WHAT WAS THE MERCURY SEVEN MISSION?

On May 15, 1963, the last mission of Project Mercury got under way. Astronaut Gordon Cooper closed out things in style as his flight stretched the capabilities of the Mercury spacecraft to its limits.

The Mercury Seven, also referred to as the Original Seven, were a group of seven astronauts selected to fly spacecraft for Project Mercury - the first human space flight program by the U.S. Even though there were some hiccups, the project, initiated in 1958, was largely successful in its three goals of operating a human spacecraft. investigating an astronaut's ability to work in space, and recovering spacecraft and crew safely.

Youngest of the Mercury Seven

The final flight of Project Mercury took place in May 1963. The youngest of the Original Seven, astronaut Gordon Cooper, went on to become the first American to fly in space for more than a day during this mission.

Leroy Gordon Cooper Jr. was born in 1927 and served in the Marine Corps in 1945 and 1946. He was commissioned in the U.S. Army after attending the University of Hawaii.

He was called to active duty in 1949 and completed pilot training in the U.S. Air Force. He was a fighter pilot in Germany from 1950 to 1954 and earned a bachelor's degree at the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1956. He served as a test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base in California until he was selected as an astronaut for Project Mercury. Cooper flew Mercury-Atlas 9, the last Mercury mission, which was launched on May 15, 1963. He called his capsule Faith 7, the number indicating his status as one of the Original Seven astronauts.

Conducts 11 experiments

 Longer than all of the previous Mercury missions combined. Cooper had enough time in his hands to conduct 11 experiments. These included monitoring radiation levels, tracking a strobe beacon that flashed intermittently, and taking photographs of the Earth.

When Cooper sent back black-and-white television images back to the control centre during his 17th orbit, it was the first TV transmission from an American crewed spacecraft. And even though there were plans for Cooper to sleep as much as eight hours, he only managed to sleep sporadically during portions of the flight. After 19 orbits without a hitch, a faulty sensor wrongly indicated that the spacecraft was beginning re-entry. A short circuit then damaged the automatic stabilisation and control system two orbits later. Despite these malfunctions and the rising carbon dioxide levels in his cabin and spacesuit. Cooper executed a perfect manual re-entry.

Lands without incident Cooper had clocked 34 hours and 20 minutes in space, orbiting the Earth 22 times and covering most of the globe in the process. This meant that he could practically land anywhere in the globe, a potential pain point that the U.S. State

Department was nervous about. In fact, on May 1, 1963, the country's Deputy Under Secretary fuel, venting gas that made the spacecraft roll, and more in what felt like a never-ending series during their eight-day mission. They, however, completed 122 orbits, travelling over 5.3 million km in 190 hours and 56 minutes, before safely making their way back to Earth.

After accumulating more than 225 hours in space, Cooper served as the backup command pilot of Gemini 12, which was launched in November 1966, and the backup command pilot for Apollo 10 in May 1969. By the time Cooper left NASA and retired from the Air Force in July 1970, human beings had set foot on the moon, further vindicating the Mercury and Gemini projects that Cooper had been involved with.

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HOW DO ASTRONAUTS COMMUNICATE IN SPACE?

Sound can only travel through a solid, liquid or gas and not through vacuum. As there is near complete vacuum in space, sound cannot travel and be heard through the ears like on Earth. Other forms of electromagnetic radiation including radio waves, however, can travel through vacuum. When astronauts are in a space shuttle or a space station, they can speak normally there are enough air particles to vibrate and take the sound to their ear drum. But when they are conducting a spacewalk, they need a special device to communicate with each other The helmets of astronauts are fitted with a device which converts the sound waves generated by their speech into radio waves and transmits them to other astronauts. When the headset of another astronaut receives the radio waves, it translates the signal into the sound form. The same principle is used to send and receive messages from Earth.

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WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CONSTELLATIONS AND ASTERISMS?

Constellations are the 88 recognized patterns and groups of stars. These groups and patterns are usually associated with mythology. Today, constellations are not only the groups of stars, but now refers to the entire region of the sky that it takes up.

Asterisms are groups of stars that do not form their own constellations, but instead, are inside of constellations. The Big Dipper is an example of this. The Big Dipper is an asterism inside of the constellation Ursa Major. So I believe that asterisms are smaller than the constellations that they're in, but not necessarily bigger than all constellations. 

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WHAT IS AN ASTERISM?

An asterism is an observed pattern or group of stars in the sky. Asterisms can be any identified pattern or group of stars, and therefore are a more general concept then the formally defined 88 constellations. Constellations are based on asterisms, but unlike asterisms, constellations outline and today completely divide the sky and all its celestial objects into regions around their central asterisms. For example, the asterism known as the Big Dipper comprises the seven brightest stars in the constellation Ursa Major. Another is the asterism of the Southern Cross, within the constellation of Crux.

Asterisms range from simple shapes of just a few stars to more complex collections of many stars covering large portions of the sky. The stars themselves may be bright naked-eye objects or fainter, even telescopic, but they are generally all of a similar brightness to each other. The larger brighter asterisms are useful for people who are familiarizing themselves with the night sky.

The patterns of stars seen in asterisms are not necessarily a product of any physical association between the stars, but are rather the result of the particular perspectives of their observations. For example the Summer Triangle is a purely observational physically unrelated group of stars, but the stars of Orion's Belt are all members of the Orion OB1 association and five of the seven stars of the Big Dipper are members of the Ursa Major Moving Group. Physical associations, such as the Hyades or Pleiades, can be asterisms in their own right and part of other asterism at the same time.

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WHICH IS THE SMALLEST CONSTELLATION?

The smallest constellation is Crux, the Southern Cross. A small group of four bright stars that forms a Latin cross in the southern sky, Crux is visible from latitudes south of 25 degrees north and completely invisible in latitudes above 35 degrees north (in the United States, roughly north of Texas).

Originally it was part of the constellation Centaur, but became its own constellation during the 16th century when it was used as a valuable navigation tool by explorers. Its area is calculated at about 68 square degrees.

Blue-white ? Crucis (Acrux) is the most southerly member of the constellation and, at magnitude 0.8, the brightest. The three other stars of the cross appear clockwise and in order of lessening magnitude: ? Crucis (Mimosa), ? Crucis (Gacrux), and ? Crucis (Imai). ? Crucis (Ginan) also lies within the cross asterism. Many of these brighter stars are members of the Scorpius–Centaurus association, a large but loose group of hot blue-white stars that appear to share common origins and motion across the southern Milky Way.

Crux contains four Cepheid variables, each visible to the naked eye under optimum conditions. Crux also contains the bright and colourful open cluster known as the Jewel Box (NGC 4755) on its eastern border. Nearby to the southeast is a large dark nebula spanning 7° by 5° known as the Coalsack Nebula, portions of which are mapped in the neighbouring constellations of Centaurus and Musca.

Credit : Wikipedia 

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