Friday, October 22News That Matters

Tag: Solar System

How to Watch Nasa’s Launch to Jupiter

How to Watch Nasa’s Launch to Jupiter

Technology
NASA embarked on a 12-year mission to study a group of asteroids on Saturday with the launch of Lucy, a robotic explorer that will meander through the unexplored caverns of deep space to find new clues about the creation of our solar system.The 5:34 a.m. Eastern time liftoff from Kennedy Space Center in Florida atop an Atlas 5 rocket from United Launch Alliance was the first step of Lucy’s four-billion mile path into the orbital neighborhood of Jupiter. There, two swarms of asteroids known as the Trojans have hid for billions of years, leftover debris from the solar system’s early formation.The spacecraft launched before dawn, setting off toward the orbit that will begin its elaborate trajectory. Lucy separated from the rocket’s second stage booster roughly an hour after liftoff and about ...
Why NASA Is Launching a Robotic Archaeologist Named Lucy

Why NASA Is Launching a Robotic Archaeologist Named Lucy

Technology
NASA is scheduled on Saturday to launch a probe toward clusters of asteroids along Jupiter’s orbital path. They’re known as the Trojan swarms, and they represent the final unexplored regions of asteroids in the solar system. The spacecraft, a deep-space robotic archaeologist named Lucy, will seek to answer pressing questions about the origins of the solar system, how the planets migrated to their current orbits and how life might have emerged on Earth.“We have never gone this far to study asteroids,” said Bill Nelson, the administrator of NASA. “In so doing, we’re going to be able to better understand the formation of the solar system, and better understand ourselves and our development.”After a six-year cruise, Lucy will fly close to seven Trojan asteroids through 2033, completing wild ci...
A Strange Comet Erupted 4 Times in a ‘Super Outburst’

A Strange Comet Erupted 4 Times in a ‘Super Outburst’

Technology
This past Saturday, a speck of light shimmering in the shadows behind Jupiter erupted. And then it kept erupting, with two more violent jets of material firing into space on Sunday, followed by a fourth paroxysm on Monday. As it raged and flared, it became 250 times brighter than usual, like a lit match becoming a bonfire.This is not a distant tempestuous star, nor is it an effervescent world covered in erupting volcanoes. This is Comet 29P. And it put on the performance of a lifetime that anyone with a powerful enough backyard telescope could see.As far as astronomers are aware, this is the first time that this comet has exhibited four closely spaced eruptions.“Some are calling this a super outburst,” said Maria Womack, an astrophysicist at the National Science Foundation. “This requires ...
The Rock That Ended the Dinosaurs Was Much More Than a Dino Killer

The Rock That Ended the Dinosaurs Was Much More Than a Dino Killer

Technology
Dr. Gulick also noted that the study highlighted the hazards that asteroids pose across time, including risks faced by our planet-bound civilization. The Chicxulub impact and the fate of the dinosaurs are frequently invoked as the ultimate argument both for investing in planetary defense research, and for expanding our species beyond Earth. (Although it’s worth noting that other worlds, including Mars, are not exempt from large-scale asteroid impacts.)But Chicxulub also sheds light on some of the most evocative questions about the emergence of life. Dr. Kring has long been fascinated by this subject, and has helped produce a wealth of research about the microbial ecosystems that cropped up in the fallout of the apocalyptic event.“There’s an argument that stipulates that this type of bombar...
Watch the Perseids Meteor Shower Peak in Night Skies

Watch the Perseids Meteor Shower Peak in Night Skies

Technology
All year long as Earth revolves around the sun, it passes through streams of cosmic debris. The resulting meteor showers can light up night skies from dusk to dawn, and if you’re lucky you might be able to catch a glimpse.The next shower you might be able to see is the Perseids. Active July 17 through Aug. 24, they will reach their peak of activity Wednesday night into Thursday morning, or Aug. 11-12.The Perseids light up the night sky when Earth runs into pieces of cosmic debris left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle. The dirty snowball is 17 miles wide and takes about 133 years to orbit the sun. Its last go-round was in 1992.Between as many as 160 and 200 meteors dazzle in Earth’s atmosphere every hour during the display’s peak. They zoom through the atmosphere at around 133,000 miles per hou...
2 Red Objects Were Found in the Asteroid Belt. They Shouldn’t Be There.

2 Red Objects Were Found in the Asteroid Belt. They Shouldn’t Be There.

Technology
The finding, if correct, would offer evidence for planetary migration in the early solar system, particularly in support of an idea called the Nice Model, with Saturn, Uranus and Neptune all moving outward, and Jupiter inward slightly, over a few hundred million years. This would have perturbed organic-laden asteroids leftover from the formation of the planets, sending them pinging around the solar system.“It’s an exciting discovery with implications for the origins of life,” Dr. Öberg said.Most of these leftover objects in the present day are known as trans-Neptunian objects and orbit in the Kuiper belt beyond Neptune. Many are red in color, like Arrokoth, the rock that NASA’s New Horizons mission got a close-up of in 2019. 203 Pompeja and 269 Justitia both appear to match them.“People ha...
Meteor Shower in July: Time for the Southern Delta Aquarids to Peak

Meteor Shower in July: Time for the Southern Delta Aquarids to Peak

Technology
All year long as Earth revolves around the sun, it passes through streams of cosmic debris. The resulting meteor showers can light up night skies from dusk to dawn, and if you’re lucky you might be able to catch a glimpse.The next shower you might be able to see is the Southern Delta Aquariids, which is sometimes also known as the Southern Delta Aquarids. Active from July 12 to Aug. 23, it is expected to be at its peak from Wednesday night into Thursday morning, or July 28 to 29.They come from Comet 96P Machholz, which passes by the sun every five years. Its meteors, which number between 10 and 20 per hour, are most visible predawn, between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. It tends to be more visible from the Southern Hemisphere.[Sign up to get reminders for space and astronomy events on your calendar.]W...
The Largest Comet Ever Found Is Making Its Move Into a Sky Near You

The Largest Comet Ever Found Is Making Its Move Into a Sky Near You

Technology
Astronomers spy rocky and icy wanderers of all shapes and sizes zipping past Earth all the time. But earlier this month, they were flabbergasted when they caught sight of the largest comet they’d ever seen.One of its discoverers, Pedro Bernardinelli, an astrophysicist at the University of Pennsylvania, conservatively estimates the object’s dusty, icy nucleus is between 62 and 125 miles long. That means this comet is as small as five Manhattan Islands, or it’s larger than the Island of Hawaii. Hale-Bopp, which lit up night skies in the late 1990s with its 25-mile-long nucleus, was long perceived to be a giant among comets. But the nucleus of this comet, Comet C/2014 UN271, “is still two or three Hale-Bopps across,” said Teddy Kareta, a planetary astronomy graduate student at the University ...
Will the Next Space-Weather Season Be Stormy or Fair?

Will the Next Space-Weather Season Be Stormy or Fair?

Technology
The big news about the sun is that there is no big news. We are blessed, astronomers like to say, to be living next to a “boring star.”But the inhabitants (if there are any) of the planets orbiting the neighboring star Proxima Centauri, only 4.2 light-years away, are less fortunate. In April astronomers announced that a massive flare had erupted from its surface in 2019. For seven seconds, as a battery of telescopes on Earth and in space watched, the little star had increased its output of ultraviolet radiation 14,000-fold, in one of the most violent such flares ever seen in our galaxy.This was more than serious sunburn territory. “A human being on this planet would have a bad time,” said Meredith MacGregor, an astronomy professor at the University of Colorado who led the worldwide observi...
Lyrid Meteor Shower 2021: How to Watch

Lyrid Meteor Shower 2021: How to Watch

Technology
All year long as Earth revolves around the sun, it passes through streams of cosmic debris. The resulting meteor showers can light up night skies from dusk to dawn, and if you’re lucky you might be able to catch a glimpse.The next shower you might be able to see is known as the Lyrids. Active from April 14 to April 30, it is expected to be at its peak from Wednesday night into Thursday morning, or April 21 to 22.There are records from ancient Chinese astronomers spotting these bursts of light more than 2,700 years ago. They blaze through the sky at about 107,000 miles per hour and explode about 55 miles up in the planet’s atmosphere. This shower comes from Comet Thatcher, which journeys around the sun about every 415 years. Its last trip was in 1861 and its next rendezvous near the sun wil...