Friday, June 14, 2019

🚀 Asteroid Impact in September? Only 1 in 7000 Chance, Milky Way's Twin, a Year Since Opportunity Died, and More...



Don't Worry About Asteroid 2006QV89. There's Only a 1 in 7000 Chance It'll Hit the Earth in September

Have you heard the news that a killer asteroid is going to hit the Earth in September? Well, don't panic... much. Astronomers are currently predicting that there's only a 1 in 7,000 chance that asteroid 2006QV89 will strike the Earth. 

The asteroid measures 40 meters x 109 meters, so it's a sizable spacerock. Bigger than the house-sized asteroid that exploded over Cheylabinsk in 2013. But not a lot bigger, so if it did smash into the Earth, it would cause limited damage.

In fact, astronomers are tracking at least 850 other asteroids on the risk list. They're buzzing by the Earth on a regular basis. And now that we have the capabilities to track many of them, we're learning just how much of a cosmic shooting gallery we're in.

Learning to intercept and move asteroids onto new trajectories should be a priority. One day, we'll tame all the asteroids out there in the Solar System, and this'll be one existential threat that we don't have to worry about any more.


Fraser Cain
Universe Today

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Open Space 40: To The Moon By 2024? And More...

In this week's live QA episode, I tackled questions about the reality of returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, the loss of dark skies, will we ever be able to shop for our own personal spacecraft, and more.

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A weekly round-up of all the breaking space news. Rocket launches, new discoveries from Hubble, and planetary science by three PhD astronomers... and me.

Supermassive black hole

There's a Ring of Cool Gas Wrapped Around the Milky Way's Supermassive Black Hole

The center of the Milky Way is a busy place, and it's dominated by the supermassive black hole Sag A* with 4.1 million times the mass of the Sun. Astronomers have discovered that there's a large ring of relatively cool gas surrounding the black hole. (Cool is relative, it's only 10,000 degrees Celsius and not the millions of degrees in black hole accretion disks).

Space Rider

Europe is Working On a Reusable Space Transport System: Space Rider

As part of its fleet of space vehicles, the European Space Agency is working on their own spacecraft capable of re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. It's called "Space Rider", and it looks like a mini-space shuttle. ESA is hoping the first one will launch in 2022 atop its Vega-C rocket, and will be able to carry 800 kg of payload in its service bay.


NASA Will Allow Private Astronauts Able to Pay up to $22,500 a Day

According to NASA, the International Space Station is open for business. If you've got a science project you want to test in space, or you just want to get away from it all, literally, you can now book time on the International Space Station. For a bare bones plan, you can pay $11,250 a day, and if you want all the services like food, air, water, internet, etc, it'll run you $22,500 a day. Of course you have to be able to pay to get there too, that'll cost millions.

Barred Spiral galaxy

Perfect Example of a Barred Spiral Galaxy, Seen Face On. This is What Our Milky Way Might Look Like

It's like looking into a mirror. This is an image of galaxy NGC 7773 taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. It shows beautiful spiral arms with a bright barred core. This is a galactic structure that astronomers think matches our own Milky Way. Of course, it's hard to know since we're located inside it.


It's Been Exactly One Year Since Opportunity Sent This Final Message Home – on its 5,111th Martian Day

Ready to feel a little sad? I regret to inform you that this week marks exactly one year since NASA's Opportunity Rover was taken offline by a planet-wide dust storm on Mars. And this was the last photograph the rover ever sent home. The bottom of the image is black because that's exactly when it ran out of power trying to send its data home. Thanks for all your service Opportunity.



1.2 Billion Years Ago, a 1-km Asteroid Smashed into Scotland

Ouch, this must have hurt. Over a billion years ago, Scotland was ground zero to the largest asteroid impact that ever hit the United Kingdom. A kilometer-sized spacerock dug into a region off the Western coast of Scotland, excavating out an enormous amount of material. It impacted an ancient rift valley that filled up with sediment, preserving it nicely.  

Not a hole

No, This Is Not A Hole In The Universe

Have you seen this meme going around the internet? A dark void that emits no radiation of any kind? Well, this picture isn't it. And there's actually no such thing. There are cosmic voids out there, and they're absolutely fascinating. Ethan Siegel explains.

Saturn's system

Mimas Pushes Through Saturn's Rings Like a Snowplow

Mimas is the smallest of Saturn's big icy moons, but it does have a big impact on Saturn's rings. One of the most obvious features in the rings is the Cassini Division, a gap carved out by the inward migration of Mimas. The moon acts like a snowplow, pushing the rings aside, and clearing out a gap that's now 4,800 km wide.


Apollo 10's "Snoopy" Lunar Lander May Have Been Found in Space

During the Apollo 10 mission, astronauts flew to really close to the Moon, as a practice run for future missions. They ejected their lunar lander, "Snoopy" into space and then returned home. After an exhaustive search, astronomers think they've located the lander flying through space. 


Ceres is a Strange Place, Including a Volcanic Peak 4,000 Meters High Made From Bubbling Salt Water, Mud and Rock

NASA's Dawn spacecraft recently wrapped up its mission at asteroid Ceres, turning up a number of fascinating discoveries at the dwarf planet. One of these is the fact that there's a mountain towering 4,000 meters high. It looks like it's a volcano that was formed when a bubble of mud, salt water and rock rose up from inside Ceres and erupted onto the surface. 


This is What the Ground Looked Like After InSight Landed on Mars

Have you ever wondered what it looks like after a spacecraft lands on the surface of another world? NASA had its InSight spacecraft take a picture of the ground right under it. You can see the pits in the ground where its retrothrusters fired, allowing it to make a gentle landing. 

Lunar south pole

That Explains a Lot. The Moon's Largest Crater has a Chunk of Metal Embedded in it That's 5 Times Bigger than the Big Island of Hawaii

The largest crater in the Solar System is located at the Moon's south pole, and now astronomers have another clue why it's such an enormous crater. They found a concentration of mass in the region, which looks like it's the remnant of a giant metal asteroid - or maybe the metal core of a planetoid - just below the surface.

Other Interesting Space Stuff

Amazing Astrophotography on @universetoday

The best time to observe the Moon is when it's half way between New and Full. That's when you get longer shadows on the craters, and you can really see the details on its surface. Like this picture by @zandi_photography.

We have featured over 1,000 astrophotographers on our Instagram page, which has more than 174,000 followers. Want to do a takeover? Use the hashtag #universetoday and I'll check out your photos.


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