Saturday, June 15, 2013

Another asteroid buzzing Earth and more space and astronomy news

Just over a week after an asteroid passed by Earth, another one came even closer. has the story in Garbage Truck-Sized Asteroid To Give Earth Close Buzz | Video.

Asteroid 2013 LR6 -- a small chuck of cosmic trash -- makes its closest approach on June 8th, 2013, coming with 68,350 miles (110,000 km) of Earth.
Follow over the jump for more of last week's space and astronomy news.

NASA Television: Space Weather Enterprise Forum on This Week @NASA

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden delivered the keynote address for this year's Space Weather Enterprise Forum at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Auditorium and Science Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. The annual forum includes researchers, policymakers and forecasters discussing space weather and how to mitigate its effects on communications, navigation and national security. Space weather involves conditions and events on the sun and in near-Earth space that can affect critical systems, such as electric power grids and communications and navigation systems. Also, Upcoming Solar Mission Briefed, Orion Update, New Adapter for Engine Test , Opportunity on The Move, Astronomical Announcements, "Einstein" Launched to ISS, Imagine and Build and more! See Asteroids And A Trio Of Planets Through Your Telescope In June | Video

Look for Mercury, Venus and Jupiter in close proximity in early June, a rare meteor shower in mid June, and near earth asteroids throughout the month.
DarkSyde on Daily Kos has more general space and science news in This week in science: Chasing dragons.

And now, the rest of the week's space news arranged from deep space to the atmosphere of Earth.

Discovery News: Listen To This! X-rays From Stars Make Music

The stars are a beautiful thing to look at, but they can also make some beautiful sounds... with the help of scientists that is. Anthony gives us a listen to an interstellar orchestra.
BBC: Comet Lovejoy flies into Sun to reveal solar secrets
By Rebecca Morelle
A comet's close encounter with the Sun has given scientists a look at a solar region that has never been visited by spacecraft.

In 2011, comet Lovejoy hurtled deep into the Sun's violent atmosphere - an area called the solar corona.

Telescope images have revealed how the comet's tail was pulled about by an intense magnetic field, allowing scientists to characterise this force for the first time.

The study is published in Science.
Daily Kos: Getting to Know Your Solar System (36): Titan (Vol. 2)
by Trobadour
Saturn's largest moon Titan is by far the strangest place in the solar system: An unimaginably frigid world with a thick, opaque atmosphere where the clouds rain liquid natural gas, the "rocks" and mountains are composed of water-ice as hard as granite, and rivers of hydrocarbons run to organic chemical seas.  It is a world with eerie similarities to the processes that shape Earth, and yet is so far outside our frame of reference in temperature and bizarre chemistry that even visiting it with robotic probes presents unique technological challenges.  But most importantly, while Titan may someday become a human world, the most fascinating thing of all about the Orange Moon of Mystery is what may already live there.  In Vol. 2, we explore Titan's internal structure and surface.
NBC News: Opportunity rover finds traces left by 'water you can drink' on ancient Mars
By Alan Boyle, Science Editor, NBC News
Nearly 10 years after its launch, NASA's Opportunity rover has found its first evidence that Mars once had non-acidic water — the kind of water that could easily sustain the life we typically see on Earth.

"This is water that you can drink," Cornell astronomer Steve Squyres, principal investigator for Opportunity's long-lived Mars mission, told reporters Friday.

The water isn't there anymore, but the minerals left behind bear an aluminum-rich chemical signature that suggests they were formed through interaction with neutral-pH water. That's different from the previous evidence that Opportunity found, pointing to more acidic water. Some extreme forms of life on Earth could tolerate that environment, but it wouldn't have been as friendly an environment for prebiotic chemistry — the chemistry that's thought to have given rise to life on Earth.
NASA Television: NASA Mars Curiosity Rover Report -- June 7, 2013

A NASA Mars Curiosity rover team member gives an update on developments and status of the planetary exploration mission. The Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft delivered Curiosity to its target area on Mars at 1:31:45 a.m. EDT on Aug. 6, 2012 which includes the 13.8 minutes needed for confirmation of the touchdown to be radioed to Earth at the speed of light. The rover will conduct a nearly two-year prime mission to investigate whether the Gale Crater region of Mars ever offered conditions favorable for microbial life.

Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science payloads on NASA's Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Some of the tools, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking rocks' elemental composition from a distance, are the first of their kind on Mars. Curiosity will use a drill and scoop, which are located at the end of its robotic arm, to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these samples into the rover's analytical laboratory instruments.
Troubadour on Daily Kos also reminded people about the work of the Curiosity rover in The Mundane Awe of Mars.
The Curiosity Rover has once again taken a picture that would be unremarkable if it were on Earth, but really blows you away when you realize the immediacy and tangibility of something on another planet, so far away that light takes tens of minutes to travel back and forth to Earth.
Discovery News: Why Gravity Fluctuates on the Moon

We need gravity: it anchors us. But the gravity we experience on earth is very different from the gravity on the moon, and both, it turns out, can fluctuate due to a number of things! Looking at new research announced by NASA, Trace upends our notions of gravity.
Science at NASA: ScienceCasts: An Early Start for Noctilucent Clouds

Glowing electric-blue at the edge of space, noctilucent clouds have surprised researchers by appearing early this year. The unexpected apparition hints at a change in the "teleconnections" of Earth's atmosphere.
And that's it for last week's news.  I've already started collecting this week's and posting it, beginning with China returns humans to space.

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