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NASA is launching a spacecraft to visit an asteroid… and return to tell the tale.
OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to blast off from Cape Canaveral on September 8, 2016, on a mission to orbit, map and collect samples from the asteroid Bennu, and return to Earth 7 years later.
Discovered in 1999 by the NASA-funded LINEAR asteroid survey, Bennu measures about 1650 feet across and weighs over 60 million tons. Imagine a boulder the height of the Empire State Building—that’s about the size of Bennu.
Go outside tonight and behold the stars — especially bright stars low on the horizon. They twinkle as irregularities in Earth's atmosphere pass by.
Unseen to the human eye, the same thing happens to signals from GPS, the Global Positioning System.
Radio signals twinkle in much the same way as bright stars appear to do at optical wavelengths. This can have effects on GPS, causing the signals to brighten and fade, and reach Earth at unpredictable times. All of this could degrade the accuracy of GPS positioning.
Solar Scientists are accustomed to seeing spots on the sun--irregular islands of magnetism that sometimes erupt, producing strong solar flares.
On May 9, 2016, they will see a spot of a very different kind--a dark circle moving across the solar disk.
This spot is no ordinary sunspot. It's the planet Mercury, making a rare transit of the sun.
Newsflash: Assembly of the next great space observatory, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), is now underway at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Launch target: 2018.
JWST is an infrared telescope, which means it will sense the heat of stars and galaxies millions and even billions of light years away.
With its blue skies, puffy white clouds, warm beaches and abundant life, planet Earth is a pretty special place. A quick survey of the solar system reveals … nothing else like it.
But how special is Earth, really?
When the Space Age began more than 50 years ago, explorers were eager to visit the planets of the solar system. As the years have passed, however, astronomers have realized that the moons of the solar system may be even more interesting.
Many of these moons are ‘water worlds’ – and planetary scientists, like golden retrievers, always follow the water.