Could You Pass This Astronaut Aptitude Test?

Paul Campbell/iStock via Getty Images
Paul Campbell/iStock via Getty Images

Though NASA just celebrated the milestone 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, a decade earlier—in 1958—they launched Project Mercury, the first human-powered space program. NASA put potential astronauts through rigorous trials and whittled the mission down to just seven men: Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, Wally Schirra, and Deke Slayton.

Since 1959, NASA has offered an Astronaut Candidate program, which currently has 338 candidates who train at Houston's Johnson Space Center for two years before becoming eligible for flight assignments. Clearly it’s a competitive program: In 2017, NASA received 18,300 applications and selected just 12 candidates.

Think you have what it takes to live out your Star Wars or SpaceCamp fantasies? Take this Astronaut Test to see if you've got the right stuff. Though it's not an official NASA test, the questions are based on the space agency's official candidate requirements as well as several psychological tests.

The Astronaut Test is comprised of 15 questions that examine six criteria: physicality, spatial visualization, knowledge, education, abstract reasoning/IQ, and personality. Questions include simple things like "how tall are you?" and "how old are you?" (NASA doesn’t have an age requirement, but the average candidate is 34 years old) to "how do you handle stress?" (selections range from “I think I respond well” to “I tend to crumble”), "do you speak Russian?," and "do you have a degree in engineering and/or mathematics?" (Buzz Aldrin has a degree in mechanical engineering). Other questions involve solving visual puzzles and naming the planets in order (remember your "My Very Enthusiastic Mother Just Served Us Noodles" mnemonic device from elementary school).

Because it’s an online test, it’s easy to cheat and look up the answers, like the order of the planets. But where’s the fun in doing that?

Though NASA is currently not accepting applications for the Astronaut Candidate program, that might change in the future. So it pays to be prepared. You can take the Astronaut Test here.

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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