The Days are Getting Longer!
By approximately 14 nanoseconds . . .
A day on Earth is slightly longer this year than last year. It might be hard to notice in just a single year, but the time it takes Earth to spin about a full 360° on its axis is longer today than it was one year ago, by approximately 14 nanoseconds. That might not make much of a difference to most of us — excepting those of us who pay close attention to the occasional leap second — but this really adds up over time. __ Universe Changes With Every Year
The universe is changing on a moment by moment basis — in many ways and for many reasons:
- The moon is getting farther from Earth
- The sun is getting hotter
- New stars are being born in our galaxy
- The universe as a whole is getting cooler
- The universe is getting larger
- Millions of stars go beyond reach
At some critical distance, about a third of the way to the cosmic horizon (around 16 billion light-years), the galaxies more distant than this will appear to recede from us at speeds faster than light.
This means that if we loaded up a spaceship that was capable of instantaneously accelerating to speeds indistinguishable from the speed of light, it could only reach the galaxies that were closer than this critical distance. With each year that passes, approximately 20 million new stars — or about one small dwarf galaxy — transitions from being reachable to being unreachable from our perspective. The Universe is disappearing, and this is the rate at which it’s doing so.
2020 Will be an Active Year for Human Space
Space Missions to Watch
- SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Boeing’s Starliner are expected to bring the first astronauts to space in the coming year, although exact launch dates haven’t been announced yet. Both spacecraft are still in testing mode to make them as safe as possible for humans.
- The Solar Orbiter – a joint mission of NASA and the European Space Agency – is scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Feb. 5.
The spacecraft is expected to get as close as 0.28 astronomical units to the sun, which is well within the orbit of Mercury, to better study how the sun works. (One astronomical unit is the distance between the sun and Earth.) This mission is expected to last seven years.
- On July 17, NASA will launch its long-awaited Mars 2020 rover to explore possible sites of ancient habitability, while the European Space Agency and Russia plan to do the same with their ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover on July 25.
The United Arab Emirates plans its first mission, the Hope Mars Mission, which will launch from Japan. China also plans a lander and a small rover for Mars.
- The first launch of the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle, a new rocket from the Indian Space Research Organisation, is expected sometime in early 2020.
- China’s space agency is expected to launch its next moon mission, called Chang’e-5, sometime in 2020.
- The U.S. Air Force is expected to, sometime in 2020, once again launch the mysterious X-37B space plane (also known as the Orbital Test Vehicle).
This will be the sixth mission of the uncrewed vehicle, which can stay in space for up to a year at a time to perform its secret work. In 2019, one of Air Force’s two known X-37 spacecraft returned to Earth after a record-breaking 780-day spaceflight. That’s more than two years in space.
- In 2019, Virgin Galactic launched its first test passenger into space. In 2020, the company is expected to begin launching space tourist flights with paying passengers aboard.
- Blue Origin, the private space company founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, launched three flights of its New Shepard spacecraft in 2019 – most recently on Dec. 11 – and is on track to make the leap into human spaceflight in 2020.
- Virgin Galactic isn’t the only company expecting to make a space leap in 2020. Its sister company Virgin Orbit aims to begin orbital launches during the year.
Virgin Orbit is a small-satellite launch company that aims to launch payloads into orbit using LauncherOne. The rocket is an air-launched booster carried into launch position by a modified Boeing 747 jumbo jet called Cosmic Girl.
In July 2019, Virgin Orbit successfully performed a drop test of its LauncherOne rocket after a series of captive carry shakedown tests. The first launch from Virgin Orbit is expected to take off from California’s Mojave Air and Space Port and launch from a position over the Pacific Ocean.
- In addition to Starlink and Crew Dragon, SpaceX has two other ongoing rocket programs. The company’s heavy-lift Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket in use today, may launch a mission for the U.S. Air Force in late 2020, according to Spaceflight Now.
Meanwhile on a Smaller Scale
We may not need advanced biofuels for another 50 years, but it is good to know that some good people continue to work on them
The ongoing corruption of our universities is proceeding apace and a lot of people are beginning to notice!
Trendy magazine attacks religious cult but is oblivious to the irony of the three fingers pointing back at itself. Cult is as cult does, and Rolling Stone does cult with the best of them.
A great deal of time, money, and effort have been put into the project to kneecap the Trump presidency and to bring it to a premature end. Ironic, then, that Trump may be benefiting more than anyone else from being impeached.
2020 is Likely to be Memorable
Although climate change is turning out to be a dud, a lot of other trends seem to be converging on the year 2020. We may be getting addicted to disruption.
We are being told that the “Great European Divergence” occurred because the Roman Empire collapsed and Europe was left as a multi-political entity in competition with itself. So now we have North America, China, Europe, and the UK/Commonwealth plus Japan, S. Korea, Taiwan, and a number of other strivers — Russia, Brazil, Turkey, India, etc. — all in competition. If things go well, all of that competition may work to accelerate the pace of disruptive innovation.
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and learn to make yourselves very Dangerous in 2020.