Nebular galaxy, considered to be one of the most magnificent looking galaxies,
the view of which is giving an idea of collision and merging of stars. It is located
in the star constellation called "Raven", 62 million light years away from Earth.
Both, Raven (Corvus) and Watersnake (Hydra) are very close to each other,
making it a nice coincidence for the Chinese Year of the Watersnake 2013.
China in Space
Ancient astronomical map from China dating back to 1092 AD.
2012: Shenzhou No. 9 ("Boat of the Gods") carries a mixed crew to Tiangong
space station ("Palace of Heaven") to perform different docking manoeuvres.
Liu Yang becomes the first female astronaut in China's space flight program.
While a U.S. roboter is actually collecting stones from the Mars surface,
there are already plans to sent a human crew to that planet. According
to the chief executive manager of SpaceX enterprise, Elon Musk, a visit
to planet Mars should be possible within the next ten years. Russia and
China are interested as well in a Mars mission. At Krasnojarsk in central
Russia biomedical experiments are being in progress for several years.
Even a habitation experiment has been carried out with an international
group of volunteers who agreed to live for a certain time in the enclosed
environment of a spaceship model. Research includes the cultivation of
suitable plants in a closed atmosphere in order to provide oxygen and
food for future astronauts during their long journey to Mars and beyond.
Artistic Perception of Outer Space
Outer Space - Space Flight
Above: Solar eruption affecting the magnetic field of Earth.
Below: Solar eruption and polar lights at the beginning of
the Year of the Dragon, January 21, 2012.
Solar eruptions originate from the surface atmosphere of our
sun. That region is named corona and can be easily observed
under conditions found during a total eclipse of the sun when
the sun's main body is shielded from direct view by the moon.
The Kepler space mission center confirmed the existence of an Earth-like planet
named Kepler 22b and where human life might be possible. Soundtrack of an Al-
Jazeera interview with Steve Maran, former NASA astronomer and book author
("Astronomy for Dummies"), on these latest results of the Kepler space mission.
After Kepler 22b was discovered in December 2011 as the first planet that owns
earthlike qualities, it took only some weeks for NASA to present another planet
suitable to host mankind because of moderate temperatures: Gliese GJ 667Cc.
In November 2012 finally, two planets in the Kepler 47 system were detected which
could provide a moderate temperature profile as well. This is a binary solar system
which proves that earthlike conditions are not restricted to uncomplicated systems.
After Space X, a California based company, launched its first rocket to provide supplies
to the international space station ISS in May 2012, nothing seems impossible any longer.
Now, in January 2013, another U.S. company named Deep Space Industries is claiming
to develop a technology for asteroid mining. As asteroids are known to contain a rather high percentage of coal, iron, nickel, gold and silver they became the target of private investors. Such asteroids exist in our solar system within the so-called asteroid belt that stretches from Mars to Jupiter. Even their water content might become useful whenever
it comes to long-range space missions that are already planned by the U.S. and China.
One of the smaller asteroids, measuring about 50 meters diametre, only recently passed
close to Earth on February 15, 2013. Such objects, even though dangerous when colliding
with our planet, could then become a brandnew source of badly needed raw materials.