Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for Orion (not the belt) and the Oort Cloud

Ever wonder what will fill the incredible void left behind from shuttling the Space Shuttle Program that flew 135 missions, helped construct the International Space Station and inspired generations?
Look no further. The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) is NASA’s first planned beyond-low-earth-orbit manned spacecraft since the Apollo era. Crewed missions will be sent to the Moon, asteroids and Mars. Each Orion spacecraft is projected to carry a crew of four or more astronauts. It is also planned as a backup for ISS cargo and/or crew delivery. The first planned test flight is set for September 2014.
Orion will serve as the exploration vehicle that will carry the crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the space travel, and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities.
Of course, the Orion MPVC will find fierce competition from private industry and other countries like China, India, Russia, and the European community.
So hang in tight folks. Because we will see far more than one giant leap for mankind. Man and machinery will be going far deeper into space and at an accelerated pace in our immediate future.
The Oort Cloud is a spherical cloud of comets that lies at the outer reaches of our solar system, roughly one or maybe up to two light year away from our Sun. The sphere was named after the astronomer Jan Oort who hypothesized its existence in 1950. Although it has not yet been proven through direct observation, the reality of the Oort Cloud is widely accepted in the scientific community.
It’s believed most comets originate from here and circle the Sun in every direction. They do not stay on the flat disk. These objects break the rules of the Solar System and create a sphere of trillions of comets around the Sun.
The comets (theoretically) where formed in then thrown out of the inner Solar System by Jupiter and Saturn as if the planets were giant sling shots.
The most famous object discovered in the Oort cloud is Sedna, a planet like transneptunian object orbiting our Sun that only approaches the Sun briefly during its 10,500 solar orbit.