See an Asteroid, Capture a Meteor!
It’s been said by many that “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. Australian photographer Colin Legg has proven that true. He set out to capture last Friday’s fly-by from asteroid 2012 DA14 and accidentally caught with a burning meteor entry.
Think about it! You set up your camera to capture something well-planned and expected, and out of nowhere you see a burning fireball rush through your field of view, complete with its wispy vapor trail. Too cool.
In the full high-definition video (which you should really check out), you can also see a number of other man-made satellites moving through the frame. Altogether, one of the coolest space sequences I’ve seen in a long time.
ARMAGEDDON! Saving Earth By Blowing Up Asteroids?
Howdy folks, I played “guest scientist” for Fact or Fictional with Veronica Belmont this week. We discussed just how unscientific the movie Armageddon was. In 151 minutes, they make at least 168 scientific mistakes. Here’s a few of them.
If we pointed out all of the mistakes, this video would have been about an hour long. But there’s so, so, so many more. Needless to say, this one’s total fiction. Anyway, enjoy my face, on your screen, talking about science!
With today’s fly-by by asteroid 2012 DA14 (which wasn’t really a cause for alarm), it’s a good time to remind everyone of the time that I sat down with Veronica to talk about how bad the asteroid science is in the movie Armageddon.
Last week an asteroid known as 4179 Toutatis passed by Earth at a relatively close distance, as far as these things go. As it tumbled in space, getting as near as 4.3 million miles or 18 times the distance from us to the moon, NASA’s 230-foot-wide Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, California, captured radar data that showed the giant rock’s spin. NASA scientists then collected that data into a short film, which we present to you as Tumbling Asteroid GIFs, for your enjoyment and/or terror.
Tumbling asteroid GIFs are perfect for Tumblr. Not much to be afraid of, though. This thing was pretty far from Earth. If you think about it, we’ve only been able to see these for a short time in our history, and if we have seen this many near-Earth asteroids in such a short time… well, they pass by Earth quite often. Emphasis on the “by Earth”.
What would happen if an meteor or asteroid the size of ______________, made of ______________, hit Earth at a speed of ______________?
Have fun destroying the planet!!! (And learning about asteroid impacts of various sizes and energies, of course)
You could have the chance to name an space rock. There’s a near-Earth asteroid that currently bears the not-so-pronounceable name (101955) 1999 RQ36. Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. In a partnership with NASA, The Planetary Society is offering you the chance to give it a better name!
In 2016, NASA plans to launch a probe toward RQ36, collect a sample, and return it to Earth. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft aims to test the composition of asteroids like this one, to give us clues to the evolution of the early solar system, and maybe a few hints on how we could redirect or destroy one.
That’s because RQ36 has a verrrrrrrry small, but non-zero chance, of (maybe) hitting Earth in a couple hundred years. The chances are extremely miniscule, and nothing to worry about, but it’s a reminder that asteroid collisions with Earth are a matter of “when” … not “if”. Sooner or later, perhaps when humans still run the planet, we will have to deal with an impending collision. The more we know about asteroids’ makeup, the better tools we can develop to not only divert them, but study them.
Want to name the asteroid? Visit the Planetary Society’s contest page to check out the rules (there’s just a few), and good luck. What would you name it?
Neil deGrasse Tyson takes us inside NASA’s undersea mission to save Earth from an asteroid, all the more reason why space exploration needs all the support it can get but is hardly getting.
Terrestrial science, even that that is underwater, is an essential precursor to extraterrestrial science. A really interesting look at how we are perfecting techniques to visit an asteroid by living underwater. This project is the last of its kind. Don’t let it perish.
A team of grad students has called BS on Armageddon’s asteroid nuking, Earth-saving climax. Of course, this is only a surprise if you happen to ignore the rest of the movie, which is Day After Tomorrow-level unscientific. I mean, they put Bruce Willis in space, which would never happen, as he’s an official national treasure. Would we launch the Declaration of Independence into space?!
Back to the bomb …
Check out Jennifer Ouellette’s breakdown of the boom-boom-induced breakup, and you’ll be surprised at how much energy it would actually take to split a killer asteroid with enough force that it would miss Earth. We’re talking Sun-level energy.
Essentially, picture the biggest nuclear weapon ever built. Now picture a billion of those.
(via Discovery News)