The upcoming annular eclipse of 2012 won’t be visible to us in Ohio, however that dosen’t mean you still can have some fun with the sun.
As always, never look directly at the sun!
A safe and very simple way to view the sun is by making a pinhole viewer. Here is a nice description of how to make one. The Stanford Solar Center has some nice information on how to view the sun and of course NASA has a great calendar of upcoming solar events.
The Space Shuttle Tile
The Space Shuttle is covered with a layer of insulating tiles that help protect the shuttle from the extreme temperatures its experienced during re-entry through the earths atmosphere. The temperatures can exceed 2,300 °F. In fact, the tiles are designed to withstand a transition from areas of extremely low temperature (the void of space, about −454 °F) to the high temperatures of re-entry typically around 2,910 °F.
Basic Rocket Science
At the simplest level, the launch of the shuttle or any rocket for that matter, is based on the concept of action and reaction. The fuel thrust out of the back of the shuttle is what propels the shuttle into space. A simple experiment you can do at home is a film canister filled with carbon dioxide gas. The gas is provided by the reaction of alka-seltzer with water. Drop a half-tablet into a small amount of water in a film canister, seal it tight, flip it over and then watch as it reaches for the sky!
Breathing on the Shuttle
Just how do the shuttle or space station astronauts get their air? Let’s do the math. A single breath can fill a small balloon. A typical adult has a respiration rate of around 15 breaths per minute. There are 60 minutes per hour. There are 24 hours per day. So on a typical day, an astronaut will need:
(15 breaths/minute)*(60 minutes/hour)*(24 Hours/day) = 21,600 breaths/day.
If every breath is the size of a balloon, that’s a lot of balloons. Now imagine that many balloons for every person on the shuttle! The only way to bring that much air is to condense it to a liquid.
The shuttle is powered by a combination of solid fuel rockets and liquid fuel in the form of hydrogen and oxygen from the main fuel tank. What would happen if you used the strong oxidizing properties of oxygen to burn something like cheese puffs?
The BallSplostion = Liquid Nitrogen + Expansion in a Confined Space
We can’t launch our own Space Shuttle from the science center, but a new thing we have been playing around with is something we call the “BallSplosion”. A two liter bottle filled with more liquid nitrogen than the bottle can hold when the nitrogen expands into a gas. This involves a garbage can, liquid nitrogen, play balls, and … Well just watch the video to see what happens!
With all the rain we’ve had lately, it may seem like the earth is made completely of water. In some ways, it is. We have oceans, lakes, rivers, and even water squeezed into tiny pockets in rock and clay. An oceanographer in Hawaii has recently been trying to estimate just how much water the earth has. His conclusion? Water makes up less than 0.1% of the mass of the Earth. Read more
Trips to the ocean are fun, and now your destinations could include the outer solar system! Scientists think that Enceladus, an icy moon of Saturn, has an ocean deep beneath its surface. The fact that it has water puts Enceladus in an exclusive club that includes the Earth – and makes life outside of Earth seem even more plausible. That still would be a long trip for an ocean vacation!
The space bag is a very thin black tube that you fill with air on a sunny day. As the bag warms in the sun the air inside also warms and slightly expands. Just like a hot air balloon, the bag begins to rise. Read more
We live in a ocean of air, in fact, we live at the bottom of that ocean of air. All those miles of air above us end up exerting a force of about 14.7 pounds over every square inch of our bodies. We take it for granted since the force per area (pressure) is the same all around us. Things start to get interesting when there is an imbalance in that pressure. What better way to find out what an imbalance in pressure feels like than to vacuum-pack WTVG-13 weekend anchor Christina Williams? Read more
Check out these NASA images of what they are calling one of the largest storms to hit the US since the 1950′s. NOAA also has a great image to give you a sense of the size of the storm taken with the GOES-13 satellite. Some are calling the huge storm a “snowpocalypse“, while others are saying, “This is not a typical winter storm, this is one for the history books,” – Thats from Edward Fenelon, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Romeoville, Ill. How much snow did you get? Let us know in the comments below.
The old phrase, “What’s your sign?” may elicit an answer, but is it the right one?
It seems the net is abuzz about a “new zodiac” after comments in the Minneapolis StarTribune by Professor Parke Kunkle, a board member of the Minnesota Planetarium Society. Kunkle points out that because of something called axial precession (a 26,000 year wobble in the earths axis of rotation caused by the moon-earth gravitational attraction) the signs of the zodiac are now offset by about one month. Of course he’s correct, but it’s not really breaking news. Read more
November 11, 2010
NASA Astronaut Visits Imagination Station
Hubble Engineer Returns
Toledo, Ohio – This Saturday, November 13, Imagination Station is excited to be welcoming a dynamic sampling of NASA elite.
In a presentation titled An Astronaut’s Journey to the Hubble Space Telescope, retired NASA Astronaut, Scott Altman, will share with visitors his personal experiences as he traveled, literally, around the world in a space shuttle. Visitors will be given ample opportunity to ask questions and participate in discussions with one of America’s space heroes.
We will also be featuring NASA Engineer, Russell Werneth, with a presentation titled Hubble Space Telescope: News and Views. Among many other career highlights working for NASA, Werneth closely managed the team of engineers that created the intricate tools used by the astronauts to make repairs to Hubble.
Imagination Station, located on the downtown Toledo riverfront, is a science center dedicated to delivering science and technology based programming to youth and their families throughout Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. All activities are included in the cost of admission.
WHAT: NASA Astronaut and Engineer Present at Imagination Station
WHEN: Saturday, November 13, 2010,
11:00am – Engineer, Russell Werneth
2:00pm – Astronaut, Scott Altman
WHERE: Imagination Station
One Discovery Way
Toledo, OH 43604
For more information, please call 419.244.2674 or visit imaginationstationtoledo.org.
All media must be accompanied by a member of the Imagination Station Marketing Team.
10:30am – Kim deGroh – Hubble Space Telescope – 19 Years in Space
11:00 – Elaine Pappas – A Day in Space
Kim de Groh, Sr. Materials Research Engineer in the Space Environment Branch and Elaine Pappas, Administrative Specialist, both from the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, will be presenting at Imagination Station.
Ms. de Groh will be making a presentation about the 19 years of Hubble including photos and details of the Hubble mission. Ms. Pappas will be focusing on what a day in space is like. She’ll have a model of a space shuttle, a space suit for a lucky visitor to try on, samples of dried space food and a few other interactive opportunities to help explain what an astronaut’s day is like while they orbit the earth.
Kim de Groh has conducted research and mentored students for the past 21 years. Kim received her BS and MS degrees in materials science from Michigan State University in 1985 and 1987, respectively. Kim is an internationally known technical leader in areas relating to the environmental durability of spacecraft materials. Through experiments in space and ground-laboratory experiments, Kim assesses how the space environment affects spacecraft materials. Kim has participated in shuttle flight experiments, Russian Space Station Mir experiments, and she is the principal investigator for 13 International Space Station experiments. Her research has directly impacted the Hubble Space Telescope, the International Space Station, and is influencing spacecraft material design choices made by NASA and our nation’s space industry.
Elaine Pappas is the Government Technical Representative (TR) for the Administrative and Clerical portion of a major contract at the at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in Cleveland, Ohio. As a TR, she is responsible for providing customer-focused, innovative services in the administrative and clerical support contract management area of the Logistics and Technical Information Division.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
11:00am – Russ Werneth
2:00pm – Scott Altman
Recently retired NASA astronaut, Scott Altman, will be visiting the science center and sharing with visitors his personal experiences as he traveled around the world in the space shuttle. Also, returning to the science center is NASA Engineer, Russell Werneth, who led the team of Engineers in designing the tools and equipment necessary to fix the Hubble Telescope in space.
Scott D. Altman, born August 15, 1959 in Lincoln, Illinois, received his bachelor of science degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from the University of Illinois in May, 1981, and a master of science in aeronautical engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in June 1990.
EXPERIENCE: Commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy in August 1981, received his Navy wings of gold in February 1983. Based at NAS Miramar, Altman completed two cruises flying the F-14A Tomcat. In August 1987, he was selected for the Navy Test Pilot School and graduated with Test Pilot School Class 97 in June 1990. Deploying in 1992 withVF-31 and the new F-14D, he was awarded the Navy Air Medal for his role as a strike leader flying over Southern Iraq. Following his return from this deployment, he was selected for the astronaut program. He has logged over 7000 flight hours in more than 40 types of aircraft.
NASA EXPERIENCE: Altman reported to the Johnson Space Center in March 1995 as an astronaut candidate. He was the pilot on STS-90 (1998) and STS-106 (2000), and the mission commander on STS-109 (2002) and STS-125 (2009). Following two years as Shuttle Branch Chief for the Astronaut Office and lead for the Cockpit Avionics Upgrade, he was assigned on temporary duty to NASA Headquarters as Deputy Director, Requirements Division of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. On returning to Houston, and following STS-125, he served as the Chief of the Exploration Branch of the Astronaut Office. A veteran of four space flights, Altman has logged over 51 days in space. Altman retired from NASA in September 2010 to join ASRC Research and Technology Solutions in Greenbelt, Maryland.
SPACE FLIGHT EXPERIENCE: STS-90 Neurolab (April 17 to May 3, 1998). During the 16-day Spacelab flight the seven person crew aboard Space Shuttle Columbia served as both experiment subjects and operators for 26 individual life science experiments focusing on the effects of microgravity on the brain and nervous system.
STS-106 Atlantis (September 8-20, 2000). During the 12-day mission, the crew successfully prepared the International Space Station for the arrival of the first permanent crew.
STS-109 Columbia (March 1-12, 2002). STS-109 was the fourth Hubble Space Telescope (HST) servicing mission. The STS-109 crew successfully upgraded the Hubble Space Telescope leaving it with a new power unit, a new camera and new solar arrays. HST servicing and upgrade was accomplished during a total of 5 EVAs in 5 consecutive days. STS-109 orbited the Earth 165 times, and covered 3.9 million miles in over 262 hours, culminating in a night landing at Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
STS-125 Atlantis (May 11-24, 2009) was the fifth and final Hubble servicing mission. The 19 year old telescope spent seven days in the Shuttle’s cargo bay undergoing an overhaul conducted over five back to back spacewalks. The crew overcame frozen bolts, stripped screws, and stuck handrails to complete all mission objectives. The refurbished Hubble Telescope now has four new or rejuvenated scientific instruments, new batteries, new gyroscopes, and a new Command and Data Handling computer. The STS-125 mission traveled over 5.3 million miles in 197 Earth orbits, and ended with a day landing at Edwards AFB following two days of wave offs due to poor weather in Florida.
These ceramic tiles protect the space shuttle as it renters the Earth’s atmosphere at speeds over 17,000 miles per hour. They are capable of withstanding temperatures as high as 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit as the orbiter returns to the surface. A secondary purpose for the tiles is to protect the shuttle from the alternating heat and cold experienced while orbiting the earth. They are amazing insulators! Read more
Grab a lawn chair and head outside over the next few nights to watch the Perseid meteor shower that happens every year in August. The meteors are actually debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle. The debris trails behind the comet as it travels through it’s orbit. Most of the debris is somewhere around 1,000 years old. Read more