What are gravitational waves?

Predicted by Albert Einstein but yet to be observed. Not so easy to explain either. These waves can stretch you and the whole planet which sounds a bit scary but you won’t even notice. In fact, it’s just a few years since we have had the ability to build a detector sensitive enough to (possibly) find a wave. The detectors are called Laser Interferometers and there are four of them already:

LIGO Hanford

LIGO Livingston

GEO

Virgo

It’s so difficult to detect a gravitational wave that scientist were fooled to believe they had found one in 2014. That discovery quickly fell apart. Therefore we can expect that next time it will be thoroughly scrutinized before announced. There are rumors that there has been a discovery by the LIGO team, we just have to wait until it is confirmed.

Nature: Gravitational waves discovery now officially dead

LIGO: What are Gravitational Waves?

Gizmodo: Why Gravitational Waves Would Be Such a Big Deal

Space.com: 5 Myths About Gravitational WavesInfographic

Why not let Neil deGrasse Tyson at StartTalk explain:

Wikipedia: Gravitational Wave | InterferometryLIGO

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The Scale of the Universe

Business Insider made the above video that will show you the scale of our universe from the smallest part we know to the biggest. Movies and animations like this has been done for a while. The best is the Scale of the Universe 2, made by Cary and Michael Huang at htwins.net.

Khan Academy has its own Scale of the Universe, by Salman Khan.

Wikipedia: Khan Academy | Orders of magnitudeOrders of magnitude (length)

The Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate 2015

The Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate is held by the Hayden Planetarium (at American Museum of Natural History) each spring. While waiting for the 2016 debate you can watch last year’s debate. It was about water, a quite essential thing for all living creatures. On Earth as on Mars, if we’re going there, we need water. Last year the Maven spacecraft confirmed that Mars has lost a lot of its water. The water issue needs to be sorted before we go.

The Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate

Wikipedia: The Hayden Planetarium | MAVEN | Isaac Asimov | Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Space flight – 2015 in review

It’s been one of the most interesting years for a long time with a couple of milestones. Missions to Pluto and Ceres. Discoveries about Mars. Blue Origin and SpaceX’s rocket stage landings. A really good year for space exploration.

Space.com: Biggest Spaceflight Moments of 2015

Space.com: Biggest Stories of 2015

The Planetary Society Radio: 2015: A Great Year for Space Exploration

Do not forget Yuri Milner’s SETI Breakthrough Initiative. I hope this initiative will bring us exciting news the coming years.

Space.com: Stephen Hawking helps launch massive search for E.T.

Wired: Largest ever search for E.T.

MAVEN and Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan) reached Mars in 2014 but are certainly part of space exploration in 2015. To see what’s up in the Solar System, please check out Olaf Frohn’s Armchair Astronautics.

Wikipedia: New HorizonsDawn | Pluto | CeresSpaceX | MAVEN | Mars Orbiter Mission

LISA Pathfinder

Today ESA’s LISA Pathfinder probe will be launched. It’s a test to see if we can build a tool to detect gravitational waves, predicted by Albert Einstein. It will launch from the Guiana Space Center (CSG) in a couple of hours (04:15 UTC 3 December).

ESA: Lisa Pathfinder

LISA Pathfinder.org | eLISA Science

The Guardian: LISA Pathfinder set to launch

Wikipedia: LISA Pathfinder | eLISAGuiana Space Center | Gravitational waves

More at Wikipedia: Spaceflight Portal | 2015 in Spaceflight