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NASA Interplanetary Probes To Take Pictures Of Earth


Two NASA spacecraft, one studying the Saturn system, the other observing Mercury, are maneuvering into place to take pictures of Earth on July 19 and 20.

The image taken from the Saturn system by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will occur between 2:27 and 2:42 PDT (5:27 and 5:42 p.m. EDT, or 21:27 and 21:47 UTC) Friday, July 19. Cassini will be nearly 900 million miles (nearly 1.5 billion kilometers) away from Earth. NASA is encouraging the public to look and wave in the direction of Saturn at the time of the portrait and share their pictures via the Internet.

The Cassini Earth portrait is part of a more extensive mosaic — or multi-image picture — of the Saturn system as it is backlit by the sun. The viewing geometry highlights the tiniest of ring particles and will allow scientists to see patterns within Saturn’s dusty rings. Processing of the Earth images is expected to take a few days, and processing of the full Saturn system mosaic will likely take several weeks.

Full Story and Links: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-225

Earth’s Gold Came From Colliding Dead Stars


Artist's conception. Credit: Dana Berry, SkyWorks Digital, Inc.

Artist’s conception. Credit: Dana Berry, SkyWorks Digital, Inc.

We value gold for many reasons: its beauty, its usefulness as jewelry, and its rarity. Gold is rare on Earth in part because it’s also rare in the universe. Unlike elements like carbon or iron, it cannot be created within a star. Instead, it must be born in a more cataclysmic event – like one that occurred last month known as a short gamma-ray burst (GRB). Observations of this GRB provide evidence that it resulted from the collision of two neutron stars – the dead cores of stars that previously exploded as supernovae. Moreover, a unique glow that persisted for days at the GRB location potentially signifies the creation of substantial amounts of heavy elements – including gold.

“We estimate that the amount of gold produced and ejected during the merger of the two neutron stars may be as large as 10 moon masses – quite a lot of bling!” says lead author Edo Berger of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

Full Story: http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/news/2013/pr201319.html

NASA Hosts News And Social Media Events Around This Week’s Asteroid Pass


NASA is inviting members of the media and public to participate in online and television events May 30-31 with NASA officials and experts discussing the agency’s asteroid initiative and the Earth flyby of the 1.7-mile-long asteroid 1998 QE2.

At 4:59 p.m. EDT, Friday, May 31, 1998 QE2 will pass by Earth at a safe distance of about 3.6 million miles — its closest approach for at least the next two centuries. The asteroid was discovered Aug. 19, 1998, by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research Program near Socorro, N.M.

Full Story, Times and Links: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2013/may/HQ_M13-086_QE2_Asteriod_Events.html

Moon And Earth Have Common Water Source


Water inside the Moon’s mantle came from primitive meteorites, new research finds, the same source thought to have supplied most of the water on Earth. The findings raise new questions about the process that formed the Moon.

The Moon is thought to have formed from a disc of debris left when a giant object hit the Earth 4.5 billion years ago, very early in Earth’s history. Scientists have long assumed that the heat from an impact of that size would cause hydrogen and other volatile elements to boil off into space, meaning the Moon must have started off completely dry. But recently, NASA spacecraft and new research on samples from the Apollo missions have shown that the Moon actually has water, both on its surface and beneath.

By showing that water on the Moon and on Earth came from the same source, this new study offers yet more evidence that the Moon’s water has been there all along.

“The simplest explanation for what we found is that there was water on the proto-Earth at the time of the giant impact,” said Alberto Saal, associate professor of Geological Sciences at Brown University and the study’s lead author. “Some of that water survived the impact, and that’s what we see in the Moon.”

Full Story: http://news.brown.edu/pressreleases/2013/05/moonwater
Also: http://carnegiescience.edu/news/where_earth_did_moon%E2%80%99s_water_come

Southampton Scientist Investigates Russian Meteor


Dr Hugh Lewis, Lecturer in Aerospace Engineering, has analysed the recent extraordinary Russian meteor event using the “NEOImpactor” tool, which was developed by researchers from the University and designed to investigate the risks faced by the Earth from asteroid impacts.

On the morning of Friday 15 February, an asteroid estimated to be the size of a five-storey building entered the atmosphere over the Urals region of Russia and disintegrated. It generated a blastwave that blew out windows and damaged buildings in the city of Chelyabinsk, injuring more than 1000 people. Just a few hours later, the world witnessed the 40 metre asteroid 2012 DA14 pass between the Earth and the ring of geostationary satellites; the closest approach of an object this size for a century.

Dr Lewis explained the significance of the event: “This is the first time that we’ve seen injuries resulting from a collision between the Earth and an asteroid. I think that what surprised most people was the scale of the damage from a relatively small object and the fact that we didn’t have any warning.”

Full Story: http://www.southampton.ac.uk/mediacentre/features/hugh_lewis_russian_meteor.shtml

Iowa State Engineers Developing Ideas, Technologies To Save The Earth From Asteroids


You want to protect the Earth from asteroids? Where were you when the dinosaurs needed you? You want to be like Bruce Willis in that asteroid movie?

Wie has a serious reply: After five years of science and engineering work, Wie and his small team have a publication list of 40-plus technical papers, $600,000 of NASA research support and a proposal for a $500 million test launch of an asteroid intercept system. Plus, Wie has just been invited to show off his research as part of NASA’s Technology Day on the Hill in Washington, D.C., on April 17.

“It’s not a laughing matter,” said Wie, the director of the Asteroid Deflection Research Center at Iowa State University and the Vance D. Coffman Faculty Chair and professor of aerospace engineering.

Recent events have certainly highlighted the threat of asteroid strikes. There was the 15-meter (49-foot) meteor that exploded an estimated 12 miles over Chelyabinsk, Russia, on Feb. 15, damaging buildings and injuring more than 1,000 people. That same day, the 45-meter (148-foot) asteroid 2012 DA14 passed within 17,200 miles of Earth.

Full Story: http://www.news.iastate.edu/news/2013/03/06/asteroiddeflection

Slooh Space Camera To Track Newly Discovered Near-Earth Object 2013 ET Zooming By Earth At Only 2.5 Lunar Distances Away


Discovered on March 3, 2013, by the Catalina Sky Survey, NEO (near-Earth object) 2013 ET, an asteroid the size of a city block, will make its closest approach to Earth on Saturday, March 9th, less than 7 days after it was discovered. Slooh Space Camera will cover its closest approach on Saturday, live on Slooh.com, free to the public, starting at 12:15 p.m. PST / 3:15 p.m. EST / 20:15 UTC — International times at http://goo.gl/kQJuL — accompanied by real-time discussions with Slooh president Patrick Paolucci, Slooh engineer Paul Cox, and documentary filmmaker Duncan Copp. Viewers can watch live on their PC/MAC or iOS/Android mobile device.

The asteroid is estimated to be approximately 64-140 meters (210-460 feet) wide and will pass 2.5 times the Moon’s distance from our planet. At its maximum brightness on March 9th, NEO 2013 ET will be at a relatively dim magnitude of 17 — not bright enough to view through a backyard telescope, but should be reasonably bright through Slooh telescopes in the Canary Islands, off the coast of west Africa.

Full Story (on downloaded PDF): http://goo.gl/4rwnv
Video Of Asteroid: http://youtu.be/cxUabVxRN-g

Third Radiation Belt Discovered With UNH-led Instrument Suite


On Aug. 31, 2012, a giant prominence on the sun erupted. Credit: NASA/SDO/AIA/Goddard Space Flight Center

On Aug. 31, 2012, a giant prominence on the sun erupted. Credit: NASA/SDO/AIA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Although scientists involved in NASA’s Van Allen Probes mission were confident they would eventually be able to rewrite the textbook on Earth’s twin radiation belts, getting material for the new edition just two days after launch was surprising, momentous, and gratifying.

The Radiation Belt Storm Probes mission, subsequently renamed in honor of the belts’ discoverer, astrophysicist James Van Allen, was launched in the pre-dawn hours of August 30, 2012. Shortly thereafter, and well ahead of schedule in normal operational protocol, mission scientists turned on the Relativistic Electron-Proton Telescope (REPT) to gather data in parallel with another, aging satellite that was poised to fall from orbit and reenter Earth’s atmosphere. It was a fortuitous decision.

The telescope, which is part of the Energetic Particle, Composition, and Thermal Plasma (ECT) instrument suite led by the Space Science Center at the University of New Hampshire, immediately sent back data that at first confounded scientists but then provided a eureka moment: seen for the first time was a transient third radiation belt of high-energy particles formed in the wake of a powerful solar event that happened shortly after REPT began taking data.

Full Story: http://www.eos.sr.unh.edu/news/indiv_news.shtml?NEWS_ID=1373
Also: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2013/feb/HQ_13-065_Van_Allen_Probes_Belts.html
Also: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/rbsp/news/third-belt.html

Rough Guide To Super-TIGER Watching: How To Participate Vicariously In A Cosmic-Ray Experiment

December 3, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s Dec. 3 and a scattering of people in St. Louis, Mo., Pasadena, Calif., and Greenbelt, Md., are getting antsy, clicking repeatedly on http://www.csbf.nasa.gov/antarctica/ice.htm to see whether anything is up yet. Like a balloon, for example.

They’re waiting for a two-ton balloon-borne cosmic-ray experiment called Super-TIGER to be launched into the high-altitude polar vortex over Antarctica.

The experiment, which the scientists hope will confirm that cosmic rays are created in loosely organized groups of hot, massive stars called OB associations, is a collaboration of Washington University in St. Louis, the California Institute of Technology and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The team also includes people from the University of Minnesota and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Full Story: https://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/24652.aspx
Also: http://supertigerldb.blogspot.com/
Track Flight: http://www.csbf.nasa.gov/map/pathfinder/p1/dec2012/balloon1.htm

New Radio Telescope Could Save World Billions

December 2, 2012 Leave a comment

A small pocket of Western Australia’s remote outback is set to become the eye on the sky and could potentially save the world billions of dollars. The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope, unveiled today, Friday 30 November, will give the world a dramatically improved view of the Sun and provide early warning to prevent damage to communication satellites, electric power grids and GPS navigation systems.

The $51 million low-frequency radio telescope will be able to detect and monitor massive solar storms, such as the one that cut power to six million people in Canada in 1989 during the last peak in solar activity. In 2011, experts warned that a major solar storm could result in damage to integral power supplies and communication networks of up to US$2 trillion – the equivalent of a global Hurricane Katrina.

The MWA will aim to identify the trajectory of solar storms, quadrupling the warning period currently provided by near-Earth satellites. This is timely as the Sun is due to re-enter peak activity in 2013, with a dramatic increase in the number and severity of solar storms expected, with the potential to disrupt global communications and ground commercial airlines.

Full Story: http://www.icrar.org/news/news_items/new-radio-telescope-could-save-world-billions

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