Another close Asteroid, 2011 SM173

A recent discovered asteroid, 2011 SM173, about 17 meters size will be coming close to earth today 30 th September at 17:01 UTC . The distance that he will come close will be about 0.8 Lunar distances. No risk of impact exists, however if it came to that it would pose no treath to our world. It would desintigrate on entry .

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Wise Finds Fewer Asteroids Near Earth

NEOWISE observations
NEOWISE observations indicate that there are at least 40 percent fewer near-Earth asteroids in total that are larger than 330 feet, or 100 meters. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

New observations by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, show there are significantly fewer near-Earth asteroids in the mid-size range than previously thought. The findings also indicate NASA has found more than 90 percent of the largest near-Earth asteroids, meeting a goal agreed to with Congress in 1998.


China will send Women to Space

The first Chinese female astronaut (taikonaut) will go into space over the next two years, participating in the installation of the country's first space station, announced today the official press.

"Most likely, women astronauts will be involved in the procedures manual docking in experimental modules (space station)," said a Chinese expert on the subject of Tiangong -1, the first of these modules, which will be launched on Thursday .

A New Asteroid the 2011 SM68 on level 1 At Torino Scale! Update

The Torino Scale is a "Richter Scale" for categorizing the Earth impact hazard associated with newly discovered asteroids and comets. It is intended to serve as a communication tool for astronomers and the public to assess the seriousness of predictions of close encounters by asteroids and comets during the 21st century.

The Torino Scale utilizes numbers that range from 0 to 10, where 0 indicates an object has a zero or negligibly small chance of collision with the Earth. (Zero is also used to categorize any object that is too small to penetrate the Earth's atmosphere intact, in the event that a collision does occur.) A 10 indicates that a collision is certain, and the impacting object is so large that it is capable of precipitating a global climatic disaster.

Presently there are three asteroids with Level 1 on Torino Scale, the 130 meter Asteroid 2007 VK184 and 140 meter Asteroid 2011 AG5 . There are currently 4 potential Earth impacts for 2007 VK184 ,10 potential Earth impacts for 2011 AG5.

As usual the team at JPL expects to eliminate all of these potential impacts as they get more observations of these asteroids, in which case they will be then removed from the Risk page. This is what happened to the new 2011 SM68 it was level 1 last week coming down to zero after new observations. (updated 4 Oct 2011)

more information on 2011SM68


Exploring an Asteroid with the real Armaggedon Team

Earlier this month, European scientists linked up with astronauts roaming over the surface of an asteroid. Desert RATS, NASA’s realistic simulation of a future mission, this year included a European dimension for the first time.

One of two vehicles used in Desert RATS. In addition to the 'science backroom' at ESTEC, ESA had a robotic expert Frédéric Didot in Arizona and a mission control expert Paul Steele at NASA's Johnson Space Centre. Steele also acted as CapComm during the operations. Credits: ESA - F. Didot

A Sunspot visible without telescope

The sun on Sept. 24, 2011 as seen by SDO/HMI, zoomed in on active region 1302.
Sunspot 1302 has already produced two X-flares (X1.4 on Sept. 22nd and X1.9 on Sept. 24th). Each of the dark cores in this image from SDO is larger than Earth, and the entire active region stretches more than 100,000 km from end to end. The sunspot's magnetic field is currently crackling with sub-X-class flares that could grow into larger eruptions as the sunspot continues to turn toward Earth. Credit: NASA/SDO/HMI

Behemoth sunspot 1302 unleashed  strong flare on Saturday morning--an X1.9-category blast . NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash.

Since the X1.9-flare, active region (AR) 1302 has unleashed M8.6 and M7.4 flares on Sept. 24 and an M8.8 flare early on Sept. 25. None of the blasts have been squarely Earth-directed, but this could change as the sunspot turns toward our planet in the days ahead. AR1302 is growing and shows no immediate signs of quieting down.

Measuring more than 150,000 km from end to end, the sprawling active region is visible even without a solar telescope.

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source: Nasa


Asteroid 2011 SE58

Orbit Diagram for asteroid 2011 SE58. Credit : NASA/JPL

A recent discovered asteroid, 2011 SE58, about 13 meters size will be coming close to earth tomorrow 27 th September. The distance that he will come close will be about 0.6 Lunar distances. No risk of impact exists, however if it came to that it would pose no treath to our world. It would desintigrate on entry .


How You Can Find an ExoPlanet!

Since the online citizen science project Planet Hunters launched last December, 40,000 web users from around the world have been helping professional astronomers analyze the light from 150,000 stars in the hopes of discovering Earth-like planets orbiting around them.

"Planet Hunters" from around the globe have used real NASA data to identify two potential planets orbiting stars beyond our solar system. Credit: Michael Marsland, Yale University

Users analyze real scientific data collected by NASA's Kepler mission, which has been searching for planets beyond our own solar system - called exoplanets - since its launch in March 2009.


Sun very active, Six CMEs in 24 Hours

Well the solar minimum has come to past. The sun let loose with at least six coronal mass ejections (CMEs) - solar phenomena that can send solar particles into space and affect electronic systems in satellites -- on September 18, 2011 until September 19.
The ejections appear to come from points scattered over the surface of the sun. Two CME's dissipated quickly, but four continue to spread outward from the sun. NASA models suggest that the leading edge of one CME will pass by Earth at on Sep 21, at which point sky watchers should be on the lookout for auroras.


Origin of Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid Remains a Mystery

Observations from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission indicate the family of asteroids some believed was responsible for the demise of the dinosaurs is not likely the culprit, keeping open the case on one of Earth's greatest mysteries.

This artist's concept shows a broken-up asteroid.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.Click to enlarge.

While scientists are confident a large asteroid crashed into Earth approximately 65 million years ago, leading to the extinction of dinosaurs and some other life forms on our planet, they do not know exactly where the asteroid came from or how it made its way to Earth. A 2007 study using visible-light data from ground-based telescopes first suggested the remnant of a huge asteroid, known as Baptistina, as a possible suspect.

UARS falling

Credit: NASA

NASA reports that UARS, an atmospheric research satellite the size of a small bus, will re-enter Earth's atmosphere on Sept. 23rd plus or minus one day. The disintegration is expected to produce a fireball that could be visible even in broad daylight. Not all of the spacecraft will burn up in the atmosphere, however; according to a NASA risk assessment, as many as 26 potentially hazardous pieces of debris could be scattered along a ground track some 500 miles long. But where? No one can say. Because of the rapid evolution of UARS's decaying orbit, the location of the debris zone is not yet known.

The Secret of Solar Flares, some can be stronger than previously thought

One hundred and fifty two years ago, a man in England named Richard Carrington discovered solar flares.

Secret Lives (sunspots, 200px)
Sunspots sketched by R. Carrington on Sept. 1, 1859. © R. Astronomical Society.

It happened at 11:18 AM on the cloudless morning of Thursday, September 1st, 1859. Just as usual on every sunny day, the 33-year-old solar astronomer was busy in his private observatory, projecting an image of the sun onto a screen and sketching what he saw. On that particular morning, he traced the outlines of an enormous group of sunspots. Suddenly, before his eyes, two brilliant beads of white light appeared over the sunspots; they were so bright he could barely stand to look at the screen.


Going Where no Man has gone Before, NASA New Launch System

The Space Launch System and MPCV are designed to take astronauts to an asteroid, the moon and Mars, though no destinations have been settled on yet. Artist concept of future destinations. (NASA)

NASA will build a rocket larger and more powerful than even the massive Saturn V moon rockets under a plan unveiled Sept. 14 to take astronauts farther into space than ever before.

The Space Launch System, or SLS, will take astronauts into deep space on missions to asteroids, the moon or Mars.


One icy comet went in, none came out

 On Sept. 14th, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) watched what happened when one got too close. Click on the arrow to play a 6-hour time lapse movie:

One icy comet went in, none came out. Discovered on Sept. 13th by Michal Kusiak of Poland and Sergei Schmalz of Germany, the doomed comet was a member of the Kreutz family. Kreutz sungrazers are fragments from the breakup of a single giant comet many centuries ago. They get their name from 19th century German astronomer Heinrich Kreutz, who studied them in detail. Several Kreutz fragments pass by the sun and disintegrate every day. Most, measuring less than a few meters across, are too small to see, but occasionally a big fragment like this one attracts attention.

NASA's Kepler Discovery Confirms First Planet Orbiting Two Stars

This artist's concept illustrates Kepler-16b, the first planet known to definitively orbit two stars -- what's called a circumbinary planet. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

The existence of a world with a double sunset, as portrayed in the film Star Wars more than 30 years ago, is now scientific fact. NASA's Kepler mission has made the first unambiguous detection of a circumbinary planet -- a planet orbiting two stars -- 200 light-years from Earth.

Unlike Star Wars' Tatooine, the planet is cold, gaseous and not thought to harbor life, but its discovery demonstrates the diversity of planets in our galaxy. Previous research has hinted at the existence of circumbinary planets, but clear confirmation proved elusive. Kepler detected such a planet, known as Kepler-16b, by observing transits, where the brightness of a parent star dims from the planet crossing in front of it.


Astronomers Plan Last Look at Asteroid Before OSIRIS-REx Launch

Every six years, asteroid 1999 RQ 36 nears the Earth - by cosmic standards - and researchers are launching a global observation campaign to learn as much as possible in preparation for the OSIRIS-REx, the first U.S.-led mission to bring back a sample of pristine asteroid material.

OSIRIS-REx spacecraft scanning the asteroid
Set for launch in 2016, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will orbit asteroid 1999RQ36 for a year, mapping its surface and making detailed measurements. (Illustration: NASA/GSFC/UA)

Astronomers working on the U.S.' first asteroid-sample return mission – the NASA mission named OSIRIS-REx – have begun a months-long observing campaign that is the last chance to study their target asteroid from Earth before the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft launches in 2016.

OSIRIS-REx is a quest to bring back to Earth a good-sized sample of an asteroid unaltered since solar system formation – a sample that very well could contain molecules that seeded life.



Yesterday, Sept. 6th, the active region 1283 produced an M5.3-class eruption at 0150 UT followed by a X2.1-class event at 2220 UT. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded this extreme UV flash from the X-flare:

Click to see movie.

The flares produced waves of ionization in Earth's upper atmosphere, briefly altering the propagation of low-frequency radio signals around our planet. Moreover, the two eruptions hurled clouds of plasma (CMEs) in our general direction. A preliminary analysis of SOHO and STEREO imagery suggests that the CMEs could sail substantially north of Earth, delivering a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field as they pass. ETA: Sept. 8-10.

Sunspot 1283. Credit:SOHO

source: spaceweather


Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Captured the Sharpest Images from the Apollo Sites

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) captured the sharpest images ever taken from space of the Apollo 12, 14 and 17 landing sites. Images show the twists and turns of the paths made when the astronauts explored the lunar surface.

The twists and turns of the last tracks left by humans on the moon crisscross the surface in this LRO image of the Apollo 17 site. In the thin lunar soil, the trails made by astronauts on foot can be easily distinguished from the dual tracks left by the lunar roving vehicle, or LRV. Also seen in this image are the descent stage of the Challenger lunar module and the LRV, parked to the east. Credit:NASA/Goddard/ASU. Click on Image to enlarge.

At the Apollo 17 site, the tracks laid down by the lunar rover are clearly visible, along with the last foot trails left on the moon. The images also show where the astronauts placed some of the scientific instruments that provided the first insight into the moon's environment and interior.

M5.3 Solar Flare-CME directed to Earth

On September 5, 2011, the sun emitted an Earth-directed M5.3 class flare as measured by the GOES satellite. The flare erupted from a region of the sun that appears close to dead center from Earth's perspective, an active region designated number 1283. The flare caused a slight increase of solar energetic protons some 26,000 miles above Earth's surface.

A coronal mass ejection (CME) - another solar phenomenon that can send solar particles into space - was associated with this flare. The CME is a relatively slow one, traveling at under 200 miles per second.

Because of the sunspot's central location on the solar disk, the eruption was Earth-directed-but is a CME heading our way? Around the time of the explosion, a number of plasma clouds were already billowing away from the sun, adding an element of confusion to the analysis. Tentatively, we expect Earth's magnetic field to receive a glancing blow from a CME on Sept. 8th or 9th. Stay tuned for updates.


Microbe Risk When Rover Wheels Hit Martian Dirt

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission will use a new "sky crane" method to lower the SUV-sized rover onto the martian surface. This direct touchdown risks contaminating the Red Planet's surface with Earth microbes hitchhiking on the rover's wheels.

The Mars Science Laboratory will be winched down to the martian surface by a sky crane. Image Credit: NASA/JPL

Was Eberswalde Crater Once a Lake?

ESA's Mars Express has spotted a rare case of a crater once filled by a lake, revealed by the presence of a delta. The delta is an ancient fan-shaped deposit of dark sediments, laid down in water. It is a reminder of Mars' past, wetter climate.

The delta is in the Eberswalde crater, in the southern highlands of Mars. The 65 km-diameter crater is visible as a semi-circle on the right of the image and was formed more than 3.7 billion years ago when an asteroid hit the planet.

The rim of the crater is intact only on its right-hand side. The rest appears only faintly or is not visible at all. A later impact created the 140 km diameter Holden crater that dominates the centre and left side of the image. The expulsion of large amounts of material from that impact buried parts of Eberswalde.

Holden and Eberswalde craters. Image Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)


High-Tech Instruments to Search for Life on Mars

This artist concept features NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, a mobile robot for investigating Mars' past or present ability to sustain microbial life. Curiosity is being tested in preparation for launch in the fall of 2011. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Scientists are expressing confidence that questions about life on Mars, which have captured human imagination for centuries, finally may be answered, thanks in part to new life-detection tools up to 1,000 times more sensitive than previous instruments.

The End of a Comet

Comet Elenin on September 2nd

Comet Elenin has begun the irreversible process of breaking up. Now it is absolutely clear that the comet’s drop in brightness, first noted by Michael Mattiazzo on Aug. 20th, was not coincidental – the decay process had already begun, and over the course of the next several days the comet changed greatly.
Its pseudo-nucleus became diffuse and extended, and later vanished completely. On images from Sept. 1st in the comet’s coma there was no condensation visible, and that meant the comet had already broken up into fairly small pieces, with a maximum size of not more than a hundred meters.