Space News For A Saturday

A warm day and after a the rain of Friday a fun day in the garden…..as usual I try to find stuff that will entertain as well as educate my readers.  Today it is what is happening with space and NASA and astronomy…..

Some good stuff……Space stuff is cool!

Another craft will enter into interstellar space launched from this tiny blue marble…..

NASA is now two for two in regard to a huge achievement in space. Voyager 2 has become only the second man-made object to enter interstellar space, or the “space between the stars,” as a release from the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory puts it. The first was its sister ship, Voyager 1, which crossed the boundary in 2012. Details and developments:

  • Long mission: Voyager 2 launched in August of 1977 on a mission to study the outer planets in our solar system. (Voyager 1 went up about two weeks later, but on a different trajectory.) In fact, Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to have studied the gas giants Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, reports Space.com. After that part of the mission wrapped up decades ago, NASA steered the craft toward deep space.
  • Still transmitting: One key difference between Voyagers 1 and 2 is that 2 still has a working instrument that is expected to provide “first-of-its-kind observations” from the journey, per JPL. The same instrument (the Plasma Science Experiment) conked out on Voyager 1 long before it crossed the boundary.

Video: NASA scientists explain the mission and the milestone in this video

  • Where it is: Voyager 2 is now about 11 billion miles from Earth, traveling at 34,000mph, reports the BBC. Scientists say it crossed into interstellar space on Nov. 5. It had been detecting particles emitted by the sun, and the data suddenly dropped on that day.
  • Left the solar system? Though some stories say the spacecraft has left the solar system, project scientist Ed Stone avoids the phrase. More specifically, the spacecraft reached the edge of what’s known as the heliosphere, “the bubble of particles and magnetic fields” from our sun, per JPL. It then crossed the boundary known as the “heliopause,” which “is where the tenuous, hot solar wind meets the cold, dense interstellar medium.”
  • Onto the Oort: Here’s how NASA’s JPL addresses the above issue: “While the probes have left the heliosphere, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have not yet left the solar system, and won’t be leaving anytime soon. The boundary of the solar system is considered to be beyond the outer edge of the Oort Cloud, a collection of small objects that are still under the influence of the sun’s gravity.” It could take Voyager 2 another 300 years to reach the cloud and 30,000 years to go beyond it, reports CBS News.
  • Power supply: Both Voyagers have a plutonium power source, which will eventually be depleted and render the onboard equipment useless. But the spacecraft themselves could last billions of years, says JPL.

Another probe launched from Earth will make history also…..

After a two-year chase, a NASA spacecraft arrived Monday at the ancient asteroid Bennu, its first visitor in billions of years. The robotic explorer Osiris-Rex pulled within 12 miles of the diamond-shaped space rock. It will get even closer in the days ahead and go into orbit around Bennu on Dec. 31, the AP reports. No spacecraft has ever orbited such a small cosmic body. It is the first US attempt to gather asteroid samples for return to Earth, something only Japan has accomplished so far. Flight controllers applauded and exchanged high-fives once confirmation came through that Osiris-Rex made it to Bennu—exactly one week after NASA landed a spacecraft on Mars.

“Relieved, proud, and anxious to start exploring!” tweeted lead scientist Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona. “To Bennu and back!” With Bennu some 76 million miles away, it took seven minutes for word to get from the spacecraft to flight controllers at Lockheed Martin in Littleton, Colo. The spacecraft, which is about the size of an SUV, will shadow the asteroid for a year, before scooping up some gravel for return to Earth in 2023. The spacecraft will use a mechanical arm to momentarily touch down and vacuum up particles. The sample container would break loose and head toward Earth in 2021. The collection—parachuting down to Utah—would represent the biggest cosmic haul since the Apollo astronauts hand-delivered moon rocks to Earth in the late 1960s and early 1970s. (There’s a chance NASA might try to destroy Bennu before 2135.)

Speaking of Asteroids!

According to a report in the Express, citing NASA and ESA sources, a giant 700-foot-wide Asteroid is heading toward Earth. Since it’s located on a risky trajectory, there is a small possibility that it could collide with Earth.

According to the report, the asteroid has the potential of colliding with earth on 62 different impact trajectories, from between 2023 and 2117. Scientists refer to the asteroid as 2018 LF16, observing it for the last time on June 16, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The observations have shown that there are 62 different dates in which the asteroid could collide with Earth, placing it as a potential threat to our planet.

The first potential date of a collision will be on Aug. 8, 2023. There are two other risky trajectories close to the first one occurring on Aug. 3, 2024 and on Aug. 1, 2025. The giant 700-foot-wide asteroid moves through space at a speed of more than 33,844 miles per hour.

NASA’s calculations estimate that there is a one in 30,000,000 chance of the asteroid slamming into Earth, meaning there is a 99,9999967% chance that it’ll miss. That said, the Torino Impact Hazard Scale gives the asteroid a “Zero,” which means that there is almost a nonexistent chance that the asteroid will impact Earth, or nearly as nonexistent as possible.

In closing…..there will be a meteor shower this weekend……

The “best meteor shower of 2018” will be on display overnight, Space.com reports. The Geminid meteor shower will be visible above North America before sunrise Friday, CNN reports, and it will peak at 7:30am EST (find the best viewing time for your location here). Checking out the shower is easy—no special equipment required, Sky & Telescope’s Diana Hannikainen says in a statement. “Go out in the evening, lie back in a reclining lawn chair, and gaze up into the stars,” she says. “This is a good shower for younger observers who may have earlier bedtimes.” Clear, dark skies are the best for viewing, of course. Hannikainen says that under good conditions, you may see the light of a meteor streaking across the sky every minute or two.

I have watched these meteor showers before and the light show is just amazing….give it a try you may like it.

That is my post for this Saturday……go out and have a great day….be well, be safe….chuq

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9 thoughts on “Space News For A Saturday

  1. I know I should be excited about space exploration, but I just don’t get it. Too many problems to deal with on Earth, and solving some of those would be a much better use of the untold billions spent to get close-up photos of uninhabitable planets. Sorry. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. Great information, Chuq! Yes, let got to space and leave all the politicans here on earth. Do you know Bavaria will try to start its own space agency. Perhaps some of our persons of special interest will get back there, where some said the Arians are came from. ***lol*** Best wishes for the Sunday. Michael

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