There’s so much trash out there in space that it’s getting in the way of astronaut operations. The solution? ZAP it! The US military currently tracks about 20,000 items of space junk in low-Earth orbit, most of which are discarded pieces of spacecraft or debris from collisions of satellites. The Earth could even end up with a permanent junk belt that could make space too dangerous to fly in. In Wired.com, Lisa Grossman quotes NASA engineer Creon Levit as saying, "There’s not a lot of argument that this is going to screw us if we don’t do something. Right now it’s at the tipping point, and it just keeps getting worse."
More exciting discoveries from the Kepler telescope: A planetary system of the kind never seen before, with two planets in the same orbit around their star. They circle their sun every 9.8 days, one of them ahead of the other. In the night sky of one of the planets, the other planet must seem like a constant light, almost a second sun (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show).
How can something REALLY LARGE be hidden from sight? If it’s an object in space, astronomers can know it’s there from the reactions of other stars and planets, even if they can’t see it. They have evidence that either GIANT brown dwarf ("cold") star or a HUGE gas giant planet is at the outermost reaches of our solar system, far beyond Pluto. Astronomers think it’s 4 times as big as Jupiter and have even named it: Tyche. They even think it may be responsible for the mass extinctions that occur at regular intervals on Earth.
Just like this week’s Dreamland host psychic medium Marla Frees! Most of what we see in the sky at night is very old, since it takes the light from distant stars a long time to travel to us. This means that astronomers are used to looking millions of years into the past. Now scientists have used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to look thousands of years into the FUTURE. By looking at the heart of Omega Centauri, a globular cluster in the Milky Way, they have calculated how the stars there will move over the next 10,000 years.