Beyond A Year in Space picks up where A Year in Space left off: Scott Kelly’s last day in space and return to Earth. The special also introduces viewers to the next generation of astronauts training to leave Earth’s orbit and travel into deep space.
Suppose you placed a camera at a fixed position, took a picture of the sky at the same time every day for an entire year, and overlaid all of the photos on top of each other. What would the sun look like in that combined image? A stationary dot? A circular path? Neither. Oddly enough, it makes a ‘figure 8’ pattern, known as the Sun’s analemma.
Now that we’re done with the planets, asteroid belt, and comets, we’re heading to the outskirts of the solar system. Out past Neptune are vast reservoirs of icy bodies that can become comets if they get poked into the inner solar system. The Kuiper Belt is a donut shape aligned with the plane of the solar system; the scattered disk is more eccentric and is the source of short period comets; and the Oort Cloud which surrounds the solar system out to great distances is the source of long-period comets. These bodies all probably formed closer into the Sun, and got flung out to the solar system’s suburbs by gravitational interactions with the outer planets.
Mars One plans one-way missions to Mars; the goal is not simply to explore, but to colonize the red planet. A one-way trip saves billions and eliminates the risk of a return voyage. But can the crew survive in such utter isolation? Some candidates for the mission reflect on this challenge.