Author Archives: clharrell

The Future of Humans on Mars

Humans inhabiting Mars has been a much debated topic amongst engineers, astronomers, and scientists for decades. Stories of manned missions to Mars can be found in film, books, and other forms of popular culture. The notion of colonizing Mars is often accompanied by the imminent doom of our home planet. However, in order for a […] Continue reading Continue reading

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The Largest Structure in the Universe

Through our studies of the solar system this semester, we have focused particularly on the scale of the universe. Throughout the cosmos, there are countless structures that are far more massive than any we perceive. Our galaxy is held together by gravity, forming a cluster. We can also observe clusters being held together by gravity […] Continue reading Continue reading

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Pluto’s Heart

The Tombaugh Regio, nicknamed “Pluto’s Heart” (pictured above), is one of the most extensively studied features of the dwarf planet. Thanks to NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, we can get a closer glimpse into the heart-shaped bright spot on Pluto’s surface. More recently, New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern has theorized that Tombaugh Regio is the result of […] Continue reading Continue reading

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The Voyager Mission

Launched in 1977, the Voyager 1&2 continue to explore deeper into space than any instrument ever before. Using geometries and precise calculations, the space probes were able to perform flybys of Jupiter, Saturn, Titan, Uranus, and Neptune. Upon completion of the primary objectives, they were assigned the new mission of exploring further and further away from […] Continue reading Continue reading

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The Formation of the Solar System

The general consensus amongst astrophysicists is that our solar system was formed through a process of gravitational collapse of a dense cloud. Over time, a large portion of the mass settled at the center, forming the Sun. The formation of the sun produced a swirling disk called a solar nebula. This disk of matter orbiting […] Continue reading Continue reading

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The Martian — Could It Really Happen?

Matt Damon’s critically acclaimed film “The Martian” broke records and set a new standard for space exploration movies. The film was even praised for its scientific accuracy by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. While most of what occurs in the film is theoretically possible, a few things stand out to be implausible. The first question I had when […] Continue reading Continue reading

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Observing Invisible Light

The invention of the telescope revolutionized the way astronomers observe the universe. They’ve enabled us to view light from around the galaxies that is not visible to the naked eye. These other forms of light can teach us things that visible light cannot – if we can find a way to visualize them. Astronomers today […] Continue reading Continue reading

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Historical Astronomers in Context

Galileo Galilei (15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642) is one of the most recognizable figures in astronomical history. He is credited with numerous discoveries and inventions that helped advance our understanding of the solar system and the universe beyond. With his invention of the telescope, Galileo championed a new era of astronomical discoveries. Thanks to […] Continue reading Continue reading

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The Vast Size and Scale of the Universe

Image Source The universe is so massive that it is difficult to grasp a sense of scale. In the image above, you can see what astrophysicists call the “observable universe.” This is unique to the entire universe because it excludes the parts of space that are so far away that their light has not had […] Continue reading Continue reading

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