Asteroid 2005 YU55 will sweep near Earth November 8, 2011

Asteroid 2005 YU55

The huge asteroid 2005 YU55 will sweep closely past the Earth – missing us by 319,000 kilometers (about 200,000 miles) – tomorrow. It’ll be the closest known passage of an asteroid this big – but there was an even closer passage to Earth of this same asteroid in 1976, which went undetected. This time, astronomers spotted it ahead of time.

On this November 8, 2011 passage, 2005 YU55 will come closer than the moon’s distance from Earth, but it will not strike Earth or the moon.

The time of closest passage will be November 8 at 5:28 p.m. CST (23:28 UTC).

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First Orbit, a free film created to celebrate the first 50 years of human spaceflight

It is April 12th 1961 and Yuri Gagarin is about to see what no other person has seen in the history of humanity – the Earth from space. In the next 108 minutes he’ll see more than most people do in a lifetime. What sights awaited the first cosmonaut silently gliding over the world below? What was it like to view the oceans and continents sailing by from such a height? In a unique collaboration with the European Space Agency, and the Expedition 26/27 crew of the International Space Station, we have created a new film of what Gagarin first witnessed fifty years ago.

A real time recreation of Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering first orbit, shot entirely in space from on board the International Space Station. The film combines this new footage with Gagarin’s original mission audio and a new musical score by composer Philip Sheppard. For more information visit http://www.firstorbit.org/

Check out First Orbit here

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NASA launches 100-year quest to send humans to the stars

100 Year Starship

A NASA center and the Pentagon’s lead research group are striking financial flint to steel in hopes of sparking a sustained effort to make interstellar space travel a reality.

On Thursday, an official with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced that the agency will award a $500,000 grant to the person or group who can lay out the most effective road map for financing and implementing a research and development program to lead to interstellar travel by early next century.

At that point, the government will bow out, leaving it up to the winner to turn the ideas on Powerpoint slides to a sustainable research program – one that also is likely to focus on the ethical, economic, and legal issues surrounding the prospect of launching humans to other stars.

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9 reasons why Yuri Gagarin may be the most mantastic man ever

50 years ago, on April 12th, a human went into space for the first time. Let’s say that again, for emphasis: a human went into space. In a rocket. To space. His name was Yuri Gagarin and he is an undeniable legend.

Sure, his fame might be overshadowed somewhat by those showoff Americans Buzz Adrin and Neil Armstrong (though we still love you guys, big time), and his tragic death in a plane crash at the age of 31 also limited his potential awesomeness, but there’s no man alive who could deny that Yuri was an absolute boss.

A hero in Russia — more than a hero, in fact, more like a god — he’s celebrated to this day, year after year, for his amazing feat of being the first man in space, and for showing those Yanks the Russkies had the power to send a ruddy bloody man into ruddy bloody space.

Continue reading at Asylum.co.uk

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NASA concludes first Open Source Summit, aims to make openness the default

NASA has been implementing an Open Government Plan for nearly a year, and this week they held the first NASA Open Source Summit in Mountain View, CA. But the roots of open source at NASA go back much further, to its founding legislation in 1958, which designed NASA as a source that would “provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information”–a goal perfectly suited to an open approach.

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The Clue to the Missing Matter of the Nearby Universe

In May of 2010, Astronomers using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA’s XMM-Newton detected a vast reservoir of gas lying along a wall-shaped structure of galaxies about 400 million light years from Earth. In the image above the spiral and elliptical galaxies are shown in the Sculptor Wall along with the newly detected intergalactic gas, part of the so-called Warm Hot Intergalactic Medium (WHIM), shown in blue. This discovery is the strongest evidence yet that the “missing matter” in the nearby Universe is located in an enormous web of hot, diffuse gas.

The Sculptor Wall, a type of galaxy filament, the largest known structures in the universe, is a wall-shaped structure of galaxies about 400 million light years from Earth. The wall is faint beyond 500 million light years because the data is incomplete beyond that distance. The nearest part of the wall (the Phoenix supercluster) lies next to a large rectangular void, the Sculptor Void -one of the largest voids in the nearby universe.

Read more at the dailygalaxy.com

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Rare solstice lunar eclipse just in time for the Holidays

Everyone knows that “the moon on the breast of new-fallen snow gives the luster of mid-day to objects below.” That is, except during a lunar eclipse.

The luster will be a bit “off” on Dec. 21st, the first day of northern winter, when the full Moon passes almost dead-center through Earth’s shadow. For 72 minutes of eerie totality, an amber light will play across the snows of North America, throwing landscapes into an unusual state of ruddy shadow.

The eclipse begins on Tuesday morning, Dec. 21st, at 1:33 am EST (Monday, Dec. 20th, at 10:33 pm PST). At that time, Earth’s shadow will appear as a dark-red bite at the edge of the lunar disk. It takes about an hour for the “bite” to expand and swallow the entire Moon. Totality commences at 02:41 am EST (11:41 pm PST) and lasts for 72 minutes.

If you’re planning to dash out for only one quick look -­ it is December, after all -­ choose this moment: 03:17 am EST (17 minutes past midnight PST). That’s when the Moon will be in deepest shadow, displaying the most fantastic shades of coppery red.

Source

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NASA: Definition of life has just expanded

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Micro-organism found in Mono Lake, California View loc8id map: loc8id.com/7zjI8E Source: Sathish J

NASA has discovered a new life form, a bacteria called GFAJ-1 that is unlike anything currently living in planet Earth. It’s capable of using arsenic to build its DNA, RNA, proteins, and cell membranes. This changes everything. Updated.

NASA is saying that this is “life as we do not know it”. The reason is that all life on Earth is made of six components: Carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. Every being, from the smallest amoeba to the largest whale, share the same life stream. Our DNA blocks are all the same.

That was true until today. In a surprising revelation, NASA scientist Felisa Wolfe-Simon and her team have found a bacteria whose DNA is completely alien to what we know today, working differently than the rest of the organisms in the planet. Instead of using phosphorus, the newly discovered microorganism—called GFAJ-1 and found in Mono Lake, California—uses the poisonous arsenic for its building blocks. Arsenic is an element poisonous to every other living creature in the planet except for a few specialized microscopic creatures.

Continue reading at Gizmodo.com

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The Probability of Finding Aliens Is Now Three Times Higher

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The total number of stars in the Universe “is likely three times bigger than realized.” Yale University astronomer Pieter van Dokkum says there are “possibly trillions of Earths orbiting these stars,” dramatically increasing the possibility of finding alien civilizations.

According to the new study just published in Nature, new observations on the red end of the optical spectrum at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii show an overwhelming population of red dwarfs in eight massive nearby elliptical galaxies. The team has discovered that these galaxies hold twenty times more red dwarfs than the Milky Way.

Van Dokkum says that “there are possibly trillions of Earths orbiting these stars” which are “typically more than 10 billion years old.” According to him, that’s long enough for complex life to evolve, which is “one reason why people are interested in this type of star.” In fact, astronomers discovered the first exoplanet similar to our own Earth—and therefore capable of harboring complex life—orbiting the Gliese 581 red dwarf star system, 20.3 light years from our home planet.

Continue reading at Gizmodo.com

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Two large asteroids narrowly miss earth, NASA said

Asteroid flight path nearly missing earth

The two objects were only identified at the weekend by the Nasa-funded Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona, during a routine sky scan.

The first asteroid, christened 2010 RX30, was about 65 feet (20 metres) in diameter and flew past at a distance of 154,000 miles early at 9:51am on Wednesday.

The second, called 2010 RF12, was roughly two-thirds the size of its big brother and estimated to pass within just 49,088 miles of Earth hours later.

While they were visible to many amateur stargazers, space agency researchers said neither asteroid posed a risk to earth.

Read the rest of the story at The Telegraph

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