Top 10 Things Taken Into Space
There has been so much stuff taken into the Earth’s orbit and left there that the risk of collision has increased enormously in just the last few decades. Check out the movie Gravity to see what can happen with fast moving objects in space.
However there have also been some very interesting things taken into space and we think our top pick for this list is very, very cool indeed.
10.Luke Skywalker’s Lightsaber
NASA took Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber into space aboard one of the Discovery missions to help celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of the original Star Wars film. The mission was Discovery STS-120 in October 2007. They say they didn’t play with the sabre while in orbit but we think they secretly took costumes and other sabres and had a Star Wars party in space. Which would be pretty cool. (R2-D2 didn’t go. Just a little bit bulky).
Two Cross spiders (Araneus diadematus) spent time aboard the Skylab 3 space station in July 1973. This was a project set up by Judy Miles, a student from Lexington, Massachusetts who wanted to see whether the spiders would build webs in space and, if so, what those webs would be like. The spiders were kept in a box similar to a window frame and yes, they did build webs which were very similar to the ones they built on earth. However it was noted that the silk was thinner than the silk they spun on earth.
Charles Duke, Jr. piloted the lunar module on the Apollo 16 mission in 1972. He was the tenth person to walk on the moon, and, at 37 years of age, the youngest person to walk on the moon. He left a photo of his family on the surface of the moon. The picture shows him, his wife Dorothy and their two sons.
Also known as Water Bears, these microscopic animals are probably the toughest creatures on earth. They can survive extreme temperatures down to -450 degrees and up to 350 degrees, can live without water for a decade, live through radiation that would quickly kill any other living thing, survive in boiling water and live for up to 200 years. Wow. They were taken into space to see if they could survive there and guess what? Yes, they survived there as well. 10 days in space with no adverse effects.
Naturally astronauts take iPods into space as they are small and light and can store heaps of music, videos, pictures, books and podcasts for the astronauts to enjoy while they’re up there. However the standard batteries that come with iPods are not certified to operate in space so NASA fits the iPods with battery packs that use AA batteries that are certified. The lesson here? Don’t take your standard iPod into space.
On the Apollo 14 mission in January 1971, Stuart Roosa took more than 400 tree seeds in his kit where they orbited the moon and returned safely to Earth. The seeds included Sycamore, Redwood, Pine and Douglas Fir tree seeds which were germinated into seedlings and then later planted around the United States and the World. Known as ‘Moon Trees’, these trees are now growing at the White House, Universities, Botanical Gardens, Libraries, Schools and many other places. Before becoming an astronaut Roosa had worked with the US Forest Service and this project was done in conjunction with the USFS. The trees appear to have grown up in the same way as normal trees with no discernible difference in height and so on.
4.Corned Beef Sandwich
John Young, the pilot on the Gemini 3 mission in 1965, snuck a corned beef sandwich onto the spacecraft to share with his commander, Grissom. What Young didn’t know was that bread crumbs are a hazard in space because there is a risk that they’ll clog up the instrument panels of the ship. Young was given a reprimand when he got back to Earth but we can assume that he thought it worth the effort.
Yes, jellyfish. Thousands of them. Well, around 2500 polyps that grew into jellyfish. It seems like a strange animal to send into space but jellyfish are similar to humans in that they orient themselves according to gravity. When a jellyfish moves, crystals at the end of its bell roll along pockets that are lined with special hairs that send signals to neurons that enable the jellyfish to sense which way is up and which way is down. This is very similar to the set up in the human inner ear. Scientists were keen to study how the jellyfish apparatus that gives it its sense of balance developed from birth. It turns out that the apparatus doesn’t develop that well in space and the adult jellyfish essentially had vertigo, or dizziness once they were back on earth. Not a good sign for those wanting to have children in space.
Matthew Ho and Asad Muhammad, two teenagers from Toronto, Canada, recently sent a Lego man with a Canadian flag 80,000 feet into space. The two 17 year olds bought a weather balloon, three still cameras and a video camera, rigged it all together with a box and some glue and launched it all into space. The Legonaut floated back to Earth using a homemade parachute about an hour and a half later, landing around 75 miles from the launch site. Mitten warmers were used to stop the equipment from freezing and everything worked perfectly. The whole project cost $400. Beats playing video games after school. Great job.
1.The Golden Record
Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 left Earth in 1977 and travelled through our Solar System passing the planets and sending back masses of information along the way. Eventually both Voyagers will enter deep space and travel through the universe for the rest of time. Each craft carries a 12 inch gold plated copper disc, a phonographic record, that contains images and sounds of the Earth. Each disc has an aluminium jacket to protect it, along with a needle and instructions on how to play the record. There are 115 images including a Solar location map, the word ‘hello’ spoken in 55 languages, a selection of music and other interesting stuff about the Earth. This is indeed the coolest thing that has ever been sent into space.
This is what aliens will listen to if they ever find the Voyager and the Golden Disc.