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The Dream Chaser Spacecraft And The New Golden Age Of Space Travel

How the appropriately named Dream Chaser spacecraft could usher us — all of us, even you — into a bold new era of space travel.

Dream Chaser Spacecraft

An artist’s rendering of Sierra Nevada’s Dream chaser Spacecraft. Image Source: Sierra Nevada Corporation

With all the recent attention paid to SpaceX’s successful test of the first reusable spacecraft, few have noticed that Elon Musk’s company isn’t the only game in town.

In fact, NASA just recently announced the three companies that will be delivering cargo to the International Space Station in the coming years. Among them is, indeed, SpaceX, in addition to Orbital ATK (whose craft isn’t reusable), as well as a third, less well-known but altogether more interesting, company: Sierra Nevada.

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New Research Suggests That Earth Is Actually Made Of Two Planets

Earth Collision Theia

New research about an early Earth collision is changing the theory of how the Earth and Moon were formed. Image Source: Wikipedia (en)

New research from the University of California, Los Angeles, drastically alters popular conceptions of how the Earth and the Moon were formed. According to the UCLA researchers’ findings, the planet Theia directly collided with a young Earth 4.5 billion years ago, hitting so hard that the two planets became one, while a small chunk broke off to become the Moon.

Scientists already knew that Earth and a Mars-sized Theia had made contact when Earth was just 100 million years old, but it was previously believed that Theia had just side swiped Earth, with the debris from Theia entering Earth’s orbit to form the Moon. If that were the case, however, the Moon would presumably have different oxygen isotopes to Earth, as it would have Theia’s chemical composition. The researchers, led by Edward Young, UCLA professor of geochemistry and cosmochemistry, found that seven Moon rocks from the Apollo missions and volcanic rocks from Hawaii and Arizona have the exact same chemical signatures.

“We don’t see any difference between the Earth’s and Moon’s oxygen isotopes; they’re indistinguishable,” Young said. “Theia was thoroughly mixed into both the Earth and the Moon, and evenly dispersed between them. This explains why we don’t see a different signature of Theia in the moon versus the Earth.”

Funded by NASA, the Deep Carbon Observatory and a European Research Council advanced grant, the researchers focused on oxygen isotopes because the ratio of oxygen-17, which has a ninth neutron in its nucleus, to oxygen-16 varies depending on the size of the planet or moon. The bigger the planet or moon is, the less oxygen-17 is found, meaning that planets and their moons generally have different isotope signatures. As Young said, however, the Earth and Moon’s oxygen isotope ratios are identical, meaning that they are cut from the same cloth. Indeed, all life as we know it may very well be due to this one violent collision.

Planet 9 Sparks New Apocalypse Fears Among Conspiracy Theorists

Apocalypse

An image of what Earth’s unavoidable future looks like now that Planet 9 has been confirmed. Image Source: YouTube

Bad news, everyone: The recently discovered “Planet 9” — which hides from view beyond Neptune — is going to destroy planet Earth. At least, that’s the theory that acolytes of late writer and conspiracy theorist Zecharia Sitchin are spouting. Sitchin, who died in 2010, believed that aliens from the planet — apparently named “Nibiru” — created the human race, and that the “invisible planet” would crash into Earth and annihilate us.

After astronomers Konstantin Batygin and Michael E. Brown published a paper offering evidence for the existence of a planet beyond Neptune (Planet 9) on Jan. 20, which also claimed that it is on an elliptical orbit (which Sitchin predicted), Nibiru apocalypse theorists resurfaced with renewed alarm.

Wrote pastor (and frequent apocalypse predictor) Paul Begley on Sitchin’s site: “Something is causing the heavens to shake — and it’s in your Bible…If you go into the gospel of Saint Luke, Luke 21, verse 10, ‘Nation shall rise against nation. Kingdom against kingdom. Great earthquakes shall be in diverse places — and families and pestilences, and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.'”

While it is a stretch to frame Luke 21, verse 10 as a sign that Planet 9 will lead to our imminent demise, Begley is putting his money on the idea that an asteroid will take out a third of the planet’s population, and then Planet 9 — once it crashes into Earth — will finish off the rest of us.

While the scientists who confirmed Planet 9’s existence did indeed find that it is on an elliptical orbit, they did not find that its orbit is 3,600 years — which is what Sitchin predicted. Instead, they believe the planet’s orbit is around 10,000 to 20,000 years. Not to be deterred by science, one conspiracy theorist wrote in response: “Perhaps the search will lead us to either finding Nibiru, or perhaps we’ll find that something has changed and impacted Nibiru’s orbit since the last time it orbited Earth.”

Believe it or not, Sitchin’s thoughts on Nibiru’s catastrophic capabilities is just one of a slew of bizarre theories he had developed: Indeed, Sitchin says that aliens arrived on Earth around 450,000 years ago in search of minerals, which they found and mined in Africa, and that those who did the digging composed colonial Nibiru’s working class.

The book that Sitchin wrote proffering up those points of wisdom sold millions of copies.

Video Of The Day: Space Shuttle Challenger Explodes Live On National Television

30 years ago today, NASA’s Space Shuttle Challenger lifted off at 11:38 a.m. EST from Cape Canaveral, Florida. There were seven crew members onboard, including five NASA astronauts and a 37-year-old high school social studies teacher named Christa McAuliffe, who was on her way to becoming the first U.S. civilian to travel into space.

NASA pronounced the space mission to be incredibly safe, after having spent 25 years sending Americans into space, at an average pace of about twice a year. It was because of this level of safety and confidence that they decided to grant the first non-astronaut the privilege to enter outer space.

This is also one of the biggest reasons why the Challenger’s explosion 73 seconds after takeoff shocked the hundreds on the ground at cape Canaveral, including McAuliffe’s family, and the rest of the world as the tragedy unfolded on live television. Not a single crew member survived.

The fateful explosion was, at its root, caused by a faulty O-ring, a small gasket that sealed one of the shuttle’s rocket boosters. Without the functioning seal, pressurized, burning gas from within the rocket leaked out, met with the fuel in the external tank and caused the explosion.

CNN was the only national news station to broadcast the mission, and their video above is the original coverage of the historic disaster at the very moment it happened.

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