Topic: Near Earth Object Observation Program
Pasadena, CA – A new multiagency report outlines how the U.S. could become better prepared for near-Earth objects — asteroids and comets whose orbits come within 30 million miles of Earth — otherwise known as NEOs. While no known NEOs currently pose significant risks of impact, the report is a key step to addressing a nationwide response to any future risks.
NASA, along with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and several other governmental agencies collaborated on this federal planning document for NEOs.
Written by Bill Steigerwald
Greenbelt, MD – On rare calm days, the most striking thing you notice at an altitude of more than 8,000 feet on an Antarctic glacier is the silence.
“There was just no sound; no air handling equipment, no leaves rustling, no bugs, no planes or cars. So quiet you just heard your heartbeat,” said Barbara Cohen, planetary scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Most of the time, however, there is a steady howl of bitter cold wind flowing down from the East Antarctic ice plateau. With a summer temperature hovering around zero Fahrenheit, “It’s the wind that makes you cold,” Cohen said.
Washington, D.C. – A blinding flash, a loud sonic boom, and shattered glass everywhere. This is what the people of Chelyabinsk, Russia, experienced five years ago when an asteroid exploded over their city the morning of February 15th, 2013.
The house-sized asteroid entered the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk at over eleven miles per second and blew apart 14 miles above the ground. The explosion released the energy equivalent of around 440,000 tons of TNT and generated a shock wave that blew out windows over 200 square miles and damaged some buildings. Over 1,600 people were injured in the blast, mostly due to broken glass.
Written by DC Agle
Pasadena, CA – An asteroid, designated 2004 BL86, will safely pass about three times the distance of Earth to the moon on January 26th. From its reflected brightness, astronomers estimate that the asteroid is about a third of a mile (0.5 kilometers) in size.
The flyby of 2004 BL86 will be the closest by any known space rock this large until asteroid 1999 AN10 flies past Earth in 2027.
At the time of its closest approach on January 26th, the asteroid will be approximately 745,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from Earth.
NASA’s Near Earth Object Program has released map showing small asteroids entering Earth’s atmosphere
Written by DC Agle
Pasadena, CA – A map released by NASA’s Near Earth Object (NEO) Program reveals that small asteroids frequently enter and disintegrate in the Earth’s atmosphere with random distribution around the globe.
Released to the scientific community, the map visualizes data gathered by U.S. government sensors from 1994 to 2013. The data indicate that Earth’s atmosphere was impacted by small asteroids, resulting in a bolide (or fireball), on 556 separate occasions in a 20-year period.
Written by DC Agle
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) spacecraft has spotted a never-before-seen comet — its first such discovery since coming out of hibernation late last year.
“We are so pleased to have discovered this frozen visitor from the outermost reaches of our solar system,” said Amy Mainzer, the mission’s principal investigator from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. “This comet is a weirdo – it is in a retrograde orbit, meaning that it orbits the sun in the opposite sense from Earth and the other planets.”
Written by DC Agle
Pasadena, CA – A collage of radar images of near-Earth asteroid 2006 DP14 was generated by NASA scientists using the 230-foot (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, CA, on the night of February 11th, 2014.
Delay-Doppler radar imaging revealed that the asteroid is about 1,300 feet (400 meters) long, 660 feet (200 meters) wide, and shaped somewhat like a big peanut. The asteroid’s period of rotation is about six hours.
Pasadena, CA – The true identity of centaurs, the small celestial bodies orbiting the sun between Jupiter and Neptune, is one of the enduring mysteries of astrophysics. Are they asteroids or comets? A new study of observations from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) finds most centaurs are comets.
Until now, astronomers were not certain whether centaurs are asteroids flung out from the inner solar system or comets traveling in toward the sun from afar. Because of their dual nature, they take their name from the creature in Greek mythology whose head and torso are human and legs are those of a horse.
NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) discovers additional Asteroids between Jupiter and Mars
Pasadena, CA – A new and improved family tree for asteroids in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter has been created using data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE)
Astronomers used millions of infrared snapshots from the asteroid-hunting portion of the WISE all-sky survey, called NEOWISE, to identify 28 new asteroid families. The snapshots also helped place thousands of previously hidden and uncategorized asteroids into families for the first time. The findings are a critical step in understanding the origins of asteroid families, and the collisions thought to have created these rocky clans.
Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Washington, D.C. – This week, NASA’s Goldstone radar is tracking a large asteroid as it passes by Earth, and obtaining images of unprecedented clarity.
“At closest approach on December 12th, asteroid 4179 Toutatis will be 7 million km away or 18 times farther than the Moon,” says Lance Benner of NASA’s Near Earth Object Program. “There is no danger of a collision with Earth,” but the asteroid will be close enough for radar imaging.
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