Portal:Space

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The Space Portal


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Introduction

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Space (or outer space) describes the vast empty regions between and around planets and stars. The study of these, and other, astronomical objects is called astronomy, one of the oldest sciences. It is often said that space exploration began with the launch of Sputnik 1, the first man-made object to orbit the Earth. Then, in an almost unbelievable feat of human achievement, in 1969 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin travelled to the Moon and set foot on the surface during the Apollo 11 mission. Recently, it has become clear that the possibility of space colonization may no longer be exclusively reserved for science-fiction stories, and many controversial issues surrounding space have come to light, including commercial spaceflight, space laws and space weapons.

Selected article

Image of the Trojan asteroids in front of and behind Jupiter

The Jupiter Trojans are a large group of objects that share the orbit of the planet Jupiter around the Sun. Relative to Jupiter, each Trojan librates around one of the planet's two Lagrangian points of stability, L4 and L5, that respectively lie 60° ahead of and behind the planet in its orbit. Trojan asteroids are distributed in two elongated, curved regions around these Lagrangian points with an average semi-major axis of about 5.2 AU. The first Trojan, 588 Achilles, was discovered in 1906 by the German astronomer Max Wolf. A total of 2,909 Jupiter Trojans have been found as of January 2009. The name "Trojans" derives from the fact that, by convention, they each are named after a mythological figure from the Trojan War. The total number of Jupiter Trojans larger than 1 km is believed to be about 1 million, approximately equal to the number of asteroids larger than 1 km in the main asteroid belt. Like main belt asteroids, Trojans form families. Jupiter Trojans are dark bodies with reddish, featureless spectra. No firm evidence of the presence of water, organic matter or other chemical compounds has been obtained. The Trojans' densities (as measured by studying binaries or rotational lightcurves) vary from 0.8 to 2.5 g·cm−3. Trojans are thought to have been captured into their orbits during the early stages of the Solar System's formation or slightly later, during the migration of giant planets.

Selected picture

STS-116 spacewalk
Credit: NASA

NASA astronaut Robert Curbeam (left) and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Christer Fuglesang participate in STS-116's first of three planned sessions of extra-vehicular activity (EVA) as construction resumes on the International Space Station. The landmasses depicted in the background are the South Island (left) and North Island (right) of New Zealand.

Astronomical events

1 April, 12:50 Moon at apogee
4 April, 12:01 Full moon and total lunar eclipse
6 April Uranus at conjunction
10 April, 04:00 Mercury at superior conjunction
17 April, 03:41 Moon at perigee
18 April, 18:57 New moon
23 April, 02:00 Lyrids peak
29 April, 03:49 Moon at apogee

Space-related portals

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