This Tiny Region In Spain Keeps Getting Hit By Falling Space Junk

One tiny region of Spain has had some unexpected — and slightly concerning — guests over the past several months: falling space junk.

Space Trash Tedax Ball

Members of the Explosives Deactivation Team transport space debris believed to be a spare fuel tank to a safe location. Image Source: Spanish Civil Police.

The rural region of Murcia, Spain, just can’t seem to catch a break lately: It has the country’s highest poverty rate, had to ask for a bailout, and now it seems to have become a target for falling space junk.

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The Sad Story Of Laika, The First Animal To Orbit The Earth

Space Dog Russian Stamp

Vintage Soviet stamp of Laika on the Sputnik 2. Image Source: Flickr

Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin is rightly credited with being the first human to enter outer space, but he was not the first earthling to enter the vast Milky Way.

A few years before Gagarin’s groundbreaking 1961 orbit, a stray dog named Laika embarked on a suicide mission to space, becoming the first creature in history to orbit the planet.

At the time, the mutt’s successful launch was seen as one of Russian’s biggest victories.

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Video Of The Day: Stanford Scientists Discover Invisible, Star-Less “Dark Galaxy”

It makes up 95 percent of the matter and energy in the universe. It surrounds all of us yet remains largely a mystery to scientists and has never even been directly observed. And its name is even more ominous than that description: dark matter.

But now, researchers at Stanford have discovered an equally ominous-sounding “dark galaxy” that may reveal the true nature of dark matter.

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Infographic Of The Day: What You Need To Know About Planet 9 — Plus, When We Might See It

Planet 9 Diagram

Image Source: Space.com

A new report says we’re closer to finally tracking down the elusive Planet 9.

The new study, published by Christoph Mordasini and Esther Linder in Astronomy & Astrophysics, suggests that Planet 9 is an ice giant, smaller than Uranus and Neptune. Mordasini and Linder also predicted that if the planet is the size they believe it is, several more objects should be forced into orbit around it. So far, they have located five objects that fit these conditions.

That’s not to say we’ll be able to see it, though. The planet’s hypothetical orbit is so far from the sun that most of its energy would be produced by its own core. This distance from the sun makes it difficult for traditional telescopes to pick up any light that it might reflect. Thus, Linder and Mordasini don’t believe existing telescopes are powerful enough to detect the planet.

But catching a glimpse of this mysterious planet is not out of the question. The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, currently under construction in Chile, is “designed to take a ten year survey of the Universe” using a 3200-megapixel camera which will most likely be able to spot Planet 9 — if it exists.

Mordasini and Linder’s work builds on the research of astronomers at Caltech, who essentially showed that Planet 9 isn’t just a myth. While modeling orbits of several objects in the Kuiper Belt, they realized that these orbits would not take their shapes without the effects of gravity from an unknown planet — which they believe is probably ten times more massive than Earth, and located out past Neptune in the Kuiper Belt. In other words, it was Planet 9 that shaped these orbits.

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