The new spacecraft is fascinating, and models of it were difficult to find, so we designed our own! This is the result!
For those of you who don’t know, Orion is NASA’s new spacecraft, filling the role of the retired space shuttle program. It is designed with versatility in mind, so if you go searching for pictures of it, you are likely to find lots of different things. In the video, the red piece that snaps on top is the Orion capsule, and is included in any of the pictures you will find, but the other modular parts change drastically.
One of the lesser known features is the Launch Abort System, which attaches to the top of the capsule during its ride into space on a Delta Heavy Rocket. Future launches will instead use the Space Launch System (SLS) which is still in development. The Launch Abort System is an added safety mechanism designed to pull the capsule–and crew inside–away should anything go wrong with the rocket behind them! This is the gray piece on the top.
The bottom gray pieces are the propulsion system. This is probably the most widely varied part of the Orion Spacecraft in pictures that you will see. The solar panels fold out–a feature that didn’t quite make it into the 3D printed version (although they do fold on a single hinge!) and that portion can also separate from the larger propulsion system sitting below.
Perhaps if there is interest, we’ll put together another video showing how each of the components work!
What do Darth Vader and Tesla have in Common? Well the answer is AstroCamp!
We had a little fun playing with our giant Tesla Coil as Darth Vader from Star Wars. The tesla coil is the most iconic and well known invention from the proud inventor Nikola Tesla. Tesla’s inventions helped pioneer the modern use of Alternating Current electricity or AC. Most of his inventions made use of high voltage high frequency electricity. The tesla coil appropriately named after Nikola is an excellent example of such a device.
The coil uses a property of electromagnetism called “inductance” to create a high voltage current. The process begins by sending a low voltage current through a primary coil of wire that has a few turns in the wire. If the electricity is AC current, it will create a magnetic field inside the coil. If a secondary coil of wire wrapped just above the primary coil, the magnetic field created by the first coil will create a new current of electricity in the secondary coil. When the secondary coil of wire has significantly more turns of wire in it than the primary, the voltage will be increase many times over. The increase in voltage will cause the tesla coil to discharge the classic bolts of lightning from the top.
Tesla imagined that this setup could be used to transfer energy wirelessly from one place to another. Sadly for Tesla, the idea never caught on. Part of this might be due to the large amounts of noise that the tesla coil produces. It might also be due to the fact that the bolts of electricity could be very dangerous if they were to hit a person. Still, the Darth Vader controlled Tesla Coil never fails to impress an audience, which is something that would probably make Tesla proud.
CAUTION: DO NOT DO THIS WITH SOMEONE IN THE POOL! IT IS VERY DANGEROUS AS THE EVAPORATED NITROGEN DISPLACES THE OXYGEN IN THE AIR AND SOMEONE COULD SUFFOCATE AND POSSIBLE DEATH.
At AstroCamp, we love exploring and testing theories. So what do we do when we have excess liquid nitrogen from our summer camp program that will evaporate before we can use it again? Why we do some experiments of course! Our favorite recent experiment was dumping the left over liquid nitrogen into the pool. We thought we were going to get a lot of condensation from the water vapor coming into contact with the cold liquid nitrogen. What we forgot to take into account was the Leidenfrost Effect. The Leidenfrost Effect occurs when a liquid comes into contact with a surface much hotter than it. Because of the drastic change in temperature, the liquid that comes into contact with the surface boils near instantly. But the boiled gas creates a buffer for the rest of the liquid and keeps it from evaporating for a while longer. In the pool, this allows the liquid nitrogen to spread across the surface of the water, expanding the fog until it nearly covers the pool entirely. Stay tuned for future fun things to do with liquid nitrogen exploration!
We would like to thank you for visiting our blog. AstroCamp is a hands-on physical science program with an emphasis on astronomy and space exploration. Our classes and activities are designed to inspire students toward future success in their academic and personal pursuits. This blog is intended to provide you with up-to-date news and information about our camp programs, as well as current science and astronomical happenings. This blog has been created by our staff who have at least a Bachelors Degree in Physics or Astronomy, however it is not uncommon for them to have a Masters Degree or PhD. We encourage you to also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and Vine to see even more of our interesting science, space and astronomy information. Feel free to leave comments, questions, or share our blog with others. Please visit www.astrocampschool.org for additional information. Happy Reading!