February 6, 2014 |
On the 529th day of Curiosity's journey on Mars, the rover turned its cameras to the skies and sent back this humbling image of Earth and our moon. Our planet and moon appear as two small dots in the Martian sky, no bigger or more significant than Mars or Jupiter look to us. The image was taken Jan. 31 Earth time, 80 minutes after the sun set on Mars. Although Earth and the moon look small, they are currently the two brightest bodies in the Martian night sky, according to a release from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. If you or I were standing on the Martian surface, we would have no trouble seeing our home planet with the naked eye. PHOTOS: Moons of the solar system Earth does not always appear so bright on Mars.
June 8, 2013 |
An asteroid the size of a truck zipped past Earth on Friday night, and you probably missed it. Asteroid 2013 LR6 is 30 feet in length, or a bit more than half the size of the space rock that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February. It made its closest approach to our planet on Friday night at 9:42 p.m. PDT, according to a release from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. At that time, the asteroid was just 65,000 miles from the Earth's surface, or about a quarter of the average distance between Earth and the moon.
April 11, 2013 |
Early Thursday morning, solar observers watched as a dark spot on the sun erupted with an enormous flash of light, causing the biggest solar flare of 2013. Solar flares themselves don't last long, but this one was powerful enough to cause a bubble of solar material called a CME (coronal mass ejection) to come bursting off the sun. Up to billions of tons of that solar material is now hurtling through space at the mind-bending speed of more than 600 miles per second, and it is heading directly toward Earth.
November 19, 2012 |
Looking for a sign that the Republican Party might have some leaders who can appeal to younger voters? Mitt Romney cited the Beach Boys, Garth Brooks and the Eagles among his favorite musicians, but Sen. Marco Rubio raised some eyebrows Monday with hat tips to N.W.A and Public Enemy. Rubio, 42, who has sparked early 2016 presidential hype with a headlining visit to Iowa over the weekend, spoke to GQ about a number of topics, but his opinions on music and the Earth's age overshadowed his perspective on President Obama and young Republicans.
November 8, 2013 |
Heads up! A satellite is expected to fall to Earth sometime Sunday night or Monday morning, and scientists can't say yet where it will land. The satellite, known as GOCE, has been circling our planet since 2009, when it was launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) to map Earth's gravity. It weighs 2,425 pounds, and its altitude has been dropping since late October, after it ran out of fuel. GOCE is a bit bigger than a Volkswagen van, but it won't be crashing to Earth in one piece.
September 13, 2012 |
On Thursday night, an asteroid about the size of a 14-story building will hurtle past Earth at the mind-bending speed of 7 miles per second. And one month ago, scientists didn't even know it existed. Asteroid 2012 QG42 was just discovered on Aug. 26 by astronomers at the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona. It has been classified as a PHA (Potentially Hazardous Asteroid) by the Minor Planet Center based in Cambridge, Mass. That sounds kind of scary, but scientists say there's no need to worry -- at least not yet. The asteroid is not expected to get closer to Earth than 7.5 x the distance of the moon from Earth. (The moon's distance from Earth fluctuates, but it averages 230,600 miles)
June 19, 2013 |
Earthlings, get ready to say cheese! NASA's Cassini spacecraft will be taking your picture next month -- from 898 million miles away. If you happen to have your eyes closed or your hair is out of place, don't worry. All of planet Earth will fit into 1.5 pixels in the final image. Most of the frame will be filled by Saturn and its gigantic rings (though some of the edges will be cut off). Scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada Flintridge are taking the picture - actually, a mosaic of images - because they can. It just so happens that Cassini and the sun will be on opposite sides of Saturn, allowing the spacecraft to see the planet and its famous rings with unusual clarity.
November 20, 2012 |
How old is the Earth? Scientists say 4.5 billion years. But Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) isn't a scientist, so he's not sure. That's what the Republican rising star told an interviewer for GQ who posed the question. “I'm not a scientist, man,” Rubio, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said. “I can tell you what recorded history says; I can tell you what the Bible says; but I think that's a dispute amongst theologians, and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States.” In case the interviewer didn't hear him the first time, Rubio added: “I'm not a scientist.
December 11, 2012 |
Asteroid 4179 Toutatis will zip past Earth this week. At its closest approach Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, it will come within 18 lunar distances of the planet. That's 18 times the distance from the Earth to the moon. That may not sound too close, but the asteroid's erratic orbit occasionally has it zipping by a little too close for comfort. That's why the asteroid has been designated "potentially hazardous. " In 2004 for example, the asteroid's orbit took it even closer to the Earth -- just about four lunar distances.
July 30, 2012 |
Poring over images of Saturn's icy moon Iapetus, planetary scientists have discovered massive landslides in which the falling ice travels much farther than should be possible given the coefficient of friction of the falling ice. In one spectacular case in the moon's Malun crater, ice broke off the wall of the 5-mile-deep crater and surged 22 miles across the crater floor -- an unusually long distance. Given that cold ice has a relatively high coefficient of friction, such long distances should not be possible unless there are forces at work that researchers don't yet know about, said planetary scientist William McKinnon of Washington University in St. Louis, who led the team studying the landslides.