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04/19/2007


Risk of Massive Asteroid Strike 10 Times Greater Than Thought

A fireball was seen streaking over the American southwest last night and sightings were reported in Los Angeles, Arizona, Utah, and Las Vegas, CNN reports:

AsteroidMatthew Isaacs, from Mission Viejo, said he was driving when he saw the flash of light.

"I saw this big, greenish flash like, light up the sky. It was headed pretty sideways from like, east to west. I thought, 'Is that a firework?' And then I realized, that couldn't be that big. It's just in the middle of nowhere in a totally dark area where there's no houses or anything where anyone would shoot fireworks. I thought, 'Man, it must have been a meteor,'" Isaacs told KCBS.

The light most likely came from the South Taurids meteor showers. These meteors are generally the most visible in the first half of November, the American Meteor Society says.

In related news, scientists are raising the alarm that the chances of a massive meteor, like the one that entered the atmosphere over Russia earlier this year, are much greater than previously thought:

The asteroid that exploded on 15 February this year near the city of Chelyabinsk in the Urals region of Russia was the largest to crash to Earth since 1908, when an object hit Tunguska in Siberia. Using video recordings of the event, scientists have now reconstructed the asteroid's properties and its trajectory through Earth’s atmosphere. The risk of similar objects hitting our planet may be ten times larger than previously thought, they now warn.
...

Of the millions of estimated near-Earth asteroids 10–20 metres in diameter, only about 500 have been catalogued. Models suggest that an object the size of the Chelyabinsk asteroid hits Earth once every 150 years on average, Brown says. But the number of observed impacts exceeding 1 kiloton of TNT over the past 20 years alone hints at an actual impact risk that may be an order of magnitude larger than previously assumed, Brown and his co-workers show in their study3. Scanning the visible sky with a view to identifying approaching small objects might be a prudent response, he suggests. One such asteroid detection and early-warning system, ATLAS, is being established in Hawaii.

(image: artist rendering of Russian meteor)


Lady Gaga to Perform in Space

Gaga_egg

Lady Gaga is going to blast off in a Virgin Galactic spacecraft "and belt out a single track" during a high tech music festival in New Mexico in early 2015, Us Weekly reports:

"Zero G Colony is a three-day hi-tech festival set to take place at Spaceport America in New Mexico that features world-class entertainment and cutting-edge technology. Gaga's performance in space is planned to take place on the third day at dawn, which is approximately six months after the first Virgin Galactic commercial flight.

While they're billing it as "the first artist to sing in outer space" I'm not sure that Gaga could possibly outdo Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and his completely amazing cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" from the ISS.

And Hadfield is an artist if there ever was one.


Large 'Meteorite' Dragged Out Of Russian Lake Breaks The Scale At 1,255 Pounds: VIDEO

Meteorite

A large "meteorite" was pulled out of Russia's Lake Chebarkul on Wednesday. It is thought to be a chunk from the meteor shower in February which injured hundreds after windows were broken from the shockwaves produced. The rock, which has yet to be confirmed as a true meteorite, was five feet long and weighed in at 1,255 pounds. It broke the scale on which it was being weighed and split into three pieces.  

Business Insider reports:

Most fragments of the meteor — know as meteorites once they hit the ground — were believed to have sunk to the bottom of Lake Chebarkul, a frozen lake in the Chelyabinsky region. Recovery workers initially turned up empty-handed.

...

Scientists still need to verify that the hunk of rock came from space and was actually part of the Chelyabinsky meteor, although many features — like fractures and a crust that indicates it survived the heat of passing through Earth's atmosphere — suggest that it is a true meteorite. A small sample will be X-rayed to determine its mineral composition,according to RT.

Over 12 pieces of rock have been pulled from Lake Chebarkul since the meteor explosion, but only one-third of those turned out to be real meteorites, according to the AFP.

Check out video of the massive rock being pulled from its watery home, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Large 'Meteorite' Dragged Out Of Russian Lake Breaks The Scale At 1,255 Pounds: VIDEO" »


Drone Captures Stunning Close-Up of Elon Musk's Leaping Rocket: VIDEO

Grasshopper

Over the past year, we've been keeping tabs on Elon Musk's SpaceX Grasshopper rocket, which can take off and land vertically. The craft has now made its most impressive (and visually stunning) leap yet, thanks to a hexacopter drone which captured the rocket as it ascended and descended.

Grasshopper's leap this time was 2,440.94 feet.

SpaceX writes: "While most rockets are designed to burn up on atmosphere reentry, SpaceX rockets are being designed not only to withstand reentry, but also to return to the launch pad for a vertical landing. The Grasshopper VTVL vehicle represents a critical step towards this goal. Grasshopper consists of a Falcon 9 rocket first stage tank, Merlin 1D engine, four steel and aluminum landing legs with hydraulic dampers, and a steel support structure."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Drone Captures Stunning Close-Up of Elon Musk's Leaping Rocket: VIDEO" »


Virgin Galactic's Commercial Spaceship Completes Second Successful Test Flight: VIDEO

Virgin Galactic SS2

Having successfully launched themselves into space two years ago, Virgin Galactic proceeded with their second test flight this past Thursday as they progress towards providing commercial space flight in 2014. The test flight was a rousing success, "flawless" according to the pilots in a Virgin Galactic press release.

The SpaceShipTwo (SS2) reached a height of 69,000 feet and broke the sound barrier to reach a top speed of Mach 1.43 before touching down safely thanks to the feathering re-entry system. Founder of Virgin Galactic Sir Richard Branson expressed his pleasure with the test flight:

It was particularly thrilling to see for the first time today the whole elegant system in action during a single flight, including the remarkable feathering re-entry system. It was this safety feature more than anything else that originally persuaded us that the overall design of the system was uniquely fit for purpose. Everything we have seen today just confirms that view. Congratulations to all involved!

You can see footage of the flight shot facing the tail of the SS2 AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Virgin Galactic's Commercial Spaceship Completes Second Successful Test Flight: VIDEO" »


NASA Moon Rocket Launch from Virginia Visible from NYC: VIDEO, PHOTO

Cooper

Ben Cooper of LaunchPhotography took this amazing long-exposure shot from Rockefeller Center of a NASA rocket carrying LADEE, the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer robotic probe. It's the first deep space mission from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and was visible from a huge portion of the East Coast. LADEE will orbit the moon to collect information about its atmosphere and environmental influences on lunar dust.

Watch the rocket launch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Did you see it last night?

Ladee

Continue reading "NASA Moon Rocket Launch from Virginia Visible from NYC: VIDEO, PHOTO" »


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