Tag Archives: space

NASA takes a picture of 5,500 galaxies at once…..Feel small yet?

NASA snaps a picture of 5500 galaxies at once Using Hubble, NASA snagged this picture of 5500 galaxies, using a range of light wavelengths. The camera is 10 billion times more sensitive than the human eye, producing the deepest look into our universe yet. I suddenly feel so… small. Via

Using Hubble, NASA snagged this picture of 5500 galaxies, using a range of light wavelengths. The camera is 10 billion times more sensitive than the human eye, producing the deepest look into our universe yet. I suddenly feel so… small.


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Crazy billionaire wants to tow a 500 ton asteroid to Earth by 2025

Towing a 500 ton asteroid into the outer orbit of Earth sounds like something a James Bond villain might try, but one billionaire says he wants to give it a shot. It’s something that the Chinese government has said might be an option in studying asteroids, and it’s just crazy enough it might work. Or it could kill us all.

Cal Tech’s Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS) commissioned a larger study beginning in September 2011 and issued its report earlier this month. In it, a who’s who of people from at least 17 organizations suggest that we bring a much larger asteroid near the Earth and visit it there. After all, in the decade it would take to develop the skills and equipment we’ll need to visit the asteroid belt, we could identify a target and make the tiny course corrections in its orbit necessary to have it arrive at our doorstep seven to ten years later.

Figuratively speaking, a small mountain really could come to Mohammed. The much smaller spacecraft necessary to bring it could be launched on a conventional Atlas, Delta, or Falcon rocket.

In this case we’re really talking about bringing home a molehill: only 500 metric tons and roughly 7 meters across. The KISS study points out that the Apollo mission brought back 382kg of samples in 6 missions, and the OSIRIS-REx mission would bring back 60 grams of surface material by 2023. By nudging an asteroid with some creative orbital mechanics, KISS suggested that 500 tons or larger would be well within the realm of possibility. Several targets could be identified every year.

The problem requires three technological developments, the first of which we’ve mastered—we now have the ability to identify candidate asteroids. The second is solar electric propulsion, a technology which has now been used on several small spacecraft. Scaling up, NASA recently received the results of four study contracts it awarded late last year for the construction of SEP-driven orbital tugboats. The last development involves NASA’s plan to have a human presence in the area of space to which asteroids could safely be delivered by 2025: geosynchronous orbits and the Lagrange points between the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun. A small spacecraft could deliver between 28 and 70 times its own mass back into easier-to-access space. The KISS paper recommends placing this first asteroid in lunar orbit or at a lunar Lagrange point, for safety.

A robotic asteroid retrieval mission would contribute toward an invaluable advance in human spaceflight, a leap forward in several areas in which humankind must make progress in order to advance into the solar system. The necessary elements all exist. By the best metric in spaceflight available to measure feasibility today, the mission is only a one-billionaire problem. And as it happens, a few billionaires may be interested.

According to MIT’s Technology Review, a new firm backed by several deep-pocketed investors will announce itself Tuesday at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. The firm calls itself Planetary Resources, and the people involved include Charles Simonyi of Microsoft, Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google, James Cameron, Ross Perot Jr., and Peter Diamandis, founder of the X-Prize Foundation. With this much money involved, the eyeballs of space geeks everywhere are now expectantly coming to bear on Seattle.


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Yesterday the Sun essentially came all over itself and you didn’t even notice

You may not have noticed, but yesterday, the Sun had a massive coronal mass ejection, erupting some 198,000 miles off the surface and 79,000 miles wide. That’s big enough to fit ten Earths under.

The eruption is what’s known as a coronal mass ejection, or CME, when the Sun’s magnetic fields force out an unfathomably large amount of unfathomably hot gas: “A large CME can contain a billion tons of matter that can be accelerated to several million miles per hour in a spectacular explosion. Solar material streams out through the interplanetary medium, impacting any planet or spacecraft in its path,” explains NASA, who told us that this particular blast extended to the far reaches of our solar system.

But this mega-explosion didn’t just reach far in one direction—ten earths is nothing. NASA’s Karen Fox said the “height” of the CME (from our perspective) was “25 earth radii high”—198,000 miles. What you see above is the blast before it detached itself from the Sun, rolling outward and onward.


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