Portal:Outer Space
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Portal:Outer Space
The Outer space Portal

Outer space

The interface between the Earth's surface and outer space. The Kármán line at an altitude of 100 km (62 mi) is shown. The layers of the atmosphere are drawn to scale, whereas objects within them, such as the International Space Station, are not.

Outer space is the expanse that exists beyond Earth and between celestial bodies. Outer space is not completely empty--it is a hard vacuum containing a low density of particles, predominantly a plasma of hydrogen and helium, as well as electromagnetic radiation, magnetic fields, neutrinos, dust, and cosmic rays. The baseline temperature of outer space, as set by the background radiation from the Big Bang, is 2.7 kelvins (-270.45 °C; -454.81 °F). The plasma between galaxies accounts for about half of the baryonic (ordinary) matter in the universe; it has a number density of less than one hydrogen atom per cubic metre and a temperature of millions of kelvins. Local concentrations of matter have condensed into stars and galaxies. Studies indicate that 90% of the mass in most galaxies is in an unknown form, called dark matter, which interacts with other matter through gravitational but not electromagnetic forces. Observations suggest that the majority of the mass-energy in the observable universe is dark energy, a type of vacuum energy that is poorly understood. Intergalactic space takes up most of the volume of the universe, but even galaxies and star systems consist almost entirely of empty space.

Outer space does not begin at a definite altitude above the Earth's surface. The Kármán line, an altitude of 100 km (62 mi) above sea level, is conventionally used as the start of outer space in space treaties and for aerospace records keeping. The framework for international space law was established by the Outer Space Treaty, which entered into force on 10 October 1967. This treaty precludes any claims of national sovereignty and permits all states to freely explore outer space. Despite the drafting of UN resolutions for the peaceful uses of outer space, anti-satellite weapons have been tested in Earth orbit.

Humans began the physical exploration of space during the 20th century with the advent of high-altitude balloon flights. This was followed by crewed rocket flights and, then, crewed Earth orbit, first achieved by Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union in 1961. Due to the high cost of getting into space, human spaceflight has been limited to low Earth orbit and the Moon. On the other hand, uncrewed spacecraft have reached all of the known planets in the Solar System.

Outer space represents a challenging environment for human exploration because of the hazards of vacuum and radiation. Microgravity also has a negative effect on human physiology that causes both muscle atrophy and bone loss. In addition to these health and environmental issues, the economic cost of putting objects, including humans, into space is very high. (Full article...)

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Ceres is the smallest identified dwarf planet in the Solar System and the only one in the asteroid belt. It was discovered on 1 January 1801, by Giuseppe Piazzi, and for half a century it was classified as the eighth planet. It is named after Ceres, the Roman goddess of growing plants, the harvest, and motherly love. With a diameter of about 950 km (590 miles), Ceres is by far the largest and most massive body in the asteroid belt, and contains a third (32%) of the belt's total mass. Recent observations have revealed that it is spherical, unlike the irregular shapes of smaller bodies with lower gravity. The surface of Ceres is probably made of a mixture of water ice and various hydrated minerals like carbonates and clays. Ceres appears to be differentiated into a rocky core and ice mantle. It may harbour an ocean of liquid water underneath its surface. From the Earth, Ceres' apparent magnitude ranges from 6.7 to 9.3, and hence at its brightest it is still too dim to be seen with the naked eye. The unmanned Dawnspacecraft, launched on 27 September 2007 by NASA, is expected to be the first to explore Ceres after its scheduled arrival there in 2015.

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Astronomical events

2 January, 08:59 Earth at perihelion
3 January, 14:47 Quadrantids peak
9 January, 15:39 Moon at perigee
13 January, 05:00 New moon
21 January, 13:11 Moon at apogee
24 January, 01:59 Mercury at greatest eastern elongation
24 January, 02:26 Saturn at conjunction
28 January, 19:16 Full moon
29 January, 00:51 Jupiter at conjunction

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  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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