The Earth, Moon and Comet 67/P showing how they would appear in the same light conditions (Not to correct size scale)

BOGOF? For asteroids? #rosetta #DuckComet

7 papers in the free special edition of Science magazine yesterday with results from the Rosetta mission. The duck-shaped comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko,is giving up its secrets one by one. And its biggest secret may be BOGOF.

Recall this great mission had a long journey to its target and then even landed on the surface of the asteroid.

http://news.discovery.com/space/videos/rosettas-10-year-gravity-fling-to-catch-a-comet-video-141112.htm

These set of initial results present new light on many different topics.

First up, the type of water on the comet is not the same type of water we have on Earth. So while comets may still have brought water to Earth, this comet is not an example of one that could have done so.

Second, the comet is spitting out gas in very strange and complex manned. It is a weird comet, after all – it looks more like two comets stuck together, which leads is nicely onto the next finding – maybe it is 2 comets stuck together.It may well turn out that the two blobs of the comet are different material, so this may have started out as two bodies, coallesed into one. So, Buy One Get One Free

Finally, it density is similar to that in the insoles of your new shoes – that aerogel that gives you a nice smooth walk. This is much lighter than anticipated, so the scientific models will have to adapt.

More to come as the comet gets closer to the Sun over the next 8 months.

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NASA grand challenge

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( Reuters) – NASA called on backyard astronomers and other citizen-scientists on Tuesday to help track asteroids that could create havoc on Earth.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5rsJwsyni4

The U.S. space agency has already identified 95 percent of the potentially planet-killing NEOs – near Earth objects – with a diameter of .62 miles or more, a size comparable to the space rock many scientists believe wiped out the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago.

Now NASA wants to work with individuals, government agencies, international partners and academia to “find all asteroid threats to human populations and know what to do about them.” Between 50 and 100 amateur astronomers are doing what is called light-curve analysis on space rocks, making repeated images of the astronomical bodies to help determine their characteristics, said Jason Kessler, program executive for what NASA calls Astroid Grand Challenge.

“We’re certainly going to need more help with that as our detection rate goes up,” Kessler said by telephone. He acknowledged that what NASA aims to do, at least in part, is to crowd-source asteroid detection.

Even smaller space rocks can be dangerous, whether or not they hit the Earth. In February, a meteorite about 19 yards in diameter exploded over central Russia, shattering windows, damaging buildings and injuring 1,200 people.

Earlier this month, an asteroid the size of a small truck zoomed past the Earth four times closer than the moon, crossing within about 65,000 miles over the Southern Ocean south of Tasmania, Australia.

How to capture an asteroid

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http://www.space.com/19151-asteroid-moon-orbit-nasa-study.html

According to a Florida senator, U.S. President Obama’s proposed federal budget for the coming fiscal year will include a line item for catching an asteroid and placing it in orbit around the moon. The budget is expected to be released later this week. There’s speculation that this proposal is in response to the recent realization by many that Earth is vulnerable to strikes from asteroids. This realization followed the February 15, 2013 asteroid explosion in the atmosphere over Russia on the same day that a second asteroid, traveling from a different direction in space, passed closer to Earth than some communications satellites.

A statement from the office of Florida Senator Bill Nelson said:

“In a nutshell, the plan in NASA’s hands calls for catching an asteroid with a robotic spacecraft and towing it back toward Earth, where it would then be placed in a stable orbit around the moon.”

The idea is that would then travel to the asteroid where, the statement said:

“… there could be mining activities, research into ways of deflecting an asteroid from striking Earth and testing to develop technology for a trip to deep space and Mars.”

Nelson, who is chairman of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Science and Space, said this plan is similar to one suggested by experts at the California Institute of Technology last year. That plan proposed bringing a 500-ton asteroid closer to Earth. Obama supports NASA’s plan and is including about $100 million in his proposed budget to kick it off. Of course the real mission will be more like $2.6 billion.

Spectacular cosmic coincidence

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A 10 tonne asteroid has crashed into Russia early this morning. The large piece of space rock probably shattered 20 miles above the ground, it enough fragments made it all the way down to Earth to cause significant damage. The small crater in the ice above is the result of one of the fragments. At least 950 people were injured as the resulting shockwave blew out windows and shook buildings in the Ural Mountains.

“It was quite extraordinary,” Chelyabinsk resident Polina Zolotarevskaya told BBC News. “We saw a very bright light and then there was a kind of a track, white and yellow in the sky.” “The explosion was so strong that some windows in our building and in the buildings that are across the road and in the city in general, the windows broke.”

Your can see it for yourself here

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newsvideo/9872507/The-science-behind-Russian-meteor-strike.html

Asteroids this size strike the Earth several hundred times a year, but are mostly over sea or desolate places and mostly burn up. But this event shows that when the trajectory is right, it can cause a lot of damage. Scientists have played down suggestions that there is any link between the event in the Urals and 2012 DA14, an asteroid expected to race past the Earth on Friday at a distance of just 27,700km (17,200 miles) – the closest ever predicted for an object of that size. The two asteroids approached from different directions, so it appears to be a cosmic coincidence.

Ar-ma-geddon outta here

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A close call on tuesday, after an asteroid measuring 36m across whistled within a whisker of the Earth on Tuesday, only two days after it was first detected by astronomers. It measured just 36m (120ft) across, but the last known asteroid of such a size to hit Earth wiped out an area of Russian forest the size of London in 1908.

http://www.cbc.ca/player/Shows/Shows/The+National/ID/2315403379/

Space experts claim more extensive monitoring systems and an Armageddon-style protocol must be urgently set up, with an enormous asteroid measuring 300m across expected to make an even closer pass in 2029. The Apophis asteroid, first detected in 2004, will come within 22,000 miles (36,000km) of Earth when it passes by – nearer to the Earth than television satellites and so close it can be seen with the naked eye as a burning point in the sky.

Although there is no chance of the asteroid colliding with Earth when it passes by on Friday, April 13 of that year, there is an extremely small chance it could fall into a gravitational loop and come back to hit the planet in 2038, scientists claimed.

Deflecting an asteroid, with paintballs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auSr_aO_gRo&feature=youtube_gdata_player

A fantastic think-outside-the-box idea from a student at MIT.

Sung wool paek suggests we fire paintballs at any asteroid on a crash collision with Earth. The combined effects of multiple hits will knock the asteroid slightly off course. Then the white paint will increase the asteroid’s reflectivity, moving the asteroid more and more off course. The only catch it that we need about 20 years warning, and we’ll need to fire the paintballs from space. Nevermind the naysaying though, this is a great piece of thinking way outside the box.

Billionaires and asteroid mining

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Asteroid mining a reality

One of the best stories of the year.

A bunch of billionaires want to go and mine asteroids for water and platinum. With the depressing news recently regarding government funding of science, the demise of the shuttle, and the lack of jobs, it is actually refreshing to see private money step in. Even if they only do it for profit the spin off for society will be huge. It is natural and human to explore, to see what it out where, to stretch the boundaries. And it could start new interest in engineering and science, similar to the Apollo era.
This is what makes space great.