This month, the Smithsonian has been highlighting moments of ingenuity—trendsetters, groundbreakers, and individuals whose work embodies the spirit of innovation. As part of the Smithsonian Ingenuity Festival, the National Air and Space Museum celebrated the next generation of space and aviation pioneers, and those in history who paved the way.
Using satellites and robotic rovers, we’ve learned quite a few details about the various planets orbiting our Sun. But what about other stars? What are their planets like? How weird do they get? It turns out, pretty weird.
Sustainable energy has been at the heart of modern innovations large and small, from efficient light bulbs in living rooms to solar panels powering buildings. One of the newest breakthroughs in energy technology can often be found zipping around the streets in front of the Department of Energy (DOE) in Washington, DC—a car powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
Thanks to the Kepler Space Telescope, we now know the answer to a longstanding question in astronomy: how common are planetary systems around stars? Quite common, it turns out. In the relatively small patch of sky that Kepler studied, most of the stars had planets orbiting them. Scientists now believe that there are more planets than stars in our Milky Way galaxy.
Just like you conduct experiments in your science class, astronauts do experiments while in space. The microgravity of space allows astronauts to carry out experiments that would not be possible in the gravity of Earth. There are more than 300 experiments currently happening aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
For the first time ever, on August 17, 2017, astronomers detected the collision of two neutron stars. Not satisfied with that, they caught the cosmic smashup using both gravitational waves and light – another breakthrough.
I think it surprises a lot of people that a mission as successful as the Cassini-Huygens Mission would be terminated on purpose. Not just shutting the spacecraft off, but terminated with such style by sending it on a destructive dive into Saturn’s atmosphere. Cassini will burn up and be destroyed in a similar way that a meteorite is broken up in Earth’s atmosphere.