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Posts Tagged ‘space’

Today is the first test of humanity’s nascent planetary defense system. Like Armageddon, except scientists are the heroes.

NASA will hit an asteroid with a spacecraft to change its course : NPR

“It’s just a spacecraft that is going to go and smack an asteroid.” Oh, is that all?

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NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) is scheduled to crash a spacecraft into an asteroid to test our ability to nudge potentially dangerous near-Earth objects into safer trajectories. That is excellent, and we can watch it.

How to Livestream NASA Smashing an Asteroid to Test Planetary Defense Plan

The impact day broadcast of the actual test will start on Monday, September 26 at 6 p.m. EDT, which you can watch on NASA TV, a livestream on NASA’s YouTube channel.

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What will happen and how will we know? 

Ground-based telescopes are key to DART asteroid mission success | Space

On Monday (Sept. 26), the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft will slam into a small space rock called Dimorphos — on purpose, at a staggering 4 miles (6.6 kilometers) per second. The exercise comes in the name of planetary defense, which aims to protect human civilization from any large asteroid that may be on a collision course. For the mission to succeed, scientists need to measure exactly how much the orbit of Dimorphos around its larger companion, Didymos, speeds up. And the DART spacecraft won’t be in any shape to make that measurement itself, so mission personnel are relying on ground-based telescopes to track the aftermath of impact.

If this trial run works, terrific, but even failure would better prepare us to defend Earth. 

Si vis pacem, para [asteroides].

Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus (with minor paraphrasing)

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Photo by Senad Palic on Unsplash

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Lieutenant Uhura is now with the stars.

Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Nichelle Nichols, Lt. Uhura on ‘Star Trek,’ dead at 89
Nichols was one of the first Black women featured in a major television series, and her role as Lt. Nyota Uhura on the original TV series was groundbreaking: an African American woman whose name came from Uhuru, the Swahili word for “freedom.”

“For the first time, we are being seen the world over as we should be seen.”

— Martin Luther King Jr., Star Trek’s Uhura Reflects On MLK Encounter

Nichelle Nichols showed us all that the future belonged to more than just white men, and then she helped NASA build that future.

“After Apollo 11, Nichelle made it her mission to inspire women and people of color to join this agency, change the face of STEM and explore the cosmos. Nichelle’s mission is NASA’s mission. Today, as we work to send the first woman and first person of color to the Moon under Artemis, NASA is guided by the legacy of Nichelle Nichols.”

— NASA Administrator Bill Nelson
NASA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

She demonstrated, with talent, conviction, determination and grace, that the future is brighter when all of us are in it.

“If they let me in the door, I will open it so wide that they will see the world.”

— Woman in Motion tells story of how Star Trek’s Uhura changed NASA forever | Ars Technica

She did. We did. And humanity is so much better for it.

“If you can see it, you can be it,” the saying goes. Nichelle Nichols gave millions of people the opportunity to see themselves on the frontiers of science and exploration, boldly expanding human understanding.

She inspired so many of us to reach for the stars. What a legacy.

— Hillary Clinton

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(NASA/Bill Ingalls) NASA Identifier: nasahqphoto-5161637425

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Progress

It can be hard to measure progress. Incremental gains are often overpowered by a flood of negative, and hard to ignore, counter-programming. But every so often we take a step Up, and if we’re lucky, we can look back and see how far we’ve come.

The Webb telescope is one such step. Images from Hubble are impressive, but while the older platform has done a great job, it’s been at it for twenty years.

What does it mean for Hubble to now have a sibling out there in space? How much does Webb expand our ability to see into the cosmos? 

This much: Webb Compare.

It’s wonderful to see how far we’ve come.

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Photo by David Travis on Unsplash

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First Images from the James Webb Space Telescope | NASA

The dawn of a new era in astronomy has begun as the world gets its first look at the full capabilities of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope…

NASA has begun to roll out new images from the Webb Telescope. They are (insert understatement here) impressive. This is one example, of the Carina Nebula:

Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

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Would you like to know more?

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If you’re in North America, you may be treated to a dramatic meteor shower tonight. 

Or, you know, maybe not.

Meteor storm of 1,000 shooting stars per hour possible this week | Space

The Tau Herculids meteor shower may light up the skies over North America on May 30 and 31. Or it may not. There’s a chance we might pass through the thickest part of the comet fragment that is creating the debris, in which case the night skies will be filled with shooting stars.

You can watch the possible tau Herculid meteor shower live online, courtesy of the Virtual Telescope Project. The project’s astrophysicist Gianluca Masi will provide live all-sky cameras from Arizona and Brazil starting at 12 a.m. EDT (0400 GMT) on Tuesday, May 31.

I kind of love that despite all of humanity’s scientific advances, such events can remain a delightful surprise.

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Photo by Red Zeppelin on Unsplash

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I forgot to mention yesterday’s Super Flower Blood Moon eclipse. Hopefully you saw at least some of it, but if you missed it NASA has a number of livestreams, including this one from Georgia in the US:

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This may seem late to some of my more southerly readers, but today is the first time it feels like spring. The sun is out, the sky is blue, and I went out for a walk with Mr. Man and didn’t have to shovel. (Sure, there’s still snow on the ground, but I saw my first motorcycle of the year, kids are running around in shorts, and robins are all over the yard.

It’s a good day!

The Sun did all that and more. Let’s go for a little visit, shall we?

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Yes, it’s Tuesday and work is crazy as usual but it’s not all negative news. We will not be hit by an asteroid today!

A huge asteroid will fly safely by Earth today. Here’s how to watch it live. | Space

See? Tuesdays aren’t all bad.

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Not an asteroid but I liked the rainbow. Photo by Cyrus Press on Unsplash

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Phew!

William Shatner, the 90-year-old perhaps best known for playing Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek, flew 100km up into space in a Blue Origin rocket today. He and the other crew members returned safely to Earth ten minutes later.

In completely unrelated news, all those planning to zap Jeff Bezos with a phaser are asked to please stand down.

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Photo by Dom Talbot on Unsplash

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Let’s Play Ball

How long would it take for a ball to drop on Venus or Jupiter or Mars? This cool visualization knows!

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