Yet Another Asteroid Visits Earth

Asteroid 2005 YU55 is scheduled to pass within approximately 201,700 miles of the Earth on November 8, closer than the Moon’s orbit but further away than many other recent asteroid passes. However, 2005 YU55 is 1,300 feet across, making it the largest asteroid to pass the Earth since 1976, although it doesn’t pose any danger. The next known large asteroid to pass near Earth won’t happen until 2028.

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Search for Snoopy

British amateur Astronomer Nick Howes is leading a search to find Snoopy, the lunar module used by the Apollo 10 crew to fly within 8.5 miles of the lunar surface. Following the mission, the module was jettisoned into a solar orbit while the crew returned to Earth in the command module, Charlie Brown.

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NASA and Tor

Tor Books and NASA have announced a collaboration to publish a series of
science based, commercial fiction books, referred to as “NASA inspired Works of Fiction.” The series will allow authors to work closely with NASA Subject Matter Experts to ensure that the science incorporated into the novels is accurate. The Goddard Space Flight Center’s Innovative Partnerships Program (IPP) Office will host a two-day workshop for authors.

Juno En Route

NASA’s Juno spacecraft took off at 12:25 ET on a five year mission to Jupiter. The solar-powered spacecraft is expected to help scientists learn more about the origin of the solar system as well as about Jupiter itself.

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Piece of Columbia Found

A power reactant storage and distribution from the space shuttle Columbia has been found at the bottom of a Texas lake. The four-foot diameter PRSD is a tank that provided power and water for shuttle missions. It was found after drought caused the waters of Lake Nacogdoches to recede enough to uncover the unit. Columbia disintegrated during re-entry over Texas on February 1, 2003.

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Obituary: R.C.W. Ettinger

Scientist R.C.W. Ettinger (b.1918) died on July 23. Ettinger is best known as one of the pioneers of the cryonics movement and founded the Cryonics Institute in 1976. His body is the 106th body frozen by the institute. Ettinger was injured during World War II and came up with some of his ideas during his long recuperation and his love of science fiction. Ettinger also published two science fiction stories in 1948 and 1950.

The Rains of Enceladus

The Herschel spacecraft, launched by the European Space Agency, has determined that water in the upper atmosphere of Saturn comes from the moon Enceladus, which orbits approximately 238,000 km from the planet. Enceladus spews water into space at a rate of 250kg/s. Scientists estimate that between 3-5% of that is captured by Saturn, which is enough to account for the levels of water found in Saturn’s atmosphere.

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First Earth Trojan Found

Astronomers have discovered the first asteroid to orbit in the leading Lagrange point of the Earth. 2010 TK7 is nearly 300m across and has an irregular orbit which can bring it within 20 million kilometers of the Earth. The asteroid was discovered by the Near Earth Orbit project using the WISE satellite, launched in 2009.

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First Pluto, Now Archaeopteryx

Chinese paleontologists have announced a study which determined that archaeopteryx was a dinosaur rather than a bird, contrary to the understanding of the creature’s role in evolution since its discovery in 1861. Rather then being the earliest known bird, scientists believe the archaeopteryx was a feathered dinosaur of the deinonychosaur group, which includes velociraptors. In recent years, many of the avian features found in archaeopteryx have also been found in non-avian dinosaurs.

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Lunar Probe Found

Images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter may show the crash site of the Lunar Orbiter 2, which helped map potential landing sites for Apollo missions in 1967. After completing its mission, NASA instructed the LO2 to crash into the farside of the moon, although the exact location of its crash was unknown. The LRO was launched in 2009 to fully map the lunar surface and create 3D maps for a potential return to the moon. The LRO has previously mapped all six Apollo landing sites and has found evidence of volcanism on the moon.

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