Author Archives: mattsastronomyblog

Vanderbilt Aerospace

On the weekend of April 15th, the Vanderbilt Aerospace Design Lab (VADL) traveled to Huntsville, Alabama to compete in NASA’s Student Launch Initiative.  We competed against 40 other colleges and universities.  While in Huntsville, we participated in a rocket fair where we had the opportunity to showcase our rocket as well as learn about rockets […] Continue reading Continue reading

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The Need for Space Travel

“The future of humanity is going to bifurcate in two directions: Either it’s going to become multiplanetary, or it’s going to remain confined to one planet and eventually there’s going to be an extinction event.” – Elon Musk. In my last blog post, I talked about the possibility of another object in space colliding with […] Continue reading Continue reading

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Are We Overdue for a Mass Extinction?

People have argued about if and when the human race will die out on earth.  We have essentially taken ourselves out of the food chain, meaning that we won’t be hunted to extinction.  We have also made great strides in medicine making it unlikely that we will die out from disease.  It may seem improbable […] Continue reading Continue reading

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Powering the Mars Rover

In order to power the Mars Rover, scientists decided to use a radioisotope thermoelectric generator.  Thermoelectric generators use differences in temperature to generate energy.  The Mars Rover uses plutonium-238, a radioisotope that decays overtime and generates heat.  This heat is used by the thermoelectric to generate energy for the rover.  There are several benefits to […] Continue reading Continue reading

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Voyager 2 & Planetary Assists

When an object is trying to leave a planet, it must reach escape velocity.  The escape velocity is the speed at which the kinetic energy of the moving body is equal to its gravitational potential energy.  The escape velocity from earth is about 25,000 mph.  So when the Voyager 2 left earth, it had to reach […] Continue reading Continue reading

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Historical Astronomers in Context

Kepler was the first astronomer to accurately describe and define the orbits of the planets around the sun. Kepler was alive from 12/27/1571 – 11/15/1630.  He was able to develop 3 laws of planetary motion.  These laws of planetary motion laid the ground work for other astronomers and scientists to make some of the greatest […] Continue reading Continue reading

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Observing Deep Space

Trying to observe deep space proves to be difficult with the naked eye.  Over time telescopes have allowed humans to see farther and farther into space.  The Hubble space telescope was launched in 1990 and orbits around the Earth.  Because the telescope is in space, there is minimal light pollution.  The telescope lens is almost […] Continue reading Continue reading

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Voyager

The voyager was sent out to explore deep space.  Since it was launched in 1977 it has now traveled 130 AU and was sent to explore the solar system.  It used planetary assists to achieve the solar system escape velocity required to enter interstellar space. In almost 40 years of travel, the Voyager 1 has […] Continue reading Continue reading

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VADL Rocket

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