World Space Week Quiz Answers! #WSW2013

Dreams of Other WorldsIn case you’ve been sitting on the edge of your seat since you took our World Space Week Quiz, dying to know why you got a 91% instead of 100%, anticipate no longer! Check out the answers below and be sure to also pick up a copy of Chris Impey and Holly Henry’s brand new book, titled Dreams of Other Worlds: The Amazing Story of Unmanned Space Exploration.

1) Which unmanned spacecraft landed on Mars for the first time in US history in 1976?

Viking! The Viking probes were the first to orbit and touch down on Mars, taking high-res photos and exploring for any potential signs of life. (no signs of any Martian activity yet…)

2) Which space probe collected cosmic dust from the comet Wild 2 in 1999?

Stardust! The Stardust followed Wild 2 (a comet approximately 5 kilometers in diameter) to follow samples and take photos of its surface.

3) Which satellite was the first to map the stars and was named after a Greek astronomer?

Hipparcos! Named in reference to the Greek astronomer, Hipparchus, the Hipparcos contains various datasets for known stars, allowing us to catalog their position and distance.

4) Which two spacecrafts were known as the “Tireless Twins” for their long-distance exploration of other planet’s systems?

The Voyagers! This gruesome twosome was originally supposed to just explore Jupiter and Saturn, bu they ended up going all of the way out to Uranus and Neptune as well.

5) Which space telescope launched in 1999 allowed NASA to observe X-rays outside of Earth’s atmosphere?

Chandra! Known as one of the four “Great Observatories”, Chandra is still observing X-rays from space today.

6) Which spacecraft launched in 1995 monitors the “humming” of the Sun’s sound waves?

SOHO! The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (or SOHO) both explores the outer layers of the Sun and gets readings of radiant energy (in the form of sound waves) to learn about its interior structure.

7) What two spacecrafts were the first of the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Missions to explore the surface and geology of Mars?

Spirit and Opportunity! This dynamic duo has been exploring the surface of Mars for quite some time, taking samples that help determine whether or not there was ever water on Mars, the general geology of the planet, and whether or not life could potentially be supported there.

8) Along with COBE, which spacecraft helps to map the radiant energy let off by the Big Bang?

WMAP! The WMAP measures differences in the temperature of the Big Bang’s remnant radiant heat in the sky to help us better understand the Big Bang as a model.

9) Which space telescope, launched in 2003, has the ability to see through interstellar dust to observe the distant formation of stars?

Spitzer! The Spitzer Space Telescope was the first infrared telescope of its time, allowing it to take photographs in space that were far better than any we had seen up until that point.

10) Which space telescope observes Earth atmosphere and has been in operation for over three decades?

Hubble! Probably the most famous of all the spacecrafts in this quiz, the Hubble Space Telescope is the only telescope designed to be serviced by astronauts in space.

11) Which spacecraft launched in 1997 orbits Saturn, exploring both the planet and its rings?

Cassini! After launching in 1997, it took Cassini seven years to reach Saturn’s orbit.

Proud of your score? Tweet it! #WSW2013

Want to see what these sorts of spacecrafts look like? Check out the infographic below!

Welcome to World Space Week! #WSW2013

In honor of the 2013 World Space Week, we are celebrating all week long with all sorts of space-themed articles, quizzes, pictures, and more! To start of the week, which last from October 4th-10th, we put together a little quiz about some of the most famous and important unmanned space explorations in our nation’s history.
Feeling a little stumped? Fear not! Pick up a copy of Chris Impey and Holly Henry’s brand new book, titled Dreams of Other Worlds: The Amazing Story of Unmanned Space Exploration, which talks all about spacecrafts, probes, telescopes, rovers, and of course, the solar system.

Comment what your score is below and if you want to see the answers, click here.
Proud of your score? Tweet it! #WSW2013

Happy Space Week!

William H. Waller Brings the Stars to The Huffington Post

William H. WallerWilliam H. Waller, astronomist and author of The Milky Way: An Insider’s Guide, recently wrote an article that was picked up by The Huffington Post for their blog. Based on this bio page that was also posted for Waller on HuffPost, we’re hoping this means he will be writing regularly about science and the stars, especially with some of the amazing pictures included in the article.

The post, which focuses on our ability to visibly see the Milky Way with all of the light pollution in the air, starts by saying:

The Milky Way“For most of human history, the night sky demanded our attention. The shape-shifting Moon, wandering planets, pointillist stars, and occasional comet enchanted our sensibilities while inspiring diverse tales of origin. The Milky Way, in particular, exerted a powerful presence on our distant ancestors. Rippling across the firmament, this irregular band of ghostly light evoked myriad myths of life and death among the stars. In 1609, Galileo Galilei pointed his telescope heavenward and discovered that the Milky Way is “nothing but a congeries of innumerable stars grouped together in clusters.” Fast forward 400 years to the present day, and we find that the Milky Way has all but disappeared from our collective consciousness. Where did it go?”

To read the rest of the article on The Huffington Post, click here.

This book offers an intimate guide to the Milky Way, taking readers on a grand tour of our home Galaxy’s structure, genesis, and evolution, based on the latest astronomical findings. In engaging language, it tells how the Milky Way congealed from blobs of gas and dark matter into a spinning starry abode brimming with diverse planetary systems–some of which may be hosting myriad life forms and perhaps even other technologically communicative species.

Waller makes the case that our very existence is inextricably linked to the Galaxy that spawned us. Through this book, readers can become well-informed galactic “insiders”–ready to imagine humanity’s next steps as fully engaged citizens of the Milky Way.

William H. Waller is an astronomer, science educator, and writer. He lives with his family in Rockport, Massachusetts, where he can still see the Milky Way on dark moonless nights.