Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Year(s) (01/20/11)
TITLE: Adrift in Space
By Clyde Blakely
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Spaceman Bob: It was two years.
SP: Two years! How could you have survived that long?
SB: Compared to earth years, it WAS a short two years.
SP: Alone in space, drifting without power and you call it a short two years?
SB: Miss Parker, how long is a year?
SP: 365 days, of course; except for leap year when we add a day.
SB: Why do we add a day every four years here?
SP: You know why, because it really takes 365 and a quarter days for the earth to circle the sun, making one year and after four quarters we add the extra day. There are extra seconds, or something like that too, we have to add once in a while. Why?
SB: So it takes the earth about 365 days, days being around 24 hours, to revolve around our star, the sun, right?
SP: Spaceman Bob, you are a human. Your body systems all cycle on 24 hour days. Are you telling me a day, or even a year, is not the same in outer space?
SB: Yes. Remember when we had the International Space Station and they saw a morning and evening every 90 minutes?
SP: I remember that’s right.
SB: Then their days were only about an hour and a half long, weren’t they?
SP: Well…but their years were the same length because they were still going around the Sun every 365 earth days. Gotcha!
SB: I’ll give you that.
SP: Give it to me? I earned it!
SB: You got part of it. What if they were from the planet Mercury? How long would their years be then?
SP: 365 days?
SB: Mercury orbits the Sun every 88 “earth-time” days making that one of its “years”.
SP: Mmm, are you’re saying the years around this far off planet with the blue moon had only 88 days in its year?
SP: Ahhhh! Spaceman Bob, how long is a year where you’re from?!
SB: 365.25 days, give or take.
SP: That’s an earth year! I meant from where you were out there, you know, once in a blue moon ago!
SB: Well, the blue moon orbited its planet every two of its planet’s days and that planet orbited its star, or sun, every three days, therefore I made six orbits around this moon every “planet” year for two of its years.
SP: Pardon me, my head is spinning. Okay, how long where you in orbit around that star?
SB: For two years, Miss Parker, weren’t you listening?
SP: I thought I was. Okay, so for two years of that moon’s planet you were whirling around without power.
SB: That’s right, but I need to say that the planet was spinning on its axis quite rapidly, so its days were much shorter than earth’s 24 hour days.
SP: Oh no, there’s more?
SB: Yes, to get a good understanding of just how long it took before I was able to correct the situation and get my spacecraft back on-line you must know the length this planet’s day. You did want to know how long I was adrift before the situation changed, didn’t you?
SP: Ah, yes, I think I did. Didn’t I?
SB: Yes, you did ask. This planet rotated on its axis every 45 minutes. So its “day” was much shorter than our earth day. Correct?
SP: Could you make a long story short?
SB: Well, you seemed a little confused about all this. Let me make it simpler for you earth-bound humans: I was adrift in space around the blue moon’s planet’s star for two of its years; yet if you measured it by your watch here on earth that would be around four and a half hours.
SP: How did you get back? Oh, look at the time! I’m sorry Galaxy radio listeners; Spaceman Bob will have to continue his two-year long spaceship repair story next week. Oh my, I forgot how long a week was. My head hurts, I need an aspirin.
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