Tidbits is kind of “space-y” this week, as we bring you various facts on outer space.   

The word “astronaut” literally means “star sailor” with its origins in the Greek language, from the word “astron,” meaning “star” and “nautes,” which translates “sailor.”

      As of August, 2022, 621 people have been in space. About 75 of these have been women. The first woman was launched into space in June, 1963, Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova aboard Vostok 6. NASA’s definition of “space” is more than 50 miles (80 km) above the Earth.

Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka holds the record for more time in space than any other human, a total of 879 days. This was accomplished in five flights over 17 years, beginning in 1998, with this first space journey, one to Russia’s Mir space station, followed by four trips to the International Space Station. His adventures included 10 spacewalks.

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    Space is a very quiet place. In fact, it’s completely silent, because it is a vacuum. There is no air, a requirement for carrying sound vibrations, so that even if you shouted in space, a fellow space traveler right next to you wouldn’t hear a thing.

    No matter where you stand on Earth, you will always see the same side of the Moon. That’s because of what is known as synchronous rotation or tidal locking, a situation that occurs because the Moon rotates on its axis at the same rate that it is rotating the Earth, making its year and day equal in length. The Moon rotates completely around its axis in 28 days, and also orbits Earth in the same time period.

    Until 2006, Pluto was considered the solar system’s ninth planet. That’s when the International Astronomical Union reclassified Pluto as a dwarf planet. One day on Pluto is equivalent to 6 days, 9 hours, and 36 minutes on Earth. Named after the Roman god of the underworld, Pluto was discovered in 1930 by a 24-year-old U.S. astronomer, Clyde Tombaugh. It’s the ninth-largest- known object directly orbiting the Sun, but is actually smaller than the United States.

Our Sun is 330,000 times more massive than Earth. One million Earths could fit inside the Sun!

The largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter, is eleven times larger than Earth. It’s the fifth planet from the Sun (Mars is between Earth and Jupiter). There are 80 known moons orbiting the planet, including the largest moon in the solar system, Ganymede, which has a diameter of 33,279 miles (5,262 km), larger than the planet Mercury. Ganymede can be seen with just a pair of binoculars. Jupiter’s four largest moons were first observed by the Italian astronomer Galileo in 1610.   

    Every planet in our solar system is named after a god – except Earth!

    A 150-lb. (68 kg) person on Earth would weight 351 lbs. (159 kg) on Jupiter, 57 lbs. (26 kg) on Mars, and just 9 lbs. (4 kg) on Pluto.

    Special writing utensils have been designed for astronauts to write in space. Why? Because space has no gravity, regular pens won’t work — the ink can’t be pulled down toward the pen’s nib.   

    Footprints left on our Moon’s surface won’t ever disappear. That’s because there’s no wind!