The ushering in of 2016 has revealed new inquiries about space, with NASA continuing developments in their big plans for the future.
The leading topic is the likelihood of a manned mission to Mars in the future. President Obama predicted during a space policy speech at Kennedy Space Center that we could be able to send humans to the red planet by the mid 2030’s.
But how would we accomplish such a feat? Between $8.5 and 10.3 billion dollars will be spent to prepare the new Orion spacecraft for its maiden flight set to occur in 2021. The Orion will be used for several different manned missions in space in the future. The predicted cost of a manned mission to Mars is set at around 100 million dollars.
Before people are sent to Mars, NASA will commence a project called the Asteroid Redirect Mission. The goal of the mission to find an adequate asteroid near earth and use a robot to collect a large boulder from its surface, which would then redirect the rock to a stable orbit around the moon. Once that has accomplished, astronauts will then be sent to the orbiting rock mass on the Orion spacecraft, where they will explore it and collect samples.
But sending humans to big rocks in space isn’t the only big topic right now. In August of 2011 NASA launched the Juno spacecraft, which will reach it’s destination of Jupiter on July 4, 2016, having traveled roughly 2.8 billion miles. The satellite will stay in a polar orbit around the planet, and will study Jupiter’s gravity field, magnetic field, and polar magnetosphere. One of the other goals is to learn more about the planet’s history.
The satellite is set to orbit Jupiter thirty-seven times over the course of the next two years. Once it has completed its thirty-seven orbits, Juno will be de orbited and will burn up in Jupiter’s atmosphere as to not biologically contaminate either of Jupiter’s moons. Gotta stay green across the solar system!
Yet again, the Hubble space telescope fails to disappoint, capturing a rare image of two galaxies merging to form a larger galaxy. The Hubble captured the image of galaxy NGC 6052, a staggering 230 million light years away, in the hercules constellation. Merging galaxies can be fairly common, although this phenomenon is rarely captured in an image. However, merging galaxies are closer to home than we realize. Studies show that our own Milky Way galaxies is on a collision course with our large neighbor, Andromeda. Although this date is set to come in about four billion years, so don’t expect to see an inbound galaxy anytime soon.
Poll: What do Aliens look like?
Extraterrestrials are often depicted as little gray humanoids with arms and eyes or vicious monsters. But what do SLV students think of when they think of aliens? Senior Benya Lund stated that he believed aliens, “ Would have eyeballs and like, a lot of tentacles.” Whereas fellow Senior Wiley Berggren believed in the stereotypical alien (that being little gray humanoids with the oval eyes and oblong head). But there is no way to truly know what an extraterrestrial would look like until we see one.
By: Michael Eshanur