Comet Sliding Spring will pass very close to Mars when it approaches the planet in October 2014. It will produce a shower of particles as it flies by the planet could threaten orbiting spacecraft. There is a tiny chance that it could hit Mars.
“NASA is developing an Asteroid Redirect Mission — a first-ever mission to identify, capture and redirect an asteroid to a safe orbit of Earth’s moon for future exploration by astronauts in the 2020s.”
“Scientists using ground based observatories have discovered an object that is believed to have the most distant orbit found beyond the known edge of our solar system. Named 2012 VP113, the object is possibly a dwarf planet. [...] A dwarf planet is an object in orbit around the sun that is large enough to have its own gravity pull itself into a spherical, or nearly round, shape.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
“Observations at many sites in South America, including ESO’s La Silla Observatory, have made the surprise discovery that the remote asteroid Chariklo is surrounded by two dense and narrow rings.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
“As a group, volunteer counters who examined a particular patch of lunar real estate using NASA images did just as well in identifying individual craters as professional crater counters with five to 50 years of experience.”
“Astronomers exploring the disk of gas and dust around a nearby star have uncovered a compact cloud of poisonous gas formed by ongoing rapid-fire collisions among a swarm of icy, comet-like bodies. The researchers suggest the comet swarm is either the remnant of a crash between two icy worlds the size of Mars or frozen debris trapped and concentrated by the gravity of an as-yet-unseen planet.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
The impact of a large object onto the lunar surface in September, 2013 produced a flash and an afterglow that was bright enough to have been seen from Earth with the unaided eye for about eight seconds. The flash was the result of the tremendous impact speed generating enough heat to melt the target and impactor
“Space rocks hitting Mars excavate fresh craters at a pace of more than 200 per year, but few new Mars scars pack as much visual punch as one seen in a NASA image released today.” Quoted from the NASA press release (February 5, 2014).
“Three NASA science instruments are being prepared for check-out operations aboard the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft, which is set to become the first to orbit a comet and land a probe on its nucleus in November.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
While preparing to start robotic arm work on the target “Cape Elizabeth” on Sol 3541 (Jan. 8, 2014), Opportunity encountered a slight surprise — a rock had appeared in the images that had not been there before. This target that has been named “Pinnacle Island” and its origin has been the target of much speculation.
The Quadrantid meteor shower is expected to peak on Friday afternoon in the United States, but people in other parts of the world might see 60 to 120 meteors per hour. People in the United States might see a few meteors before sunrise and after sunset.
“A new analysis of data from NASA’s Galileo mission has revealed clay-type minerals at the surface of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa that appear to have been delivered by a spectacular collision with an asteroid or comet. This is the first time such minerals have been detected on Europa’s surface. The types of space rocks that deliver such minerals typically also often carry organic materials.”
“I do think that something emerged from the sun, but probably a very small nucleus or ‘rubble pile.’ and I fear that may have now dissolved.” Karl Battams, an astrophysicist at the Naval Research Laboratory.
“An analysis of one of the 70-odd Martian meteorites discovered so far, a chunk of rock found several years ago by Bedouins in the Sahara Desert, has revealed the first known fragments of zircon from the red planet.” Quoted from The Australian press release.
“This colorized map from NASA’s Dawn mission shows the types of rocks and minerals distributed around the surface of the giant asteroid Vesta. In this color scheme, red shows diogenite, a type of mineral thought to be formed through magmatic processes deep in the crust. Green shows howardite, a type of surface rock that is made of broken bits of different materials that are excavated, ejected and mixed by meteor impacts…..” Partial quote from the NASA image description.
“This NASA Hubble Space Telescope set of images reveals a never-before-seen set of six comet-like tails radiating from a body in the asteroid belt, designated P/2013 P5.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
NASA has a short article that describes the Chelyabinsk Meteoroid Event. Two interesting paragraphs from their article….
Jenniskens and Popova calculated the impact speed of the meteor at 42,500 mph. As the meteor penetrated through the atmosphere, it efficiently fragmented into pieces, peaking at 19 miles above the surface. At that point the light of the meteor appeared brighter than the sun, even for people 62 miles away.
Due to the extreme heat, many of the pieces of the debris vaporized before falling out of the orange glowing debris cloud. Scientists believe that between 9,000 to 13,000 pounds of meteorites fell to the ground. This included one fragment approximately 1,400 pound recovered from Lake Chebarkul on October 16, 2013, by professional divers guided by Ural Federal University researchers.
“The first ever evidence of a comet entering Earth’s atmosphere and exploding, raining down a shock wave of fire which obliterated every life form in its path, has been discovered by a team of South African scientists and international collaborators.” Quoted from the University of Witwatersrand press release.
In 2011 and 2012, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft orbited the giant asteroid Vesta. This was an opportunity for researchers to get close-up observations to compare with the information they obtained from ground and satellite observations. They now have an article titled: “Dawn Reality-Checks Telescope Studies of Asteroids“.
“The WISE spacecraft that discovered and characterized tens of thousands of asteroids throughout the solar system before being placed in hibernation will return to service for three more years starting in September, assisting the agency in its effort to identify the population of potentially hazardous near-Earth objects.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
Some of the gold medals awarded at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics will contain pieces of the meteorite that fell over Russia on February 15, 2013. Only gold medals awarded on the one-year anniversary of the fall will contain a piece of the meteorite.
NASA’s GRAIL mission has solved one of the mysteries of the Moon. “Why is the Moon’s gravity is uneven?… It appears that asteroid impacts have created patches of very high density rock in the subsurface.
Earth’s May 31 “close call” with a 1.7 mile-wide asteroid has radio astronomers excited. Fortunately it is going to miss Earth by over 3 million miles.
“Whenever an asteroid approaches this closely, it provides an important scientific opportunity to study it in detail to understand its size, shape, rotation, surface features, and what they can tell us about its origin. We will also use new radar measurements of the asteroid’s distance and velocity to improve our calculation of its orbit and compute its motion farther into the future than we could otherwise.”
“For the past 8 years, NASA astronomers have been monitoring the Moon for signs of explosions caused by meteoroids hitting the lunar surface. [...] They’ve just seen the biggest explosion in the history of the program.”
“Comet ISON is potentially the “comet of the century” because around the time the comet makes its closest approach to the Sun, on November 28, it may briefly become brighter than the full Moon.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
“NASA’s FY2014 budget proposal includes a plan to robotically capture a small near-Earth asteroid and redirect it safely to a stable lunar orbit where astronauts can visit and explore it. The proposed mission would combine the efforts of three NASA mission directorates: Human Exploration and Operations, Science and Space Technology.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
“The mission to find, capture and redirect an asteroid robotically, and then visit it with astronauts to study it and return samples takes advantage of expertise across all of NASA in an integrated approach to exploration.” Quoted from the NASA budget request announcement.
“Recent airborne geophysical surveys near Decorah, Iowa are providing an unprecedented look at a 470- million-year-old meteorite crater concealed beneath bedrock and sediments. [...] The extent of the shale, which was deposited after the impact by an ancient seaway, defines a “nice circular basin” of 5.5 km width.” Quoted from the University of Iowa press release.
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