Humans have been captivated by the heavens as long as we’ve been here. It’s the powerful draw of the unknown, and the vastness of space that keeps us enthralled, even today. As long as there have been thinkers, there have been theories about what goes on in the sky. Now, as science advances and we have the more extensive technology, we are just beginning to learn about some of what is out there.
The information we collect with space probes, satellites, and telescopes only scratches the surface. We have sent men into space, walked the moon’s surface, and the international space station hosts scores of ongoing experiments. As space exploration and technological development moves into the realm of private enterprise, the speed of exploration is increasing at a breakneck pace. Some companies have designed rockets that can be reclaimed and reused. Virgin Galactic is creating its own industry, space tourism, by offering sub-orbital flights to paying customers. If the last fifty years are any indication, the strides we will make in the coming years will be nothing short of phenomenal.
The Kepler Space telescope is one of NASA’s advanced observation platforms. Not long ago, Kepler observed the destruction of a star that was 1.2 billion light years from earth. While the information the telescope gathers isn’t in a form that most of us find readily accessible, NASA scientists have developed a visual interpretation of the event so that we can see it with our own eyes. The explosion is what astronomers refer to as a “shock breakout” and is the product of a failure of the nuclear fusion process that results in the death of a star. Simply Amazing.