Answers to 5 of your Burning Questions About Space Exploration

To infinity and beyond!

That was the mantra for everyone who grew up watching a bunch of ragtag toys explore a foreign world. The battle cry for the children who wanted to grow up and be astronauts. And over the last couple of years, the U.S. seems to be reinvesting in the same exploratory wonder we had when we landed on the moon.


Space exploration has been on the upswing with a bunch of high profile and well publicized projects, cultivating both public awe and government support. So it makes sense to continue the upward trajectory (so to speak) and see what else is coming up in the world among the stars.

Is there a new planet in town?
It’s been a turbulent decade for Pluto. Ten years ago it was stripped of it’s planet status. Then after this year’s fly by, scientists and the public are calling for it to be reinstated as the last planet in our solar system. But even if it comes back to it’s former glory, the claim of the last planet in the solar system might be going to another candidate.

According to researchers at the California Institute of Technology, we may have discovered “Planet Nine”. Although not physically found yet, evidence exists in a few small bodies found in distant elliptical orbits, circling around the same quadrant at the same angle. So although the evidence is a little circumstantial, there may be a big discovery in the future. If we keep looking out there, more could show up.

Can you enhance the image?
Space telescopes are important to space exploration and new discoveries. They allow us to explore space without putting anybody into the vacuum, as well as showing us what is out there before we have the technology to explore it in person. So besides the infamous Hubble Telescope, can you name any other space telescopes, or development of better models?

Don’t fret; Lockheed Martin is doing the work for you. The company is developing a lighter, thinner, and cheaper version of the current two-lens telescope. Why? To improve a telescope’s viewing power, you would have to increase an already huge lens, which is expensive to produce and deliver to their home in space. The new design can help mitigate the process while sending back to earth images of space we have never seen before. 

Is there life on Venus?
Remember decades past, when all we wanted to do was to explore Venus? There was no reason not to after men landed on the moon and rovers landed on Mars. After all, Venus is our neighbor, so if they want to borrow a cup of sugar we should at least know them a little better.

NASA and Russia agree, and momentum is being put back into exploring Venus. Though still in talks for collaboration on the project expected to launch in the 2020’s, it could be a beneficial partnership for both entities. Russia is looking to break back into space exploration since their last big trip was their Venus flyby in 1985. Meanwhile NASA is looking to better understand the formation, evolution, and climate of Venus.

Are astronauts safe when they land?
“Buzz, Neil. Listen up. When you land on the moon, it will be the first time anyone steps on the surface. We’re not really sure what to expect. It should be fine. We think it’s fine. Just, you know, if there are Martians or something, play nice” — Theoretical account of moon landing pep talk.

But seriously. We just sent them there, with no welcome party or anything. No place to rest their head for the night or to kick back and play some space ping pong. Enter the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration (PISCES) and their hospitable robot. The Helelani Rover is able to build landing pads remotely, allowing the rover to be teleoperated to build a proper welcoming committee. Right now, the robot is only being tested on Earth, but it’s a start.

Can I own a piece of space?
This is a common question that’s been asked by individuals and companies for a very long time. And why wouldn’t it be? We all want to have a piece of the final frontier in our living room, or start producing product with the promise of a little stardust embellishment.

The time for that comes closer every day. Space mining is becoming more and more of a reality, with numerous companies revving up to start claiming resources from the moon, asteroids, and anything else they can get their hands on. The signing of the U.S. Space Act allows any private company ownership of anything found in the great unknown. Though there are questions about consequences from this way of exploration (we remember imperialism, right?) and clamoring for new resources, there is no denying that a whole new universe of opportunity is opening up to planet Earth.

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