Posts Tagged ‘Asteroid’

The Sky Is Falling! The Sky Is Falling!

January 30, 2010
WISE Spacecraft.  Source:  NASA/JPL

WISE Spacecraft. Source: NASA/JPL

The WISE guy has hit some pay celestial pay dirt.

NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, launched in December – took this shot of a near earth asteroid on January 12th. Designated 2010 AB78 – (comets have much more fun names…) this asteroid is 158 million kilometers (98 million miles) from Earth. Diameter is one kilometer or 6 tenths of a mile. Scientists say this space rock is not on a path to collide with earth in the foreseeable future.

But an expert panel has just concluded we are not being so wise about conducting a survey of big near earth asteroids that could clonk us and wreak havoc. The National Research Council says the goal to find 90% of the earth threatening asteroids 460 feet/ 140 meters or larger 2020 will not be met – for lack of funding. Scientists say an asteroid as small as a hundred feet – or 30 meters across – could take out a city. If you don’t think this is money well spent – go ask a dinosaur what he or she thinks.

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Limping Home

January 15, 2010

Source:  JAXA

Source: JAXA

On the theme of the “Little Spacecraft that Could,” we bring you the amazing seven year odyssey of Japan’s Hayabusa – which is Japanese for Peregrin Falcon.

Three years, late, after a fuel leak and a cascade of failures that should have made it a piece of space junk, Hayabusa is on the home stretch — hopefully bring back some dust from an asteroid.

The spacecraft has a novel propulsion system, which failed, but the ground team was able to rig up a makeshift way to generate thrust by using operative components of different engines.  If all goes well, the Falcon should feel the gravitational pull of Earth this June.

Follow Hayabusa and lots of other space stuff on “This Week In Space.”

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