The International Space Station is one of the wonders of modern technology. A series of interconnected orbital modules are home to a rotating crew of astronauts and cosmonauts plus a host of ongoing experiments. While the ISS only gets into the news every now and then, interesting things are happening there daily.
Right now three astronauts – two American and one Canadian – are on duty up there along with three cosmonauts from Russia. This video is a weekly update showing what they did last week. The main work has been preparing for the arrival of the Dragon spacecraft, which will bring supplies and take some completed experiments and waste back to Earth.
Besides that, the crew has been conducting experiments, doing maintenance work on their spacesuits, troubleshooting a partial communications failure, training with the robotic arm, and answering questions from the public back on Earth.
The three astronauts even got a break for Presidents Day. I didn’t know they got days off up there. I wonder what they do? Stare out the window a lot, I bet.
The weekly update gets uploaded every Friday and there are daily updates throughout the week. You can followed them on the ISS website.
The South Pole may be as geographically far away from Santa’s home as is possible, but that didn’t prevent Christmas from coming early to the scientific base that is located there. Last week, researchers completed construction of the IceCube Project, which has been five years in the making and promises an unprecidented look into the very nature of the cosmos.
The IceCube Neutrino Observatory has been built under the Antarcitc ice –8000 feet under the ice to be precise, in hopes of detecting the elusive sub-atomic particles that seem to have some link to the violent cosmic events that may have created the Universe. So far, only about a dozen neutrinos have ever been detected, but researchers hope to change that with this $279 million project.
IceCube uses special sensors, called Digital Optical Monitors, to look for the neutrinos, which leave a distinct radiation signature behind when they collide with oxygen atoms in the ice. Those collusions result in a tell-tale trace of blue light that the obeservatory can track back to the origin of the particle which will help scientists to better understand how the neutrinos are generated in the first place.
Neutrinos are a bit of an anomoly in the Universe, as they are unique paritcles that carry a neutral charge and rarely interact with other particles. They seem to pass through the cosmos, and our planet, without regard to other forces, with their origins and purpose largely a mystery. The completion of the IceCube Project should give scientists the opportunity to observe the particles more closely and possibly take steps toward a better understanding of the Universe itself.