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Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Latest and Greatest in Space and Astronomy by Stephen Tremp

Space Bling: From Diamond Planets to Crystal Oceans to Precious Moon Jewels. All that glitters in the night sky could be, well, diamonds and rubies and emeralds, as space probes uncover a variety of precious minerals in the universe. The discovery of a new planet made largely of diamond, known as “55 Cancri e,” has many itching to add a piece of cosmic jewelry to their collection. Unfortunately, the planet is 40 light years from Earth, but the universe is also home to some other fabulous space gems. From green-crystal rain to ruby-like moon rocks, here is some other bling that’s out of this world. Reference

House-Size Asteroid Comes Closer to Earth Than the Moon Friday: A newfound asteroid the size of a house will fly closer to Earth than the moon on Friday (Oct. 12), but poses no danger of impacting our planet, NASA says. And I thought that five dollar bill I found in my laundry was exciting. Reference

Speaking of Asteroids: Private Asteroid-Hunting Space Telescope to Launch in 2017. A private space telescope mission that aims to discover 500,000 near-Earth asteroids is technically sound and on track for a 2017 launch, a review panel says. The B612 Foundation plans to launch Sentinel in 2017, placing the instrument near the orbit of Venus.

Sentinel will look outward from there, scanning Earth's neighborhood without having to fight the sun's overwhelming glare — a serious impediment to asteroid-hunting instruments on or near our planet. The telescope's infrared eyes should spot about 500,000 near-Earth asteroids in less than six years of operation, B612 officials say. That would be quite a feat, considering that researchers have discovered just 10,000 or so such space rocks to date. Reference

Speaking of Private Funding: Space Funding Startup Uwingu to Unveil 1st Product. The first project Uwingu will fund is SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. The firm pledged to donate half of any money raised beyond the $75,000 goal in the IndieGoGo campaign to the SETI Institute's Allen Telescope Array (ATA), a set of 42 radio dishes in Northern California that are searching for signs of civilizations in the universe. Reference

Speaking of Telescopes: World-Class Telescope For Sale. The impending closure of the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope might be averted if the observatory’s owners can find a buyer. Got $1.24 million in your pocket? That’s how much it’ll cost per year to operate a productive, world-class observatory atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Reference

Speaking of Dark Matter: Giant Strand of Elusive Dark Matter Seen in 3D. Astronomers have taken their first 3D look at a gigantic filament of dark matter, an invisible cosmic structure that can only be detected by its gravitational effects it has on its surroundings. The universe is thought to be structured like a tangled web, with long strings of mostly dark matter intersecting at giant galaxy clusters. Since dark matter cannot be seen directly, these filaments are difficult to observe. But using the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have managed to probe one of the elusive cosmic strands in 3D. Reference

Question: So what do you think of our amazing universe in just this past week?

Stephen Tremp posts at Breakthrough Blogs and is the author of the Breakthrough trilogy.

25 comments:

  1. Wow, some interesting stuff going on. One day space bling may be a girl's best friend. ; ) As for laundry, I'd get pretty excited about finding a $5 bill. All I found was a quarter. Thanks for keeping us up to date on what's going on in the world of space and astronomy and other things science.

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  2. What do I think especially after this post? I continue to be in super duper AWE at the awesome beauty of our universe! yay! Take care
    x

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  3. That's a lot of money to run an observatory! Wow.

    I've always thought SETI was a cool organization.

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  4. Will we be able to see this asteroid?

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  5. A diamond planet?! 40 light years--I knew there had to be a catch.

    Last spring, I heard a scientist on NPR talk about what an exciting time we live in because we have the technology to see great distances, but our planet also hasn't drifted too far to see well yet. Over time, this won't be the case.

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  6. Sure I have an extra $1.24 million! Need to sell my teleporter first.

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  7. Just look at some of the amazing headlines in just a week! We truly live in exciting times.

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  8. Space exploration has always fascinated me and I was so disappointed when the US stopped their programme at NASA. I had heard about some of these items, but not all. If they could get at the diamond, it wouldn't do the price of diamonds much good would it?

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  9. This universe is anything and everything beyond our human ability to simply "contain". It's so awesome. And...it has re-energized me for a sci-fi story idea I've been sitting on. I'll just have to do my research because it involves all that near-Earth collision kind of talk.

    Thanks so much for sharing, Stephen :-)

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  10. You share the most interesting facts. I can't wait until we hear how many asteroids are going to hit us.

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  11. I'd seen most of the various bling facts before. Actually, the coolest thing I saw in the news this week was the planet with four suns.

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  12. 1.24 million will be hard to save. My husband loves telescope and so does our daughter. Our son lives in Hawaii. Perfect timing except for my age. Banks do not give mortgages to sixty plus women who were housewives half of their lives and now are working to keep up with the cost of health.
    Universe would be lovely to even see through a telescope !

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  13. I'd love to own my own telescope...and Hawaii sure is a nice locaton...
    My own personal interests lie in the SETI field. I love that scene from Independence Day when they first hear the signal and the guy hits his head on the bunk above him. "Sir, they aren't meteorites. They're slowing down." Good stuff, man.
    Thanks for another great science/astronomy lesson, Stephen. I look forward to these.
    Tina @ Life is Good
    http://kmdlifeisgood.blogspot.com/

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  14. I'm glad people are enjoying these twice a month posts. And this is just a week in the news of space. So many other fields of science with exciting revolutuonary stuff happening that we're not even touching.

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  15. Space bling would be fun, but I'd love to have that observatory! :)

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  16. This is kewl. I'm always nervous when the U.S. talks about cutting money from the space program. So much technology designed specifically for NASA has made its way into mainstream use.

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  17. Very cool post! I had no idea about diamond planets. And I was also completely unaware of that house-sized thing whizzing past our planet on the 12th!

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  18. I am very excited about these new discoveries. And. . .I bought my husband a Meade telescope at a garage sale. We live at 6200 feet at an elevation that allows us to look down at a valley. I know the Winter sky is amazing for star gazing, once we learn how to use our new acquisition. My favorite "sky mark" is Orion's Belt. I always learn something from your blog, thank you!

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  19. Cool space info. Can I trade my apt. in for the telescope?

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  20. I have to admit I was more than alarmed that we have only identified 10,000 asteroids around our planet but there are an estomaed 500,000 waiting to be discovered.

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  21. I would love that telescope. Nice.

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  22. This is most interesting Stephen, I am way behind with comments as I have just been able to use my pc since my shoulder shot.

    Have a good week-end.
    Yvonne.

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  23. i am glad i didn't know about that asteroid on the 12th---they always freak me out---very interesting information, stephen!

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  24. Interesting that they can record the effects of dark matter and infer its structure.

    Great post!

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