In the early hours of Tuesday the 17th of February, NASA cameras captured something rare and incredible on their All-sky Fireball Network, which is made up of 15 black and white cameras set up across the United States. This meteor was seen by three of them. According to their calculations, the meteor that tore through the atmosphere at 45,000 miles an hour, was about two feet wide and likely weighed about a quarter of a ton.
NASA lost track of the fireball when it was about 13 miles above the ground. Even at that size, the intense heat of entry into our atmosphere would have broken this meteor into several bite-sized meteorites that would have fallen just east of Kittanning, Pennsylvania.
Bill Cooke from the Meteoroid Environments Office, says the meteor was seen over Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania.
For more on the meteor’s journey, check out the NASA Meteor Watch Facebook page, where they’ve created an animation to show the point of view of the rock as it hurtled towards the planet.
NASA is closely monitoring a major event in our atmosphere. In the upper arcs of our atmosphere, a rarefied layer of gas called “the thermosphere” has partially collapsed and now is rebounding again.
“This is the biggest contraction of the thermosphere in at least 43 years,” says John Emmert of the Naval Research Lab. “It’s a Space Age record. Something is going on that we do not understand.”
This collapse occurred during a period of low solar activity, called a solar minimum, when sunspots and solar flare activity heavily diminish. The thermosphere does many cool things, including intercepting extreme ultraviolet light (EUV) before it hits the Earth’s surface.
The Leonid meteor shower will peak early Tuesday morning, November 17, 2009. NASA is predicting “20 to 30 meteors per hour over the Americas, and as many as 200 to 300 per hour over Asia.”
If you want to catch the Leonid meteor shower, the ideal place to be is in Asia, but skywaychers all over North America should be able to see some of these meteors streak by.
According to SPACE.com “the trick for all observers is to head outside in the wee hours of the morning – between 1 a.m. and dawn – regardless where you live.In the United States and Canada, eastern observers will be particularly well-positioned for maximum activity, expected sometime between 3:30 and 5:30 a.m. EST, when the radiant of the Leonid shower will be well up in the dark southeastern sky.”
For more info – go to the best source of space-related info – NASA.
NASA is going to bomb moon to explore as to whether it has water under its surface.
A NASA instrument sent through an Indian mooncraft Chandrayaan had found that water is on the moon. Tomorrow, NASA’s LCROSS, which is short for Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, will send a spent booster rocket that will crash into a crater at 5,600 miles per hour near the lunar south pole in search of ice mixed in the soil of the crater’s floor. Scientists suspect there will be billions of gallons of it, but want to find proof.
“We can directly measure water ice, and then we can fly right through the plume,” said LCROSS project manager Daniel Andrews.
The bombing will go down on Friday at 7:31 a.m. Eastern time.
NASA has recently announced a competition for eco-minded aircraft designers, one in which low-carbon flying machines will compete for a $1.5m prize at a contest to be held in California in 2011.
The competition will be run and organized by NASA’s light-aircraft collaborator organization, the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency Foundation. It will be known as the CAFE Green Flight Challenge (CGFC), and competing aircraft will be assessed in flight trials to take place at the Charles M Schulz Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, California, in July 2011.
Seven astronauts boarded the shuttle today, led by Cdr. Scott Altman at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center this afternoon. Despite one warning signal right after liftoff, they safely reached orbit within eight minutes and are cruising space at more than 17,200 miles per hour.
The desination is the Hubble Space Telescope, whose batteries, cameras and gyroscopes are in need of replacement, located 350 miles out in orbit where the team will begin five days of space walks to repair the telescope.
NASA has openly discussed the threat of micro-meteorites hitting the orbiter while the astronauts are fixing Hubble. Earlier this year two satellites collided over Siberia, which has increased the risk even more, as space junk from that collision drifts lower. Once Atlantis fixes Hubble, it will immediately move to a lower altitude to reduce chances of getting hit by space junk.
The observatory satellite launched on schedule at 4:55am ET this morning in California but the fairing, which is the structure designed to protect the Orbiting Carbon Observatory as it blasts through the atmosphere, failed to separate from the satellite.
This resulted in the observatory being unable to maintain an orbit and consequently is currently somewhere in the ocean near Antarctica. Satellite launch fail.
The NASA Mishap Investigation Board is currently trying to work out what went wrong.
To better calculate the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere NASA is launching a new satellite tomorrow. The precise measurements of the Orbital Carbon Observatory will help scientists better understand the natural processes as well as the human impact of carbon dioxide levels. This should provide more reliable predictions of how green house gases are distributed through the atmosphere as well as their effect on global warming
Current data on carbon dioxide levels in the Earth’s atmosphere has become much easier for anyone to check now since last week Purdue University released a carbon dioxide map for Google Earth. It reveals pollution from factories, highways, buildings, etc. for the U.S. by state, county or population.
This is all part of Purdue’s Project Vulcan which is intending to expand the details of the map and expanding it to Canada and Mexico.