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Real Planets Stranger Than Science Fiction Part 1

There is nothing like a planet made of ice that could send the chills through your spine, unless of course, you are an Andorian. So just imagine, a planet completely covered in ice and you can imagine Gliese 436 b. However, this star is so close to its sun, the surface temperature is a consistent 800 degrees Fahrenheit.

Artist's conception of Gliese 436 b

(Img: From wikipedia)

Presidential Hopeful Promises the Moon

What would you do if you could, quite realistically, take a trip to the moon? If the US Presidential contender, Republican Newt Gingrich gets his way, that’s exactly what we’ll be doing.

According to the GOP potential nominee, during a speech given in a city quite close to the ‘Space’ action – Cocoa – if he is elected, America will have a working moon base and new engines that would easily get us to Mars by the year 2020.

That’s only eight years away.

He claims that the space program only needs a kick in the rear to get it restarted, but is that all that America’s space program really needs? With China boosting it’s space program to the point where a Chinese station is planned for the same year, and the entirety of the American Space Transportation System officially decommissioned, it might be hard to think that such a goal would even be close to something we could accomplish.

At the same time, America once said the same thing about the giant rock that seems attached to our planet via an invisible string. Only in their day it wasn’t a man named Gingrich – but a man named Kennedy instead.

Will the bold plans of one GOP hopeful put the US back on track towards an awe inspiring, and an international path into space? Or have the American days of space glory fallen by the wayside in time for another space power to rise?

If true to his word, an America under Gingrich may begin to see much more Trek tech as the magic year approaches. With the Tricorder Xprise contest in full swing and touch screens already being developed to read DNA and other human electronic signals, how far off is the world that we all write in and create in everyday here on Starbase 118?

How long will it be before we can really touch the stars?

Photo Credits:

ISS Tour!

The International Space StationIt’s the closest thing to actually being in space.

This amazing tour of the International Space Station, hosted by Jeff Williams, has been posted in glorious high-definition video for your viewing pleasure. Jeff gives an amazing tour of the International Space Station, complete with rocking music during a “fly-through” of the main superstructure, and then a tour from Soyuz to Shuttle.

It really shows just how vast, cramped and maze-like the whole structure is. Check it out!

Space Does Not Work That Way, Pt II

This is what most of space looks like.

This is what most of space looks like.

Space… the final frontier.

This is the second in a series of articles regarding common misconceptions about space. The first of its number dealt with the vast distances involved when considering space, and this one will deal with the idea that “Space is cold”, and about space nebula.

Even Star Trek’s writers almost always got nebulas completely and utterly wrong. Voyager… I’m looking at you.

Anyway, let’s see what we can discover. 😀

Space Does Not Work That Way, Pt I

This is what most of space looks like.

This is what most of space looks like.

Space… the final frontier.

Ahh, what a wonderfully misunderstood place space is. Although the function of UFOP: Starbase 118 is to write Star Trek fanfiction, we don’t require any Trek or space travel knowledge at all. In fact, coming into the group as a “clean slate” means that you’re in the unique position of designing your own character, completely from scratch, without any influences or constraints or preconceived notions.

That said, there’s a lot about space that even the most ardent sci-fi fan incorrectly assumes, and these articles are designed to correct some of the common misconceptions regarding space. But much like a new UFOP: Starbase 118 writer who joins us without any Trek knowledge, knowledge of how the great void works is also not a job requirement.

Although some on-the-job training every now and then can’t hurt. On with the show!

#1 – Space is big.

Space is very, very big.

Two Moons

After lots of tests and computer model runs astronomers Martin Jutzi and Erik Asphaug  came up with the scenario to explain why the moon’s far side have so much more hills than the one that is always facing Earth.

The theory outlined in the journal Nature comes with an artist’s render of the collision of the two moons.

This is supposedly happened 4.4 billion years ago when there was no life on Earth. Moons were young, formed barely 100 million years earlier when a giant planet smashed into Earth.  Both moons orbited Earth and sort of rose in the sky together, the smaller one trailing a few steps behind the big one.

Obscure Dangers of Spaceflight: Being Unable to Stop

Gene Cernan on the moon. (Cr.

Part five of the six part ‘Obscure Dangers of Spaceflight’ series will go over one of the least thought of, yet most dangerous of all those dangers mentioned yet; the inability to stop. Just showing up to the party? Head on over to the other parts and see what you’ve been missing. You can find them here: Moon Dust, Space Junk, Static Electricity, and Heatstroke.

The Inability to Stop

Perhaps one of the most surprising aspects of spaceflight is the fact that it really doesn’t take all that much fuel to do it. The only thing you have to worry about is getting the craft to its top speed, or the speed at which it will need to travel to get its job done. For the space shuttle, this speed was close to 17,500 miles per hour; a speed that took relatively little fuel to attain. The problem that space travelers are faced with then, of course, is the pesky law that Newton came up with so long ago. See, as it turns out, Newton’s first law states that every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force. Furthermore, he goes on to state in his third law that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Distributed Computing Goes Out Of This World…Again!

If you’ve been around online for a while, then you have probably heard of an older, and pioneering, distributed computing project known as SETI @ Home. The entire point of the project was to put idle computers to work processing massive amounts of data that would have taken the SETI computers years to sift through.

Obscure Dangers of Spaceflight: Heatstroke

Photo Cr:

Part four of our six part ‘Obscure Dangers of Spaceflight’ series focuses on something that plenty of human’s suffer from right here on Earth: Heatstroke. Want to see the first three dangers? You can find them here: Moon Dust, Space Junk, and Static Electricity.

Obscure Dangers of Spaceflight: Static Electricity

In part three of the six part series on the obscure dangers of spaceflight, we will take a look at how one, harmless seeming zap can kill or seriously incapacitate space travel. See how the exchange of electrons can bring man, in all his technological glory, to his knees.

Charging Atoms

Static Electricity.

To some, it’s nothing more than a mild annoyance that gives you a little zap when you touch something or someone. To others it’s a means of entertainment, as anyone who has used it to make hair stand on end or balloons stick to walls will be quick to tell you. Nobody is really afraid of static electricity because it is pretty weak and aside from surprising you, it can’t hurt you. Unless you are momentarily away from the planet.

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