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NASA To Visit Asteroid That May Hit Earth

Posted by 3citynewswire on 08/09/2010

There’s a mountain-size asteroid on a potential

collision course with Earth, and NASA has plans to pay it a visit.

The asteroid 1999 RQ36 diameter of approximately 1,837.27 feet (560 metres) made headlines last week with the announcement that the space rock could hit our planet in 2182. But a handful of scientists have had their eyes on this asteroid since 2007, planning a sample-return mission designed to help us better predict—and avoid—impact hazards.

DOPPLER IMAGE OF 1999 RQ36

The mission, called OSIRIS-Rex (Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer), is one of two finalists in the current competition for funding under NASA’s New Frontiers program, up against a proposed mission to land on Venus. The selected mission will be announced in summer 2011.


If OSIRIS-Rex gets the green light, the spacecraft will launch in 2016 with the goal of mapping and bringing back pieces of the asteroid.
The potentially hazardous Asteroid (101955)
Asteroid Images

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Newly discovered comet visible in morning sky

Posted by 3citynewswire on 06/10/2010

A recently discovered comet is surprising skywatchers by becoming brighter than predictions had first suggested and can now be seen with the unaided eye during the next few weeks.

Comet McNaught, officially catalogued as C/2009 R1, was discovered by Australian astronomer Robert McNaught last September using the using the 0.5-meter Uppsala Schmidt telescope and a CCD camera. It’s the 51st comet that bears McNaught’s name.

Although initially an extremely faint object, enough observations of the newfound comet were made to allow Brian Marsden of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass., to calculate an orbit.

Comet McNaught is expected to pass closest to the sun (perihelion) on July 2, at a distance of 37 million miles (60 million km). The sky map shows where to look in order to spot the comet in the morning sky. (SkyMap below)

The comet is visible now for people with dark skies away from urban and suburban lighting. By mid-June it may be an easy skywatching target for most people.

Comets brighten when the get nearer to the sun, because solar radiation boils icy particles and dust off the comet’s nucleus. A cloud of material called a head, or coma, and sometimes a tail form. It’s all illuminated by reflected sunlight.

The most recent “reliable” observation was made by Alexandre Amorim of Florianopolis,Brazil who saw the comet on June 6 using 10×50 binoculars and estimated the magnitude as +5.5. That’s about as bright as the faintest star in the bowl of the Little Dipper (on this scale, smaller numbers represent brighter objects). In the coming days, the comet is expected to continue to brighten as it gets closer to the sun.

If you want to get a view of the comet, you’ll have to get up early in the morning. Set your alarm clock for at least two hours before sunrise. For most people that will mean around 3:30 a.m. local time. The comet is currently moving through the constellation of Perseus, the Hero, which at that early hour will be low in the northeast part of the sky.

The comet will pass to the south of the second magnitude star, Mirfak around June 14. Both star and comet will be about 20-degrees above the northeast horizon (10-degrees is roughly equal to the width of your clenched fist held at arm’s length; so the comet will be about “two fists” up from the horizon). Don’t expect anything spectacular just yet, however.

The comet should appear as a dim and diffuse, circular patch of light. Binoculars or a small telescope will help to bring it out better; you might even make out a faint greenish color.

sky map

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Bright Fireball Slams Into Jupiter. Flash from new impact caught on film.

Posted by 3citynewswire on 06/05/2010

Amateur astronomers Anthony Wesley (whose video this is) of Australia and Christopher Go of the Philippines have independently observed an impact event on Jupiter. The strike occurred at 20:31 UT on June 3rd, 2010 and produced a bright flash of light in the giant planet’s cloudtops.


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Meteor Destroyed homes in Jakarta, confirmed by Scientist

Posted by 3citynewswire on 05/07/2010

Home damaged from meteor blast

The Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN) has confirmed that the explosion which destroyed three houses in Durensawit, East Jakarta on Thursday (4/29) was caused by a meteor of rock type. The blast has only left dust with the color of a bit grayish.
Main researcher of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the institute, Thomas Djamaluddin said the meteor in Durensawit was possibly from rock type. “The investigation on the matter is still underway,” said Thomas, Saturday (5/1).
Thomas explains that, based on its nature, meteor is divided into two types: metal and rock. The metal meteor will leave flakes of iron plates if it falls onto the earth; while the rock meteor will be shattered into rock flakes, dust, or sand.
“It was not detected by transmitter, possibly because of its small size,” he added.

The homes of Sunarti, Sudarmojo and Marzuki were damaged in the incident, with Sudarmojo’s house taking the brunt of the impact. It blasted a hole in the second floor of the house, sending furniture falling to the first floor, and tore big holes in the walls.

Last October, a mysterious explosion in Bone, South Sulawesi, was determined to have been a meteorite that hit the Earth’s atmosphere at a mind-boggling 20.3 kilometers per second.

According to Thomas Djamaluddin, head of atmospheric sciences and chief of astronomy research at Lapan, the blast released energy equal to about 50 kilotons of TNT, more than three times the force of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, near the end of World War II.

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Meteorite Believed To Be Blast In East Jakarta

Posted by 3citynewswire on 05/03/2010

This house at Jl. Delima, East Jakarta, was among three rocked by a mysterious explosion on Thursday.

Police and astronomers are investigating Thursday’s blast from a falling object that damaged three homes in Duren Sawit, East Jakarta, which witnesses claim was a meteorite strike.

Forensics experts from the police and National Aeronautics and Space Agency (Lapan) investigators are combing the site, with the latter saying that while there was no conclusive proof the damage was caused by a meteorite, it was the most likely explanation.

Police ruled out earlier speculation that the incident was a gas canister exploding.

One house was moderate damage and two adjoining properties suffered minor damage after blast on Jalan Delima II. There were no reported casualties.

Lapan researcher Abdurrahman said no fragments of the projectile had been found but the deep crater in the floor of the house, the residual heat footprint and melted items pointed to a meteorite.

“I suspect the object impacted at high velocity, hit the floor, bounced back and hit the ceiling, then fell back down,” he said. “It’s extremely difficult to recover the fragments, what with the rubble and broken glass, and it being so dark in here.”

Abdurrahman said any suspected meteorite fragment would be taken back to Lapan’s headquarters in Bandung for analysis.

Researcher Evan Irawan Akbar, from the Bosscha Observatory in Lembang, Bandung, said if the projectile was a meteorite it warranted further investigation.

“This kind of incident is extremely rare in Indonesia,” he said. “Usually an object that falls to earth is burned up in the atmosphere before reaching land.”

The incident comes on the heels of the Lyrid meteor shower, which ended on Monday, but Evan ruled out any connection between the two.

“It could, however, be part of the Eta Aquariid meteor shower, which peaks on May 7 and 8,” he said.

The phenomenon often begins in late April.

“Another possibility is that this wasn’t a meteorite at all, but man-made space debris like a satellite,” Evan said.

Police, meanwhile, are pursuing their own line of investigation. Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Boy Rafli Amar said the Densus 88 counterterrorism squad had been called in to search for possible traces of explosives.

The homes of Sunarti, Sudarmojo and Marzuki were damaged in the incident, with Sudarmojo’s house taking the brunt of the impact. It blasted a hole in the second floor of the house, sending furniture falling to the first floor, and tore big holes in the walls.

Last October, a mysterious explosion in Bone, South Sulawesi, was determined to have been a meteorite that hit the Earth’s atmosphere at a mind-boggling 20.3 kilometers per second.

According to Thomas Djamaluddin, head of atmospheric sciences and chief of astronomy research at Lapan, the blast released energy equal to about 50 kilotons of TNT, more than three times the force of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, near the end of World War II.

A 9-year-old girl suffered a fatal cardiac arrest after hearing the explosion, and shock waves damaged homes in Bone’s Panyula village.

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Meteor Lights Up The Midwest Skies USA

Posted by 3citynewswire on 04/15/2010

“Just after 10 pm CDT Wednesday evening April 14th, a fireball or very bright meteor was observed streaking across the sky. The fireball was seen over the northern sky, moving from west to east. Well before it reached the horizon, it broke up into smaller pieces and was lost from sight. The fireball was seen across Northern Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Southern Wisconsin. Several reports of a prolonged sonic boom were received from areas north of Highway 20, along with shaking of homes, trees and various other objects including wind chimes. As of late Wednesday evening, it is unknown whether any portion of this meteorite hit the ground.”

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