Skydiver Breaks Sound Barrier In Record Space Jump

Skydiver Breaks Sound Barrier In Record Space JumpAustrian Felix Baumgartner has become the first skydiver to go faster than the speed of sound, reaching a maximum velocity of 833.9mph (1,342km/h). In jumping out of a balloon 128,100ft (24 miles; 39km) above New Mexico, the 43-year-old also smashed the record for the highest ever freefall.

He said he almost aborted the dive because his helmet visor fogged up. It took just under 10 minutes for him to descend. Only the last few thousand feet were negotiated by parachute. Once down, he fell to his knees and raised his fists in triumph. Helicopter recovery teams were on hand moments later.

‘You become so humble’

“Let me tell you – when I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble. You don’t think about breaking records anymore, you don’t think about gaining scientific data – the only thing that you want is to come back alive,” he said afterwards at a media conference.


There was concern early in the dive that Baumgartner was in trouble. He was supposed to get himself into a delta position – head down, arms swept back – as soon as possible after leaving his capsule. But the video showed him tumbling over and over. Eventually, however, he was able to use his great experience, from more than 2,500 career dives, to correct his fall and get into a stable configuration. Others who have tried to break the records have lost their lives in the process.

‘Invaluable data’

Baumgartner’s team built him a special pressurized capsule to protect him on the way up, and for his descent he wore a next generation, full pressure suit made by the same company that prepares the flight suits of astronauts. The researchers on the Red Bull Stratos project say it has already provided invaluable data for the development of high-performance, high-altitude parachute systems, and that the lessons learned will inform the development of new ideas for emergency evacuation from vehicles, such as spacecraft, passing through the stratosphere.

Were you among those who watched in awe and tension as Felix Baumgartner took his record-breaking space dive? Share your thoughts about this daredevil scientific stunt!

Source: BBC News

Image: Enstarz

NASA Spacecraft Detects Snow On Mars

A spacecraft orbiting Mars has detected carbon dioxide snow falling on the Red Planet, making Mars the only body in the solar system known to host this weird weather phenomenon.

The snow on Mars fell from clouds around the planet’s south pole during the Martian winter spanning 2006 and 2007, with scientists discovering it only after sifting through observations by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). The Martian south pole hosts a frozen carbon dioxide — or “dry ice” — cap year-round, and the new discovery may help explain how it formed and persists, researchers said.

“These are the first definitive detections of carbon-dioxide snow clouds,” lead author Paul Hayne, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. “We firmly establish the clouds are composed of carbon dioxide — flakes of Martian air — and they are thick enough to result in snowfall accumulation at the surface.”


The find means Mars hosts two different kinds of snowfall. In 2008, NASA’s Phoenix lander observed water-ice snow — the stuff we’re familiar with here on Earth — falling near the Red Planet’s north pole.

Astronomers still aren’t entirely sure how the dry ice sustaining Mars’ south polar cap — the only place where frozen carbon dioxide exists year-round on the planet’s surface — is deposited. It could come from snowfall, or the stuff may freeze out of the air at ground level, researchers said. Dry ice requires temperatures of about minus 193 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 125 Celsius) to fall, reinforcing just how cold the Martian surface is. The study will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Are you a space research enthusiast? What could have caused snow to fall on Mars? Share your thoughts and ideas with us!

Source: Yahoo News

Image: Helpless Dancer