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8 votes
3 answers
9k views

Are there any plans to send a probe to orbit a black hole?

Since a black hole only has as much gravity as it did before it collapsed, it's perfectly safe to orbit it. Do any countries have plans to send a probe to orbit a black hole? What is the timeframe?
user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
233 views

What data are used to do these 3D asteroid renderings?

The number of asteroids that have been directly photographed is very limited, because the probes that do so are very large budget and public. That's why it's surprising to see images like this of ...
AlanSE's user avatar
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39 votes
3 answers
59k views

How to programmatically calculate orbital elements using position/velocity vectors?

I would like to build some orbital mechanical software from scratch. I feel that this would be a great way to learn the steps required to calculate different Kepler orbital elements of an object, plot ...
Stu's user avatar
  • 5,948
12 votes
1 answer
29k views

Do only Eagles walk on the moon?

Neil Armstrong was an Eagle Scout and the first person to walk on the moon. I have heard that everyone who has walked on the moon (through 2012), was an Eagle Scout. Is it true? If so other then ...
James Jenkins's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
304 views

Why would Kepler’s pointing problems be minimized if aimed within the ecliptic?

Having read a few articles on the suggested new uses for the crippled Kepler space observatory with only two out of four functioning reaction wheels, several ideas suggest that Kepler’s pointing ...
TildalWave's user avatar
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12 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why was the Hubble Space Telescope purged with nitrogen gas?

Wikipedia states that The telescope had to be kept in a clean room, powered up and purged with nitrogen, until a launch could be rescheduled. Spacecraft are always kept in a clean room ...
Hash's user avatar
  • 18k
8 votes
2 answers
3k views

Is an orbital epoch merely a timestamp?

Just what the title states please. This site writes to say Orbit epoch is the time at which the established orbital elements are true The site goes on to mention sub-elements - Start Day The ...
Everyone's user avatar
  • 13.6k
11 votes
2 answers
415 views

Are there enough stray gasses in space to justify streamlining a probe?

Space isn't empty - there are tons of things floating around in it. Seem of these things are pockets/molecule of gas - and a space probe is very likely to encounter some of these at some point in its ...
user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
320 views

Launch from the top of high places [duplicate]

Would launching space ships at the top of high places (like buildings or mountains) would have significant effect? What would be the height where launching would be less energy-/fuel-consuming than ...
Zoltán Schmidt's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
566 views

What plans does AEB (the Brazilian Space Agency) have for missions beyond GEO?

Besides the US, we focus a lot on Russia and China's space programs. India also gets a little attention. Brazil, Russia, India, and China form the BRIC group which is widely presumed to surpass G7 ...
called2voyage's user avatar
  • 23.8k
6 votes
3 answers
402 views

Over time, would I exert less effort mining a large asteroid or collecting small asteroids, assuming both have similar compositions?

Suppose there are two asteroids, one very large (larger than a football field) and one very small (roughly the size of a refrigerator). Assume they have similar compositions and are at equal ...
Anthony Neace's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
519 views

How will the RD-180 ban affect US space program?

RD-180 is a rocket engine produced by Russian NPO Energomash company. It is used in such US rockets as Atlas III and Atlas V. There are rumors, that Russia is considering to ban RD-180 export to US. ...
user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
369 views

Are there any studies on the ideal form for a spacecraft at large velocity in vacuum?

Spacecraft meant to operate in both, an atmosphere & space, are typically Stream-lined (as in the case of the Space Shuttle, and Buran), or Spherical (Vostok comes to mind). In contrast ...
Everyone's user avatar
  • 13.6k
11 votes
5 answers
4k views

Is there any reason to send space probes along the plane of our solar system instead of perpendicular to the plane of our solar system? [duplicate]

Is there any reason to send deep space probes (Pioneer and Voyager) along the plane of our solar system (maybe with a slight inclination) instead of perpendicular to the plane of our solar system? If ...
Hash's user avatar
  • 18k
8 votes
2 answers
2k views

Can a whole planetary system have Lagrangian points?

Wikipedia says: The Lagrange points mark positions where the combined gravitational pull of the two large masses provides precisely the centripetal force required to orbit with them The major bulk ...
Everyone's user avatar
  • 13.6k
12 votes
2 answers
3k views

What is feathering?

I heard that Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo just tested something called “feathering”. What is it? How come I didn't hear about the shuttle doing this, it is unique to Virgin Galactic's ship?
James Jenkins's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
1k views

What advantage or disadvantage when the craft moves through the axis of rotation?

Spacecraft typically launch close to the equator along Earth's rotation. This contributes some velocity to the craft. In addition Earth's gravity is weakest along the equator (bar mountainous regions)....
Everyone's user avatar
  • 13.6k
6 votes
2 answers
994 views

Can a "free launch" from a space elevator really be free?

The question Benefit of sling shot effect with a space elevator implies that you can get free $\Delta V$ from a space elevator launch. As highlighted in this answer on SciFi quoting Sheffield book "...
James Jenkins's user avatar
12 votes
1 answer
1k views

Practical Lunar He-3 mining approach?

There is a lot of popular talk that There may be huge deposits of Helium-3 on the Moon, and It could be used for very efficient fusion reactors. Unfortunately in the bulk of popular talk actual ...
SF.'s user avatar
  • 55.1k
11 votes
2 answers
1k views

Would an ionocraft have better or worse performance in the upper atmosphere?

The ionocraft produces lift by accelerating ions in the air downward by the use of two meshes held at a large relative voltage difference. With a cursory look at the physical principle, it seems like ...
AlanSE's user avatar
  • 16.4k
16 votes
1 answer
510 views

What probe received the most gravitational assists?

Often when launching deep-space probes, scientists will "loop" them around planets, "stealing" some of the planet's momentum and transferring it to the probe - giving the probe a huge speed boost. I'...
user avatar
9 votes
0 answers
160 views

Do solid propellant engine needs optimum temperature? [closed]

Do solid propellants have an optimum temperature to burn effectively? If so, what is the range of temperature needed?
Hash's user avatar
  • 18k
46 votes
3 answers
30k views

Would it have been possible to have sent the Space Shuttle around the Moon?

I'm curious about whether or not the Space Shuttle could have been used as a lunar orbit vehicle - basically, would have it been technically capable of getting to the Moon, entering orbit, then ...
user avatar
14 votes
5 answers
4k views

Why do pump and pressure fed liquid engines need to operate at high pressures?

There is apparently some confusion as to why pump or pressure fed liquid rocket engines need to operate at high pressure to product significant thrust, based on the comments to this question about ...
Adam Wuerl's user avatar
  • 3,919
6 votes
2 answers
2k views

How would a centrifuge module's berthing system work on the ISS?

Although it's not very likely to be built, the idea of a centrifuge module attached to the International Space Station is taken seriously, and at least two have been proposed. I have in mind the ...
AlanSE's user avatar
  • 16.4k
5 votes
1 answer
194 views

Could we send lots of cheap measurement devices in random directions into the space?

As a layman, I like to read about space exploration and come up with ideas. One of them that I couldn't refute was a sort of firework that would scatter thousands or even millions of self-locating ...
ymar's user avatar
  • 253
12 votes
3 answers
561 views

Has water ever been confirmed on comets?

I am watching a documentary called "The Electric Comet," and the narrator claims that water has never been collected or detected from comets. This should be a surprising result as standard theory ...
Stu's user avatar
  • 5,948
9 votes
3 answers
19k views

About how far was debris scattered from the Columbia incident?

Space Shuttle Columbia exploded during reentry due to missing heat shield tiles. When this happened, the shuttle would have had a great amount of speed, which would imply debris was strewn far down ...
user avatar
9 votes
5 answers
5k views

What are the advantages and disadvantages of sending a telescope into deep space? [closed]

When I first heard of the Voyager missions I thought this: why not do the same, only make it a telescope? I thought it would surely see a lot of things we can't see from Earth or the inner Solar ...
ymar's user avatar
  • 253
8 votes
1 answer
1k views

What source of raw materials could be found in space for making plastics?

Plastics are made from organic solids, and recent studies indicate that pound for pound they are a better shield against galactic cosmic rays then some metals. If you are lifting mass to orbit or ...
James Jenkins's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
389 views

Is any non-planetary celestial body smaller than a star known to be a spontaneous radiator?

Space is apparently filled with lots of debris that did not make a star, system, or planet. In a pinch asteroids, and comets may serve to illustrate. Asteroids are typically flagged as carbon, stone, ...
Everyone's user avatar
  • 13.6k
6 votes
1 answer
509 views

What is the proper way to charge Lithium Ion batteries?

Lithium Ion Batteries are becoming more and more popular in spacecraft, due to their high power per mass ratio. There are several companies, such as Quallion, advertising their space rated batteries. ...
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
  • 121k
8 votes
1 answer
685 views

How many square kilometres of Mars is exactly mapped?

I've heard somewhere that we have better maps of the surface of Mars than the deepest areas of the sea. But how accurate are the maps really? Also, how much we have mapped about the surface of Mars?
Zoltán Schmidt's user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
939 views

What factors are considered when choosing a Mars lander landing site?

NASA seems to have a mission planned to send a 2016 lander to Mars, and they say that they are in the process of choosing landing targets. What factors are considered when selecting these sites?
user avatar
76 votes
3 answers
55k views

Was the NOAA-N Prime satellite really dropped on the floor?

Recently, Donald.McLean posted this image in The Pod Bay, the site chat room: It's a rather disturbing image once you think about it for more than about half a second. Did it really happen? What ...
user avatar
32 votes
1 answer
12k views

What are the procedures aboard the ISS in the eventuality of a loss of a crew member?

So far, all the space exploration related events that resulted in Loss of Crew (LOC) took a complete crew, and as far as we're aware, no accident in space that resulted in the loss of human life, be ...
TildalWave's user avatar
  • 76.2k
8 votes
1 answer
675 views

What were the circumstances of this impact event on Jupiter in 2012?

I recently came across this video of an impact on Jupiter in 2012: http://youtu.be/5-msU-YVb9E Curious about its origin, I did some research and found that the video was taken at 11:35 UTC on ...
Anthony Neace's user avatar
9 votes
3 answers
822 views

What are the deal-breakers with a preheated Hydrogen gas tank orbital rocket?

Consider this thought process: In selecting the propellant for a reaction engine, lower atomic mass is better because equipment is largely temperature limited, and lighter gas will get higher ...
AlanSE's user avatar
  • 16.4k
11 votes
2 answers
1k views

How exactly does the Dutch "Mars One" colonization program envision dealing with the difference in Earth's and Mars' gravity?

The Dutch have started the Mars One Mars colonization program. In the next 20-30 years, they plan to build a little colony. Humans will be living in lower gravity than the Earth's. Is there any ...
innocent-world's user avatar
13 votes
4 answers
300 views

What properties are used to quantify the odds of a star harboring earth-like life?

Say you start with a list of stars. What properties do we believe to be critical in the present existence or future formation of earth-like life in those star systems? How can one reasonably pare down ...
Stephen Collings's user avatar
14 votes
1 answer
7k views

Changing the rotational rate of a natural body

Let's say that for the purpose of terraforming, we need to speed up the rotation of a planet (like Venus), a moon or an asteroid to near Earthian day. How would we go about doing this? Can this be ...
coleopterist's user avatar
  • 6,073
19 votes
1 answer
18k views

Does the orbit of the ISS decay?

Does the orbit of the ISS decay? I don't know much about the ISS, but I heard some rumors. The rumor I heard was that there is a very, very tiny atmosphere at the ISS orbit.
joppiesaus's user avatar
14 votes
3 answers
792 views

What's the advantage of using an SLS system rather than a number of small lift rockets?

I just read this article, in which former director Kraft is described as deriding NASA's current plan to use a single heavy-lift vehicle (Space Launch System, or SLS) as a primary launch platform. Why ...
Don Branson's user avatar
  • 1,214
15 votes
1 answer
746 views

What amendments were made to the Outer Space Treaty?

Article XV of the Outer Space Treaty (henceforth OuST) is a provision for amendments to the original treaty. The treaty dates back almost half-a-century (46 years to be a little more precise). ...
Everyone's user avatar
  • 13.6k
11 votes
1 answer
2k views

Electromagnetic Propulsion Technology

I read this article: Astronauts Test Electromagnetic Propulsion Technology Aboard ISS And here is a video: RINGS on a Reduced Gravity Flight. Looks like they tested the "rotate mechanism". How ...
innocent-world's user avatar
15 votes
2 answers
2k views

How big of a problem is the Lunar eclipse in April 2014 for LADEE?

I've been watching this NASA ScienceCasts video on YouTube (also published on NASA Science), and towards the end the narrator mentiones the end of life for the LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust ...
TildalWave's user avatar
  • 76.2k
6 votes
1 answer
274 views

How are base temperature units found on other planets?

On Earth, our temperature scales are calibrated based on some universal (on Earth) values. For example, 212°F and 100°C are defined as the temperature water boils at sea level. How are these ...
user avatar
8 votes
4 answers
1k views

Would it be practical to use the electrical charge of the Lunar surface as an energy source?

This question discusses the charges that exist on the Lunar surface. Would it be possible or practicable to use the differential between the surface and subsurface or different locations on the ...
Don Branson's user avatar
  • 1,214
14 votes
2 answers
571 views

Are there any resources available on the moon that could make a base commercially viable?

It seems that if we had a lunar base going then we would be more likely to invent things that would improve space travel. It also seems that private industry is faster at developing these ...
Chad's user avatar
  • 984
13 votes
1 answer
3k views

What is the average electrical charge on the lunar surface?

Known facts: The lunar surface is covered by regolith. The Solar wind imparts a charge to the lunar surface Wikipedia says On the daylit side of the Moon, solar ultraviolet and X-ray radiation ...
Everyone's user avatar
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