50 Amazing Facts About Outer Space and Earth
Published by Staff Editor
Space is something that people probably don’t think about that often unless they’re interested in it; most people believe that we really don’t know that much about it. While it is true that there is no way we could ever explore all of space, conceivably, it might shock a lot of people to find out how much we already know.
In fact, we know more about space than we do our own oceans. Even still, space is beautiful and full of mystery. There are galaxies, stars, planets, and a whole slew of other things out there that we can see in our own sky or through a telescope and all of it is amazing. New planets have been found just within the last year.
There’s Water Everywhere!
We used to believe that Earth was the only planet with water but we have since found that there is water everywhere in space. Even though research has slowed down considerably, we are still discovering new things about the great beyond all the time. That just goes to show that we really don’t know what is out there.
Perhaps all of the mystery and futuristic imagery associated with space is what continues to stoke the longstanding pop culture fascination with it. Whether it is the galaxy print fad of the mid-2010s or the ongoing fascination with the potentiality of life on other planets, it’s something that people are drawn to.
Space and Pop Culture
There are hundreds of movies about space, along with hundreds of songs, and even dozens of video games. Two of the most enduring television shows in history, Dr. Who and Star Trek, have space as the main focal point of the show. Science fiction as a genre dates all the way back to the second century.
Chronicling space research is something that is a little bit difficult but we know for sure that astronomy, the earliest research, predates all reliable recorded history. The first telescope was invented back in 1608 and scientists have been making progress since then.
There were several unsuccessful launches of unmanned spacecraft that took place after World War II; the first successful launch was in 1957 when the USSR sent up their first satellite.
The First Men in Space
The USSR is also credited with the first manned spacecraft to be launched into space. The flight took place in 1961 and Yuri Gagarin took one orbit around the world before returning.
They were also able to land unmanned craft on the moon and launch successful orbital satellites throughout the ’60s. Apollo 11, sent up by the United States in 1969, marked the first manned landing of a spacecraft on a celestial body. This was when man first landed on the moon.
From 1961 up to 2015, spacecraft were sent from American space stations up to orbit all of the other planets in our solar system. There have also been several other crafts sent to other planets; the earliest one was the landing of Verena 7 on Venus. That took place in 1970 and it only transmitted data for a few minutes before failing. Successful missions wouldn’t come for decades after, but they did come along.
Now, we have space stations, rovers on other planets, and plenty of other tools in our arsenal to keep exploring. So, space research has come a long way and it seems like there is always something new and interesting that we discover, even if we’re not actively sending anyone on space missions for now. Even with all of the advancements that have been made, it seems like commercial space travel is still a ways off.
Pleasure Trips Through Space
In 2019, it was announced that NASA intended to have commercial space flights available for single passengers to go to the International Space Station. It’s unclear how much progress was made towards that goal; however, the cost would be about $35,000 per traveler. In light of that, most people here on Earth will only ever see space through a telescope. Even more people may never even decide to take a look.
Because of that, we’ve decided to round up 50 amazing facts about space. Whether you consider yourself something of an expert or you have no idea what’s going on out there, you’ll hopefully learn something new throughout this article (and have some impressive ammunition for your next trivia night!).
Space Isn’t Technically That Far
Whenever we think of space, we tend to think of it as being really far away. There is some dispute about where space truly begins but most experts agree that it starts at something called the Karman Line.
This line is an invisible boundary that is just over 60 miles above the surface of the Earth. Technically, you could drive there. The average cruising altitude of an airplane is between five and seven miles above the surface of the Earth, which means that if you have ever traveled by plane, you’ve been about one-tenth of the way to outer space.
Space Is Very Quiet
One thing that is kind of trippy about space is that there is almost no sound. We can hear sounds because of the vibrations that they make, and those vibrations have to travel through a medium in order for them to get to us. The vibrations affect the molecules in the medium and eventually reach our ears.
There’s no medium like air or water in space for noises to travel through and there are very few molecules or atoms to vibrate, so there is technically no sound throughout most of outer space. Sounds can still be heard inside of shuttles, though.
But Some Things Make Noise Up There
Even though we said that the majority of deep space is silent, there are still some things that make sounds up in space. The sounds in space are not traditional sound waves, though. Instead, all of the noises that have been captured from outer space were captured as radio waves by different types of equipment.
When those radio waves are transmitted back to Earth, scientists have historically converted them to sound waves to give them a listen. These noises can come from strong magnetic fields, plasma waves, and sometimes, particles hitting the craft that is collecting the radio waves. Some of them sound pretty eerie.
Space Is Mostly Very Cold
You would think that because some of the planets are so hot that we could never conceivably travel there that space must be pretty hot.
This is true in some ways; the sun’s rays can hit celestial bodies and warm them up. There are also other stars that emit warmth because they are balls of hot gas. But, space overall is pretty cold. Space is considered a vacuum, so it really has no temperature.
But, far away planets like Pluto are not close enough to get any of the sun’s rays, so the surface of the planet stays about -400 degrees Fahrenheit. Some areas of space can be as cold as -460 Fahrenheit depending on their distance from a star.
Even in between stars, the balls of gas that float in space stay around that temperature. Astronaut suits have special heating and cooling systems to help keep the temperature inside the suit regulated.
Space Is Kind of Stinky
This fact is something that we think is a little bit unfortunate. Because space is technically empty, you wouldn’t think that it smells like anything. As it turns out, that’s vastly untrue.
There is no air in space so it isn’t like astronauts are able to take their helmets off and get a sniff, but many of them have commented on how their suits smell when they return. Most of them have said the same thing: there is a burnt, metallic, and quite strong and unpleasant odor that comes off their suits when they get home.
While that is true, scientists also know about the gases that are floating around in space. For instance, the galaxy we live in has a cloud of ethyl formate, which is a compound we’re pretty familiar with on Earth. It gives raspberries their taste and smell. So, it is conceivable that some parts of space may not smell as bad if we were ever able to sniff them.
Thomas Harriot Was Actually The First Person to Look Into Space
Your history class may have taught you differently, but it turns out that a man named Thomas Harriot was the first person to ever look into space with the use of a telescope. The first drawing of the moon was done by Harriot in July of 1609.
Of course, this was only just a few months before the well-known Galileo Galilei, who pioneered early astronomy. Even though it was by a small margin, Harriot was, in fact, the first.
Harriot was able to look first because he was able to afford a telescope back in those times. Galileo was not able to afford one, so he ended up building his own. He made significantly more discoveries than Harriot, but Harriot was the first person to look into space as well as create maps of the moon.
Alan Shepard Was The First American to Go To Space
In the same year that the USSR made its first manned mission to space, America did the same. In May of 1961, a man named Alan Shepard became the first American to ever travel into space. This mission wasn’t as ambitious as the USSR mission that took place in the same year, though. Shepard named the capsule that he was in Freedom 7, and he flew just over 110 miles upwards into space before coming back down.
Even though his flight lasted just over 15 minutes, it was widely considered a success as it went smoothly and Shepard survived. Later, in 1971, Shepard took part in the Apollo 14 mission and was able to walk on the moon. He worked with NASA for over a decade in total before leaving at the age of 51.
A Full Space Suit Costs $12,000,000
When people talk about the cost of space travel, their minds usually go to the cost of transporting the shuttles. The transport vehicles use gallons to the mile of fuel as opposed to the other way around. Another expensive part of space exploration that doesn’t get a lot of the same attention, though, is space suits. They cost roughly $12 million.
The reason that spacesuits are so expensive is that they have to be expertly constructed every step of the way to ensure maximum safety and efficiency. There are dozens of expensive materials that are all put together to form a 14-layer suit and, of course, there is a lot of other technical equipment that goes along with it.
Each layer has a different function. These include temperature control, holding oxygen, making sure it is tear-resistant, and more. Each suit, once completed, weighs almost 300 pounds on Earth.
Humans Could Survive Up To 30 Seconds In Space
It’s easy to balk at the cost of an astronaut’s suit but it’s important to remember the cost of not wearing one at all. There is no oxygen in space, first of all. Secondly, there is the fact that space is a vacuum. Because of that, if your lungs were full of air in space, they would burst. As long as there is no air in your lungs, you could survive a maximum of 30 seconds in space with no protective equipment.
The thing that would end up killing you is the lack of oxygen. However, it is possible that your eardrums could burst and even your saliva could begin to boil in your mouth before you lost consciousness. Space is a dangerous place without the proper protective gear!
There Are Laws In Space
As crazy as it seems (especially since some places on the planet don’t technically have laws), there are laws in space. The United Nations is in charge of something called the Outer Space Treaty, which was introduced in 1966. It became effective in October of the following year.
This treaty is an agreement that was reached by several countries. It isn’t very explicitly laid out because there is not a whole lot that needs to be governed up there. However, it does outline that everyone can explore space if they so choose, no one nation can claim space as their own, no weapons are allowed in space and several other things.
It also says that celestial bodies can only be used for peaceful purposes and that each state is independently responsible for any craft or crew that originate from their state.