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Space Trivia

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The multi-layered space suit worn by astronauts on the Apollo moon landings weighed 180 pounds on Earth and 30 pounds on the Moon with the reduced lunar gravity.

Phobos, one of the moons of Mars, is so close to its parent planet that it could not be seen by an observer standing at either of Mars's poles. Phobos makes three complete orbits around Mars every day.

Venus is the planet that turns most slowly on its axis. It spins once every 243 Earth days. Since Venus takes 224 Earth days to complete one orbit of the Sun, its days are longer than its years.

The NASA Space Shuttles each contain more than 34,000 separate heat shielding tiles, each specifically cut for its own location. The heat dissipation process used in these tiles is so effective that the corners of tiles heated to 2,325 F (1,275 C) can be held by a bare hand while the interior glows red hot.

Physicists now believe the universe to be three billion years younger than previously thought. New information gathered by the Hipparcos satellite, combined with a reanalysis of other distance data, has enabled researchers to refine the lower age limit of the universe to 9.6 billion years.

Venus rotates on its axis once every 243 Earth days but orbits the sun only every 225 days. As a result, the sun rises over the planet about every 118 days.

The nucleus of Halley's comet is a peanut-shaped object, weighing about 100,000 million tons, and measuring about 9 miles by 5 miles.

Plenilune is an archaic term for a full moon.

Venus, Earth's nearest planetary neighbor, at its closest to us, is 105 times farther away than our moon.

The oldest features on the planet Venus appear to be no older than 800 million years.

Pluto's one moon, Charon, is 12,200 miles from the planet and has a diameter of just 740 miles (1,200 km). First seen from Earth in 1978, tiny Charon is similar in size to Pluto. The two bodies orbit each other like a double planet, with the same sides permanently facing each other. Pluto and Charon are so close in proximity it is believed that they may share an atmosphere.

The photosphere is the surface of the Sun, which provides most of the Sun's light. The temperature of the surface ranges from 7,740 degrees F (4,300 degrees C) to 16,200 degrees F (9,000 degrees C).

Polaris, in the tail of the Little Bear constellation, is the closest visible star to true north and thus is referred to as the North Star. By about 2100 A.D., the wobble of Earth's axis will slowly begin pointing the North Pole away from Polaris.

The planet Jupiter has 16 moons. The largest of its moons is Ganymede, which looks like cracked eggshell.

Portuguese wine bottled in 1811 is called "comet wine." Its excellent quality is believed to be due to the Great Comet of that year. The term "comet wine" is often used for any wine made in the year of an important comet.

Proxima Centauri is the closest star to Earth (outside our solar system), but it is too small to be seen without a telescope.

When astronauts first shaved in space, their weightless whiskers floated up to the ceiling. A special razor had to be developed which drew the whiskers in like a vacuum cleaner.

When the Apollo 12 astronauts landed on the Moon, the impact caused the moon's surface to vibrate for 55 minutes. The vibrations were picked up by laboratory instruments, leading geologists to theorize that the Moon's surface is composed of fragile layers of rock.

The planet Jupiter is 482.5 million miles away from the sun. At a diameter of 88,536 miles, it is the largest planer in our solar system.

When the first pulsar signal was detected in 1967, it was thought that its signals might be a message from an alien civilization deep in space. The signal was jokingly labeled "LGM," for "little green men."

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