Artist Plans to Launch a Giant Sculpture Into Orbit

Trevor Paglen, Kickstarter
Trevor Paglen, Kickstarter

Fans of Trevor Paglen’s artwork won’t be able to find his newest upcoming piece in a museum. But if they’re in the right part of the world, they’ll be able to see it by stepping outside in 2018 and looking up at the night sky. That’s because Orbital Reflector, a 100-foot-tall collaboration with the Nevada Museum of Art, will spend its two-month exhibition period in space, Motherboard reports.

Unlike other satellites circling our planet, Orbital Reflector will serve “no commercial, military, or scientific purpose,” according to the project's Kickstarter. Instead, the massive, self-inflating sculpture will be solely intended to catch the eye of those viewing it from Earth. Made from a brilliant, metallic material, the balloon-like satellite will be shaped like an elongated diamond. At night, it will reflect the sun, making it visible to the naked eye for viewers on Earth.

The ambitious artwork is scheduled to hitch a ride on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in April 2018. After being deployed about 350 miles above Earth's surface, it will spend around two months in space before gradually falling back toward the ground and burning up in the atmosphere. Paglen claims this will be the first satellite to enter Earth's orbit for strictly aesthetic purposes.

In the past, manmade art has been sent into space with the hope that it would be seen by future generations or by extraterrestrials. But this time, the Earth's current inhabitants are the intended audience.

Paglen's Kickstarter campaign—which will help fund the sculpture’s construction and its delivery to space—is almost over. Take a peek at what the work will look like in the video below.

[h/t Motherboard]

A Super Pink Moon—the Biggest Supermoon of 2020—Is Coming In April

April's super pink moon will be extra big and bright (but still white).
April's super pink moon will be extra big and bright (but still white).
jakkapan21/iStock via Getty Images

The sky has already given us several spectacular reasons to look up this year. In addition to a few beautiful full moons, we’ve also gotten opportunities to see the moon share a “kiss” with Venus and even make Mars briefly disappear.

In early April, avid sky-gazers are in for another treat—a super pink moon, the biggest supermoon of 2020. This full moon is considered a supermoon because it coincides with the moon’s perigee, or the point in the moon’s monthly orbit when it’s closest to Earth. According to EarthSky, the lunar perigee occurs on April 7 at 2:08 p.m. EST, and the peak of the full moon follows just hours later, at 10:35 p.m. EST.

How a supermoon is different.

Since the super pink moon will be closer to Earth than any other full moon this year, it will be 2020’s biggest and brightest. It’s also the second of three consecutive supermoons, sandwiched between March’s worm moon and May’s flower moon. Because supermoons only appear about 7 percent bigger and 15 percent brighter than regular full moons, you might not notice a huge difference—but even the most ordinary full moon is pretty breathtaking, so the super pink moon is worth an upward glance when night falls on April 7.

The meaning of pink moon.

Despite its name, the super pink moon will still shine with a normal golden-white glow. As The Old Farmer’s Almanac explains, April’s full moon derives its misleading moniker from an eastern North American wildflower called Phlox subulata, or moss pink, that usually blooms in early April. It’s also called the paschal moon, since its timing helps the Catholic Church set the date for Easter (the word paschal means “of or relating to Easter”).

[h/t EarthSky]

Are Any of the Scientific Instruments Left on the Moon By the Apollo Astronauts Still Functional?

Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong left the first footprint on the Moon on July 20, 1969.
Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong left the first footprint on the Moon on July 20, 1969.
Heritage Space/Heritage Images/Getty Images

C Stuart Hardwick:

The retroreflectors left as part of the Apollo Lunar Ranging Experiment are still fully functional, though their reflective efficiency has diminished over the years.

This deterioration is actually now delivering valuable data. The deterioration has multiple causes including micrometeorite impacts and dust deposition on the reflector surface, and chemical degradation of the mirror surface on the underside—among other things.

As technology has advanced, ground station sensitivity has been repeatedly upgraded faster than the reflectors have deteriorated. As a result, measurements have gotten better, not worse, and measurements of the degradation itself have, among other things, lent support to the idea that static electric charge gives the moon an ephemeral periodic near-surface pseudo-atmosphere of electrically levitating dust.

No other Apollo experiments on the moon remain functional. All the missions except the first included experiment packages powered by radiothermoelectric generators (RTGs), which operated until they were ordered to shut down on September 30, 1977. This was done to save money, but also because by then the RTGs could no longer power the transmitters or any instruments, and the control room used to maintain contact was needed for other purposes.

Because of fears that some problem might force Apollo 11 to abort back to orbit soon after landing, Apollo 11 deployed a simplified experiment package including a solar-powered seismometer which failed after 21 days.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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