From aboard the International Space Station, astronaut Chris Hadfield explains how to make a peanut butter tortilla in zero-gravity.
Here’s a video from Minute Physics that answers the burning questions of how astronauts peed and pooped — and whether the Apollo astronauts left their poop behind on the moon.
A nine-year old girl asked a NASA tour guide about the age of moon rocks. Her family taught her that the universe is only 6,000 years old, which scientists believe is nowhere close to the truth. Who’s right here, and why? And was this little girl right to question the scientists?
Scientist PZ Meyers of the University of Minnesota provides an excellent kid-friendly explanation not only of the radiometric dating process that’s used to determine the age of very old things like moon rocks, but also of how and when it’s appropriate to question what we know about the natural world. (In short: it’s important for a scientist to be critical-minded, but it’s important to ask questions and pay attention to answers that provide more information instead of reinforcing ideas that we already have.)
We love space and rockets, but we’ve been following this week’s planned Space Shuttle launch more carefully because one of the astronauts speaks both English and Spanish. He’s been posting short messages in both languages on Twitter using the name @Astro_Jose. If you know English or Spanish (or both) it’s fun to see what he has to say about the process of going into space.
Jose attended graduate school at UC Santa Barbara; the alumni magazine has an article on alumni astronauts, including Astro_Jose.
From the Daily Mail comes a story of some British kids who sent their teddy bears on a trip on a weather balloon.
The weather balloon went 20 miles (32 kilometers) into the air, which is just at the edge of space. The trip lasted about two hours. The kids made space suits for the teddy bears to protect them because it’s very cold at that altitude.
Here is a video from NASA, the American government agency that is responsible for the space shuttle and other rocket launches. The video shows the space shuttle’s solid boosters returning to earth. The solid boosters are two of the space shuttle’s gas tanks. When the space shuttle is high enough off the earth, the boosters break off from the space shuttle and land in the ocean. This video takes about five minutes to watch. It follows the boosters from the time the break away from the space shuttle to the time they splash down in the ocean. Be sure to watch all the way to the end to see a surprise.
Have you ever seen a shooting star? Sometimes late at night you can see a streak of light blaze across the sky, as in the picture at right.
Is a shooting star really a star? Not really. Real stars (including our sun) are giant balls of fiery gas. Shooting stars are actually much smaller than real stars, and they’re made of rock or metal. They look like stars because they fly through the air so quickly that they become hot and glow. You can see how this works by rubbing your hands together. The same force that makes a meteor hot as it flies through the air is what makes your hands hot when you rub them together. This is called friction.
Scientists have a special name for shooting stars: they call them meteors.
You don’t have to worry about being hit by a meteor. Most meteors burn up before they hit the earth.