole covered with a 10-centimeter-thick iron cap.

Before his death in 2018, Robert Brunelli, an astrophysicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and chief scientist for the Pascal experiments, told Business Insider that the force of the explosion sent the manhole into the sky. Brunelli expected the cap to return to Earth, but it was never found.

To investigate what happened to the valve, Brunelli repeated the experiment on August 27, 1957. This time, Brunelli recorded Pascal’s experiment B with a camera that took pictures at a rate of one frame per millisecond. The test showed that the cap can reach a maximum speed of 201 thousand kilometers per hour. This speed is about five times the escape speed of the Earth (the speed required to escape the Earth’s gravitational field) and it shows that both caps have probably made their way into space.

14 strange things we have sent into space

Hair of US Presidents (coming soon)

Goddard Flight RocketCelestis Goddard Flight rocket was launched on May 20, 2011.

On President’s Day 2023 (February 20), Celestis, a Texas-based company that specializes in space burials, announced that it will launch strands of hair from former US presidents on an upcoming mission called Enterprise from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Genetically verified hair samples from George Washington, John F. Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan will be aboard the Enterprise mission, along with the remains of others, including some of the cremated remains of “Star Trek” creator Jen Roddenberry. The spacecraft will eventually go beyond the outer reaches of the solar system.

Giant disco ball

The star of humanityThe Star of Humanity was put on display before it was launched into space.

On January 21, 2018, NASA’s Rocket Lab secretly launched a multi-faceted mirror into space during one of its test flights. This unusual object, which was called the “Star of Humanity”, was about 1 meter wide and had 65 reflective plates on its surface. Humanity’s star quickly orbited the Earth, reflecting enough sunlight to the Earth’s surface to be visible to the naked eye. The Star of Humanity was designed to be a clear symbol and reminder of how vulnerable our place on Earth is.

However, the big disco ball’s time in space was short. The bright orb re-entered Earth’s atmosphere on March 22, two months after launch and about seven months earlier than expected, The Atlantic reported.

The Star of Humanity is not the first disco ball to be launched into space. Project Starshine, operated by the US Naval Research Laboratory, launched three similar objects between 1999 and 2002, each remaining in orbit for more than a year. Japan also launched a mirror-coated satellite named Ajisai in August 1986, which is still in orbit.

14 strange things we have sent into space

Lego pieces

Satoshi FurukawaJapanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa with his ISS model in 2012

Lego has a long history in space. Construction kits can help children build realistic rocket models. But these famous plastic parts have also reached space and even found their way into the spacecraft that they are modeled on.

In 2012, Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa built a replica of this orbital settlement during his stay on the International Space Station. It took him over two hours to build this model, which is a remarkable feat considering the lack of gravity. In 2019, Lego also sent a conceptual model of the moon base connected to a special balloon into space.

In addition, three custom Lego sculptures are currently orbiting Jupiter on NASA’s Juno probe, which was launched in 2011 to explore this gas giant and its moons. These statues are Juno and Jupiter (Roman gods) as well as Galileo who discovered the four large moons of Jupiter.

Jeff Bezos (and other ordinary citizens)

Jeff BezosBezos vs Blue Origin’s NewShepherd missile

We do not intend to call Jeff Bezos a weird person by including him in this list. The strange thing about his trip to space is that the group that went with him were all ordinary citizens who were doing suborbital flights.

On July 20, 2021, Bezos, along with pioneering aviator Wally Funk, physics student Oliver Damon, and Bezos’ younger brother Mark, were launched aboard Blue Origin’s NewShepherd rocket from the company’s launch site in West Texas. The flight lasted only about ten minutes, but the crew capsule exceeded the Karmann line (the boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space), which is 100 kilometers above sea level, and finally fell gently to the ground.

But whether Bezos and the rest of the crew, who were ordinary citizens, can be considered astronauts or not, there is a debate and disagreement. Some experts believe that the flight training level of the crew is very low and the lack of expertise deprives them of this title; while others have to make much more effort to achieve it.

Dinosaur bones

Dromisaurus dinosaur skeletonDromisaurus skeleton that belongs to 75 million years ago

Bezos and his companions aren’t the only strange things that Blue Origin has sent into space. On May 20, 2021, the company launched about 200 pieces of dinosaur bones into space on another New Shepherd rocket. These bones with the age of 66 to 70 million years probably belonged to Dromisaurus; A bird-like hunter that was about two meters long and its height from the ground to the hip was 0.6 meters. After returning to Earth, the bones were auctioned off for charity.

But these pieces were not the first dinosaur bones to be sent into space. In 1985, a piece of bone and an eggshell of Mayasura flew into space aboard NASA’s space shuttle Challenger. In 1998, the 210-million-year-old Sylophysis skull flew aboard Challenger’s successor, the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Parts of the Tyrannosaurus rex were also launched into space on the first test flight of NASA’s Orion spacecraft.

14 strange things we have sent into space

Tardigrades

Don't be lateTardigrid under the microscope

Many different animals have been sent into space. Some of them you probably already know about, like dogs, replicas, monkeys, and rodents. But many other creatures such as cats, frogs, fruit flies, turtles, fish, and mermaids have also made their way into space.

However, the strangest creatures ever sent into space are probably tardigrades. Tardigrades, also known as water bears, are famous for their ability to survive in very harsh environments.

In 2007, tardigrades also became the first creatures to survive direct exposure to space, according to the European Space Agency. These animals were sealed in the outer part of the Russian spacecraft Photon M3, which was orbiting the Earth for 12 days, and surprisingly, they survived.

A supplementary article published in 2008 in the journal Current Biology showed that 68% of tardigrades managed to survive extreme cold, dehydration, and cosmic ray bombardment.

Gorilla suit

Scott Kelly in a gorilla suitAstronaut Scott Kelly in a gorilla suit on the International Space Station.

Astronauts also seem to enjoy dressing up as animals in space. In 2016, Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut and current US senator, smuggled a gorilla suit to the International Space Station for his twin brother. This led to a much-watched video in which Scott surprises and follows the British astronaut courier team into the modules of the International Space Station. Mark Kelly first tried to smuggle the gorilla suit to Scott in 2015, but the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in which the suit was hidden exploded shortly after liftoff.

Skywalker’s lightsaber

Jim Reilly with Luke's lightsaberAstronaut Jim Reilly with Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber and the robot Arto-DeTo before taking this famous device into space.

The original Star Wars trilogy, published between 1977 and 1983, inspired a generation of astronauts and space scientists. Therefore, it is not surprising that one of the most famous props of the movie, Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber, finally made its way into space.

This lightsaber was launched in 2007 by a team of astronauts who delivered the Harmony Module (known as Node 2) to the International Space Station and assembled it. The launch coincided with the 30th anniversary of the first Star Wars film (A New Hope), but the lightsaber was actually Luke’s second lightsaber (Green Sword), which appeared in the third film, Return of the Jedi.

Luke’s lightsaber isn’t the only Star Wars relic sent into space. In 2017, as part of the marketing for The Last Jedi, the second film in the newest trilogy, Disney sent a version of droid BB8 (the orange spherical robot) to astronauts on the International Space Station to play with.

14 strange things we have sent into space

Pizza delivery

In 2001, Pizza Hut became the first company to deliver food into space by sending pizza to the International Space Station on a rocket carrying supplies for astronauts. The recipient of the pizza was Yuri Osachev, who was filmed eating this delicious food with other astronauts.

The record-breaking delivery was a bold marketing move that cost the company more than $1 million ($1.7 million in today’s dollars). But the chefs who cooked the pizza had to take special considerations into account for its unusual journey: extra seasoning was added because astronauts might lose their sense of taste in space, and salami was used instead of pepperoni because it had a longer shelf life. and it was necessary for the pizza to be completely prepared before the launch time.

Interestingly, at the time, NASA astronauts on the International Space Station were prohibited from eating pizza due to the agency’s strict corporate sponsorship rules.

Pizza is not the only food that has been successfully delivered to the International Space Station. In December 2021, Uber Eats announced that it had delivered food to residents through Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese entrepreneur and space tourist who made a short trip to the space station. This dish included fish with soy paste and chicken with bamboo shoots.

Amelia Earhart watch

Amelia EarhartAmelia Earhart in the cockpit of Lockheed Electra in 1937

Amelia Earhart was an innovative aviator who in 1932 became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Amelia Earhart won other firsts and broke several aviation records. This pioneer pilot got lost and probably died in 1937 when he was trying to circumnavigate the earth. The plane and his body were never found.

Earhart’s story inspired many young female aviators and astronauts, including NASA astronaut Shannon Walker, who in 2010 took Earhart’s wristwatch, which she wore on her famous flight across the Atlantic Ocean, to the International Space Station (Earhart wore another watch on her fatal journey). had in hand).

Parts of the Wright Brothers’ airplane

Wright's planeWright brothers airplane on December 17, 1903

Parts of Orville and Wilbur Wright’s first airplane, the Wright Bird, made their way into space on two separate occasions. This biplane, also known as the Kitty Hawk, is famous for being the first aircraft to sustainably fly with humans before crashing. On December 17, 1903, the Wright brothers’ airplane made four short flights, the longest of which lasted only 59 seconds, and the airplane traveled 260 meters during it.

In 1969, Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon, took pieces of Wright’s plane with him during NASA’s Apollo 11 mission. These pieces, included four pieces of Hopima’s wing fabric and two pieces of its propeller, which Armstrong took to the moon in his “personal preference kit”. The mentioned kit was a small bag that each astronaut could carry with him on the lunar rover.

And in 2021, another piece of fabric landed on Mars with the Perseverance rover and the Ingenuity helicopter. The part belonging to the plane is embedded under the solar panels of the helicopter. This Mars rover has made more than 50 flights on the red planet since then.

14 strange things we have sent into space

Musical Instruments

Jessica MirAstronaut Jessica Meyer playing the saxophone on the International Space Station

For astronauts living on the ISS, spending long periods away from the comforts of Earth can take a psychological toll. To overcome these obstacles, astronauts have taken instruments such as keyboards, guitars, flutes, bells, reeds, saxophones, and even didgeridoo with them into space.

For the most part, playing an instrument in space is like playing it on Earth, but microgravity can cause problems. For example, if astronauts on the International Space Station play a wind instrument such as a flute, they have to curl their legs to avoid being pushed back by the air they blow out of the instrument.

However, there are safety concerns about using instruments such as guitars on the space station, as they are flammable and must therefore be stored safely when not in use. Also, it is expensive to take instruments into space and it costs $4,500 to send each kilogram of cargo into space.

Zero gravity markers

A teddy bear representing zero gravity in the Axiom 2 missionPuppet Rooster, zero gravity indicator of Axiom 2 mission.

A common tradition among astronauts is that they each choose an unusual object as their “zero-gravity marker” and take it into space. As the gravity decreases, this object will hover around them. Examples of these markers include the Einstein doll, Snoopy the Dog, Baby Yoda (Grogo), toy dinosaurs, plushies, the penguin doll, and the Baselighter doll.

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What is the aurora and where can you see them?

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Aurora
Aurora Borealis is an atmospheric phenomenon that occurs due to the collision of energetic particles of the sun with the upper atmosphere of the earth.

What is the aurora and where can you see them?

The energetic particles of the sun collide with the upper atmosphere of the earth at a speed of nearly 27 million kilometers per hour, but the earth’s magnetic field protects us from this attack. The magnetic field of the earth directs the particles towards the poles and auroras are created during a process. This impressive atmospheric phenomenon has amazed scientists and skywatchers for years.

Table of Contents
  • What is the aurora?
  • How is the aurora formed?
  • Why does the aurora borealis consist of different colors?
  • Northern and Southern lights
  • When will we see the aurora borealis?
  • Where can we see the aurora borealis?
  • Auroras on other planets
  • Conclusion

What is the aurora?

The northern lights or aurora borealis are the colorful and eye-catching display of light in the night sky of the Northern Hemisphere. Of course, the auroras of the southern hemisphere are known as the southern lights. The northern and southern lights are both auroras or auroras; Because they appear near the Earth’s magnetic poles.

Northern lights of FinlandThe Northern Lights (Aurora borealis) have lit up the sky of the Gulf of Finland.

How is the aurora formed?

At certain moments, the Sun ejects charged particles from its corona or upper atmosphere, causing the formation of the solar wind. The solar wind collides with the ionosphere, or Earth’s upper atmosphere, and these collisions create tiny sparks that fill the sky with colored light. Auroras move or dance across the sky as billions of sparks form in succession. In the northern hemisphere, this phenomenon is called the northern lights (aurora borealis), while in the southern hemisphere, it is known as the southern lights or aurora australis.

Solar charged particles are guided by the Earth’s magnetic field towards the poles and collide with the Earth’s atmosphere. The shape of the Earth’s magnetic field creates two aurora ellipses above the north and south magnetic poles.

Solar winds and Earth's magnetic fieldEarth’s magnetic field protects us from the solar wind.

Why does the aurora borealis consist of different colors?

Each type of atom or molecule absorbs and emits a unique set of colors. This feature can be compared to the unique fingerprint of humans. In general, the following colors can be seen in the northern lights of the sky:

  • Green: Green is the most common color seen from Earth and is usually created when charged particles collide with oxygen molecules at altitudes of 100 to 300 km.
  • Dark red and pink: Sometimes, the lower edges of the aurora are pink or dark red. This color is the result of nitrogen molecules at an altitude of almost 100 km.
  • Red: At a higher altitude than the Earth’s atmosphere (300-400 km), the collision with oxygen atoms leads to the production of red auroras.
  • Blue and purple: Hydrogen and helium molecules can form blue and purple auroras; But it is usually difficult for the human eye to distinguish these colors from the night sky.
Northern lights in NorwayA rare pink aurora in the Norwegian sky

Northern and Southern lights

On Earth, the Northern Lights counterpart in the Southern Hemisphere is called the Southern Lights. The southern and northern lights have the same physical characteristics and the only difference is in their geographical location. Scientists expect the northern and southern auroras to occur simultaneously during a solar storm, but sometimes they appear delayed.

One of the most difficult aspects of the aurora borealis is comparing the northern and southern lights. The hemispheric asymmetry of the aurora is partly due to the interference of the magnetic field of the sun with the magnetic field of the background, but researches is still ongoing in this field.

An aurora-like event is STEVE (Strong Thermal Ray Enhancement). Like the northern and southern auroras, STEVE is a bright atmospheric phenomenon but slightly different from its auroral counterpart. These rays appear as narrow, discrete curves, are often violet in color, and have a green spike-like structure. STEVE is also seen at lower altitudes near the equator.

According to a study published in 2019 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, STEVE is the result of two mechanisms: the purple streaks that result from the heating of charged particles in the upper atmosphere, and the spike-like structure that results from the fall of electrons into the atmosphere. The second process is the same as the cause of the aurora borealis, that’s why the STEVE phenomenon is considered a special and combined type of aurora borealis.

THE STEVE PHENOMENONTHE STEVE PHENOMENON

When will we see the aurora borealis?

If you’re looking to see the auroras, try not to do it in the summer. You need darkness to see the aurora borealis, and usually, the summer months have the least darkness; The good news is that the 11-year cycle of solar activity is at its peak, and we will likely see sunspots, flares, and coronal mass ejections more frequently than in previous years.

The phenomenon of mass ejection from the solar corona is the most powerful source of pregnancy particles that leave the solar corona or the upper atmosphere of the sun. When the Sun emits these plasma eruptions towards the Earth, amazing auroras are created; But knowing the solar weather alone is not enough to predict the aurora borealis. But you need a clean and clear sky. In the Northern Lights region, the spring and winter seasons are less cloudy than the fall season, so planning a trip between December and April is a good idea. Ideally, it is better to travel at the time of the new moon and make sure you are far enough away from the city lights.

Dress warmly and go watch the Northern Lights between 10 pm and 2 am local time. Periods of aurora activity usually last 30 minutes and occur every two hours. Aurora is an intermittent phenomenon and occurs randomly for short intervals.

You can use Geophysical Institute’s aurora forecasts to find out the extent of aurora activity in your area. It also provides instant information for aurora enthusiasts for a website called Aurorasaurus.

You can even see the aurora borealis without leaving your home. The Canadian Space Agency provides live sky feedback over northwestern Canada during the fall, winter, and spring seasons.

Shafaq next to the radar facilityAurora over the radar facility, Mount Murphy Dome, April 2012

Where can we see the aurora borealis?

But where exactly should we go to see the auroras? People living in Europe can go to Norway, Sweden and Finland. Many of the native people of these regions are fluent in English and there are numerous tours to see the Northern Lights.

Iceland is also a good choice, although the country’s cloudy skies make it difficult to see the aurora borealis on some nights. Also, the country of Russia has a part of Shafaqi in the northern areas, but it is difficult to reach these areas because they lack tourist infrastructure. If you are lucky, you can see aurora borealis in Moscow or St. Petersburg; But you must get away from urban light pollution.

In North America, there are many options for seeing the aurora borealis. Of course, eastern Canada is usually cloudy. Alaska Tours also provides visitors with different types of trips and options.

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Auroras on other planets

Auroras can also occur on other planets. The prerequisites for the aurora to appear are the atmosphere and the magnetic field. Auroras can be seen in the atmosphere of all gas giant planets like Jupiter and Saturn, which is not strange; Because all these planets have very strong magnetic fields. Surprisingly, auroras can be seen on Venus and Mars despite their weak magnetic fields.

Astronomers have also observed glimpses of auroral activity in other systems. For example, two studies in 2021 reported the discovery of radio waves emitted by red dwarf stars, which are stars smaller and fainter than the Sun. These waves are likely related to a type of inverted aurora that occurs near stars and is caused by particles emitted from nearby planets. Auroras are probably also common in the sky of exoplanets, but we need more detailed and clear observations of these planets.

Jupiter's aurora borealisJupiter’s aurora borealis

Conclusion

Aurora Borealis is an atmospheric phenomenon that occurs due to the collision of energetic particles with gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. Auroras have different colors based on air molecules and can be seen in both North and South Poles. The best times of the year to see the Northern Lights are spring and winter because the sky is clearer and less cloudy at these times, and the best countries are the Nordic countries like Canada, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. However, during rare conditions, auroras can also be seen at lower altitudes, such as England. Northern lights do not occur in Iran due to the great distance from the pole.

Auroras can also be seen in other planets of the solar system, such as gas giants. The possibility of auroras occurring on these planets is high due to the presence of a strong magnetic field. However, auroras have also been observed on planets such as Mars and Venus, which have weak magnetic fields.

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