Most skydivers jump off a plane flying 3.8 km above the ground. But imagine jumping off something even higher, like the International Space Station.
Unless you have a supersuit like Tony Stark, it’s not gonna end well. But let’s pretend Iron Man lends you one.
Ok, ready? 3 … 2 … 1 … Jump!
That’s right, you wouldn’t fall straight down. In fact, it’ll take you at least 2.5 years before you reach the surface. So what’s going on?
According to businessinsider.com, height isn’t the main reason your fall takes so long. In fact, if you fell like a normal skydiver, it would only take about 2 hours.
But the thing is, you don’t fall straight down. You fall into orbit. The reason is speed. You see, the ISS might be called a station, but it’s hardly stationary. It’s actually moving 12 times faster than a jet fighter.
If you shot anything at that speed on Earth, by the time it was about to hit the ground, it would miss! In the same way, the ISS isn’t floating in space, it’s falling towards Earth and missing!
And when you jump off the ISS, you’re initially moving at that same speed. So you end up in orbit, too — at least for a while.
Now, even though it’s so high up, the ISS is pushing through a very thin atmosphere. And that friction slows it down. So the station fires engines to maintain speed and keep from crashing into the Earth.
But sadly your supersuit doesn’t come with engines strapped to your feet. This has two consequences:
First, it means you can’t maneuver and have to hope that any of those 13,000 chunks of space debris don’t impale you. Second, without rockets to maintain your speed, you’ll slow down and spiral toward Earth.
But it won’t be quick. The Chinese space station Tiangong 1, for example, about 2 years to fall out of orbit. On the ISS, you’re higher up, so you’ll take roughly 2.5 years. But once you strike the atmosphere, your long wait is over. And it’s go time.
As you re-enter, you have one goal: slow down. You’re traveling at hypersonic speeds. So, if you deployed a parachute now, it’ll shred to pieces.
And that’s not the only problem. Falling through the atmosphere at such break-neck speeds generates a lot of pressure on your suit — at least 8Gs of force — that’s 8 times the gravity you feel at sea level.
And if you’re falling feet first, that’ll push the blood away from your brain and toward your feet. So you’ll probably pass out unless you’re one of those fighter pilots who train to withstand up to 5Gs.
Now, if you don’t pass out, you may worry about the freezing temperatures up here. But, it turns out, your suit’s more likely to melt than freeze. You know how you can warm your hands by rubbing them together?
Now imagine your supersuit rubbing against air molecules in the atmosphere at least 6 times the speed of sound. You’ll heat up to about 1,650 ºC — hot enough to melt iron!
In fact, the heat is so intense, it strips electrons from their atoms forming a pink plasma around you that will ultimately destroy suit.
If that’s not enough of a problem, the drag will rip off your limbs. But thankfully, Tony Stark has your back, and somehow, your supersuit holds with you intact.
At 41 km up you’ve now reached the world record for highest skydive. In 2014, Alan Eustace wore a pressurized space suit as he rode a balloon up to this height. He broke the sound barrier on his way down before deploying his parachute and landed about 15 minutes after the drop.
But you’ll be falling much faster than Eustace — about 3 times the speed of sound. So, in reality, you’re not going to slow down enough to safely deploy your chute. That’s where Iron Man can help us one last time. By 1 km up you’ve reached the territory of ordinary skydivers who don’t need fancy suits to survive.
And at this point, your parachute can do its thing. And it’s finally time to land softly.
There’s one last place Planet Nine could be hiding
A study recently submitted to The Astronomical Journal
continues to search for the elusive Planet Nine (also called Planet X),
which is a hypothetical planet that potentially orbits in the outer
reaches of the solar system and well beyond the orbit of the dwarf
The goal of this study, which is available on the pre-print server arXiv,
was to narrow down the possible locations of Planet Nine and holds the
potential to help researchers better understand the makeup of our solar
system, along with its formation and evolutionary processes. So, what
was the motivation behind this study regarding narrowing down the
location of a potential Planet 9?
Dr. Mike Brown, who is a Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor of
Astronomy at Caltech and lead author of the study, tells Universe Today,
“We are continuing to try to systematically cover all of the regions of
the sky where we predict Planet Nine to be. Using data from Pan-STARRS
allowed us to cover the largest region to date.”
Pan-STARRS, which stands for Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid
Response System, is a collaborative astronomical observation system
located at Haleakala Observatory and operated by the University of
Hawai’i Institute of Astronomy. For the study, the researchers used data
from Data Release 2 (DR2) with the goal of narrowing down the possible
location of Planet Nine based on findings from past studies.
In the end, the team narrowed down possible locations of Planet Nine
by eliminating approximately 78% of possible locations that were
calculated from previous studies. Additionally, the researchers also
provided new estimates for the approximate semimajor axis (measured in
astronomical units, AU) and Earth-mass size of Planet Nine at 500 and
6.6, respectively. So, what are the most significant results from this
study, and what follow-up studies are currently being conducted or
“While I would love to say that the most significant result
was finding Planet Nine, we didn’t,” Dr. Brown tells Universe Today. “So
instead, it means that we have significantly narrowed the search area.
We’ve now surveyed approximately 80% of the regions where we think
Planet Nine might be.”
In terms of follow-up studies, Dr.
Brown tells Universe Today, “I think that the LSST is the most likely
survey to find Planet Nine. When it comes online in a year or two it
will quickly cover much of the search space and, if Planet Nine is
there, find it.”
LSST stands for Legacy Survey of Space and Time, and is an
astronomical survey currently scheduled as a 10-year program to study
the southern sky and take place at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in
Chile, which is presently under construction.
Objectives for LSST include studying identifying near-Earth asteroids
(NEAs) and small planetary bodies within our solar system, but also
include deep space studies, as well. These include investigating the
properties of dark matter and dark energy and the evolution of the Milky
Way galaxy. But what is the importance of finding Planet Nine?
Dr. Brown tells Universe Today, “This would be the 5th
largest planet of our solar system and the only one with a mass between
Earth and Uranus. Such planets are common around other stars, and we
would suddenly have a chance to study one in our own solar system.”
Scientists began hypothesizing the existence of Planet Nine shortly
after the discovery of Neptune in 1846, including an 1880 memoir
authored by D. Kirkwood and later a 1946 paper authored by American
astronomer, Clyde Tombaugh, who was responsible for discovering Pluto in
More recent studies include studies from 2016 and 2017 presenting
evidence for the existence of Planet Nine, the former of which was
co-authored by Dr. Brown.
This most recent study marks the
most complete investigation of narrowing down the location of Planet
Nine, which Dr. Brown has long-believed exists, telling Universe Today,
“There are too many separate signs that Planet Nine is there. The solar
system is very difficult to understand without Planet Nine.”
He continues by telling Universe Today that “…Planet Nine explains
many things about orbits of objects in the outer solar system that would
be otherwise unexplainable and would each need some sort of separate
“The cluster of the directions of the orbits is the best know, but
there is also the large perihelion distances of many objects, existence
of highly inclined and even retrograde objects, and the high abundance
of very eccentric orbits which cross inside the orbit of Neptune. None
of these should happen in the solar system, but all are easily
explainable as an effect of Planet Nine.”
Michael E. Brown et al, A Pan-STARRS1 Search for Planet Nine, arXiv (2024). DOI: 10.48550/arxiv.2401.17977
‘October Surprise’: Russia To Launch Nukes in Space
The ‘national security threat’ announced on Wednesday is
about Russia planning to launch nuclear weapons in space, causing some
to speculate whether it’s really an election year ploy.
The panic began when House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Turner
(R-Ohio) asked President Biden to declassify information about a
“serious national security threat”.
Modernity.news reports: The weapon would reportedly be designed to be used to take out satellites.
Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) responded by telling reporters he wanted “to assure the American people, there is no need for public alarm.”
The big, scary threat is serious business and involves a space-based nuke controlled by evil dictator Putin, but it’s also “not an immediate crisis,” according to what three members of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee have told Politico.
Okay, then. Just for election season, is it?
Zero Hedge reports: “So, the question is – was this:
a) a distraction from Biden’s broken brain, or
2) a last desperate attempt to get more funding for anything-but-the-US-border, or
iii) a path to pitching Putin as the uber-bad-guy again after his interview with Tucker Carlson.”
Just by coincidence, Mike Turner recently returned from Ukraine having lobbied for billions more in weapons and aid for Zelensky’s government.
Some questioned the timing, suggesting it might all be a deep state plot to keep American voters afraid when they hit the ballot box.
Speculation will now rage as to whether this is “the event,” real or imagined, that billionaires and elitists the world over have been building underground survival bunkers in preparation for.
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