(CNN)A large Chinese rocket that is out of control is set to reenter Earth’s atmosphere this weekend, bringing a final wave of concern before its debris makes impact somewhere on Earth.The Long March 5B rocket, which is around 100 feet tall and weighs 22 tons, is expected to enter Earth’s atmosphere “around May 8,” according to a statement from Defense Department spokesperson Mike Howard, who said the US Space Command is tracking the rocket’s trajectory.The rocket’s “exact entry point into the Earth’s atmosphere” can’t be pinpointed until within hours of reentry, Howard said, but the 18th Space Control Squadron is providing daily updates on the rocket’s location through the Space Track website.The good news is that debris plunging toward Earth — while unnerving — generally poses very little threat to personal safety.“The risk that there will be some damage or that it would hit someone is pretty small — not negligible, it could happen — but the risk that it will hit you is incredibly tiny. And so I would not lose one second of sleep over this on a personal threat basis,” Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Astrophysics Center at Harvard University, told CNN this week.The European Space Agency has predicted a “risk zone” that encompasses “any portion of Earth’s surface between about 41.5N and 41.5S latitude” — which includes virtually all of the Americas south of New York, all of Africa and Australia, parts of Asia south of Japan and Europe’s Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece.
Part of a huge rocket that launched China’s first module for its Tianhe space station is falling back to Earth and could make an uncontrolled re-entry at an unknown landing point.
The 30-metre high core of the Long March 5B rocket launched the “Heavenly Harmony” unmanned core module into low Earth orbit on 29 April from Wenchang in China’s Hainan province.
The Long March 5B then itself entered a temporary orbit, setting the stage for one of the largest ever uncontrolled re-entries. Some experts fear it could land on an inhabited area.
“It’s potentially not good,” said Jonathan McDowell, Astrophysicist at the Astrophysics Center at Harvard University.
Since the weekend it has dropped nearly 80km in altitude and Space
News reported that amateur ground observations showed it was tumbling and not under control. This, and its speed, makes it impossible to predict where it will land when Earth’s atmosphere eventually drags it down, though McDowell said the most likely outcome is that it will fall into the sea, as the ocean covers about 71% of the planet.
Four astronauts strapped into their SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, undocked from the International Space Station and plunged to a fiery pre-dawn splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, closing out the first operational flight of SpaceX’s futuristic touch-screen ferry ship.
Crew-1 commander Michael Hopkins, along with NASA astronauts Victor Glover and Shannon Walker and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, disconnected from the space-facing port of the station’s forward Harmony module at 8:35 p.m. EDT Saturday.
That set up only the second piloted water landing for NASA’s post-shuttle commercial crew program and just the third night splashdown in space history — the first in nearly 45 years.
NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter will attempt to take flight on the Red Planet early Monday morning, and you’ll be able to watch live as the NASA team tracks this historic test from mission control.
Should the four legs of this tiny 4-pound (1.8 kg) helicopter leave the Martian surface, it will become the first time that NASA—or any other space agency—has successfully attained powered controlled flight on an alien planet. Success would introduce an entirely new dimension to exploring the Red Planet.
A study suggests that the mysterious, giant blobs hidden in the Earth’s mantle might be the remains of a protoplanet that crashed billions of years ago.
2021 EQ3 passed closest above us at roughly 9:45 p.m. PT, at a distance of around 173,000 miles (278,000 kilometers) — that’s 72% of the distance from the Earth to the moon.
This makes 2021 EQ3 the second largest object to come closer than the moon in 2021.
It’s also different thanwith a diameter around a mile. That asteroid passed by on March 21, but at a distance five times farther away than the moon.
Follow CNET’s 2021 Space Calendar to stay up to date with all the latest space news this year. You can even add it to your own Google Calendar.
Known as ELSA-d, the mission will exhibit technology that could help capture space junk.
According to a recent report by NASA, at least 26,000 of the millions of pieces of space junk are the size of a softball. Orbiting along at 17,500 mph, they could “destroy a satellite on impact.” More than 500,000 pieces are a “mission-ending threat” because of their ability to impact protective systems, fuel tanks and spacecraft cabins.
A demonstration mission to test an idea to clean up space debris launched Monday morning local time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Known as ELSA-d, the mission will exhibit technology that could help capture space junk, the millions of pieces of orbital debris that float above Earth.
The more than 8,000 metric tons of debris threaten the loss of services we rely on for Earth-bound life, including weather forecasting, telecommunications and GPS systems.
(CNN)The largest asteroid that has been predicted to make a close approach of Earth this year will zip by from a safe distance on Sunday, according to NASA.Scientists estimate the asteroid is between 1,300 and 2,230 feet wide.The near-Earth asteroid, known as 2001 FO32, will be 1.25 million miles, or more than five times the distance between Earth and the moon, during its closest approach.It will also be moving much faster than most asteroids that fly by our planet, rocketing along at 77,000 miles per hour.The asteroid’s closest approach will occur at 12:03 p.m. ET Sunday.
The 600-mile-wide mass of plasma occurred several hundreds of miles above the North Pole, according to a study in the journal Nature Communications.
“Until now, it was uncertain that space plasma hurricanes even existed, so to prove this with such a striking observation is incredible,” said Mike Lockwood, a space scientist at the University of Reading and co-author of the study, in a statement.
The spectacle was captured by satellites in August 2014, but only recently uncovered during research led by scientists from Shandong University in China.
The space hurricane “rained” electrons instead of water, had multiple spiral arms and lasted eight hours before gradually fizzing, researchers said.
“Tropical storms are associated with huge amounts of energy, and these space hurricanes must be created by unusually large and rapid transfer of solar wind energy and charged particles into the Earth’s upper atmosphere,” Lockwood said.
NASA has delayed the launch of its first-ever planetary defense mission aimed at deflecting potentially hazardous asteroids from colliding with Earth.
The mission, called Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), will send a spacecraft to test crash into the near-Earth binary asteroid system called Didymos, in 2022. NASA announced Feb. 17 that this year’s primary launch window of July 21 to Aug. 24 is no longer an option. Instead, the space agency is targeting a backup window that opens Nov. 24 and runs to Feb. 15, 2022, according to a statement from NASA.
The decision to postpone the launch was made by NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) senior leadership following a risk assessment of the DART project schedule. Delaying the launch of the mission will not affect the spacecraft’s arrival at its target, which is slated for October 2022, NASA officials said.
“This landing is one of those pivotal moments for NASA, the United States, and space exploration globally – when we know we are on the cusp of discovery and sharpening our pencils, so to speak, to rewrite the textbooks,” acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk said in a press release. “The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission embodies our nation’s spirit of persevering even in the most challenging of situations, inspiring, and advancing science and exploration.”
The largest asteroid known to be passing near Earth this year will also be one of the fastest rocks to cruise past our planet, and it’s all happening March 21.
Before you panic, just know this: though it’s been classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid — because of its size and frequency of passing near Earth — but there’s no risk of impact, according to EarthSky.
Asteroid 2001 FO32, which is approximately .6 miles in diameter, has been compared to the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, although it’s not quite as long.
If you’re thinking that’s impressive, the rock will be cruising through space at about 76,980 mph — or 21 miles per second, relative to Earth.
By comparison, EarthSky reports our planet travels around the sun at about 18 miles per second.
Called the Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx), the project is a scientific experiment designed to help us better grasp the possibility of applying stratospheric aerosols in the field of solar geoengineering.
The experiment involves improving the fidelity of simulations (computer models) of solar geoengineering to generate answers to vital questions surrounding the notion. To fully understand both the risks and benefits of solar geoengineering, scientists will rely on these simulations — but there is an inherent risk to relying on simulations: namely, current technology tends to predict an overly optimistic outcome.
This is why SCoPEx will gather quantitative measurements of aerosol microphysics — along with atmospheric chemistry, which are two points of high uncertainty in present-day simulations.
The experiment involves flying a balloon above Sweden to see if it can block sunlight on its way to Earth — with hopes of creating a new way of fighting global climate change.
Earth’s second moon will make a close approach to the planet next week before drifting off into space, never to be seen again.
“What second moon,” you ask? Astronomers call it 2020 SO — a small object that dropped into Earth’s orbit about halfway between our planet and the moon in September 2020. Temporary satellites like these are known as minimoons, though calling it a moon is a bit deceptive in this case; in December 2020, NASA researchers learned that the object isn’t a space rock at all, but rather the remains of a 1960s rocket booster involved in the American Surveyor moon missions.
This non-moon minimoon made its closest approach to Earth on Dec. 1 (the day before NASA identified it as the long-lost booster), but it’s coming back for one more victory lap, according to EarthSky.org. Minimoon 2020 SO will make a final close approach to Earth on Tuesday (Feb. 2) at roughly 140,000 miles (220,000 kilometers) from Earth, or 58% of the way between Earth and the moon.
The booster will drift away after that, leaving Earth’s orbit entirely by March 2021, according to EarthSky. After that, the former minimoon will be just another object orbiting the sun. The Virtual Telescope Project in Rome will host an online farewell to the object on the night of Feb. 1.
NASA fired up the core stage of its massive new rocket — the Space Launch System (SLS) — on Saturday (Jan. 16) in a critical test that ended prematurely when the booster’s engines shut down earlier than planned.
Smoke and flames billowed from the four RS-25 engines that power the behemoth rocket’s core booster, a centerpiece of NASA’s Artemis moon program, as it roared to life atop a test stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Ignition occurred at 5:27 EST (2227 GMT), with 700,000 gallons (2.6 million liters) of cryogenic fuel flowing through the engines as they roared for just over 1 minute, much shorter than planned.
The test was supposed to run for 485 seconds (or just over 8 minutes), which is the amount of time the engines will burn during flight. Following engine ignition, the four RS-25 engines fired for just over 60 seconds, NASA said.
“Not everything went according to script today,” NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said late Saturday after the test. “But we got a lot of great data, a lot of great information.”
The SLS core booster will help launch NASA’s Artemis 1 mission to the moon.
AN ASTEROID which has been described by NASA as being “near Earth” is set to shoot by our planet
An asteroid which has been designated the name 2021 AX1 is gearing up for a close approach to our planet. NASA has revealed that the asteroid will make its closest approach to Earth on January 12. The asteroid was only discovered in the past few days by astronomers at the Mt Lemmon Survey in Tuscon, Arizona.
Now the space rock, which is 11 metres wide, is making its way through the solar system.
The asteroid is travelling at a staggering 9.1 kilometres per second.
That equates to roughly 32,760 kilometres an hour.
NASA analysis has shown the orbit of the asteroid, which has brought it past Mars.
The 28 fastest days on record (since 1960) all occurred in 2020, with Earth completing its revolutions around its axis milliseconds quicker than average. That’s not particularly alarming — the planet’s rotation varies slightly all the time, driven by variations in atmospheric pressure, winds, ocean currents and the movement of the core. But it is inconvenient for international timekeepers, who use ultra-accurate atomic clocks to meter out the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) by which everyone sets their clocks. When astronomical time, set by the time it takes the Earth to make one full rotation, deviates from UTC by more than 0.4 seconds, UTC gets an adjustment.
Until now, these adjustments have consisted of adding a “leap second” to the year at the end of June or December, bringing astronomical time and atomic time back in line. These leap seconds were tacked on because the overall trend of Earth’s rotation has been slowing since accurate satellite measurement began in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Since 1972, scientists have added leap seconds about every year-and-a-half, on average, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The last addition came in 2016, when on New Year’s Eve at 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds, an extra “leap second” was added.
When the first sign of intelligent life first visits us from space, it won’t be a giant saucer hovering over New York. More likely, it will be an alien civilization’s trash.
Avi Loeb, the chair of Harvard’s Department of Astronomy, believes he’s already found some of that garbage.
In his upcoming book, “Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), out Jan. 26, the professor lays out a compelling case for why an object that recently wandered into our solar system was not just another rock but actually a piece of alien technology.
The object in question traveled toward our solar system from the direction of Vega, a nearby star 25 light-years away, and intercepted our solar system’s orbital plane on Sept. 6, 2017.
On Sept. 9, its trajectory brought it closest to the sun. At the end of September, it blasted at about 58,900 miles per hour past Venus’ orbital distance, and then, on Oct. 7, it shot past Earth’s before “moving swiftly toward the constellation Pegasus and the blackness beyond,” Loeb writes in the book.
The object was first spotted by an observatory in Hawaii containing the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) — the highest definition telescope on earth.
The space object was dubbed ‘Oumuamua (pronounced “oh moo ah moo ah”), which is Hawaiian for — roughly — “scout.”
As space travelers go, it was relatively small at just about 100 yards long, but it was a big deal in the scientific community.
For starters, it was the first interstellar object ever detected inside our solar system. Judging from the object’s trajectory, astronomers concluded it was not bound by the sun’s gravity — which suggested it was just traveling through.