Friday, July 19, 2019

🚀 Crew Dragon Explosion Explained, Amazon's Version of Starlink, First Exomoon Seen Forming, Making Mars Habitable, and More...



Asteroid 2006 QV89 Now Has a 0% Chance of Hitting Earth in September

Hi, Vasiliy.

Remember a few months ago when I said that there was an asteroid with a 1 in 7000ish chance of hitting the Earth in September? Well, astronomers have made a lot more observations of Asteroid 2006 QV89 and determined that the chance is now 0%. The asteroid will come close but definitely miss us.

I wanted to put this story up at the top just to help remind you that this is how it always goes. Astronomers discover a new asteroid, and with rudimentary observations calculate that maybe, possibly, it could, in the right circumstances, have an outside chance of hitting Earth. And then, every astronomer on Earth points their telescope at the space rock, observe it, and rule out any chance it's going to hit Earth.

And that's the way it's always going to be, until they find one that's actually got our name on it.

So when you hear that an asteroid is going to hit Earth in the future, be skeptical. Wait for better observations to turn that chance down to zero.

Trust me, I'll let you know when it's time to panic. 


Fraser Cain
Universe Today

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Catching The Next Interstellar Asteroid Or Comet. ESA's Comet Interceptor Mission


On October 19th, 2017 astronomers detected the first interstellar asteroid (or maybe comet) passing through the Solar System: Oumuamua. It had a brief encounter with the inner Solar System and then hurtled back out into interstellar space. 

Once astronomers noticed it, they directed the world's telescopes on the object, but it was too far away to reveal anything more than a faint dot. 

Until now, we've only been able to study objects in our own Solar System. We have no idea what the rest of the Milky Way is like.

But we were too late to catch it, no spacecraft was ready to make a quick intercept.

Well, scientists aren't going to make that mistake again. The European Space Agency announced their plans to build a comet interceptor. A spacecraft that will lurk out at the Earth-Sun L2 Lagrange point, waiting for a long-period comet or interstellar object to pounce on, and give us the first close up view ever.

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Move Over SpaceX. Amazon Wants To Launch Thousands of Internet Satellites Too

We've talked about SpaceX's plans to build the Starlink constellation of internet satellites. Well, SpaceX isn't the only rocket game in town. Now we've learned that Amazon, which is run by Jeff Bezos, is also planning to launch a constellation of satellites. That's because Bezos also owns a rocket company, Blue Origin. The skies are going to be a busy place.


Researchers May Have Found the Missing Piece of Evidence that Explains the Origins of Life

The Theory of Evolution explains how life changes over time, but we still don't know where the first life came from. How did non-life turn into life? Scientists think they have found a clue with a new experiment they've done that allows them to form peptides in the kind of conditions found in the early Earth. Peptides are chains of amino acids, and the building blocks of proteins.


How Habitable is Titan?

Titan is one of the most fascinating places in the entire Solar System, with its thick atmosphere filled with organic molecules. It's great that NASA is planning to send a mission back to this world to study it more carefully. Could Titan be a world like Earth, and have life, or are the conditions just too extreme there for life as we know it to survive? What about life as we don't know it?

Black hole

Hubble Spots "Impossible" Debris Disk Around a Black Hole

The Hubble Space Telescope has imaged a debris disk around a black hole located about 130 million light-years from Earth. But here's the thing, that debris disk shouldn't exist. It's a supermassive black hole, but on the lower mass end, in a small galaxy that shouldn't have enough material to feed a black hole like this. But then, when did the Universe ever play by the rules we understand?

Ball bouncing

No, The Laws Of Physics Are Not The Same Forwards And Backwards In Time

We experience time moving forwards, second by second, day by day. And the laws of physics are, the laws of physics. But if we ran time backwards, would the laws of physics still behave the same way, just uh, backwards? Read this great article from Ethan Siegel about how time and the laws of physics aren't symmetrical. You need to make a few more changes until you have full symmetry.



A Disk of Debris is Forming Moons Around an Exoplanet. A Proto-Lunar Disk?

Look carefully at this picture. You're seeing a newly forming planet in the disk around an exoplanet. But even more amazingly, astronomers think they've found an exomoon going around the baby planet. Wow! It just shows the tremendous power ground-based telescopes have these days, 


There's A Fire in Greenland… Again. It's 10 Degrees Hotter Than Normal

We've had a wet summer here on Vancouver Island, which means less fires than usual. Other places aren't so lucky. One surprising place with fires is Greenland, which is suffering from temperatures which are 10 degrees C hotter than normal. It's believed to have been caused by a hiker walking along the Arctic trail in Greenland.

Asteroid Ryugu

Hayabusa 2 is the First Spacecraft to Sample the Inside of an Asteroid

JAXA's Hayabusa 2 spacecraft has been a tremendous success, studying asteroid Ryugu with its instruments, deploying multiple landers, and even shooting an antitank weapon at it. Now Hayabusa 2 has done a Solar System first, sampling the material from inside the asteroid where it smashed its impactor. The spacecraft will now be bringing this sample back home for scientists to study.


NASA is Building Robots That Can Climb Rock and Ice Cliffs

The surfaces of other worlds in the Solar System won't have roads, and the robots we send will need to be able to cross all kinds of different terrain. NASA is working on a series of robots with the ability to scale cliffs made of rock or ice, to hunt for the perfect sample. 


Pictures from Curiosity Show the Bottom of an Ancient Lake on Mars, the Perfect Place to Search for Evidence of Past Life

NASA's Curiosity Rover is continuing to crawl around Gale Crater, building the evidence that there was water on Mars for a long period of time. And now it's found a compelling region which looks like it was the bottom of an ancient like on the surface of the Red Planet. This is exactly the place you'd want to search for life.

Crew Dragon

Crew Dragon Exploded Back in April Because of a Nitrogen Tetroxide Leak

Back in April a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule exploded during a test, completely destroying it. We didn't know what happened, but now SpaceX has released a detailed statement about the event. Apparently, it was caused by a nitrogen tetroxide leak that occurred just before the test. 



Blankets of Silica Aerogel Could Make Parts of Mars Habitable

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Mars is terrible. But scientists think it might be possible make parts of Mars suck... less. A material called silica aerogel could be used on Mars to make regions of the planet more habitable. A thick layer could allow sunlight to penetrate, but trap the heat like a greenhouse, allowing enough sunlight for photosynthesis and permanently melt the area that it covers.

Other Interesting Space Stuff

Amazing Astrophotography on @universetoday


Summertime in the Northern hemisphere is a great opportunity to see these beautiful noctilucent clouds, visible around the summer solstice. This image taken by @benobiwahn shows what you can see if you get the timing, location and weather conditions just right. 

We have featured over 1,000 astrophotographers on our Instagram page, which has more than 180,000 followers. Want to do a takeover? Use the hashtag #universetoday and I'll check out your photos.

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