It really is. I mean, nevermind that it comprises over 99% of all the mass in our solar system, that it supplies our planet with the energy needed to sustain life on its surface, that its constantly-blowing solar wind helps keep some of those nasty cosmic particles out of the planetary neighborhood, and that it makes a bright sunshiny day even possible (but remember to wear sunscreen!)… in addition to all that, it’s also just really, really cool.
Watch the video above and you’ll see what I mean.
Something like this:
This video was made from 72 radar observations made on the night of Feb. 15/16, 2013, by NASA scientists using the 230-foot (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, CA. The target object, a ~40-meter wide asteroid named 2012 DA14, passed within 17,200 miles (27,680 km) of Earth — coming several thousand miles closer than many communication satellites.
It was the closest observed pass of an object of its size.
These images are preliminary observations and thus are still rough, but we do get an idea of the shape of the now-famous DA14… basically an angular, elongated ovoid shape with some radar-bright bumps. A space yam, if you will.
The tubers are out there.
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Holy Tunguska flashback*! Early this morning a meteor entered the atmosphere above the Chelyabinsk region of Russia, disintegrating at altitude of
50-60 km (18-32 miles) 14-20 km (12-15 miles) and creating an explosion and shockwave that shattered glass and blew in doors across the area, injuring hundreds. The space rock is estimated to have weighed about 10 7,000 metric tons.
The meteor has been captured in many amateur videos that were quickly uploaded to YouTube — watch below and see more here.
Find out more about this event on Universe Today here.
*The 1908 Tunguska event was vastly more powerful than this. But still… rocks from space!
All eyes have been on the incoming near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 over the past few weeks, with many speculations of if — and what if — the 50-meter-wide space rock poses any danger to us here on Earth. True, it will come well within the orbit of the Moon, even passing by closer than geosynchronous communication satellites. But it will still remain a very safe 17,500 miles (28,160 km) away (give or take a few hundred miles) and isn’t expected to change its course anytime soon. Even the satellites should all be fine — there’s an awful lot of room out there!
The video above, released by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, features asteroid specialist Don Yeomans who explains what’s going to happen on Friday and why there’s no need to worry.
Still, it’s another example of how we are constantly having our personal space violated by objects from elsewhere in the solar system, and why we need to make sure we invest in methods to identify, monitor, and, eventually, deflect any potentially hazardous incoming bodies. DA14 may not be the biggest asteroid to come our way recently, but it’s one of the closest (and for an idea of just how big it is, click below:)
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So what happened this morning? Oh not much… just watched CAPTAIN KIRK TALK WITH AN ASTRONAUT IN ORBIT, THAT’S ALL!
Yes, it’s true. Today, Feb. 7, William Shatner called in to the Space Station as it flew 240 miles over the southern Atlantic Ocean and chatted for a bit with Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who graciously answered Bill’s questions on being an astronaut and the challenges of space flight. A recording of the event is above — check it out! After all, busy starship captains and space station commanders don’t get together very often.
Water, methane, organic compounds, Twinkies, Amelia Earhart’s plane… there’s just so many cool things for Curiosity to find on Mars!
This little production by Seattle-based Cinesaurus may be a parody of “Dumb Ways to Die” but there’s certainly nothing dumb about the exciting things that Curiosity’s already found in its brief time in Gale Crater… and there’s undoubtedly lots more to come. So enjoy the video, let your own imagination roam — er, rove — and keep an eye out for facehuggers. They’re tricky!
(If only Curiosity really could save Spirit!!)
Today, tens of thousands of people are gathering in northeastern Australia to witness one of the most amazing and dramatic astronomical events known: a total solar eclipse. At 2:39 p.m. EDT (19:39 UT) the Moon will begin to pass in front of the Sun for viewers around Cairns, Australia, leading up to a brief period of totality at 5:12 p.m. EDT (22:12 UT). At this time, the Sun will be completely blocked by the disk of the Moon, revealing the wispy strands of the Sun’s outer corona. It will be a spectacular view that’s possible at no other time, and will give scientists a chance to study some curious aspectsof the Sun’s atmosphere.
“On a scale of one to ten, a total solar eclipse is a MILLION.” – Fred Espenak, aka “Mr. Eclipse“