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Light-years Forget talking about inches, yards, miles, or meters when talking about our galaxy. Start talking about light-years. A light-year is the measure of the distance light travels in one year. In one second, a beam of light will travel around the world seven times! Are we there yet? It would take more than 150 years driving in a car to reach the sun. Star Light, Star Bright Our galaxy, the Milky Way, has about 100 billion stars. The universe that we can see has about 100 billion galaxies, each with about 100 billion stars. There’s no place like home! Earth is the only known place in the solar system where you can live without a special, sealed spacesuit. Do you think space is a friendly environment? Nope! In space, there is no food, no water, and no air. It is impossible to live in space without specialized food, space suits, and living quarters. In a galaxy far, far away . . . One distant galaxy is 10 million light-years across. What would happen if you tried to dive into the sun? You’d find it is all gas. There’s no place solid to stand. The gas is so thick at the center of the sun that if you filled a glass with it, it would weigh 75 pounds. The temperature at the center of the sun is 27 million degrees. Guess how many earths could fit inside our sun? More than one million! True or false: The closest galaxy to ours is 2 million light-years away. True. It’s called the Andromeda Galaxy. Want to see a big number? 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 That’s the number of known stars in the universe. It’s said “ten billion trillion.” And yet, God has named each one (Psalm 147:4). What would you name a galaxy? The Milky Way, the Whirlpool, the Black Eye, and the Sombrero are all real names for galaxies! Did you know there’s a belt in space? It’s called the asteroid belt, and it hangs between Mars and Jupiter, with lots of asteroids (chunks of ice and rock). Which planet has a canyon as large as the entire United States? Mars Hello! Can you hear me? Since there’s no air in space, sound can’t travel. It’s totally silent. Grab your raincoat! A violent storm has been raging on Jupiter for over 300 years. The storm is the size of two earths! Freeze dried! When the sun sets on Mercury, it gets so cold you would freeze almost instantly. Which planet could float? Saturn. If you could make a bathtub big enough, Saturn would float in it because it is a huge gas giant. Wanna be a track star? Go to the moon. If you can jump 3 feet on earth, you can jump 18 feet on the moon! Want to weigh less? Head to Pluto, where a 100-pound person would weigh only 6.7 pounds. Can you do the math to figure out what you would weigh? We see just one star during the day. Guess which one. Yep—the sun. What orbits the earth and can be seen by 9 out of 10 people? The International Space Station (ISS)! The ISS is being built piece by piece in space and is about the size of a five-bedroom house. Pass the hot sauce, please! Astronauts often eat spicy food in space because their sense of smell and taste are affected after hanging in the cosmos for awhile. How would you like your pizza to end up on the ceiling? Because there is no gravity in space, everything floats. Astronauts have to hold onto their food or strap it down with Velcro. Get ready to exercise! Two hours of every astronaut’s day are devoted to a strenuous workout because their muscles and bones don’t have to work hard in the weightless environment. Did you know astronauts wear special underwear that has tubes of cooled water in it? It keeps their bodies at a constant temperature so they don’t freeze or boil to death. Drinking straw, anyone? There is no “down” in space, so water can’t flow down. That means astronauts need to drink through straws. Is the space shuttle going to get a speeding ticket? It circles the earth every hour and a half, traveling at a speed of over 17,000 miles per hour. You’ve probably heard of sleep walking, but how about sleep floating? In space, astronauts can sleep in any position. They use sleeping bags, which are strapped to the walls, roof, or floor. This keeps them from floating around while they sleep. Imagine how it would feel to stand on a wall or ceiling Astronauts are able to do so in the weightless environment. Salt or pepper, anyone? Salt and pepper don’t stay on food in space but float around, so they are used in liquid form. Crash! Boom! Bang! As the International Space Station circles the earth, it slowly gets closer and closer. If it didn’t have small engines to boost it back up into space, the ISS would crash into our planet. Warning: Dust can be hazardous to your health. Did you know particles of dust floating in space could cut an astronaut? That’s one of the reasons astronauts wear space suits. The suits also help the astronauts breathe and keep them from freezing to death (at 250 degrees below zero) or boiling to death (at 250 degrees above zero). Strange but True Water is rubbed on like lotion when astronauts take showers in space. The Vomit Comet Astronauts train for missions in a special plane called the Vomit Comet. It goes up and down like a roller coaster, causing lots of airsickness. Watch out! Even a tiny fleck of paint traveling through space can badly damage or destroy a rocket, space shuttle, or the International Space Station. That’s why there are emergency backup plans. A heavy suit! Did you know a space suit weighs as much as 400 pounds on earth but weighs nothing in space? Do you have an extra $20 million laying around? Then you can take a trip to space, like the six space tourists from Russia who have already done so. Thirsty, anyone? At the International Space Station, urine is actually recycled into the drinking water. No room for error! The space shuttle is really like a huge glider. The pilot has to get the landing right. He can’t fly around and do it again. Want to grow a little? Astronauts can be up to 2 inches taller in space. The disks in their spine expand because there is no gravity to push them together. That’s thick! The windows on the space shuttle are 2.5 inches thick— the thickest windows ever made.