The Day Before Thanksgiving Isn't The Busiest Travel Day
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Thanksgiving has its share of stressors—family drama, kitchen mishaps, nail-biting football games—and travel is definitely near the top of the list. Luckily, we have some news to ease your concerns: the day before Thanksgiving isn't the busiest U.S. travel day of the year. It's only the 121st.
NASA Uses Gold On Its Spacecraft
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With all the talk about how hard it is to get funding for missions into outer space, this might sound crazy: NASA covers many of its spacecraft in real gold. Dig a little deeper, however, and you'll realize it's not so crazy after all. One of the biggest threats to the delicate electronics on a spacecraft is radiation. With no atmosphere to protect them from that radiation, electronics get a direct hit, transferring heat and risking serious damage. Gold is very, very good at reflecting radiation. It reflects as much infrared and UV radiation as copper, aluminum, and silver, but it does them one better by absorbing a large amount of visible light. This means it won't blind astronauts with massive reflections. And anyone who's owned jewelry knows that silver and copper tarnish easily. Gold stays shiny, which means less maintenance both for jewelry wearers and for NASA engineers. Explore the science of gold in the videos below.
Moon Express Is The First Private Company Allowed To Go To Deep Space
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Should you start packing for a private trip to the moon? Not yet, but the opportunity may come sooner than later. In August 2016, the U.S. startup Moon Express became the first private company to receive clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration to travel beyond the Earth's orbit. Moon Express CEO Naveen Jain had his eyes on this accomplishment since founding the company in 2010. But don't get excited about private trips to the moon just yet. So far, the FAA's clearance only allows Moon Express to send a robotic probe to the moon in order to scout for valuable resources on and within its surface. The goal is to begin mining the moon for resources like iron ore, water, precious metals, and more. The company hopes that in late 2017 it will become the first private company to land on the moon. Watch the video below for more details on Moon Express and its plans for deep space travel.
The 100 Year Starship's Effort To Make Interstellar Travel Possible
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Traveling to outer space isn't just a way for humans to show off their smarts. From the understanding of weather systems to the advent of the internet, the technology advancements and scientific discoveries that result from space travel benefit humanity as a whole. That's why The 100 Year Starship exists. This DARPA and NASA joint program seeks to make interstellar travel a reality within the next 100 years by supporting and promoting the people who can make it happen, with an emphasis on including the voices of women and minorities who may have been left out of such advancements in the past. The initiative is led by Dr. Mae C. Jemison, who has a trailblazing resume in her own right. She was the first African-American woman to be admitted into NASA's astronaut training program, the first African-American female astronaut, and, with the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour in 1992, the first African-American woman in space.
Key Facts to Know
The 100 Year Starship is an initiative to ensure that within the next 100 years, all the capabilities exist to send humans to another star system. 0:30
It seeks to include the full wealth of human talent across ethnicity, gender, geography, and disciplines. 0:54
All the capabilities that are needed for a successful journey to another star system by humans are the capabilities we need to sustain ourselves on Earth. 1:02
This is Why Air Travel Is So Expensive
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There's a common misconception that the cost of jet fuel is what makes air travel so expensive. But while jets do require 1.5 gallons of fuel for every mile they travel, that cost gets broken down between passengers so much that it only accounts for a small percentage of each traveler's ticket price. In fact, planes have an excellent per-person fuel efficiency of 104.7 miles per gallon. So why the high prices for a plane ticket? It's a collection of miscellaneous fees and taxes, including pilots' salaries, crew costs, airplane maintenance, airplane cost, airport fees, airline cost of running business, airplane insurance, and more.