Watch scientists melt a satellite part to save us from space junk

Not every part of a satellite burns up in reentry. Considering the growing number of satellites in orbital space, that's a big problem.

  • Earth's orbital space is getting more crowded by the day.
  • The more satellites and space junk we put into orbit, the greater a risk that there could be a collision.
  • Not all materials burn up during reentry; that's why scientists need to stress test satellite parts to ensure that they won't become deadly falling objects.
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Technology & Innovation

Astronomers warn Elon Musk's satellites could change our night sky

The massive Starlink satellite network from SpaceX is causing worries.

SpaceX
  • SpaceX recently launched the first 60 of a planned 12,000 satellites for its Starlink network.
  • The network will bring internet connectivity to an additional several billion people.
  • Astronomers worry that all the satellites in low orbit will ruin the night sky and hinder science.
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Surprising Science

Space toilets: How astronauts boldly go where few have gone before

A NASA astronomer explains how astronauts dispose of their, uh, dark matter.

  • When nature calls in micro-gravity, astronauts must answer. Space agencies have developed suction-based toilets – with a camera built in to ensure all the waste is contained before "flushing".
  • Yes, there have been floaters in space. The early days of space exploration were a learning curve!
  • Amazingly, you don't need gravity to digest food. Peristalsis, the process by which your throat and intestines squeeze themselves, actually moves food and water through your digestive system without gravity at all.
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Videos

How will we travel to another star?

Proxima Centauri, our closest star, is more than 4 light years away. Reaching it under 10,000 years will be challenging; reaching it with living humans will be even harder.

NASA
  • Eventually, humanity will want to travel to a new solar system to propagate the human race, explore, and maybe find signs of alien life.
  • But our closest neighbor, Proxima Centauri, is so far away that current methods could take tens of thousands of years.
  • How will we surmount this incredible distance and the other challenges associated with interstellar travel?
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Technology & Innovation

Inside China's plan to put an 'artificial moon' in orbit

By 2022, there may be as many as three artificial moons floating above the city of Chengdu.

Photo by Schubert Ciencia via Flickr/Big Think
  • Chinese state media announced plans to put an artificial moon in orbit by 2020.
  • Just like the real moon, the artificial moon will reflect sunlight onto the Earth in order to cut down on electricity consumption.
  • If the mission is a success, there are plans to launch three other artificial moons in 2022.
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Technology & Innovation