“The kids who ask WHY are the ones who are going to change the world.”– Neal Thompson
A Historical Month for Space Exploration
History was made on September 18th when a crew of four people launched into space from Kennedy Space Center! No one on board was a professionally trained astronaut. That’s a first!
That doesn’t necessarily mean they didn’t get any training. In fact, the crew has been undergoing tests and training since March.
This mission was also special because the flight went to an altitude of 366 miles above the Earth’s surface! That’s higher than the International Space Station and the Hubble Telescope. In fact, humans haven’t flown this high up since the last mission to the Moon in 1972, according to SpaceX.
The crew spent three days in space, successfully splashing down in the Atlantic on Saturday, September 18th. The SpaceX mission, named Inspiration4, was a success!
The spacecraft was guided by crews back here on Earth. Just to be safe though, two pilots were onboard. The lead pilot was the first Black woman to ever pilot a spacecraft!
The crew of four were chosen by billionaire Jared Isaacman, who paid for the three-day flight. We still don’t know how much that flight cost. One of the crew members, Hayley Arceneaux, is a physician’s assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. She is now the youngest American to ever fly in space. She is 29 years old.
Hayley is also a cancer survivor. She beat cancer at the age of 10. During her cancer fight, she lost one of her legs. Now, she’s the first person to ever fly in space with a leg made of metal.
One of the best parts of this mission is that the goal was to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. An incredible $210 million dollars was raised for that hospital, including a $50 million donation from SpaceX founder Elon Musk!
This successful flight just helps pave the way for even more space exploration for people with no astronaut training.
There’s just no telling what will be accomplished next!
The graphic below shows how the International Space station, Inspiration4, and the Hubble Space Telescope compare in altitude above the Earth’s surface. Keep in mind that one kilometer equals 0.62 miles.
A perfect photo of the picture-perfect splashdown.
Cookies in Space!
The first oven to be put into space was sent up on a rocket from Wallops Island, Virginia in November of 2019. Rockets launched from Wallops tend to re-supply the International Space Station.
I was lucky enough to be able to be there for that launch! It sure was amazing!
Do you know what the first food cooked in that oven was? Chocolate chip cookies! In fact, the astronauts onboard the International Space Station baked those cookies just in time for Santa at Christmas!
The five cookies had to be baked one at a time and in a pouch. The pouch was to keep cookie crumbs from floating around and possibly damaging something on the space station.
A special oven and oven rack had to be made, too. On Earth, gravity keeps our cookies on the rack in the middle of the oven. In space, they would float around the oven!
The cookies ended up taking much longer to bake than they do here on Earth. In a 300-degree oven, cookies have to bake for about 20 minutes. I like my cookies gooey, so I’d probably take them out after 15 minutes (haha).
In space, it took the cookies 130 minutes to bake! That’s a big difference from Earth! I don’t know about you, but I’d be absolutely dying of starvation if I had to wait that long for a cookie!
The smell of the cookies filled the space station. That must have been nice. Unfortunately, the cookies had to be sent back to Earth for testing. Thankfully, NASA had sent up some pre-baked cookies for the astronauts to enjoy.
Having an oven on the space station really opens up possibilities for food preparation on the station! Imaging sailing through space while the smell of freshly baked cookies fills the air of the space station. That sounds like a sweet ride to me!
A Fun Activity!
How would you like to draw an astronaut in space? For those of us who can’t draw, we can just follow these easy step-by-step instructions and have an astronaut flying through space in no time! Give it a try! After you draw it, color it up and send it to me! You might just get featured in next month’s newsletter!
MM Weather Fact
Did you know that raindrops are shaped like hamburger buns? It’s true! The drop begins round as it falls from the cloud, but then air resistance flattens the bottom of the drop. By the time it gets to the ground, it’s shaped liked a hamburger bun! Great, now I want a hamburger…. 🙂
A little laugh
The Cloud of the Month!
The Cirrus Cloud
This month’s cloud is the Cirrus cloud! These clouds are way up high in the atmosphere where temperatures are really cold! They are very thin clouds and are made up entirely of little ice crystals. They can be a signal that the weather is about to change, because they often move in ahead of a storm system. They sure are pretty!
September MM Kids’ Class
This month’s MM Kids’ class was a bit unusual. We like unusual, so that was good (ha). The topic was “strange things that fall from the sky.”
We talked about how frogs, fish, and gators have all fallen from the sky. We talked about how they were probably picked up by waterspouts and then thrown on to land. One Honduran village experiences fish falling from the sky at least once a year. They even celebrate it with a bit of a feast/festival when it happens!
We talked about how it appeared to rain blood on one town and that it was caused by algae spores that turned red when lifted into the clouds. That was very bizarre!
I reminded the kids that we even have strange things that fall from our skies during severe weather. The storm that produced the Baxter tornado in March of 2020 dropped pictures, vinyl siding, car titles, and such across northern Cumberland and southern Fentress counties.
The hands-on activity would prove to be messy. Again, we kind of like messy, so all was good (ha). We poured a couple of inches of Karo syrup in our jars. Next, we poured a couple inches of water on top of the syrup.
I about boo-booed on this step because I told the kids that no matter how much you mix the syrup and water, they would always separate. It’s just that after the mixture is whipped very hard by certain little boys….well, it takes a long time to separate. Ha!
Then, I gave the kids a small cup of Isopropyl alcohol of 90% concentration. I added about three drops of food coloring to that alcohol. Blue or green food coloring works best. They then drew that solution up into their syringes. We had previously cut some aquarium hose and added that to the end of our syringe.
We then carefully slipped the end of our hose down into the Karo syrup. The kids then released the food coloring into the syrup and watched it do really cool things as it ascended to the top of the jar. This demonstrated fluid dynamics, like what we see in our own atmosphere. It’s those dynamics that carry things and then drop them from the air.
This was a messy class, but a good time was had by all! Messes can be cleaned up, but the lesson learned is forever.
Night Sky Watching in October
October 6 – New Moon. The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects, such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
October 7 – Draconids Meteor Shower. The Draconids is a minor meteor shower producing only about 10 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet 21P Giacobini-Zinner, which was first discovered in 1900. The Draconids is an unusual shower in that the best viewing is in the early evening instead of early morning like most other showers. The shower runs annually from October 6-10 and peaks this year on the the night of the 7th. This year, the nearly new moon will leave dark skies for what should be an excellent show. Best viewing will be in the early evening from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Draco, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
October 20 – Full Moon. The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 6:54. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Hunters Moon because at this time of year the leaves are falling and the game is fat and ready to hunt.
October 21, 22 – Orionids Meteor Shower. The Orionids is an average shower producing up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Halley, which has been known and observed since ancient times. The shower runs annually from October 2 to November 7. It peaks this year on the night of October 21 and the morning of October 22. The full moon will be a problem this year for the Orionids. Its glare will block out all but the brightest meteors. But if you are patient, you should still be able to catch a few good ones. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Orion, but can appear anywhere in the sky.