Finally watching ISS

today I am finally going to write about my first experience watching ISS, the International Space Station. I have probably seen it before it is just that I did not realize that it is not an airplane.

ISS is a space station (biggest that humanity has) orbiting around 400 kilometers above the sea level. There is lot of interesting stuff about it but in this post, we are going to concern ourselves only with the very simple part, just seeing it.

Do not get too cocky. With naked eye, it will look like a bright star, around the magnitude of Venus at its best. It moves fast and even the best flights above your place will take maximum of about 6 minutes. From my experience, simple binoculars do not make much of a difference, though telescope could and I am yet to see how it will work out with good one, for example if I am able to track it.

Now it might not seem as much but remember, you are seeing the ISS, 150 billion $ project! The upside of it is that the station passes everyday above your place. It will always happen at sunset or sunrise, that is because the station must be sunlit but you have to be already in the shadow of Earth.

Most internet sites will recommend you the NASA webpage but it is horribly done and I will rather link to this one:

In the case you are the type of person who uses smart phone, you can also download some app like ISS tracker.


Note: even though ISS will pass over 95% of the world population it has over every place pauses for many days. This is because the Earth is rotating under it and it takes some time before it comes to “phase” again.


There is lot of garbage out there, right above your head

no no, I do not speak about the stuff in your house, though who knows how it looks like. I mean a junk on the orbit of Earth.

Earth from space, surrounded by small white dots

Stuff above your head in low Earth orbit and geosynchronous orbit.

This stuff which is hundreds of kilometers above may not really concern you, if it falls down it should burn up in the atmosphere.

Actually it should concern you since your life almost completely depends on satellites above that are still working.

Those that are still working are at the same time endangered because of those that are not working. How bad is it?

Well on one side not so bad. No huge catastrophy happened, yet.

On the other side this is just a matter of time, the thing that should concern us most is ISS of course since there are some people there. When some things fly on those heights, they tend to do it very fast, even 17,500 miles per hours. Take for example a cat, not that there are any cats 400 kilometers above Earth, she usually weights about 4,5 kilograms. What is the momentum of the cat?

The momentum is about 126,708.75 kg*km/h. This is a lot, how much?

Yes, this is your cat which is just going to destroy something

The same momentum has a car (1,590 kilograms is regular midsize) driving at the speed of 80 kilometers per hour.

Now just imagine a car crashing into something at 80 km/h, it will do a great deal of damage and same damage can create a cat flying on orbit (or 353 cats at the speed of 80 km/h).

Luckily objects of the size of cat can be detected, but it is kind of expensive.

Just for you to know, there are 20,000 pieces of junk that is larger than softball.

Now the greatest risk is by the junk we cannot detect because it could destroy windows or so. Also the more stuff we put on the orbit, the more likely it is to collide with something.

By the way in 2007 China tried to get rid of one satellite using missile, what happened? They destroyed it adding 3,000 more pieces of debris on the orbit. WORTH A SHOT.

Right now there are only guidelines to dodge this debris but no real solution yet.


Check out this cool page that simulates what is flying above.


One year in space

today I will write about the one year mission on International Space Station.

Journey to Mars

What needs to be done for mission on Mars. (Source)

Usually when there are astronauts on ISS they are there for half a year, conducting experiments and so on. The problem is that we do not have much data about what happens when the astronaut is away for longer time. This is a problem for long term missions on Mars and so on.

We know that bones weaken over longer periods of time because body adjust their strength to how much they are used which is not much when you are in microgravity.

Of course muscles weaken too, both of those problems are almost balanced by 2 hour workout everyday, it is not enough and the astronauts need to do some rehabilitation afterwards.

Now there is this mission called One Year in Space. There were actually people from Russia who were longer time in space their condition was not studied much. In 1st March astronauts Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko will return after one year in Space. Both of them were observed already one year before the mission and they will be observed one year after it. Scott Kelly even has a twin who is too astronaut so they will get even more information from that because they can compare their condition.

It may take a long time to get all the results since scientists have a lot of data and their saliva will still remain frozen on the board of ISS before we are able to bring it back.


I already mentioned one year mission in this post.



How do orbits work?

I “came up” with this problem already some time ago but it is today that I am going to solve it here.

When you draw satellite above Earth and draw the forces that act on it you will see that there is only one force there (only one really important). It is the gravitational force of Earth. Why does not this satellite fall back you ask?

Well this is actually very interesting. The thing here is called orbital velocity. This is the velocity you need to orbit around Earth at particular distance.

So such a satellite orbits around Earth and you need the speed to be so big that gravity wont just pull it back but not too big so it does not fly away. I read somewhere great analogy: orbiting is just a falling without the crash. Take ISS for example. Why are there astronauts in “zero G” when they still receive 96% of Earths gravity? This is because the ISS is actually falling, kind of. It is falling around the Earth.. AROUND so it actually misses all the time. With extremely small drag and friction the  satellites slow down just a little bit so they orbit for tens of years. For example ISS has to use its motors to get back on her height from Earth because otherwise it would fall down in some time. 

The closer you are to Earth, than the drag from atmosphere is greater so you must orbit at faster pace (+ the small amount of bigger gravity). Most satellites orbit in the low Earth orbit which is from 150-2000 kilometers or so.

Sometimes satellites need to be put away so they are moved on what is called satellite graveyard and they will orbit there for a long time. Or their path can be changed so they burn up in the atmosphere. The problem on Earths orbit is huge mess because of those years that we were just launching new and new satellites. This is a huge problem for the ones that are actually working and also for ISS because just a small piece of debris can do tremendous damage.


The picture


Space NEWS #8 (Planet Nine and Flower on ISS)

why space news again? Well new planet has been found, if you know something about astronomy this would not really excite you since new planets are found “all the time”. Well what if I say to you that Solar System has new planet? The planet Nine?

Also on ISS first flower was able to bloom!

When I saw the message about planet Nine I was very excited, but most media made again a mistake to say that it was found, that is not right it was not found yet. There is a strong evidence that such a planet could exist in our Solar System (if this planet is really approved to have been found, I promise to make another post about for “Planets of our Solar System”).

This planet would have mass to about 10 times the mass of Earth making it about the same size as Uran and Neptune, which means that it would be ice giant.

Above you can see the artist’s impression of such a planet. The evidence for it is in the movemenent of TNOs (trans neptunian objects). Those are things like Sedna which you can see below.

Those objects as well as planet Nine have highly excentic orbit. It is clear that we can detect them only when they are close to Sun which means that there are surely more of them. The problem is with their orbit lined up in plane which is very improbably without planet Nine. It’s magnitude is very low, to about +20 or so making it really hard to see even if we were able to find it’s exact spot on the sky. It could orbit in distance ranging from 200 AU in afelion and 1000 AU in perihelion. Caltech is the institution that published about it 20.1.2016.

This week also for the first time flower called zinnia (it is on the picture) finally bloomed. Why this plant? Because it has longer growth of about 60 to 80 days which is more then plants which were planted before.

This flower is a big step forward to grow tomatoes.. tomatoes for food!

That is why it is so important, we need to be able to make a food in microgravity to sustain when traveling through deep space.



Superconducting Super Collider

so yesterday I was in Prague, the capital city of Czech Republic, because of some serious business. When I was waiting on the train station I went to bookstore there and bought really cool book, it is called The Particle at the End of the Universe, by Sean Carroll (By this particle author means Higgs boson). So, I already read 80 pages and now I want to make post about Superconducting Super Collider or SSC.

This book is about Higgs boson, which is particle I will write about some other time. Anyway it was discovered in Large Hadron Collider but there is whole history of other particle accelerators before this one.
Today lets see why SSC was never build.

Ssc mdl.JPGThe most important thing about particle accelerators is their power they can create. LHC which is the strongest on the Earth right now is able to create force of 13 TeV (tera electron volts.) At the same time this may sound powerful and weak.

1 TeV is around the energy of flying mosquito. Well that does not sound like it is much but the other thing is that LHC is able to make 13 TeV and at the same time give this energy to only one proton. When LHC is active, there may be billions of protons flying with this energy, when you add it up it may be as much as the energy of whole locomotive.

But SSC was planned to be even stronger so that it would be able to reveal even more energetic things. It was planned to be about 40 TeV strong which is quite mind blowing.

In the year of 1987 president Reagan accepted the construction of SSC. Then the place to build it had to be found.
Such a place must be geologically inactive, there must be no floods and so on. Of course all most of the states (43) wanted to have it in their city. Finally place called Waxahachie in Texas was accepted as the most safe one (it is located bit south from Dallas).

It was planned to be 87 kilometers long and activated in the year of 1996. First it was thought that it would cost 4.4 billions of dollars, but soon afterward the price rose to 12 billions of dollars. At the same time huge project needed money: ISS (50 billions of dollars, later it rose to over 100 billions of dollars).

When there were 2 billions already invested, it was decided that it was not worth it. Reasons for this were that it was poorly leaded, with prices that were underestimated all the time and so on.

This had some serious causes, like lots of particle physicists were without work. The area was then sold to guy who wanted to create super protected area for computer data, but he fell on the ice and died. Luckily USA decided that they will donate some money to LHC (particle accelerator in CERN) which was activated in the year of 2008.


1st picture


Space NEWS #6

here comes just a short post because I feel tired after whole week. Today at the morning 45th ISS crew landed safely on Earth.

This crew consisting of Kjell Lindgren of NASA, Oleg Kononenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency and Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Maybe you heard about the success of JAXA with Venus and their mission Akatsuki).
One Year Crew
Those guys were in International Space Station for 141 days. Which is a
lot.. but not as much as Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko who are there going to be whole one year to test what space does to people. Their bone density is one of the largest problems (you can see them on the right).

When those three people left there are free places which will be filled by 46th crew launched in December 15th.




today I will write about Space X which is a first privately founded company which launched and recovered rocket from low Earth orbit. Also SpaceX was the first private company to launch rocket for ISS, the Interational Space Station.

It is company which was created in the year of 2002 by Elon Musk who is a billionaire and also the man behind PayPal and Tesla motors.Elon Musk Net Worth
The company goals are:
Make a much more cheaper space launching and traveling. Already competition had to lower all kinds of things that need to be done for launching because SpaceX is creating everything on one and only site in California which makes it lot cheaper. Musk thinks that he can make the launch of one kilogram for 1,100 dollars.
Another goal was stated by Musk in the year of 2011 that he wants to take people to Mars in 10-20 years. And later on to create self-sustaining colony.
In June 2015 SpaceX asked goverment for permission of project which would access internet to rest of planet.
For now the company has signed contract with NASA so that they will send rockets to ISS with supply and they will have there safe vehicle if something went wrong. Also this would enable 7 people to be present at the same time on ISS.
Now SpaceX is developing Dragon V2 which is manned version of Dragon spacecraft. It should be the safest spacecraft built.