News

Nina In New York: More Space Stuff!

Outer Space

I don’t know what it is lately, but there is so much going on outside the Earth’s atmosphere! Everyone who’s anyone is into space again. It’s all the rage. Space hasn’t been this cool since 1969 when Tom Hanks and Gary Sinese landed on the moon or whatever.

I’m totally into it. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of space travel and extraterrestrial life and planets beyond our galaxy. I mean, just the concept of light years as a measure of distance pretty much blows my mind. I love the idea that one day we might all be blasting about in our little space pods, running errands on Mars and stopping for a quick drink at the International Space Station. Sure, $250 for a martini is steep, but you can’t beat the view.

In case you’re not following this news category with as much interest as I have been, here are some highlights you may have missed:

Mars is basically future Earth, with more warm tones: The Mars Rover, Curiosity, has been out and about these weeks, doing it’s thing. Roving about, taking samples and pictures to send back to scientists, singing really loudly, writing in the dirt (ROVER WUZ HERE ’12; FOR A GOOD TIME, CALL HOUSTON), and acting out scenes from all of its favorite movies and doing all the parts (Wall-E, Star Wars, Transformers, etc.). And while no one knew precisely what to expect—otherwise, why bother?—NASA is particularly shocked at how closely some of the findings resemble natural resources on Earth. For one, according to the LA Times, evidence of an ancient, dried-up riverbed. Hey, that’s cool. And how about a rock named Jake which is incredibly diverse, minerals-wise, so much so that it very closely resembles types of rocks found on our planet? Whaaaaaat? Yeah. Next thing you know, Curiosity will be innocently roving around humming Les Miz and it’ll stumble on a partially-submerged, ancient Statue of Liberty. IT WAS EARTH ALL ALONG!

There is a planet out there for you, Slick Rick. And you too, Jennifer Aniston. And even you, Vanessa Bryant: This is important. Via The Escapist, astronomists now believe there is a planet of which at least one-third is made out of diamonds. Diamonds! It’s called 55 Cancri e, a deceptively un-blingy name, and based on the planet’s weight and some other brainiac stuff, scientists now believe it is, in all likelihood, composed of “graphite and diamond.” But don’t break out the mining gear just yet. 55 Cancri e temperatures can reach up to 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit, so you likely wouldn’t make it off with all that treasure alive. Then again, when you die, your body would be melted down and eventually processed into more diamonds*, so that’s sort of a neat way to go.

Finally, you can buy space rocks: If you have, like, a lot of money. Darryl Pitt, owner of the Macovich Collection of Meteorites, is selling many of the prized pieces of his collection through Heritage Auctions, in the largest meteorite auction ever. On the menu is a four-pound chunk of moon, and a piece of a huge meteorite which fell on some poor schmuck’s Chevy in Peekskill in 1992. Groovy.

*I made that up.