So How Fast is Blackbird ?

That time a Blackbird pilot revealed SR-71’s True Top Speed

 

The story of the SR-71 Blackbird that outran Gaddafi's SAMs during a BDA flight of Libya in support of Operation Eldorado Canyon

The SR-71 Blackbird is still the fastest plane that has ever flown and served an important role in history as a spy plane. Its first test flight was on December 22, 1964 and was never once hit by a missile during its 25 years of service.Though these awesome planes haven’t left the ground since before the turn of the century, they’re still worth all the recognition of being the fastest plane on Earth.

The SR-71, the most advanced member of the Blackbird family that included the A-12 and YF-12, was designed by a team of Lockheed personnel led by Clarence “Kelly” Johnson, then vice president of Lockheed’s Advanced Development Company Projects, commonly known as the “Skunk Works” and now a part of Lockheed Martin Corp.

The Blackbirds were designed to cruise at “Mach 3+,” just over three times the speed of sound or more than 2,200 miles per hour and at altitudes up to 85,000 feet.

Now when talking about SR-71 probably the most frequently asked Blackbird question is-how high and how fast does it really fly?

Former SR-71 pilot Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) Gil Bertelson recalls in Richard H. Graham book SR-71 Blackbird Stories, Tales and Legends:

‘When I first joined the SR-71 program there was one permanent operating location for SR-71s at Kadena AB. The unit at Kadena was known as detachment 1 (or Det 1) of the 9th SRW. Habus were deployed to Det 1 for six weeks at a time and each crew made the trip four to six times a year. About twice a year, there was a requirement to temporarily activate an additional Det at RAF Mildenhall in England. Although we’d had two SR-71s permanently stationed at RAF Mildenhall since 1981, it wasn’t until 5 April 1984 that Prime Minister Thatcher formally announced SR-71s would be permanently based at Mildenhall. This unit was known as Det 4 of the 9th SRW. Dets 2 and 3 of the 9th SRW were U-2 operating locations, at Osan AB, Korea, and RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, respectively.

‘There was a significantly different flying environment between the two detachments. The weather was almost at opposite ends of the spectrum. The missions were not quite as “routine” as many of the Okinawa missions.

‘Because of the more demanding missions at Mildenhall, each new SR-71crew had to fly its first operational sorties at Kadena. Every SR crew lobbied long and hard to get on the schedule for Mildenhall. And London was not far away!

‘Frank Stampf, my RSO crewmate on the SR-71, and I were fortunate to get on the schedule for Mildenhall after only two trips to Okinawa. For both of us, it was like going home. Just before entering the SR-71 program, Frank had been stationed at RAF Alconbury for about four years as an RF-4 crew dog. And I had been stationed at RAF Lakenheath for a couple of years. As the “crow flies,” Alconbury is only 30 miles from Mildenhall and Lakenheath is only 3 miles from Mildenhall. We were both anxious to visit the old flying buddies we had known and worked with in careers before we became Habus.

1280px-Brian_Shul_in_the_cockpit_of_the_SR-71_Blackbird.jpg

‘On one occasion, I arranged to meet several of my F-111 friends at Lakenheath Officers’ Club for dinner. We met in the bar and had a few drinks (as a real, live, dyed-in-the-wool teetotaler, I assume I was drinking grapefruit juice or 7-Up). We shared numerous laughs while trying to outdo each other with tales of unequalled courage and great feats of airmanship. I’m sure our hands were getting a good workout—pilots gesticulate a lot!

‘At some point in the evening, the Aardvark (F-111 nickname) guys began to press me, in a good-natured way, for classified information about the SR-71. Probably the most frequently asked Blackbird question is-how high and how fast does it really fly? That question was being actively pursued that night at Lakenheath.

‘I need to back up about a year and a half to set the stage as to why they seemed intent on pushing that particular question. In most Air Force buildings, at least the flying squadron buildings I used to frequent, there were numerous locations where the base fire marshal had posted information regarding fire classifications and appropriate reactions upon discovering different types of fires. These posters were displayed in the restrooms, in the halls, near the duty desks, in the crew briefing rooms, and next to all of the fire extinguisher. I can’t remember all the specifics other than there was one fire classification identified as a category or type 3.

‘At some point in my application for assignment to the SR-71, I was requested to go to Beale for my “tryout” for the Blackbird program. The whole process from departing Lakenheath until returning back to Lakenheath took about two weeks. During the visit to Beale, I heard and read a number of times that the unclassified speed of the SR-71 was listed as Mach 3-plus. A “3+” patch is displayed on flight suits worn by SR-71 squadron crewmembers.

That time a Blackbird pilot revealed SR-71’s Top Speed

‘When I arrived back to Lakenheath, I was really pumped up and excited about the prospects of being selected to fly the SR-71. I didn’t want to forget the experiences I had at Beale or to lose sight of my goal. To help me remember and to keep my attention focused on what I wanted to do, I began adding a black grease pencil + sign to all of the 3s on the fire code posters. There were many added + signs around the base that the very diligent safety officer in 493rd Tactical Fighter Squadron actually called the base fire marshal to get information about this “new classification.” When he was told there was no such thing as a code 3+, he finally figured it out and started looking for me. I was given a “cease and desist” order and one by one, he began erasing my “unauthorized” + signs.

‘Now back to the “O” Club a year and a half later. My dinner partners remembered the fuss over the posters and figured now was an appropriate time and place to get the real scoop as to how high and how fast the Blackbird really did fly. They were curious as to what kind of speed that little + sign actually equated to.

‘I played along for a while, dragging out the inevitable answer of Mach 3-plus, which, when all was said and done, was all I really could tell them anyway. I finally got them leaning in toward me as we sat around the dinner table. I did a pretty good acting job as I began nervously looking around the room be sure no one else was eavesdropping on what they thought would be a classified conversation.

With the guys leaning in to hang on every word I was about to speak, I said something like, “You’ve got to promise not to tell a soul what I am going to tell you now. If you do, I’ll deny it till the day I die. I’m sure you know I shouldn’t be talking about this at all. You know how high the pile will be that they’ll stick me in if you tell anyone else.” As they gathered closer to make sure they didn’t miss anything, I said, “I can’t specific numbers, but I can give you a point of reference you can use to figure it out. You know the part in ‘High Flight’—where it talks about putting out your hand to touch the face of God?” Well,” I added, “when we’re at speed and altitude in the SR, we have to slow down and descend in order to do that.”

800px-SR71_J58_Engine_Airflow_Patterns.svg

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“You know the part in ‘High Flight’—where it talks about putting out your hand to touch the face of God? Well, when we’re at speed and altitude in the SR, we have to slow down and descend in order to do that,” Gil Bertelson, former SR-71 Blackbird pilot.

That time a Blackbird pilot revealed SR-71’s Top Speed

15 Fascinating Facts About The SR-71 Blackbird —

1. The SR-71 Blackbird aircraft was built by Lockheed Martin and took its first flight in 1964. It was retired by NASA in 1999. 2. It is the fastest planes that ever took flight. The official fastest record it holds is 2,193.13 mph on July 1976. The photo above was taken right after it reached that record. 3. It earned its nickname “Blackbird” because of how stealth it was. It was also extremely quiet inside the cockpit, according to pilot Richard Graham. “You could hear a pin drop. The view is spectacular, being able to see the curvature of the Earth and the black space above filled with stars,” he said. 4. The Blackbird was able to map terrain like a side-scanning sonar, aim a radar up to 45 degrees to the side, and interrupt enemy communication and radar signals. 5. It was built to fly up to Mach 3.4 speeds (approx. 2,500 mph on land). 6. Over 4,000 missiles were fired at the Blackbird in the 25 years it was flown, but none ever hit it. The Blackbird was just too fast and its evasive tactic was just to speed up until the missile couldn’t keep up with it. 7. Its navigation system called “R2-D2” had a sensor so powerful that it could detect up to 61 stars in broad daylight while the plane was still on the ground. 8. The plane required a large amount of titanium to be built so the CIA created fake companies around the world to buy metal from the USSR, which was the biggest supplier, as well as the United States’ enemy at that time. 9. The plane was covered in over 60 pounds of black paint because the black helped cool down the plane by up to 86 degrees. Traveling at over Mach 3, the plane could hit as high as 1,000 degrees without the black paint dissipating the heat. 10. The SR-71 constantly leaked fuel while not in flight due to the contraction of its titanium skin. The tank was designed to expand as it heated up due to air friction. The SR-71 had enough fuel to take off and then get refueled up in the air by a tanker. 11. Its tires were specially designed for the SR-71. Their material was made of aluminum powder which was impregnated to reject heat. This additive gave its unique appearance of silver coloration. 12. There were only 32 Blackbirds ever built. 13. Even though it leaked fuel, the fuel had such a high flash point that it would not ignite even if it was hit with fire. 14. To work on the plane as a crew member, you needed to be between the ages of 25 and 40, be married and be “emotionally stable.” 15. The camera on the Blackbird was so advanced that when it took a photo of a car on the ground that was 80,000 feet below it and the plane traveled at over 2,000 mph, the license plate would be visible in the photo.

What Would The Sun Looks Like Viewing From Every Planet In Our Solar System

How the moon reveals the sun's mass | Astronomy Essentials | EarthSky

What does the sun look like from other planets? Given the vast and disparate distances, it is not so easy to imagine.

But the digital renderings created by Ron Miller, a Virginia-based illustrator who has spent decades representing space, help answer this delicate question. They show the sun as it appears in the sky of each of the nine planets (along with our favorite dwarf planet, Pluto).

“I’ve taken care in not only making sure the Sun is depicted realistically, but also the surfaces of the planets and satellites as well,” Miller told IFLScience.

Scroll down to see Miller’s starkly beautiful images…

Mercury

The sun as seen from Mercury, which is about 60 million kilometers from the sun or 39 percent of the distance from Earth to the sun. On Mercury, the sun is about three times larger than on Earth.

Venus

The sun as seen (almost) from Venus, about 108 million kilometers from the sun (72% of the distance from Earth to the sun). Seen from beneath Venus’ dense, sulfuric acid-laden clouds, the sun is no more than a dimly glowing patch in the perpetual overcast.

Earth

Earth, which is 150 million kilometers (93 million miles) from the Sun. If you’ve ever seen a solar eclipse, this sight will be very familiar to you

 

Mars

Mars orbits the Sun at a distance of 230 million kilometers, or about 1.5 times further than Earth. But it is not the distance that reduces the visibility of the Sun, but the strong winds that carry dust up into the outer confines of atmosphere of the red planet.

Jupiter

This is what the Sun looks like from Europa, one Jupiter’s moons. It is much, much further away, at 779 million kilometers from the Sun (5.2 times greater than the distance between the Sun and the Earth).

Saturn

The sun as seen from Saturn, about 1.5 billion kilometers from the sun. It is about 9.5 times farther than the distance from Earth to the sun. Here, water and gas crystals, including ammonia, refract sunlight, creating beautiful optical effects such as haloes and sundogs.

Uranus

The sun as seen from Ariel, one of Uranus’s moons. Uranus is about 2.9 billion kilometers from the sun, or about 19 times farther than the distance from Earth to the sun.

Neptune

The sun as seen from Triton, one of Neptune’s moons. Neptune is about 4.5 billion kilometers from the sun. That’s about 30 times farther than the distance from Earth to the sun.

Pluto

 

From the perspective of the planet furthest from our solar system, the Sun is little more than a tiny point of light. Pluto is 6 billion kilometers from the Sun (40 times the distance between it and Earth), which means that the light reaching it is 1600 times weaker than that which we receive here.

How big is the Sun? What Is the Biggest Star?

Our Sun is a normal main-sequence G2 star, one of more than 100 billion stars in our galaxy but although The sun may appear to be the largest star in the sky, that’s just because it’s the closest. On a stellar scale, it’s really quite average — about half of the known stars are larger; half are smaller. The largest known star in the universe is UY Scuti, a hypergiant with a radius around 1,700 times larger than the sun. And it’s not alone in dwarfing Earth’s dominant star.

The largest of all

In 1860, German astronomers at the Bonn Observatory first cataloged UY Scuti, naming it BD -12 5055. During a second detection, the astronomers realized it grows brighter and dimmer over a 740-day period, leading astronomers to classify it as a variable star. The star lies near the center of the Milky Way, roughly 9,500 light-years away.

Located in the constellation Scutum, UY Scuti is a hypergiant, the classification that comes after supergiant, which itself comes after giant. Hypergiants are rare stars that shine very brightly. They lose much of their mass through fast-moving stellar winds.

Of course, all stellar sizes are estimates, based on measurements taken from far away.

UY Scuti largest known star

“The complication with stars is that they have diffuse edges,” wrote astronomer Jillian Scudder of the University of Sussex. “Most stars don’t have a rigid surface where the gas ends and vacuum begins, which would have served as a harsh dividing line and easy marker of the end of the star.”

Instead, astronomers rely on a star’s photosphere, where the star becomes transparent to light and the particles of light, or photons, can escape the star.

“As far as an astrophysicist is concerned, this is the surface of the star, as this is the point at which photons can leave the star,” Scudder said.

If UY Scuti replaced the sun in the center of the solar system, its photosphere would extend just beyond the orbit of Jupiter. The nebula of gas stripped from the star extends even farther out, beyond the orbit of Pluto to 400 times time the Earth-sun distance.

But UY Scuti doesn’t remain stagnant. Scudder pointed out that the star varies in brightness as it varies in radius, with a margin of error of about 192 solar radii. These errors could allow other stars to beat out UY Scuti in the race for size. In fact, there are as many as 30 stars whose radii fit within UY Scuti’s smallest estimated size, so it shouldn’t sit too securely on its throne.

Nor does UY Scuti’s large radius make it the most massive star. That honor goes to R136a1, which weighs in at about 300 times the mass of the sun but only about 30 solar radii. UY Scuti, in comparison, is only about 30 times more massive than the sun.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope reveals the supercluster Westerlund 1, home of one of the largest known stars. Westerlund 1-26, a red supergiant, has a radius more than 1,500 times that of the sun. (Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA)

Title contenders

So which star would take UY Scuti’s place if it weren’t exactly 1,708 solar radii? Here are a few of the stars that might dominate:

  • WOH G64, measuring 1,504 to 1,730 solar radii. It is a red hypergiant star in the Large Magellanic Cloud (a satellite galaxy to the Milky Way). Like UY Scuti, it varies in brightness. Some estimates have placed its radius as high as 3,000 solar radii. Variations are due in part to the presence of dust, which affects the brightness of the star and its related radius.
  • RW Cephei, at 1,535 solar radii. This star is an orange hypergiant in the constellation of Cepheus, and also a variable star.
  • Westerlund 1-26, which comes in at 1,530 to 2,550 solar radii. If the upper estimate is correct, its photosphere would engulf the orbit of Saturn if the star were placed at the center of the solar system. The star changes its temperature but not its brightness.
  • KY Cygni, at 1,420 to 2,850 solar radii. It’s a red supergiant in the constellation Cygnus. The upper estimate is considered by astronomers to be dubious due to an observational error, while the lower estimate is consistent with other stars from the same survey, as well as theoretical models of stellar evolution.
  • VY Canis Majoris, ranging from 1,300 to 1,540 solar radii. This red hypergiant star was previously estimated to be 1,800 to 2,200 solar radii, but that size put it outside the bounds of stellar evolutionary theory. New measurements brought it down to size. (Some sources still list it as the largest star.)
  • History of The Sun

    The Sun is by far the largest object in the solar system. It contains more than 99.8% of the total mass of the Solar System (Jupiter contains most of the rest).

    It is often said that the Sun is an “ordinary” star. That’s true in the sense that there are many others similar to it. But there are many more smaller stars than larger ones; the Sun is in the top 10% by mass. The median size of stars in our galaxy is probably less than half the mass of the Sun.

    The Sun is personified in many mythologies: the Greeks called it Helios and the Romans called it Sol.

    The Sun is, at present, about 70% hydrogen and 28% helium by mass everything else (“metals”) amounts to less than 2%. This changes slowly over time as the Sun converts hydrogen to helium in its core.

    The outer layers of the Sun exhibit differential rotation: at the equator the surface rotates once every 25.4 days; near the poles it’s as much as 36 days. This odd behavior is due to the fact that the Sun is not a solid body like the Earth. Similar effects are seen in the gas planets. The differential rotation extends considerably down into the interior of the Sun but the core of the Sun rotates as a solid body.

    Conditions at the Sun’s core (approximately the inner 25% of its radius) are extreme. The temperature is 15.6 million Kelvin and the pressure is 250 billion atmospheres. At the center of the core the Sun’s density is more than 150 times that of water.

    The Sun’s power (about 386 billion billion mega Watts) is produced by nuclear fusion reactions. Each second about 700,000,000 tons of hydrogen are converted to about 695,000,000 tons of helium and 5,000,000 tons (=3.86e33 ergs) of energy in the form of gamma rays. As it travels out toward the surface, the energy is continuously absorbed and re-emitted at lower and lower temperatures so that by the time it reaches the surface, it is primarily visible light. For the last 20% of the way to the surface the energy is carried more by convection than by radiation.

    The surface of the Sun, called the photosphere, is at a temperature of about 5800 K. Sunspots are “cool” regions, only 3800 K (they look dark only by comparison with the surrounding regions). Sunspots can be very large, as much as 50,000 km in diameter. Sunspots are caused by complicated and not very well understood interactions with the Sun’s magnetic field.

    A small region known as the chromosphere lies above the photosphere.

    The highly rarefied region above the chromosphere, called the corona, extends millions of kilometers into space but is visible only during a total solar eclipse (left). Temperatures in the corona are over 1,000,000 K.

    It just happens that the Moon and the Sun appear the same size in the sky as viewed from the Earth. And since the Moon orbits the Earth in approximately the same plane as the Earth’s orbit around the Sun sometimes the Moon comes directly between the Earth and the Sun. This is called a solar eclipse; if the alignment is slighly imperfect then the Moon covers only part of the Sun’s disk and the event is called a partial eclipse. When it lines up perfectly the entire solar disk is blocked and it is called a total eclipse of the Sun. Partial eclipses are visible over a wide area of the Earth but the region from which a total eclipse is visible, called the path of totality, is very narrow, just a few kilometers (though it is usually thousands of kilometers long). Eclipses of the Sun happen once or twice a year. If you stay home, you’re likely to see a partial eclipse several times per decade. But since the path of totality is so small it is very unlikely that it will cross you home. So people often travel half way around the world just to see a total solar eclipse. To stand in the shadow of the Moon is an awesome experience. For a few precious minutes it gets dark in the middle of the day. The stars come out. The animals and birds think it’s time to sleep. And you can see the solar corona. It is well worth a major journey.

    The Sun’s magnetic field is very strong (by terrestrial standards) and very complicated. Its magnetosphere (also known as the heliosphere) extends well beyond Pluto.

    In addition to heat and light, the Sun also emits a low density stream of charged particles (mostly electrons and protons) known as the solar wind which propagates throughout the solar system at about 450 km/sec. The solar wind and the much higher energy particles ejected by solar flares can have dramatic effects on the Earth ranging from power line surges to radio interference to the beautiful aurora borealis.

    Recent data from the spacecraft Ulysses show that during the minimum of the solar cycle the solar wind emanating from the polar regions flows at nearly double the rate, 750 kilometers per second, than it does at lower latitudes. The composition of the solar wind also appears to differ in the polar regions. During the solar maximum, however, the solar wind moves at an intermediate speed.

    Further study of the solar wind will be done by Wind, ACE and SOHO spacecraft from the dynamically stable vantage point directly between the Earth and the Sun about 1.6 million km from Earth.

    The solar wind has large effects on the tails of comets and even has measurable effects on the trajectories of spacecraft.

    Spectacular loops and prominences are often visible on the Sun’s limb (left).

    The Sun’s output is not entirely constant. Nor is the amount of sunspot activity. There was a period of very low sunspot activity in the latter half of the 17th century called the Maunder Minimum. It coincides with an abnormally cold period in northern Europe sometimes known as the Little Ice Age. Since the formation of the solar system the Sun’s output has increased by about 40%.

    The Sun is about 4.5 billion years old. Since its birth it has used up about half of the hydrogen in its core. It will continue to radiate “peacefully” for another 5 billion years or so (although its luminosity will approximately double in that time). But eventually it will run out of hydrogen fuel. It will then be forced into radical changes which, though commonplace by stellar standards, will result in the total destruction of the Earth (and probably the creation of a planetary nebula).

    The Sun’s satellites

    There are eight planets and a large number of smaller objects orbiting the Sun. (Exactly which bodies should be classified as planets and which as “smaller objects” has been the source of some controversy, but in the end it is really only a matter of definition. Pluto is no longer officially a planet but we’ll keep it here for history’s sake.)

    Planet Distance(000 km) Radius(km) Mass(kg) Discoverer Date
    Mercury 57,910 2439 3.30e23
    Venus 108,200 6052 4.87e24
    Earth 149,600 6378 5.98e24
    Mars 227,940 3397 6.42e23
    Jupiter 778,330 71492 1.90e27
    Saturn 1,426,940 60268 5.69e26
    Uranus 2,870,990 25559 8.69e25 Herschel 1781
    Neptune 4,497,070 24764 1.02e26 Galle 1846
    Pluto 5,913,520 1160 1.31e22 Tombaugh 1930

    More detailed data and definitions of terms can be found on the data page.

    More about the Sun

      • more Sun images
      • from NSSDC
      • Stanford Solar Center
      • Yohkoh Public Outreach Project, lots of good info, images and movies
      • The University of Michigan Solar and Heliospheric Research Group’s Web Space for Kids and Non-Scientists
      • Solar Data Analysis Center
      • Elemental abundances in the Sun
      • National Solar Observatory / Sacramento Peak Image Index
      • more info and links about sunspots
      • historical info about sunspots
      • Virtual Tour of the Sun by Michael Berger
      • The Sun: a Pictorial Introduction, a slide set by P. Charbonneau and O.R. White
      • The HK Project
      • Ulysses Home Page
      • Spartan 201, NASA’s mission to explore the Sun’s corona
      • IACG Campaign IV: including lots of good references

    Open Issues

    • Is there a causal connection between the Maunder Minimum and the Little Ice Age or was it just a coincidence? How does the variability of the Sun affect the Earth’s climate?
    • Since all the planets except Pluto orbit the Sun within a few degrees of the plane of the Sun’s equator, we know very little about the interplanetary environment outside that plane. The Ulysses mission will provide information about the polar regions of the Sun.
    • The corona is much hotter than the photosphere. Why?

    Interesting Facts about the Sun

      • The Sun is one of the millions of stars in the solar system. It is, however, larger than most (although not the biggest) and a very special star to us. Without the Sun there would be absolutely no life on Earth.
      • The Sun is 870,000 miles (1.4 million kilometers) across. This is so big it is hard to imagine, but it would take more than one million Earths to fill the size of the Sun!
      • The Sun is so big it takes up 99% of the matter in our solar system. The 1% left over is taken up by planets, asteroids, moons and other matter.
      • The Sun is about 4.5 billion years old. It is thought to be halfway through its lifetime. Stars get bigger as they get older.
      • As the Sun ages, it will get bigger. When this happens, it will consume some of the things close to it, and this includes Mercury, Venus and maybe even Earth and Mars. Luckily this is billions of years in the future.
      • The Sun is the centre of the solar system.
      • The Sun is 92.96 million miles (149.6 kilometers) away from Earth.
      • The Sun is made of a ball of burning gases. These gases are 92.1% hydrogen and 7.8% helium.
    • The sunlight we see on Earth left the Sun 8 minutes ago. This is the length of time it takes for the light to travel the distance between the Sun and the Earth.
    • When the moon goes around the Earth, it sometimes finds itself between the Earth and the Sun. This is called a solar eclipse and makes the Earth dark whilst the moon shuts out most of the Sun’s light. This only lasts for a couple of hours while the moon continues its rotation and moves out of the way of the sun.
    • In ancient astronomy, it was thought that the Sun moved. People believed that the Earth stayed still and the Sun rotated around it.
    • About 2000 years ago some began to think it was the Sun that stays still whilst the planets make a path around it. This only became an accepted theory around the 1600s when Isaac Newton proposed the sun-centric solar system.
    • The Sun is almost a perfect sphere. It is the closest thing to a sphere found in nature with only a 6.2 mile (10 kilometres) difference between its vertical and horizontal measurements.
    • The Sun’s core is extremely hot! An unthinkable 13,600,000 degrees Celcius!
    • The Sun has a very big magnetic field. It is the most powerful magnetic field in the whole solar system. This field is regenerating itself, but scientists are unsure how.
    • The Sun produces solar winds. These are a stream of particles from the Sun that stream out into space. This is why planets atmospheres are so important. They protect the planet from these solar winds.
    • The Sun rotates but not as Earth does. On Earth, the planet is rotating at the same speed no matter where you are. The Sun does not rotate like a solid object and is spinning faster at its equator than it is at its poles. It is complicated to say how fast the Sun is spinning but depending whereabouts on the Sun you are looking at it takes between 24 and 38 days to spin around.
    • The Sun has been both worshipped and feared throughout history by a variety of cultures.

How Deep Is Deep? We Dive Into the World’s Oceans, Lakes, and Drill Holes

Explore the full-size version of this chart by clicking here.
A Deep Dive Into the World's Oceans, Lakes, and Drill Holes

Today’s chart is best viewed full-screen. Explore the high resolution version by clicking here.

Sailors have been circumnavigating the high seas for centuries now, but what could be found beneath the sunlit surface of the ocean remained a mystery until far more recently. In fact, it wasn’t until 1875, during the Challenger expedition, that humanity got it’s first definative idea of how deep the ocean actually was.

The ocean has an average depth of approximately 3.7 kilometres (or 2.3 miles). A calculation from satellite measurements in 2010 put the average depth at 3,682 metres (12,080 feet). However, only about 10% of Earth’s seafloor has been mapped to high resolution, so this figure is only an estimate.

Ocean depth is divided into zones: littoral, bathyal, abyssal and hadal. The deepest part of the ocean, the hadal zone, is anywhere deeper than six kilometres.

Today’s graphic, another fantastic piece by xkcd, is a unique and entertaining look at everything from Lake Superior’s ice encrusted shoreline down to blackest, inhospitable trench (which today bears the name of the expedition that first discovered it).

The graphic is packed with detail, so we’ll only highlight a few points of interest.

Deep Thoughts with Lake Baikal

Deep in Siberia, abutting a mountainous stretch of the Mongolian border, is the one of the most remarkable bodies of water on Earth: Lake Baikal. There are a number of qualities that make Lake Baikal stand out.

Depth: Baikal, located in a massive continental rift, is the deepest lake in the world at 1,642m (5,387ft). That extreme depth holds a lot of fresh water. In fact, an estimated 22% of all the world’s fresh water can be found in the lake.

Age: Baikal (which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is estimated to be over 25 million years old, making it the most ancient lake on the planet.

Clarity: Interestingly, the water in the lake is exceptionally clear. In winter, visibility can extend over 30m (98ft) below the surface.

Biodiversity: The unique ecosystem of Lake Baikal provides a home for thousands of plant and animal species. In fact, upwards of 80% of those species are endemic, meaning they are unique to that region.

Who is Alvin?

Since 1964, a hard-working research submersible named Alvin has been helping us better understand the deep ocean. Alvin explored the wreckage of RMS Titanic in 1986, and helped confirm the existence of black smokers (one of the weirdest ecosystems in the world). Though most of the components of the vessel have been replaced and upgraded over the years, it’s still in use today.

Polymetallic Nodules

The ancient Greek word, ábyssos, roughly means “unfathomable, bottomless gulf”. While there is a bottom (the abyssopelagic zone comprises around 75% of the ocean floor), the enormous scale of this ecosystem is certainly unfathomable.

Objectively, the abyssal plain is not the prettiest part of the ocean. It’s nearly featureless, and lacks the panache of, say, a coral reef, but there are still some very compelling reasons we’re eager to explore it. Resource companies are chiefly interested in polymetallic nodules, which are essentially rich manganese formations scattered about on the sea bottom.

Manganese is already essential in steel production, but demand is also getting a substantial lift from the fast-growing electric vehicle market. The first company to find an economical way to harvest nodules from the ocean floor could reap a significant windfall.

Drill Baby, Drill

Demand for resources can force humans into some very inhospitable places, and in the case of Deepwater Horizon, we chased oil to a depth even surpassing the famed Marianas Trench.

Drilling that far below the surface is a complicated endeavor, and when the drill platform was put into service in 2001, it was hailed as an engineering marvel. To this day, Deepwater Horizon holds the record for the deepest offshore hole ever made.

After the rig’s infamous explosion and subsequent spill in 2010, that record may stand the test of time.

Linguistic Family Tree Shows How all Languages are Related.

Spoken Languages

There are thousands of spoken languages in the world and most can be traced back in history to show how they are related to each other.

For example:

English

Latin

Greek

Sanskrit

two duo dúo dva
three tres treîs tráyas

By finding patterns like these, different languages can be grouped together as members of a language family.

There are three main language families:

  • Indo-European (Includes English)
  • Sino-Tibetan (Includes Chinese)
  • Afro-Asiatic (Includes Arabic)

Indo-European is the largest language family, followed by Sino-Tibetan, and lastly Afro-Asiatic. The Language Tree below shows languages that come from the same origin. (sorry about the quality. I’ve relabelled some popular languages) The numbers on the tree below are in millions of native speakers.

Linguists often use the tree metaphor to show the historical relationships between languages and how they relate to one another. In a language history course, these trees would most of the time look very simple and informative, but they lack imagination. Minna Sundberg, creator of the webcomic Stand Still. Stay Silent, thinks that there is no reason why linguistics should be so visually uninspiring and unimaginative. So, she remapped the languages into one beautiful and magnificent tree that is quite a sight to feast your eyes on.

This tree beautifully captures the connections between groups of languages, and it shows that all languages descend from a common ancestral proto-language. The size of the leaves on top of each branch approximates how many people speak each language, with English being one of the largest groups, alongside Spanish and Hindi.

Interesting observations

  • Sino-Tibetan branch includes Mandarin and Thai
  • Indo-European branch includes: English, Russian and Hindi
  • Austronesian branch includes: Malay, Indonesian and Tagalog
  • Japanese and Korean have their own branches
  • Tamil is on another branch called Dravidian

NB: “It has been suggested that Thai could be part of the neighbouring family called Austronesian, rather than the Sino-Tibetan family. Perhaps the similarities that Thai shares with Chinese are due to borrowing, not descent from a common ancestor.” – Peter Thomas

Just like a family tree, we can think of branches as different families, and leaves as languages. By tracing these branches back we arrive at larger branches, such as Indo-European, and by tracing the Indo-European branch back, we arrive at even larger branches. Eventually, It is believed that you will arrive at the main trunk of this tree into which all of the languages came from.

The European region splits into Slavic, Romance, and Germanic branches. Celtic languages, as well as Latin, are shown as delicate twig-like branches.

As beautiful and illustrative as the infographic seems, it still overlooks other very significant languages. One language that does not feature in this tree is Arabic and other Asian and African languages of which the number of native speakers could easily amount to a billion speakers. But then again, that tree would be too big to fit on a web page. Just imagine how humongous a tree would look if it included all the 7000+ beautiful languages that we have in the world today.

Conclusion

The original mother tongue may never be found. It becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between inheritance from a common ancestor and borrowing from another group. There are no written records, so we can never know if word similarities happened by sheer chance or by accident.

However, what is known about the main language groups is still fascinating, such as:

  • The amazing fact that in the 18th century it was discovered that Sanskrit (the ancient language of India), resembles and has relationships with Greek and Latin.
  • Malay, Indonesian, Javanese,  and Tagalog are all related.
  • Hokkien is a direct descendant of old Chinese, and is the oldest of the Sino-Tibetan languages alive today.

 

Mercedes-Maybach GLS600 4MATIC

 

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The ultimate luxury SUV  makes debut at Guangzhou with mild-hybrid V8 power.

The new model invokes many of the styling elements seen on the S-Class Maybach to help distinguish it from the standard third-generation GLS.

Included is a distinctive chrome grille featuring vertical louvres, chrome highlights within the side window surrounds and along the sills, standard 22in (and optional 23in) wheels, an optional two-tone exterior paint scheme in eight different colour combinations, electrically extending running boards and chromed tail-pipes with a signature cross-rib.

Inside, the 5202mm-long Mercedes-Maybach GLS sports an upgraded interior with nappa leather upholstery and unique trim elements. Among the long list of options for UK customers are reclining rear seats with a massage function and a fixed centre console with folding tables and a refrigerator in a four-seat layout that can be further enhanced with a panoramic sunroof. Boot capacity below the cargo blind at the rear is 520 litres. Reflecting its upper luxury positioning, the latest Maybach model also receives a long list of standard driving aids.

Engine, Transmission, and Performance

The GLS600’s twin-turbocharged V-8 makes 558 horsepower and can motivate the big luxury SUV from zero to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, according to Mercedes-Maybach. The engine is assisted by a 48-volt hybrid system that gives a little extra shove right from the start. If that’s not fast enough for you, check out the Mercedes-AMG GLS63, which offers a 603-hp version of this powertrain and boasts a claim of 4.1 seconds to 60 mph. We haven’t driven the GLS600 yet, but we expect a silky-smooth ride and an exceptionally quiet cabin. An air suspension is standard, and it features a Maybach mode that is said to all but erase bumps in the road.

Perhaps the least important thing about the Maybach GLS is the way it drives, but you might be happy to hear it has a stonking-great 4.0-litre biturbo V8 engine to back up those… bold looks. Max power is 550bhp and 538lb ft of torque. It’ll even do 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds despite weighing 2,785kg. Yeah, two-thousand seven-hundred and eighty-five.

There are all the usual Mercedes driving modes, but there’s now also a ‘Maybach mode’ which prioritises rear-seat comfort. Select it, and the chauffeur will be presented with a flat accelerator curve, fewer gearshifts from the nine-speed auto ‘box and all starts in second gear without the use of stop/start.

Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 official press images - engine

Interior, Comfort, and Cargo

While the regular Benz-branded GLS-class SUV is a three-row affair, the Maybach GLS600 offers just two rows, both of which offer heat and massage functions. The rear seats are the place to be; with acres of legroom and two power-adjustable recliner seats, riding in the back is akin to traveling in the fanciest first-class airline cabins. A three-across bench is also offered, but c’mon, the executive treatment is what this SUV is all about. Nappa leather covers the dash, door panels, and seats, while real wood trim with a handsome pin stripe add a touch of class. A fragrance diffuser helps occupants create the sensory oasis they deserve after a hard day of being filthy rich. Cargo capacity won’t be as generous here as it is in the regular GLS-class since the rear seats are fixed and don’t fold to accommodate larger items. Mercedes-Maybach says there’s still about 19 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and will offer a handsome set of custom-fitted luggage.

Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 official press images - dashboard

Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 official press images - rear seats

Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 official press images - rear infotainment

Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 official press images - rear glass storageMercedes-Benz’s most luxurious SUV will be offered from the outset of sales with just one drivetrain in the GLS 600 4Matic. The mild-hybrid unit combines a turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine with a 48V integrated starter motor to provide an overall output of 550bhp at 6000rpm and 538lb ft of torque from 2500-5000rpm. The electrically boosted reserves are channelled through a nine-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox and 4Matic all-wheel drive.

Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 official press images - quarter panel badge

Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 official press images - rear badge

Mercedes-Benz claims a 0-62mph time for the 2710kg Maybach GLS 600 4Matic of 4.9sec. Top speed is limited to 155mph. Combined fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are put at 24.1mpg and 266g/km respectively on the WLTP cycle.

 

 

 

 

Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

Mercedes-Maybach’s warranty coverage is fairly basic, but it offers coverage for up to a year longer than the policies that come with new Bentleys. There’s no complimentary scheduled maintenance included in the sale, but oil changes and tire rotations are another expense we expect the owners of such an expensive SUV will find affordable when paying for them on their own.

  • Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
  • No complimentary scheduled maintenance

Nissan GT-R

This latest in the long line of Nissan’s GT-Rs has received a different nickname from everyone that drives it, and for good reason.

This GT-R not only beats the established players, it takes the rule book and does a burn-out right on top of it. £30,000 cheaper than a 911 Turbo, yet more powerful, better handling, and quicker around the Nurburgring. A driving gadget show, every bit of new tech is included on this Japanese toy, from the twin-clutch gearbox, through the onboard g-meter, to the super-trick 4wd system.

Devastatingly fast it has undeniably remained, and it apparently continues to loom large in the imagination of anyone under the age of 35.

Yet in so many ways other than outright speed, the cutting edge of the premium sports car segment has long since moved out of the reach of the GT-R, even as Nissan blithely inflated its list price to suggest parity with markedly superior opposition.

And so as the GT-R ages, its brief subtly changes. Added comfort, luxuriousness and refinement are among the priorities of the comprehensive 2017-model-year update, which comes after the car’s last major facelift in 2011.

Styling has been tweaked, the interior upgraded, refinement measures improved, the chassis revised and – inevitably – peak power from the twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V6 increased.

£81,805 – £172,805

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ASTEROID experts have produced a terrifying simulation Comparing the Size of Asteroids in our Solar System to New York City .

The Absolutely Frightening apocalyptic consequences of a colossal space rock colliding with Earth.

Comparison of asteroid sizes

Asteroids are rocky worlds revolving around the sun that are too small to be called planets. They are also known as planetoids or minor planets. There are millions of asteroids, ranging in size from hundreds of miles to several feet across. In total, the mass of all the asteroids is less than that of Earth’s moon.

Despite their size, asteroids can be dangerous. Many have hit Earth in the past, and more will crash into our planet in the future. That’s one reason scientists study asteroids and are eager to learn more about their numbers, orbits and physical characteristics. If an asteroid is headed our way, we want to know that.

The video begins by comparing a human to one of the minor planets before revealing their enormity as the following asteroids quickly dwarf New York City in its entirety. It comes out with asteroid 2008 TC3, which is around 4.1 meters in diameter.

Things take a dramatic turn when asteroid 99942 Apophis steps onto the scene with an average diameter of 370 meters. Then it goes all the way up to 1 Ceres (which is 939km in diameter) and takes up a large chunk of the US.

Stephen Hawking in his last book, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, wrote that asteroids are the biggest threat to Earth. If any of these hit the Earth it would be devastating.

Formation

Asteroids are leftovers from the formation of our solar system about 4.6 billion years ago. Early on, the birth of Jupiter prevented any planetary bodies from forming in the gap between Mars and Jupiter, causing the small objects that were there to collide with each other and fragment into the asteroids seen today.

Understanding of how the solar system evolved is constantly expanding. Two fairly recent theories, the Nice model and the Grand Tack, suggest that the gas giants moved around before settling into their modern orbits. This movement could have sent asteroids from the main belt raining down on the terrestrial planets, emptying and refilling the original belt.

Physical characteristics

Asteroids can reach as large as Ceres, which is 940 kilometers (about 583 miles) across. On the other end of the scale, the smallest asteroid ever studied is the 6-foot-wide (2 meters) space rock 2015 TC25, which was observed when it made a close flyby of Earth in October 2015. The chances of it hitting Earth in the foreseeable future are small, Vishnu Reddy of the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory said in a statement.

“You can think of [an asteroid] as a meteorite floating in space that hasn’t hit the atmosphere and made it to the ground — yet,” Reddy added.

Nearly all asteroids are irregularly shaped, although a few of the largest are nearly spherical, such as Ceres. They are often pitted or cratered — for instance, Vesta has a giant crater some 285 miles (460 km) in diameter. The surfaces of most asteroids are thought to be covered in dust.

As asteroids revolve around the sun in elliptical orbits, they rotate, sometimes tumbling quite erratically. More than 150 asteroids are also known to have a small companion moon, with some having two moons. Binary or double asteroids also exist, in which two asteroids of roughly equal size orbit each other, and triple asteroid systems are known as well. Many asteroids seemingly have been captured by a planet’s gravity and become moons — likely candidates include Mars’ moons, Phobos and Deimos, and most of the outer moons of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

The average temperature of the surface of a typical asteroid is minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 73 degrees Celsius). Asteroids have stayed mostly unchanged for billions of years — as such, research into them could reveal a great deal about the early solar system.

Asteroids come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are solid bodies, while others are smaller piles of rubble bound together by gravity. One, which orbits the sun between Neptune and Uranus, comes with its own set of rings. Another has not one but six tails.

Classification

Asteroids lie within three regions of the solar system. Most asteroids lie in a vast ring between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. This main asteroid belt holds more than 200 asteroids larger than 60 miles (100 km) in diameter. Scientists estimate the asteroid belt also contains between 1.1 million and 1.9 million asteroids larger than 1 km (3,281 feet) in diameter and millions of smaller ones.

Not everything in the main belt is an asteroid — Ceres, once thought of only as an asteroid, is now also considered a dwarf planet. In the past decade, scientists have also identified a class of objects known as “main belt asteroids,” small rocky objects with tails. While some of the tails form when objects crash into an asteroid, or by disintegrating asteroids, others may be comets in disguise.

Many asteroids lie outside the main belt. Trojan asteroids orbit a larger planet in two special places, known as Lagrange points, where the gravitational pull of the sun and the planet are balanced. Jupiter Trojans are the most numerous, boasting nearly as high a population as the main asteroid belt. Neptune, Mars and Earth also have Trojan asteroids.

Near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) circle closer to Earth than the sun. Amor asteroids have close orbits that approach but no not cross Earth’s path, according to NASA. Apollo asteroids have Earth-crossing orbits but spend most of their time outside the planet’s path. Aten asteroids also cross Earth’s orbit but spend most of their time inside Earth’s orbit. Atira asteroids are near-Earth asteroids whose orbits are contained within Earth’s orbit. According to the European Space Agency, roughly 10,000 of the known asteroids are NEAs.

In addition to classifications of asteroids based on their orbits, most asteroids fall into three classes based on composition:

The C-type or carbonaceous asteroids are grayish in color and are the most common, including more than 75 percent of known asteroids. They probably consist of clay and stony silicate rocks, and inhabit the main belt’s outer regions.

The S-type or silicaceous asteroids are greenish to reddish in color, account for about 17 percent of known asteroids, and dominate the inner asteroid belt. They appear to be made of silicate materials and nickel-iron.

The M-type or metallic asteroids are reddish in color, make up most of the rest of the asteroids, and dwell in the middle region of the main belt. They seem to be made up of nickle-iron.

There are many other rare types based on composition as well — for instance, V-type asteroids typified by Vesta have a basaltic, volcanic crust.

Earth impacts

Ever since Earth formed about 4.5 billion years ago, asteroids and comets have routinely slammed into the planet. The most dangerous asteroids are extremely rare, according to NASA.

An asteroid capable of global disaster would have to be more than a quarter-mile wide. Researchers have estimated that such an impact would raise enough dust into the atmosphere to effectively create a “nuclear winter,” severely disrupting agriculture around the world. Asteroids that large strike Earth only once every 1,000 centuries on average, NASA officials say.

Smaller asteroids that are believed to strike Earth every 1,000 to 10,000 years could destroy a city or cause devastating tsunamis. According to NASA, space rocks smaller than 82 feet (25 m) will most likely burn up as they enter Earth’s atmosphere, which means that even if 2015 TC25 hit Earth, it probably wouldn’t make it to the ground.

On Feb. 15, 2013, an asteroid slammed into the atmosphere over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, creating a shock wave that injured 1,200 people. The space rock is thought to have measured about 65 feet (20 m) wide when it entered Earth’s atmosphere.

When an asteroid, or a part of it, crashes into Earth, it’s called a meteorite. Here are typical compositions:

Iron meteorites

  • Iron: 91 percent
  • Nickel: 8.5 percent
  • Cobalt: 0.6 percent

Stony meteorites

  • Oxygen: 6 percent
  • Iron: 26 percent
  • Silicon: 18 percent
  • Magnesium: 14 percent
  • Aluminum: 1.5 percent
  • Nickel: 1.4 percent
  • Calcium: 1.3 percent

Asteroid defense

Dozens of asteroids have been classified as “potentially hazardous” by the scientists who track them. Some of these, whose orbits come close enough to Earth, could potentially be perturbed in the distant future and sent on a collision course with our planet. Scientists point out that if an asteroid is found to be on a collision course with Earth 30 or 40 years down the road, there is time to react. Though the technology would have to be developed, possibilities include exploding the object or diverting it.

For every known asteroid, however, there are many that have not been spotted, and shorter reaction times could prove more threatening.

When asteroids do close flybys of Earth, one of the most effective ways to observe them is by using radar, such as the system at NASA’s Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California. In September 2017, the near-Earth asteroid 3122 Florence cruised by Earth at 4.4 million miles (7 million km), or 18 times the distance to the moon. The flyby confirmed its size (2.8 miles or 4.5 km) and rotation period (2.4 hours). Radar also revealed new information such as its shape, the presence of at least one big crater, and two moons.

In a NASA broadcast from earlier in 2017, Marina Brozovic, a physicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said radar can reveal details such as its size, its shape, and whether the asteroid is actually two objects (a binary system, where a smaller object orbits a larger object.) “Radar is a little bit like a Swiss army knife,” she said. “It reveals so much about asteroids all at once.”

In the unlikely event that the asteroid is deemed a threat, NASA has a Planetary Defense Coordination Office that has scenarios for defusing the situation. In the same broadcast, PDCO planetary defense officer Lindley Johnson said the agency has two technologies at the least that could be used: a kinetic impactor (meaning, a spacecraft that slams into the asteroid to move its orbit) or a gravity tractor (meaning, a spacecraft that remains near an asteroid for a long period of time, using its own gravity to gradually alter the asteroid’s path.) PDCO would also consult with the White House and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and likely other space agencies, to determine what to do. However, there is no known asteroid (or comet) threat to Earth and NASA carefully tracks all known objects through a network of partner telescopes.

Water delivery?

Ironically, the collisions that could mean death for humans may be the reason we are alive today. When Earth formed, it was dry and barren. Asteroid and comet collisions may have delivered the water-ice and other carbon-based molecules to the planet that allowed life to evolve. At the same time, the frequent collisions kept life from surviving until the solar system calmed down. Later collisions shaped which species evolved and which were wiped out.

According to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies CNEOS), “It seems possible that the origin of life on the Earth’s surface could have been first prevented by an enormous flux of impacting comets and asteroids, then a much less intense rain of comets may have deposited the very materials that allowed life to form some 3.5 – 3.8 billion years ago.”

Discovery & naming

In 1801, while making a star map, Italian priest and astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi accidentally discovered the first and largest asteroid, Ceres, orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. Although Ceres is classified today as a dwarf planet, it accounts for a quarter of all the mass of all the known asteroids in or near the main asteroid belt.

Over the first half of the 19th century, several asteroids were discovered and classified as planets. William Herschel coined the phrase “asteroid” in 1802, but other scientists referred to the newfound objects as minor planets. By 1851, there were 15 new asteroids, and the naming process shifted to include numbers, with Ceres being designated as (1) Ceres. Today, Ceres shares dual designation as both an asteroid and a dwarf planet, while the rest remain asteroids.

Since the International Astronomical Union is less strict on how asteroids are named when compared to other bodies, there are asteroids named after Mr. Spock of “Star Trek” and rock musician Frank Zappa, as well as more solemn tributes, such as the seven asteroids named for the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia killed in 2003. Naming asteroids after pets is no longer allowed.

Asteroids are also given numbers — for example, 99942 Apophis.

Exploration

The first spacecraft to take close-up images of asteroids was NASA’s Galileo in 1991, which also discovered the first moon to orbit an asteroid in 1994.

In 2001, after NASA’s NEAR spacecraft intensely studied the near-earth asteroid Eros for more than a year from orbit, mission controllers decided to try and land the spacecraft. Although it wasn’t designed for landing, NEAR successfully touched down, setting the record as the first to successfully land on an asteroid.

In 2006, Japan’s Hayabusa became the first spacecraft to land on and take off from an asteroid. It returned to Earth in June 2010, and the samples it recovered are currently under study.

NASA’s Dawn mission, launched in 2007, began exploring Vesta in 2011. After a year, it left the asteroid for a trip to Ceres, arriving in 2015. Dawn was the first spacecraft to visit Vesta and Ceres. As of 2017, the spacecraft still orbits the extraordinary asteroid.

In September 2016, NASA launched the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx), which will explore the asteroid Bennu before grabbing a sample to return to Earth.

“Sample return is really at the forefront of scientific exploration,” OSIRIS-REx principal investigator Dante Lauretta said at a press conference.

In January 2017, NASA selected two projects, Lucy and Psyche, via its Discovery Program. Planned to launch in October 2021, Lucy will visit an object in the asteroid belt before going on to study six Trojan asteroids. Psyche will travel to 16 Psyche, an enormous metallic asteroid that may be the core of an ancient Mars-size planet, stripped of its crust through violent collisions.

In 2012, a company called Planetary Resources, Inc. announced plans to eventually send a mission to a space rock to extract water and mine the asteroid for precious metals. Since then, NASA has begun to work on plans for its own asteroid-capture mission.

According to CNEOS, “It has been estimated that the mineral wealth resident in the belt of asteroids between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter would be equivalent to about 100 billion dollars for every person on Earth today.”

 

$645million 370ft eco-friendly superyacht powered by liquid hydrogen

The designers of the world’s first hydrogen-fueled super yacht have denied the $645million vessel is going to Microsoft boss Bill Gates.

The 370ft vessel, which only emits water, had been linked to Gates for his penchant for super yachts and his keen interest in technological solutions to climate change.

But Sinot, the designers of the concept ship, have since denied this is the case.

The yacht, unveiled at the Monaco Yacht Show last year, comprises five decks complete with space for 14 guests, 31 crew members, a gym, yoga studio, beauty room, massage parlor and cascading pool on its rear deck.

But its most impressive feature is locked away in the hold – two 28-ton vacuum-sealed tanks that are cooled to -423F (-253C) and filled with liquid hydrogen which powers the ship.

The Aqua superyacht is a futuristic design that is 370ft-long, comprised of five decks, and runs off liquid hydrogen meaning it only emits water. Design studio Sinot said the exterior of the vessel was inspired by ocean swells, the movement of the tides, and weather out on the open ocean

The Aqua superyacht is a futuristic design that is 370ft-long, comprised of five decks, and runs off liquid hydrogen meaning it only emits water. Design studio Sinot said the exterior of the vessel was inspired by ocean swells, the movement of the tides, and weather out on the open ocean

 

The rear of the vessel has two entertaining areas - one lower lounge area for sunbathing or swimming - and an upper entertaining space with room for outdoor dining. Gel-fuelled fire bowls allow guests to stay warm on colder evenings without having to burn wood or coals

 

The rear of the vessel has two entertaining areas – one lower lounge area for sunbathing or swimming – and an upper entertaining space with room for outdoor dining. Gel-fuelled fire bowls allow guests to stay warm on colder evenings without having to burn wood or coals

The rear deck features an infinity pool which cascades towards the ocean, while floor-to-ceiling glass windows lead through into a downstairs entertaining space with dining room for 14 people and a home cinema

 

The rear deck features an infinity pool which cascades towards the ocean, while floor-to-ceiling glass windows lead through into a downstairs entertaining space with dining room for 14 people and a home cinema

Aqua was unveiled at the Monaco Yacht Show, which runs from September 25-28 in Port Hercules. While the yacht is only a design concept at the moment, its architects hope it will inspire future designs based on its eco-friendly fuel system

 

Aqua was unveiled at the Monaco Yacht Show, which runs from September 25-28 in Port Hercules. While the yacht is only a design concept at the moment, its architects hope it will inspire future designs based on its eco-friendly fuel system

A huge staircase at the centre of the vessel spirals around a water feature (centre) to the lower level, where the ship's hydrogen fuel tanks can be viewed through a glass panel (rear). Each tank weighs 28 tons, is vacuum sealed and cooled to -423F (-253C) in order to hold the hydrogen fuel

 

A huge staircase at the centre of the vessel spirals around a water feature (centre) to the lower level, where the ship’s hydrogen fuel tanks can be viewed through a glass panel (rear). Each tank weighs 28 tons, is vacuum sealed and cooled to -423F (-253C) in order to hold the hydrogen fuel

The liquid hydrogen is pumped through special PEM fuel cells which convert it into electricity which runs the engines and electronics on board. The supply is moderated using two fuel cells to make sure it stays constant. The only emission from the system is water, which can be safely pumped into the ocean

 

The liquid hydrogen is pumped through special PEM fuel cells which convert it into electricity which runs the engines and electronics on board. The supply is moderated using two fuel cells to make sure it stays constant. The only emission from the system is water, which can be safely pumped into the ocean

Bill Gates orders world’s first hydrogen-powered superyacht

 

The new vessel is not expected to be ready to take to the open seas until 2024.

In a statement, Sinot said today that claims the vessel’s concept had been bought by Gates were ‘factually incorrect.’

The hydrogen is pumped through a special type of fuel cell which converts it into electricity, while emitting only water which can be safety pumped into the ocean.

Despite its novel fuel source, the vessel is able to reach 17 knots and travel 3,750 miles before it needs to refuel, enough to cover an Atlantic crossing from New York to Southampton.

Designer Sander Sinot is hoping it will pave the way towards a more ecological future for the superyacht industry.

The boat will easily be able to cross the Atlantic  but it will also have a backup diesel engine due to the scarcity of Hydrogen refueling points

The boat will easily be able to cross the Atlantic  but it will also have a backup diesel engine due to the scarcity of Hydrogen refueling points

The ship's wheelhouse is located under a bubble hood-shaped roof on the bridge deck and has a 360 degree view of the surrounding ocean. It is from this spaceship-like room that the ship's captain and his 32-strong crew operate the vessel

The ship’s wheelhouse is located under a bubble hood-shaped roof on the bridge deck and has a 360 degree view of the surrounding ocean. It is from this spaceship-like room that the ship’s captain and his 32-strong crew operate the vessel

The master suite occupies the entire 50ft width of the Aqua under a central skylight, broken into separate 'rooms' using wooden dividers. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide plenty of light from both sides, while the interior can be decorated however the new owner wishes. A doorway at the read leads through to the bedroom and bathroom

The master suite occupies the entire 50ft width of the Aqua under a central skylight, broken into separate ‘rooms’ using wooden dividers. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide plenty of light from both sides, while the interior can be decorated however the new owner wishes. A doorway at the read leads through to the bedroom and bathroom

The yacht contains enough space for 14 guests and 32 crew, including the huge owner's pavilion (bedroom, pictured), two other VIP state rooms for their most valued guests and four regular state rooms

 

The yacht contains enough space for 14 guests and 32 crew, including the huge owner’s pavilion (bedroom, pictured), two other VIP state rooms for their most valued guests and four regular state rooms

The master bathroom also features floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the ocean, a large central bathtub, his-and-hers vanity units off to either side, and his-and-hers shower units to the left and right

 

The master bathroom also features floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the ocean, a large central bathtub, his-and-hers vanity units off to either side, and his-and-hers shower units to the left and right

 

Gates, 64, is known to regularly take vacations onboard superyachts and would usually rent boats during summer trips to the Mediterranean. Here he is pictured along with Melinda in Turkey in 2005

Bill and Melinda Gates are spotted on vacation in Marmaris, Turkey travelling on a speedboat in October 2005

Bill and Melinda Gates are spotted on vacation in Marmaris, Turkey travelling on a speedboat in October 2005

He said: ‘With every project, I challenge my team and myself to surpass ourselves. For development of AQUA we took inspiration from the lifestyle of a discerning, forward-looking owner, the fluid versatility of water and cutting-edge technology to combine this in a superyacht with truly innovative features.’

Working alongside Lateral Naval Architects, Sinot spent five months perfecting the details in the yacht in the hopes of one day being able to transform it into a real vessel.

Although this new yacht will be run on liquid hydrogen, there will also be an engine that runs on diesel as a back-up due to a current lack of hydrogen refueling stations.

The gym features a range of workout machines, a full set of dumbbells and a yoga studio. A window stretching the entire width of the gym at sea-level gives the impression of working out on the water itself

 

The gym features a range of workout machines, a full set of dumbbells and a yoga studio. A window stretching the entire width of the gym at sea-level gives the impression of working out on the water itself

Located in a room to the side of the gym is the hydro massage room, where passengers are massage by soothing water jets that rain down on the central granite table

 

Located in a room to the side of the gym is the hydro massage room, where passengers are massage by soothing water jets that rain down on the central granite table

The upper-deck lounge area leads directly off the owner's pavilion area and has floor-to-ceiling windows as well as views out over the outdoor entertaining space. It can be used either as a casual entertaining space, or for al-fresco dining

 

The upper-deck lounge area leads directly off the owner’s pavilion area and has floor-to-ceiling windows as well as views out over the outdoor entertaining space. It can be used either as a casual entertaining space, or for al-fresco dining

A lounge space within the lower-deck entertaining area can either be set up for casual conversation, or rotate to face a cinema screen. Behind the seating area is the formal dining space, with settings for 14 people

A lounge space within the lower-deck entertaining area can either be set up for casual conversation, or rotate to face a cinema screen. Behind the seating area is the formal dining space, with settings for 14 people

Aside from the fuel source, the yacht’s other features include a wheelhouse that looks like something out of a spaceship, a huge central staircase spiraling around a water feature, and a beauty and fitness suite.

The rear deck features two entertaining areas – one upper and one lower – along with a cascading pool, sun loungers, and outdoor dining space.

There is also storage space for two 32ft tenders – smaller boats used to get to and from the main yacht – three jet-skis and smaller ‘water toys’.

Computer-generated images of the yacht, along with a 10ft scale model, were unveiled by Sinot at the Monaco Yacht Show last year.

The yacht's designers said they wanted it to combine 'ground-breaking technology with cutting-edge design' and provide a blueprint for future designs using eco-friendly fuel sources

The yacht’s designers said they wanted it to combine ‘ground-breaking technology with cutting-edge design’ and provide a blueprint for future designs using eco-friendly fuel sources

This water feature - comprised of a jet falling from the ceiling into the pool below - sits at the centre of the gym complex, with doorways at either side leading to the workout room and the massage parlour

This water feature – comprised of a jet falling from the ceiling into the pool below – sits at the centre of the gym complex, with doorways at either side leading to the workout room and the massage parlour

A top-down view of the vessel showing the two outdoor entertaining areas at the rear, the central bubble bridge containing the wheelhouse and a view down through the ceiling window in the owner's pavilion

 

A top-down view of the vessel showing the two outdoor entertaining areas at the rear, the central bubble bridge containing the wheelhouse and a view down through the ceiling window in the owner’s pavilion

The boat was in a design concept when it was unveiled at the Monaco Boat Show

The boat was in a design concept when it was unveiled at the Monaco Boat Show

The Aqua also comes with space for two tenders - smaller boats used to get to the larger vessel - three jet-skis and a range of other 'water toys'

The Aqua also comes with space for two tenders – smaller boats used to get to the larger vessel – three jet-skis and a range of other ‘water toys’

HOW DO HYDROGEN FUEL CELLS WORK?

Hydrogen fuel cells create electricity to power a battery and motor by mixing hydrogen and oxygen in specially treated plates, which are combined to form the fuel cell stack.

Fuel cell stacks and batteries have allowed engineers to significantly shrink these components to even fit neatly inside a family car, although they are also commonly used to fuel buses and other larger vehicles.

Oxygen is collected from the air through intakes, usually in the grille, and hydrogen is stored in aluminium-lined fuel tanks, which automatically seal in an accident to prevent leaks.

These ingredients are fused, releasing usable electricity and water as byproducts and making the technology one of the quietest and most environmentally friendly available.

Reducing the amount of platinum used in the stack has made fuel cells less expensive, but the use of the rare metal has restricted the spread of their use.

Recent research has suggested hydrogen fuel cell cars could one day challenge electric cars in the race for pollution-free roads, however – but only if more stations are built to fuel them.

Fuel cell cars can be refueled as quickly as gasoline-powered cars and can also travel further between fill-ups.

Fuelling stations cost up to $2 million to build, so companies have been reluctant to build them unless more fuel cell cars are on the road.

The U.S. Department of Energy lists just 34 public hydrogen fuelling stations in the country; all but three are in California.

According to Information Trends, there were 6,475 FCV’s worldwide at the end of 2017.

More than half were registered in California, which puts the U.S. (53 per cent) at the forefront for FCV adoption.

Japan takes second place with 38 per cent, while Europe is at nine per cent.

Hermès Has Teamed up With Bugatti for an Elegantly-Dressed One-Off Chiron

Hermès bugatti hypercar supercar custom racing chiron Manny Khoshbin

Taking three years to complete, the project paints the entire Chiron in an elegant white shade named Hermès Craie, unique to this commissioned one-off. The shade extends from the bodywork to the rear bumper to even the wheels and the interior, which is paired with Hermès leather and cashmere panels. The front grilles have been customized with the Parisian brand’s signature H monogram, while its iconic Courbettes horse motif graces the underside of the rear wing, visible when elevated.

It’s not the first time that Manny Khoshbin has collaborated with Hermes for a hypercar, but this is the latest addition to the hypercar-filled garage.

BUGATTI and Hermès have a long standing tradition. Ettore and Émile-Maurice Hermès had already collaborated in the 1920s. This tradition was revived in 2008 for the Veyron and now, eleven years later for a one off BUGATTI Chiron Hermes 1:1

 

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The interior boasts a custom cashmere with the wing’s horse pattern on the door inserts and beneath the center controls. A one-of-one badge that reads “Dressed by Hermès” appears on the center stack., and more one-of-one labels are scattered throughout.

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Hermès Courbettes Graphic with a series of rearing horses in wool and cashmere sheet for the interior. Originally offered on Hermès famous foulards and home fabrics, for the first time it is applied in a super sports car.
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Powered by 1500 horses, rearing under the Chiron’s wing. @mannykhoshbin chose Hermès’ traditional Courbettes graphic for the underside of the airbrake.
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