09 Nov 2011

While not the closest encounter with an asteroid (See a previous article on this subject), Earth has still dodged another proverbial astronomical bullet when it comes to larger asteroid collision courses.  This was the closest encounter with an asteroid this large in 35 years, another close encounter with an object this size (that we know of at this time) will not occur again until 2028.  Scientist have said that if this particular object had struck the Earth it would have created a crater 4 miles wide and around 1700 feet deep.  The size of a crater created by such an impact depend on many factors such as angle of trajectory, density and composition and where they strike on the Earth.

Asteroid 2005 YU55 ended up coming within 201,700 miles (324,600 kilometers) of Earth, closer than originally predicted.  This occurred at 6:28pm EST (2328 GMT) Tuesday evening, then continued on its way at 29,000 mph (46,700 kph).  As noted in our previous article, this rock was about 1300 feet (400 meters) wide.   Check out the video clip after the break...

08 Nov 2011

JPLNews recently released a video showing a stitching of 309 images taken on Opportunity Rover's 13-mile trek on Mars.  It highlights the trek from Victoria crater to Endeavour crater.  Rover planners captured a "horizon photograph" at the end of each drive.

Video after the break

04 Nov 2011
Radar image of the asteroid 2005 YU55, taken in April by the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico 

Credit:  NASA/Cornell/Arecibo

An asteroid the size of an aircraft carrier will zip in between the Earth and the moon on Tuesday November 8th.  This asteroid is called 2005 YU55.  Scientists say it poses no threat the Earth but will be watched by many astronomers around the globe.  The size of the asteroid is around 1300 feet.  It is round and black as coal.

The closest passing will be at 6:28pm EST (2328 GMT) at 201,700 miles, keeping in mind the distance between the Earth and moon on average is about 238,854 miles.

It's the first time since 1976 an object this big has grazed the Earth at this distance.

Astronomers will utilize many telescopes to get us much data on the asteroid as possible, including spectroscopic measurements of the asteroid to measure its composition as well.

01 Nov 2011

While we still dont have tractor beams in the Star Trek sense, lasers have been used in lab tests with the ability to trap and move tiny particles. As a result NASA has budgeted $100,000 to test robotic space missions that could utilize these lasers to capture stardust.

NASA was originally thinking of this idea to find a way to solve the issue of space junk above the earth.

NASA scientist Paul Stysley, a laser engineer at Goddard in Greenbelt, MD had stated that "to pull something that huge would be almost impossible - at least now".

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