International News Desk – At Home: (Lego) Man in Space; Around the World: Solar Cleaner

International News Desk – At Home: (Lego) Man in Space; Around the World: Solar Cleaner

At Home: (Lego) Man in Space

Move over, high-tech robots and cameras: space travel has a new face. And you might just find his brother in your kid’s toy box.

As the CBC reports, two Canadian high school students recently ?launched a Lego man more than two dozen kilometres above sea level ? and they have the pictures to prove it.?

The Grade 12 students worked on their design for several months. The toy’s transportation device, a capsule, included four cameras and a GPS-equipped cellphone and was carried by a weather balloon.

Snapping photos the whole way, the Lego man, Canadian flag in hand, reached heights of 24 km above the earth before the balloon popped. The capsule??with their astronaut intact??landed ?more than 120 kilometres from the field where it was launched.?

The ?eye-catching images? were recorded and can be seen on the CBC news story.

Around the World: Solar Cleaner

What goes up must come down, but that only applies within the earth’s gravitational field?as the tens of millions of pieces of space junk floating just outside earth’s atmosphere prove. However, it looks like nature may help fix humanity’s mistakes this year.

As National Geographic‘s Daily News site reports, ?[the] recent uptick in solar flares and other activity on the sun . . . has been helping to clear out space junk.?

The increased solar activity has caused the planet’s thermosphere?its upper atmosphere?to increase in size and extend its density further into space. This ?causes [orbiting space junk] to lose energy and fall into a lower orbit,? NASA scientist Nicholas Johnson told reporters.

The junk, which includes ?broken satellites, rocket parts, and other human-made materials trapped in orbit,? will continue to fall faster as the sun approaches its next solar maximum in 2013. Which is good news for the cleanliness of space, but not necessarily for us: ?most of the objects that fall from [the] sky are vaporized before they hit the ground, [but] some pieces are large enough that they could survive reentry and pose threats.?

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