By Shepard Ambellas
March 14, 2013
We as humans are just tiny pieces on a larger target that is now part of what scientists are terming a ‘cosmic shooting gallery’.
From asteroid impacts on earth to scars all over the surface of the moon the inevitable could happen at anytime. In fact just this past week 3 very large space rocks whisked by Earth at a near graze in astrological terms. One of the objects was the size of an entire city block.
Tariq Malik reported for a major space publication that;
The biggest space rock encounter occurred Saturday, when the asteroid 2013 ET passed just inside 600,000 miles of Earth. That asteroid is about 460 feet long and approached within 2.5 times the distance between Earth and the moon.
“The scary part about this one, of course, is that it’s something we didn’t even know about,” said Patrick Paolucci, president of the online Slooh Space Camera during a live webcast of 2013 ET’s flyby. The asteroid was first discovered on March 3 by the Catalina Sky Survey at the University of Arizona.
Another smaller asteroid passed at a mere 93,000 miles distance moving at 23,000 mph
Although it’s NASA job to track Near Earth Objects (NEO’s) only about 10% are actively discovered as 90 percent pass by the radar.
An American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts are stuck in space for one more day after freezing rain and fog on Earth prevented them from landing in Central Asia on Thursday (March 14), NASA officials say.
The foul weather, which one Russian space agency official described simply as “horrible,” means NASA astronaut Kevin Ford and cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin had to delay their return from the International Space Station for at least 24 hours. The three men have been living in space for 141 days and were preparing to enter their Soyuz spacecraft for a landing on the frigid steppes of Kazakhstan tonight.
“We are waving off landing,” NASA spokesperson Rob Navias said during live mission commentary. “No Soyuz landing tonight.”
March 13, 2013 – SPACE – A comet visible to the naked eye will streak across the night sky in North America tonight, and if you’re lucky, you can see it for yourself. Comet C/2011 L4 PANSTARRS is an icy ball of dirt currently located about 30 million miles from the sun. It will appear in our night skies all month long, but if you want to see it without the aid of binoculars or a telescope, tonight’s your best bet. To view the comet, first find a spot where you can see the western part of the sky, all the way down to the horizon. It will also help if you’re away from a city, so you don’t have to deal with light pollution. Clear weather is also a necessity. Wait until about half an hour after sunset, and then look towards the western sky. The crescent moon should be just barely above the horizon, and that will help you find the comet, which should appear about 10 degrees to the west of the moon –roughly the size of your fist, if you hold it out at arm’s length. According to NASA, the comet “will appear as a bright point of light with its diffuse tail pointing nearly straight up from the horizon like an exclamation point.” PANSTARRS was discovered in June 2011, and is named after the telescopic survey that first spotted it, the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System, which is based atop the Haleakala volcano in Hawaii. Comets that are visible on Earth with the naked eye are relatively uncommon, usually occurring only a few times a decade. But if you miss your chance to catch this one, don’t fret; there’s another comet due later this year, and it’s predicted to be spectacular. If conditions are right, Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) may shine brighter than the full moon during the last few days of November.
March 13, 2013 – SOUTH AFRICA – Residents across Cape Town claimed to have sighted a meteorite on Tuesday after what appears to have been a fireball “exploded” in the sky. It is said to have been sighted just after noon. Nicola Loaring, an outreach astronomer at the South African Astronomical Observatory, said they had received about four or five reports. The green and blue light with a white tail that was reported to them appeared to be that of “a fireball, which is a bright meteor.” Fireballs were caused by dust formed in space that enter Earth’s atmosphere. “There are two meteor showers in March with one peaking on March 13 and this could be related to that. Loaring said another meteor shower would start later this month and peak in April.” “Meteor showers are best viewed in the morning. Up to eight an hour can be seen,” Loaring said. People shouldn’t be alarmed since these were “common and predictable”. Company director John Houston captured part of the event on camera while he was driving on the N1 from Stellenbosch. There was a “huge” explosion that left a white cloud close to the Durbanville hills, he said.
March 12, 2013
Russia would build a system to protect the Earth from meteors and other space debris, Russian federal space agency Roscosmos said Tuesday.
“Roscosmos has formed a working group with experts from the defence ministry and the Russian Academy of Science to create a unified system of early warning and countering space threats,” Xinhua quoted Roscosmos head Vladimir Popovkin as saying.
The project, titled “Citadel”, would cost about $500 million, and could be implemented only with international cooperation, said Anatoly Zaitsev, head of the Center of Planetary Protection, a scientific and research organisation.
According to RIA Novosti, Popovkin said the Russian Academy of Sciences should be made responsible for developing asteroid threat monitoring systems while Roscosmos should be in charge of monitoring space debris.
The foreign ministry should be entrusted with matters of countering space threats at interstate level, he said.
Popovkin warned that in 20 years, the world might no longer be able to deploy geosynchronous satellites in space because all available orbits would be littered with debris due to their constant disintegration.
According to calculations by Roscosmos, the possibility of collisions between working satellites and debris has risen sharply.
The Russian Aerospace Defense Forces was urged by the government to come up with a plan to protect the country from space “guests” after a meteorite strike injured over 1,200 people and damaged homes in Chelyabinsk region Feb 15.
Civil Defence and Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov said the programme will include early warning systems and public emergency training courses.
Roscosmos is currently trying to identify and classify potentially dangerous space objects, Popovkin said at a session of the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament.
Boris Shustov, director of the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Astronomy, said super-powerful telescopes should be used to detect dangerous space objects in good time.
Ground and space-based systems need to be built for this, he said, adding that “regular” telescopes are unable to detect those threats.
In particular, he said, Russia needs to complete construction of a super-wide-angle telescope, the AZT-33, near Lake Baikal, at a cost of 500 million rubles (about $17 million).
Shustov said the “extraterrestrial object” which exploded over Chelyabinsk did not even belong in the class of dangerous objects.
If the Chelyabinsk meteorite had entered the atmosphere at a steeper trajectory, the consequences would have been far worse, he said.
“And if the body had been 50 metres (in diameter), then there would have been no chance,” he said, without elaborating.
Pan-STARRS is set to put on a show for astronomers around the Northern Hemisphere.
Observers of the night sky will want to pay particularly close attention tonight and tomorrow night, as the comet known as C/2011 L4 (Pan-STARRS) will be at its most visible near the western horizon.
Astronomers first became aware of the comet in June 2011, and since that time it has brightened to one million times its original glow. It’s already been visible with the naked eye from the Southern Hemisphere, but March brings the ball of fire into view for Northerners for the first time. March is also the month in which the comet will reach its perihelion — it’s closest point to our sun — when it will be 30 million miles away.
Those who might be a bit nervous about giant fiery rocks coming a little too close for comfort, needn’t worry. The comet is already putting distance between itself and our planet after having reached its closest point at 100 million miles away.
A reasonably bright comet that is sometimes described as the “icy snowball” of our solar system has made a rare naked eye appearance in the evening sky. This is a great image of the comet named “pan-STARRS” (named after telescopes not humans this time) as seen in the southern hemisphere earlier in March.
This great picture is courtesy of Michael Goh.
Now the comet has passed behind the sun by “only” 26 million miles and as it heads back to deep space will be visible here in the northern hemisphere and D.C. area. BUT we need clear skies and a clear view of the western horizon. I think there is a chance to see the comet this evening.
By Tariq Malik
Published March 11, 2013
In the last seven days, an asteroid the size of a city block and three smaller space rocks have zoomed safely by Earth, the latest demonstration that we live in a solar system that some scientists have dubbed a “cosmic shooting gallery.”
All four asteroid flybys occurred between March 4 and Sunday, March 10. The asteroids were also all discovered this month, some just days ago.
The biggest space rock encounter occurred Saturday, when the asteroid 2013 ET passed just inside 600,000 miles of Earth. That asteroid is about 460 feet long and approached within 2.5 times the distance between Earth and the moon.
“The scary part about this one, of course, is that it’s something we didn’t even know about,” said Patrick Paolucci, president of the online Slooh Space Camera during a live webcast of 2013 ET’s flyby. The asteroid was first discovered on March 3 by the Catalina Sky Survey at the University of Arizona. [See a video of asteroid 2013 ET]
Also on Saturday, a smaller asteroid called 2013 EC20 (discovered on Thursday, March 7) came even closer to Earth, passing at a range of about 93,000 miles, less than half the distance to the moon. It was about 23 feet across.
Had asteroid 2013 ET actually hit the Earth, instead of zipping safely by, it could have destroyed a large city, Slooh Space Camera engineer Paul Cox said in the webcast. Cox controlled the remotely operated Slooh telescope in the Canary Islands, off the west coast of Africa, as the asteroid zoomed by Earth at a speed of 26,000 mph.
Recent asteroid events
The asteroid flybys came a few weeks after a 55-foot meteor exploded over Russia on Feb. 15 with the force of about 500 kilotons, injuring more than 1,200 people in the city of Chelyabinsk and causing extensive damage to city buildings. Later on Feb. 15, the larger asteroid 2012 DA14 passed within 17,200 miles or Earth —closer than many communications satellites.
The asteroid 2012 DA14 flyby, which was closely tracked by NASA and astronomers, prompted planetary scientists Bruce Betts of the Planetary Society to remind the public that Earth is in a “cosmic shooting gallery” where asteroids are concerned.
“This should be a wakeup call to governments,” Cox said. “We know that the solar system is a busy place. We’re not sitting here on our pale blue dot, on our own in nice safety.”
More space rock flybys
The two other space rocks to buzz Earth in the last week were asteroid 2013 EC and asteroid 2013 EN20, which zipped by the planet on March 4 and March 10, respectively.
The 39-foot long asteroid 2013 EC passed Earth at about the same distance of the moon —about 238,000 miles. It was discovered on March 2, just two days before its closest approach. The Virtual Telescope Project, an online stargazing website in Italy run by astrophysicist Gianluca Masi, captured a video of the asteroid 2013 EC flyby.
Asteroid 2013 EN20 passed Earth today a range just beyond the moon’s orbit and is about 23 feet across. It was first discovered by astronomers on March 7.
March 11, 2013 – SPACE – Discovered just six days ago, the 140m Asteroid 2013 ET passed about 966,000 km from Earth on Saturday. That is about 2.5 times as far as the moon, fairly close on a cosmic yardstick. “The scary part of this one is that it is something we didn’t even know about,” Patrick Paolucci, president of Slooh Space Camera, said during a webcast featuring live images of the asteroid from a telescope in the Canary Islands. Moving at a speed of about 41,843 km/h, the asteroid could have wiped out a large city if it had hit Earth, added Slooh telescope engineer Paul Cox. Asteroid 2013 ET is nearly eight times larger than the bus-sized asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia last month, injuring 1500 people. The force of the explosion, equivalent to about 440 kilotons of dynamite, created a shock wave that shattered windows and damaged buildings. Later that day, a small asteroid, known as DA14, passed about 27,680 km from Earth, closer than the orbiting networks of communications and weather satellites. “One of the reasons we’re finding more of these objects is that there are more people looking,” Cox said. Two other small asteroids, both about the size of the Russian meteor, were in Earth’s neighborhood at the weekend. Asteroid 2013 EC 20 passed just 48,28 km away on Saturday, said Cox. Yesterday, Asteroid 2013 EN 20 flew about 449,007 km away from Earth. “We know the solar system is a busy place,” said Cox. “We’re not sitting here on our pale-blue dot on our own in nice safety. This should be a wake-up call to governments.” The US Congress has asked NASA to find and track all near-Earth objects of 1km or larger in diameter. NASA estimates about 95% have been identified. But only about 10% of smaller asteroids have been discovered, it says. The effort is intended to give scientists and engineers as much time as possible to learn if an asteroid or comet is on a collision course with Earth, in hopes of sending up a spacecraft or taking other measures to avert catastrophe. About 100 tons of material from space hits Earth every day. Astronomers expect an object about the size of the Russian meteor to strike about every 100 years.
By Irene KlotzPosted 2013/03/09 at 7:19 pm EST
Mar. 9, 2013 (Reuters) — An asteroid as big as a city block shot relatively close by the Earth on Saturday, the latest in a series of visiting celestial objects including an asteroid the size of a bus that exploded over Russia last month, injuring 1,500.
Discovered just six days ago, the 460-foot long (140-meter) Asteroid 2013 ET passed about 600,000 miles from Earth at 3:30 p.m. EST. That’s about 2-1/2 times as far as the moon, fairly close on a cosmic yardstick.
“The scary part of this one is that it’s something we didn’t even know about,” Patrick Paolucci, president of Slooh Space Camera, said during a webcast featuring live images of the asteroid from a telescope in the Canary Islands.
Moving at a speed of about 26,000 miles per hour, the asteroid could have wiped out a large city if it had impacted the Earth, added Slooh telescope engineer Paul Cox.
Asteroid 2013 ET is nearly eight times larger than the bus-sized asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, on February 15. The force of the explosion, equivalent to about 440 kilotons of dynamite, created a shock wave that shattered windows and damaged buildings, injuring more than 1,5000 people.
Later that day, another small asteroid, known as DA14, passed about 17,200 miles from Earth, closer than the orbiting networks of communications and weather satellites.
“One of the reasons why we’re finding more of these objects is that there are more people looking,” Cox said.
Two other small asteroids, both about the size of the Russian meteor, will also be in Earth’s neighborhood this weekend. Asteroid 2013 EC 20 passed just 93,000 miles away on Saturday – “a stone’s thrown,” said Cox.
On Sunday, Asteroid 2013 EN 20 will fly about 279,000 miles from Earth. Both were discovered just three days ago. “We know that the solar system is a busy place,” said Cox.
“We’re not sitting here on our pale, blue dot on our own in nice safety … This should be a wakeup call to governments.”
Mar. 8, 2013 — Comets visible to the naked eye are a rare delicacy in the celestial smorgasbord of objects in the nighttime sky. Scientists estimate that the opportunity to see one of these icy dirtballs advertising their cosmic presence so brilliantly they can be seen without the aid of a telescope or binoculars happens only once every five to 10 years. That said, there may be two naked-eye comets available for your viewing pleasure this year.
“You might have heard of a comet ISON, which may become a spectacular naked-eye comet later this fall,” said Amy Mainzer, the principal investigator of NASA’s NEOWISE mission at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and self-described cosmic icy dirtball fan. “But if you have the right conditions you don’t have to wait for ISON. Within a few days, comet PANSTARRS will be making its appearance in the skies of the Northern Hemisphere just after twilight.”
Discovered in June 2011, comet 2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) bears the name of the telescopic survey that discovered it — the less than mellifluous sounding “Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System” which sits atop the Haleakala volcano in Hawaii.
Since its discovery a year-and-a-half ago, observing comet PANSTARRS has been the exclusive dominion of comet aficionados in the Southern Hemisphere, but that is about to change. As the comet continues its well-understood and safe passage through the inner-solar system, its celestial splendor will be lost to those in the Southern Hemisphere, but found by those up north.
Posted: 03/07/2013 7:54 am EST | Updated: 03/08/2013 2:07 pm EST
By: Andrea Thompson, OurAmazingPlanet Managing Editor
Published: 03/06/2013 12:49 PM EST on LiveScience
Buried beneath the rocks, dirt, buildings and roads of the city of Decorah, Iowa, lies a 470 million-year-old meteorite crater.
Unlike the craters on the pockmarked surfaces of the moon and Mars, this crater can’t be seen by looking down at Earth’s surface, at least not by the human eye.
But recent aerial surveys primarily aimed at getting a better picture of the minerals that underlie the region got a look at the crater structure using instruments that detect the variations in gravity of different types of rock, as well as their ability to conduct electricity.
“Capturing images of an ancient meteorite impact was a huge bonus,” Paul Bedrosian, a U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist in Denver who is leading the effort to model the data the surveys acquired, said in a statement.
Mar. 7, 2013 — A network of seismographic stations recorded spectacular signals from the blast waves of the meteor that landed near Chelyabinsk, Russia, as the waves crossed the United States.
The National Science Foundation- (NSF) supported stations are used to study earthquakes and Earth’s deep interior.
While thousands of earthquakes around the globe are recorded by seismometers in these stations–part of the permanent Global Seismographic Network (GSN) and EarthScope’s temporary Transportable Array (TA)–signals from large meteor impacts are far less common.
The meteor explosion near Chelyabinsk on Feb. 15, 2013, generated ground motions and air pressure waves in the atmosphere. The stations picked up the signals with seismometers and air pressure sensors.
The ground motions were recorded by the GSN and the TA. The pressure waves were detected by special sensors that are part of the TA.
“The NSF-supported Global Seismic Network and EarthScope Transportable Array made spectacular recordings of the Chelyabinsk meteor’s impact,” says Greg Anderson, program director in NSF’s Division of Earth Sciences.
“These recordings of seismic waves through the Earth, and sound waves through the atmosphere, are good examples of how these facilities can help global organizations better monitor earthquakes, clandestine nuclear tests and other threats.”
Incoming! Then outgoing!
The Chelyabinsk meteor exploded in the atmosphere at approximately 9.20 a.m. local time.
The blast caused significant damage in the city, breaking thousands of windows and injuring more than 1,000 people.
Energy from the blast created pressure waves in the atmosphere that moved rapidly outward and around the globe. The blast also spread within Earth as a seismic wave.
The two wave types–seismic wave and pressure wave–travel at very different speeds.
Waves in the ground travel quickly, at about 3.4 kilometers per second. Waves in the atmosphere are much slower, moving at about 0.3 kilometers per second, and can travel great distances.
GSN stations in Russia and Kazakhstan show the ground-traveling wave as a strong, abrupt pulse with a duration of about 30 seconds.
The atmospheric waves–referred to as infrasound–were detected across a range of inaudible frequencies and were observed at great distances on infrasound microphones.
When the infrasound waves reached the eastern United States–after traveling 8.5 hours through the atmosphere across the Arctic from the impact site in Russia–they were recorded at TA stations at the Canadian border.
The infrasound waves reached Florida three hours later, nearly 12 hours after the blast.
Infrasound sensors at TA stations along the Pacific coast and in Alaska also recorded the blast, but with signatures that were shorter and simpler than those recorded by stations in the mid-continent and along the southeastern seaboard.
The duration of the signals, and the differences between the waveforms in the east and west, scientists believe, are related to the way in which energy travels and bounces on its long path through the atmosphere.
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