CHARON’S IMPACT CRATER EMERGES IN LATEST NEW HORIZONS SHOT


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NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

IN THE IMAGE NASA released of Charon yesterday, astronomers pointed out a collection of vaguely-defined features on the surface of Pluto’s biggest moon. Now, with this latest capture, the New Horizons team has confirmed that the big dent in the icy rock’s surface is in fact an impact crater, surrounded by a couple of deep canyons—one larger than Earth’s Grand Canyon.

Get ready for even more detailed images of Charon and its orbital buddy, Pluto, tomorrow morning when New Horizons makes its closest approach to the system. Geologists will be especially interested to take a closer look at the dark spot on the moon’s northern pole, and the rays of material you can see spraying out from the edges of the crater.

Source :Wired

Giant Asteroid Is Headed Our Way, But NASA Says No Worries


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Asteroid Crater Located in Arizona, USA (Click Image to Download)

A ginormous asteroid is headed our way, but no need to worry. NASA says asteroid 2004 BL86–estimated to be about one-third of a mile in diameter–will zoom harmlessly by Earth later this month.

That’s good news, of course. And get this: The asteroid’s size and proximity–about 745,000 miles from Earth at the nearest point in its flyby, or about three times the distance from the Earth to the Moon–mean it should be visible with nothing more than a good pair of binoculars.

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“Monday, January 26 will be the closest asteroid 2004 BL86 will get to Earth for at least the next 200 years,” Don Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Lab, said in a written statement. “And while it poses no threat to Earth for the foreseeable future, it’s a relatively close approach by a relatively large asteroid, so it provides us a unique opportunity to observe and learn more.”

Skywatchers in the Americas, Europe, and Africa should have the best view of the asteroid on the night of Jan. 26, according to EarthSky. Weather permitting, the asteroid should be visible moving slowly across the sky in the vicinity of the constellation Cancer.

Of course, it will only look slow. The asteroid is actually streaking at about 35,000 miles an hour.

Yeomans said he might grab his own binoculars and have a look himself. If you’d rather stay indoors, you can catch the action online at The Virtual Telescope Project 2.0. The show starts at 2:30 p.m. EST.

Source : huffingtonpost

Large Asteroids to Flyby Earth in January Through March. Should Humans Worry?


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A view of the asteroid Lutetia from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft (Click Image to download)

Asteroids are headed in Earth’s direction and with most of them about as wide as a double-decker bus, a collision would most likely result in significant damage. However, while experts warn against the potential dangers of these asteroids, they also say that it is unlikely that these will veer off course and hit the planet.

According to NASA’s Near Earth Object Program, there will be 43 asteroids flying close to Earth in January and 25 in February. In March, the number further drops to 15. The biggest threat for January is the asteroid 2007 EJ slated to closely approach the planet on Jan. 12. With a maximum diameter of nearly 1 mile, the asteroid is traveling at around 34,500 miles per hour.

The next-biggest asteroid threat for the first month of the year is the 1991 VE. It features a diameter of 0.87 miles and is expected to skim past the planet on Jan. 17. On Jan. 15 and 23, 0.68-mile wide asteroids will be flying by, the 2014 UF206 and the 2062 Aten, respectively.

At 0.75 miles wide, the 2003 YK118 will follow in Feb. 27. On the same day, the biggest asteroid threat for the quarter, the 1.4-mile wide 2000 EE14 can be expected. For March, the biggest an asteroid will get will be the 2002 GM2, which measures 0.68 miles in diameter. It’s scheduled to come close to Earth on March 3.

The 2000 EE14 will also not only be the biggest for the quarter but it will also be flying by the closest, coming in up to nearly 17 million miles within the proximity of the Earth’s center.

Alarmed that about a million undetected asteroids are flying around in space right now, scientists launched Asteroid Day to raise awareness and prevent the disaster that happened 65 million years ago from happening as much as possible.

According to NASA, the agency is aware of more than 1,500 PHAs or potentially hazardous asteroids. These are defined using parameters that measure how big of a potential an asteroid has for dangerously coming close to the planet. But just because an asteroid has a high potential doesn’t mean that it will impact Earth. The measure of potential is there to simply gauge just how big the possibility of a threat is. PHAs are constantly monitored to improve predictions for close-approach statistics, which in turn improves predictions for threat and impact.

Source : techtimes , Photo by ESA