Sun to be explored from closer than ever before

Telescopes aren't enough. Even little children know that sun emits light and warmth. Adults are aware about the dangerous ultraviolet rays that also come from the Sun. By looking at other stars, we know that Sun's light rays go far beyond our solar system. A lot of information is gathered about our Sun, but it's not enough, as a telescope, and possibly a sonar, were the most powerful tools in our possesion. Not anymore! NASA is preparing a spacecraft that would withstand the extreme conditions and fly closer to the Sun than any other probe has ever been. Eight times closer, in fact!


This unique probe's mission will be to study the streams of charged particles the sun hurls into space, also known as "Solar Wind". This phenomenon can be examined much more accurately closer to it's center. Such a mission has never been undertaken before, so the probe will have to be very well protected. Current design involves a nine-foot-diameter, six-inch-thick, carbon-foam-filled solar shield above the probe. The probe is expected to fly by Sun at 125 miles/second and withstand 2600 degrees Fahrenheit. It will expirience solar intensity up to 500 times larger than spacecraft just above Earth, and any other unforseen solar blasts have to be taken into account.


The solar probe will not fly in a straigt line, as some may think. Instead, it will orbit around Sun near Venus for 7 years, gradually shrinking the distance to 6.6 million kilometers. As the total distance between Earth and Sun is roughly 150 million kilometers, this is very close.


The probe will be lauched in 2015, assuming we haven't blown ourselves up with nuclear bombs by that time. Evolution is more important than war, sadly, no-one understands that. On the other hand, war sort of speeds-up evolution. Anyway, several other probes are allready inspecting Solar phenomenons. The APL’s MESSENGER spacecraft will soon begin orbiting Mercury, sending home information about the Sun. Slowly but surely, we're exploring space.


Orange peel - saviour of the world?

Pollution is always in our heads. I don't mean to say that our heads are polluted, but we always think about the pollution of our environment. And if you don't - you're old-fashioned! Okay, I'm sorry - the real thing is much more serious than this. Pollutions of different ecosystems are way above the normal levels. But right now, I'd like to divert your attention to water. In a nutshell - water is important. It absorbs carbon dioxide, it houses many species of animals and plants, that are in one way or another important to us. Fish, for example, makes great food, while algae photosynthesize. However, various dyes make it harder and harder for sunlight to reach our plant friends. Every day, thousands of gallons of various dyes, used in our industry for things like printing paper, dyeing houses or cars or whatever that needs color, are dumped into the oceans. Scientist have been looking for ways to absorb these substances, without damaging the environment, that is, without chemicals. I find this ironic, you have to risk damaging the environment in order to save it. But luckily, natural materials can absorb the dyes quite well to. One of them being... an orange peel!!


Another point for nature! It seems that orange peel is quite capable of absorbing unwanted material from waste water. And it doesn't even require high temperatures. Sounds almost too good to be true, doesn't it? Theoretically, all is well, but putting it to practice might prove to be a problem. Just think about it, how will they amass the required amount of orange peels? Build separate containers for them? Glass, paper, orange peel.... Or a huge factory where everyone is peeling oranges. And where would the peeled oranges go then? To the market? Might work that way, but I can't think of anything else. Gathering them from the general public is impossible. So, if you just happen to have an orange peel and are near some polluted water - you know what to do!


Unique galaxies. Messier 104 - the Sombrero Galaxy

Outer space is very different from the conditions in our own cozy atmosphere. Massive objects of incredible mass affect each other with gravitational force. Without friction, these objects engage in a never-ending dance around their larger counterparts. This leads to many interesting formations of galaxies, one that's worth particular attention is the so-called "Sombrero" galaxy.


It is called the Sombrero galaxy, because, quite obviously, it resembles a sombrero. But why does it have such a distinct form? Other galaxies are much more widespread, aren't they? Well, what you see is just a lot of cosmic dust and gas. Their temperature is low, so the gas is quite visible. Presumably, stars and planets form from these clouds of matter floating around in Messier 104. Besides, this galaxy has a lot more objects in it than others.


Sure, it looks cool, that's what we amateurs see. But this galaxy is of much interest to professional scientists alike. Every galaxy has an object of humongous mass in its center, that keeps all the solar systems inside and prevents them from flying out into all directions. The Sombrero galaxy is no exception. Or perhaps it is? In its center lies, what is called a Supermassive black hole. This was proven by observation, as researchers found out that for the stars to rotate that fast, an object of mass, equal to 1 billion Suns, has to exist. All that and it's relatively close - 30 million light-years. It can be seen with an amateur telescope, in the Virgo constellation.