Sep
13
2007

Random space questions

The Orion crew exploration vehicle: This rendering represents a concept of the Orion crew exploration vehicle. NASA's Constellation Program is getting to work on new spacecraft that will return humans to the moon and blaze a trail to Mars and beyond.  Image courtesy:Lockheed Martin Corp.
The Orion crew exploration vehicle: This rendering represents a concept of the Orion crew exploration vehicle. NASA's Constellation Program is getting to work on new spacecraft that will return humans to the moon and blaze a trail to Mars and beyond. Image courtesy:Lockheed Martin Corp.
Here are some more random questions that were submitted to our featured Scientists on the Spot that had nothing to do with their area of expertise. A few were space related, so I gathered them up to answer together.

We had two similar space travel questions. ”How many days does it take to get to the moon?” and, ”How many years does it take to get to Mars?”

First, the moon, which is closer, and rotates around the Earth. That simple fact may make you a lot of money some day.

How long it takes to get to the moon depends on how fast you are traveling and whether or not people are on the ship.

The moon is 238,855 miles from Earth. If you were to travel at a rate of 60 miles an hour from the Earth to the moon it would take165 days to get there. Luckily, spaceships can travel a lot faster.

The first man-made spacecraft to reach the moon was the Soviet Union’s unmanned Luna 2. It reached the moon in 33½ hours, meaning it traveled at an average of 7,131 miles an hour.

Manned spacecraft take longer to reach the moon as you have to take into consideration g-forces, safety and probably resting by the crew. The first manned lunar landing, Apollo 11, was launched from Earth at 1:32pm on July 16, 1969, achieved orbit around the moon some nearly 76 hours later, and made landing on the moon at 8:17pm on July 20, 1969. Apollo 12, the second moon mission, took the longest to get to the moon – over 83 hours, while Apollo 16 was the fastest at just under 72 hours. So, I would say it takes around three days to get to the moon.

Apollo 17 was the last lunar landing, back in December of 1972. NASA has plans to return to the moon in 2019.

Like going to the moon, the time it takes to get to Mars is influenced by how fast you travel, but another crucial factor is that Mars’ distance from Earth changes as the two planets rotate around the Sun, so how long it takes depends on when you leave. Recent unmanned missions to Mars included Spirit (launched June 10, 2003 – arrived January 3, 2004), Pathfinder (December 4, 1996 – arrived July 4, 1997), Mars Odyssey (launched April 7, 2001 – arrived October 24, 2001) and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (launched August 12, 2005 – arrived March 10, 2006), and they average just over 6 months.

Supernova Cassiopeia A: This image from the orbiting Chandra x-ray observatory shows Cassiopeia A, the youngest supernova remnant in the Milky Way. Image courtesy: NASA/CXC/MIT/UMass Amherst/M.D.Stage et al.
Supernova Cassiopeia A: This image from the orbiting Chandra x-ray observatory shows Cassiopeia A, the youngest supernova remnant in the Milky Way. Image courtesy: NASA/CXC/MIT/UMass Amherst/M.D.Stage et al.
It would be about the same about of time for a manned spaceflight, if launched during the time when the two planets are in opposition to one another. The length of time spent on Mars will be impacted by this as well – it will either be a 30-day stay (a total 600+ day mission) or a 450+ day stay (a total 900+ day mission). Again, the difference lies in when the planets are in opposition, which only occurs every 26 months.

The final space question is “What are super novas?”

Super novas are stars blowing up. (Sweet.) Basically, the blowing up star becomes much brighter (because it is blowing up) as the material that made up the star is blown away.

More on supernovas can be found here, here or here.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

kaylawilcox22's picture

hoe long dose it take to leave the earths atmosphere in a space shuttle

posted on Wed, 10/10/2007 - 10:40pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

It takes the space shuttle approximately 8-1/2 minutes to reach a speed that will keep the Shuttle in orbit, known as orbital velocity, so that it continually falls around Earth.

posted on Sun, 10/14/2007 - 4:05pm
kellie's picture
kellie says:

ARe there limited times the space shuttle can leave the Earth's atmosphere? can a space shuttle just shoot right into outer space? please explain!

posted on Thu, 11/08/2007 - 5:49pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

Yes, the times when a shuttle can launch are limited. A "launch window" is the time period when a launch has to happen in order to get the shuttle in the right orbit to do what it needs for the mission. To learn more about launch windows, visit the NASA fact page on them.

posted on Mon, 11/12/2007 - 9:48am
lue's picture
lue says:

I was reading the above and it says that Mars’ distance from Earth changes as the two planets rotate around the Sun. now how fast is this machine traveling? or should i say what is the average MPH?

thanks

posted on Tue, 11/27/2007 - 2:09am
Joe's picture
Joe says:

This machine? Do you mean Earth? About 67,062 miles an hour. Check here to learn more.

posted on Tue, 11/27/2007 - 7:02pm
Lindsay's picture
Lindsay says:

How many hours does it take a space shuttle to get into space?

posted on Fri, 11/30/2007 - 10:42am
Joe's picture
Joe says:

Eight and a half minutes.

posted on Sat, 12/01/2007 - 1:10am
M's picture
M says:

will an object disappear forever if it is suck into the BlackHole?

posted on Fri, 05/02/2008 - 7:31am
Joe's picture
Joe says:

I am stretching my abilities here, but I would guess that an object entering into a black hole would be "gone" forever, as in, there is no way to go in and bring it back...but this guy seems to know what he's talking about.

posted on Wed, 03/11/2009 - 3:21pm
Eileen Shaver's picture
Eileen Shaver says:

Question: Is their empty space in the Northern part of the universe? And who and when discovered the fact.

Thanks!

posted on Wed, 12/03/2008 - 2:09pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

Sorry, I need a little clarity - what do you mean by the northern part of the universe?

posted on Wed, 03/11/2009 - 3:17pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

where the northern star resides

posted on Sat, 01/02/2010 - 8:39pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

how long does the space shuttle takes for re-entry into earth's atmospher? and what is the excat degree of re-entry? and why??

posted on Sat, 03/28/2009 - 3:37pm

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