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50 Years Ago

Science Past from the issue of November 5, 1960

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“BUMPERS” FOR SPACE SHIPS — Sound-proofed “meteor bumpers” for space ships are needed to provide important psychological and physical protection for astronauts traveling through fast moving concentrations of space dust as they leave the earth, Dr. Fred L. Whipple, director, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and a professor of astronomy at Harvard University, reported. The sound of the tiny “cosmic puff balls” as they hit the space vehicles may give the occupying astronaut “the sense of being under military siege,” he warned scientists attending the symposium.… The concentration of space dust close to the earth is 100 to 10,000 times as high as that encountered some 80,000 miles in space.

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