Humans in space
63. The first man on the Moon was Neil Armstrong who flew with Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins on the Apollo 11 rocket.
Neil Armstrong walks on the Moon.Via NASA/KSC
However, he is not the only one who had that honor:
There were twelve people in total that have so far walked on the Moon, in 6 different Apollo missions. These astronauts spent a total of 90 hours on the Moon, in 14 Moonwalks.
64. The last man on the Moon was Eugene Cernan, with the NASA’s Apollo 17 mission. Before he left the Moon surface, he scratched the initials of his daughter’s name in one of the lunar rocks. Since there is no atmosphere on the Moon, these initials, along with the footsteps of all the astronauts and rover tire tracks, are still there.
65. There are six American flags planted on the Moon (one by each mission that landed), but they are all bleached out and completely white now, due to radiation.
66. The famous speech made by the American president Nixon for the first Moon landing had a much darker version.
There was a special, alternative, speech written in case that the Moon mission was a failure and that the astronauts weren’t able to safely return home.
67. Space is a vacuum, which means that there is almost no pressure, and no matter density. However it is not a perfect vacuum, since it is not completely empty. We haven’t been able to produce that level of vacuum in our Earth laboratories yet.
68. There is no sound in space. The reason is that the sound waves are actually mechanical waves produced by oscillating atoms and molecules. Since there is neither in sufficient quantity in space, there are no sound waves.
69. Only three people have died in space. Russian astronauts Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov, and Viktor Patsayev, the crew of Soyuz 11, suffered a malfunction while returning to Earth, at the distance of 168 km. Their bodies have been successfully recovered, and they were given a hero’s funeral. Unfortunately, there are many more astronauts that died in Earth’s atmosphere during the launch or re-entry of their spacecraft. Crews of space shuttles Challenger and Columbia have been tragically lost, and many astronauts and cosmonauts have perished during various training exercises or test launches, over the years.
70. Amazingly, humans can survive in space unprotected, for a short time.
A human without a space suit can survive the rigors of vacuum for around 30 seconds to a minute conscious, and several more minutes blacked out, if the rescue came in time.
71. One of the first things that happen with humans and animals exposed to hard vacuum is that their blood begins to boil. Even though space is super cold, the lack of pressure means that the boiling point of all liquids is much lower. Second, the air in the lungs would expand rapidly, destroying the lungs, which means that a person trying to survive must exhale all the air it has in its lungs, prior to being exposed to vacuum, unless they want to suffer explosive decompression.
72. Temperature of space is balmy 3K, or -270 C. That is only three degrees above absolute zero, the lowest possible temperature.
73. There have been 536 people in space so far. They have spent a total of over 29 000 days, with the record for the longest time in space belonging to the Russian astronaut Valeri Polyakov, who spent 437 days in space, living on a space station MIR. Recently, astronauts Scott Kelly and Mikhail Korniyenko both spent 340 days aboard the International Space Station, before returning together to Earth.
74. We have built 9 manned space stations so far, including the US Skylab, Salyut and Almaz stations.
75. There were three modular space stations built, of which 2 are still functional. The first one, the Russian Mir station was operational for 25 years, before it was abandoned, and subsequently made a controlled burn out in the atmosphere.
Soviet/Russian space station Mir.Via NASA
76. Mir station actually had a slight infestation problem prior to its dismantling. Not in a real sense, mind you, but there were over 140 different kinds of microbes found on it, some of which were responsible for the corrosion on the station.
77. Currently operational stations are the International Space Station, and the Chinese Tiangong station. These stations can’t house astronauts indefinitely because they don’t have good radiation protection, and can’t recycle or create food and water fast enough.
78. The ISS has 13 modules, with 3 new modules scheduled for installation. It is made by combined effort of the American, Russian, European, Japanese and Canadian space agencies. The whole project cost over 150 billion dollars so far.
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79. The ISS orbits Earth every 90 minutes, which means that the crew of the station sees 16 sunsets and sunrises daily!
Beautiful sunrise from International Space Station.Via Flickr.com/photos/timpeake/
80. There have been almost 200 space walks made by the ISS astronauts so far. 222 astronauts from 18 countries have visited the International Space Station.
81. The people on both stations experience microgravity. While it seems like it’s a zero-g environment, it’s a bit more complicated:
The reason why there is no gravity on space station is not because it is out of Earth’s gravity field, but rather because it is in constant state of free-fall.
82. Because of the lack of gravity on the stations, astronauts can grow in height up to 2 inches during their stay on the station. Unfortunately, lack of gravity also negatively influences their bone density, because there is no weight they carry constantly. In order to combat this, all astronauts have a very rigid daily workout regimen on specially designed equipment.
83. The length of the ISS is 357 feet, almost the length of an American football field.
It weighs almost a million pounds, and has over an acre of solar panels that powering it. The internal pressurized volume is equivalent to that of a Boeing 747.
International Space Station.Via NASA
84. If you were to spill the water, or any other liquid in space, it would form up in a sphere and float, due to the liquid surface tension.
This also happens to human tears, so it’s not easy to cry in space.
85. The current space suits are a thing of wonder: They have a special middle layer that blows up, in order to pressurize the astronaut’s body. The visor has air circulation so that it doesn’t get misty due to the water evaporation.
86. The furthest man-made objects currently are two voyager probes. Voyager 1 has officially left the solar system on August 25, 2012, 35 years after its launch.
87. Both voyagers carry a golden record. This record contains the sounds from Earth, selected by a special committee, and on its cover are etched symbolic directions to our home planet. The Pale Blue Dot is a famous photo with a commentary by Carl Sagan, which is also made by Voyager 1.
88. There are three NASA rovers on mars – Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity. We lost the contact with the Spirit after more than 6 years of operation which is 25 times the planned mission duration. The other two rovers are still operational.
89. Curiosity is the biggest and newest Mars rover. It is the size of a car and has been on Mars since August 6, 2012 which is 1298 sols (Mars days), or 1333 Earth days.
90. There are special playlists of songs that are played by mission control every day, depending on the activities planned for the rovers. The lonely Curiosity was programmed to sing happy birthday to itself.
91. We have managed to land a probe on a comet! The Philae Lander, of the Rosetta mission was the first ever man-made object to make a soft landing on a celestial body that’s not a planet or a moon. (NEAR shoemaker probe made an improvised landing on an asteroid before, but that wasn’t a planned part of a mission.)
Animated GIF of Comet 67P
92. There have been over 30 monkeys and 12 dogs in space so far. The most famous dog is Laika, a Russian mutt who was the first dog to reach the space. Unfortunately Laika didn’t survive the trip, and the first dogs that were successfully recovered after their space trip were dogs Belka and Strelka. The record for longest space flight by dogs was achieved by space dogs Veterok and Ugolyok on March 16, 1966, when they landed after 22 days in space.
93. Besides dogs and monkeys, we have launched cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, spiders, mice, fruit flies, moths and a whole host of other small animals into space.
94. Tardigrades are the most resilient organisms known to man. These micro-animals, only half a millimeter large can survive unprotected in space for 10 days.
95. All our satellites, probes and rockets leave a lot of garbage behind. In fact, there is a debris field surrounding Earth with more than 500 000 pieces larger than one centimeter. These pieces are routinely tracked by stations on Earth, in order to control potential damage to our satellites and stations.
96. New horizons is the first probe we sent to investigate Pluto and some of the Kuiper belt objects. It also carries a number of Earth mementos on it, among which are the ashes of Clyde Tombaugh, the man who discovered Pluto in 1930.
97. Charon is the largest of five Pluto’s moons. Charon is so big that Pluto and Charon actually orbit around one another, like binary stars do. Unlike Pluto, whose surface consists primarily of frozen nitrogen and methane, there is evidence of frozen water on Charon, along with active cryo-volcanoes.
Now, let’s move on to the lifeblood of our universe, great balls of plasma, the amazing nuclear generators: