AstroTalk Episode December 1, 2016

Space Food Bars and a Stellar Circle of Life

2:59pm - 3:25pm

NASA is designing breakfast food bars for astronauts for potential long distance space voyages in the future. NASA's Orion spacecraft has limited storage capacity, so it cannot carry all the food supplies astronauts would need on a long voyage. So to save space, NASA is creating nutritious, delicious breakfasts, with an eye toward saving storage space on long space flights. NASA will definitely have to figure out how to grow food for lunch or breakfast on such long range missions.
NASA scientists are also viewing a cloud of dust and gas located 24,000 light years from Earth in Cygnus X-3. The Chandra X-ray telescope is receiving x-ray transmissions from the cloud, and believe the x-rays are coming from a neutron star, or a black hole, consuming a large star. The cloud is acting like a mirror and is reflecting some of the x-rays toward Earth. Because of this, the cloud has been nicknamed the LITTLE FRIEND. The Little Friend is allowing NASA to more accurately make the distance measurement, but they don't know why the Little Friend is reflecting the x-rays. Most stars are now being formed in the spiral arms of our galaxy, but Cygnus X-3 is not in the spiral arms. It is odd, then, to have star formation in these region. NASA is studying the Little Friend's properties to determine why they are seeing what they are seeing.