It’s the ultimate doomsday scenario: Astronomers spot an enormous miles-wide asteroid headed for a collision course with Earth. An impact with our planet means a fiery goodbye to civilization—and life—as we know it, and there are only a few short weeks to rally together a plucky group of oil drillers the citizens of the world to somehow fight this apocalyptic threat.
Fortunately, it’s doubtful we’ll ever be faced with this kind of sudden Armageddon. NASA, other government space agencies, and astronomers across the world have a pretty solid way of tracking huge, civilization-destroying asteroids, mapping their trajectories many years or decades in advance before they might head our way. Such ample warning would give us more than enough time to prepare some kind of deflection strategy.
Instead, it’s the smaller and “medium-sized” asteroids we need to worry about—those ranging from 100 to 1,000 feet in diameter. That’s according to the Emergency Asteroid Defence Project based out of Copenhagen, Denmark. A non-profit organization comprised of engineers and science entrepreneurs, the EADP is trying to increase awareness about the threats posed by these less domineering asteroids. They argue that because of their smaller size, the space rocks are harder to spot many years in advance, perhaps going undetected until just a few a short weeks before they crash.
And if scientists find one to be headed toward a major city, the impact could be on par with that of an atomic blast.
“Preliminary data from NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, indicates the mission successfully uncovered water in a permanently shadowed lunar crater. The discovery opens a new chapter in our understanding of the moon.
The LCROSS spacecraft and a companion rocket stage made twin impacts in the Cabeus crater Oct. 9 that created a plume of material from the bottom of a crater that has not seen sunlight in billions of years. The plume traveled at a high angle beyond the rim of Cabeus and into sunlight, while an additional curtain of debris was ejected more laterally.”
Image by Goddard Photo and Video Blog via Flickr
“WASHINGTON, July 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, has returned its first imagery of the Apollo moon landing sites. The pictures show the Apollo missions’ lunar module descent stages sitting on the moon‘s surface, as long shadows from a low sun angle make the modules’ locations evident.
“The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, or LROC, was able to image five of the six Apollo sites, with the remaining Apollo 12 site expected to be photographed in the coming weeks.
“The satellite reached lunar orbit June 23 and captured the Apollo sites between July 11 and 15. Though it had been expected that LRO would be able to resolve the remnants of the Apollo mission, these first images came before the spacecraft reached its final mapping orbit. Future LROC images from these sites will have two to three times greater resolution.”
“GREENBELT, Md., July 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, has transmitted its first images since reaching lunar orbit June 23. The spacecraft has two cameras — a low resolution Wide Angle Camera and a high resolution Narrow Angle Camera. Collectively known as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, or LROC, they were activated June 30. The cameras are working well and have returned images of a region a few kilometers east of Hell E crater in the lunar highlands south of Mare Nubium.”
Image by Goddard Video and Multimedia via Flickr
“GREENBELT, Md., June 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — After a four and a half day journey from the Earth, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, has successfully entered orbit around the moon. Engineers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., confirmed the spacecraft’s lunar orbit insertion at 6:27 a.m. EDT Tuesday.”
“WASHINGTON, May 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — NASA’s return to the moon will get a boost in June with the launch of two satellites that will return a wealth of data about Earth’s nearest neighbor. On Thursday, the agency outlined the upcoming missions of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS. The spacecraft will launch together June 17 aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
“Using a suite of seven instruments, LRO will help identify safe landing sites for future human explorers, locate potential resources, characterize the radiation environment and test new technology. LCROSS will seek a definitive answer about the presence of water ice at the lunar poles. LCROSS will use the spent second stage Atlas Centaur rocket in an unprecedented way that will culminate with two spectacular impacts on the moon’s surface.”
Space Weather News for March 16, 2009
“FLYBY ALERT: In a twilight launch of stunning beauty, space shuttle Discovery left Earth last night on a two week construction mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Discovery is now approaching the ISS for docking on March 17th. The timing of this mission favors sky watchers in North America and Europe who will be able to see the two spacecraft flying over many towns and cities in the evenings ahead. Tonight, March 16th, is extra-special because the not-yet-docked duo will appear as distinct points of bright light flying one after the other through the twilight sky–a rare “double flyby.” Check the Simple Satellite Tracker for flyby times: http://spaceweather.com/flybys .”
Forwarded from a SpaceWeather email I got earlier.
“CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., March 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — NASA’s Kepler mission to seek other Earth-like planets is undergoing final preparations for liftoff Friday, March 6, from Pad 17-B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The spacecraft launch aboard a Delta II rocket has two windows of opportunity Friday, from 10:49 to 10:52 p.m. and 11:13 to 11:16 p.m. EST.”
- Space and Astronautics News » Blog Archive » NASA Tests Engine for New Manned Moon Landings.
“The Common Extensible Cryogenic Engine, or CECE, is a deep-throttling engine, which means it has the flexibility to reduce thrust from 100 percent down to 10 percent – allowing a spacecraft to gently land on the lunar surface. The 13,800-pound thrust engine uses extremely cold liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen as propellants.”
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