Thank you NASA. I’m glad you’re up there looking out for all of us, whether its Cassini gazing back from Saturn at our pale blue dot, or the fleet of Earth-observing satellites that help us learn more about our one and only home.
Such a great video. I bet this will inspire a few kids to take up science as a career.
When designing the Shuttle program, NASA was looking for a word to signify reliability, cost savings and re-usability. The noun shuttle entered English first, in the mid-14th century to signify a weaving tool, from Old English scytel meaning a dart or arrow. A hundred years later the verb shuttle arrived meaning to move back and forth quickly or to move rapidly to and fro, no doubt taken from the speedy action of the shuttle in use during weaving. It did not acquire the modern sense of to move via a shuttle service until the advent of buses and public transportation. NASA began using the word around 1969 as they began working on the Shuttle program. Interestingly, the word rocket also derives from weaving: the word rocket entered English in 1610 from the Italian word rocchetto, meaning a bobbin or spool head. The Italian root probably derived from a Germanic root such as rocko with the same meaning. The word was first used in English to describe a device propelled by a rocket engine in 1919.
This diagram shows the currently active space missions around our solar system. It shows satellites in orbit around various planets as well as the rovers that have landed on Mars. The Pioneer 10 & 11 space craft do not fit on this diagram because they are now so far away. However, the Voyager 1 space craft is the farthest and is currently passing through the edge of our solar system.
This diagram has been updated for April 2014. To see previous diagrams click the link here: (previous diagrams)
Random fact of the day: Alpha Centauri is part of a double, or triple, star system. The two main components are Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B. The third star, a red dwarf called Proxima Centauri, is thought to be about 4.22 light-years distant and is actually our sun’s closest neighbor among the stars. Is it part of the Alpha Centauri system? The actual status of Proxima as a system member is unclear. It might simply be passing nearby but not part of the system, or it might be gravitationally bound. Still, we say – and others say – that Alpha Centauri is the closest star to our solar system, with the assumption that Proxima is a true part of the Alpha Centauri system.
You can read more such random facts in the archive.