Messier 6 and comet Siding Spring
This looks like a near miss but the greenish coma and tail of Comet Siding Spring (C/2013 A1) are really 2,000 light-years or so away from the stars of open cluster Messier 6. They do appear close together though, along the same line-of-sight in this gorgeous October 9th skyscape toward the constellation Scorpius. Still, on Sunday, October 19th this comet really will be involved in a near miss, passing within only 139,500 kilometers of planet Mars. That’s about 10 times closer than any known comet flyby of planet Earth, and nearly one third the Earth-Moon distance. While an impact with the nucleus is not a threat the comet’s dust, moving with a speed of about 56 kilometers per second relative to the Red Planet, and outskirts of its gaseous coma could interact with the thin Martian atmosphere. Of course, the comet’s close encounter will be followed intently by spacecraft in Martian orbit and rovers on the surface.
Image credit & copyright: Rolando Ligustri (CARA Project, CAST)
This Sunday something historical will happen: An ancient rare comet will arrive to Mars after millions of years traveling at 33 miles per second from the Oort cloud. It will look like you can see above, passing just within a third of the distance from the Earth to the Moon, engulfing the Red Planet in its large tail.
Jupiter close up
There’s another lunar eclipse this year and it’s happening tomorrow night! (That’s Tuesday night — in other words the wee hours of Wednesday morning). Europe and Africa will be left out this time around, but viewers in North America and Asia will get the chance to see the moon pass through the earth’s shadow. Details from NASA here.
This eclipse is extra special because it might be a rare selenelion.
Don’t ask me how to pronounce that word, but here’s what it means: the refraction of light through Earth’s atmosphere makes both sun and moon appear higher in the sky then they really are. So at moonset/sunrise on Wednesday morning, a few lucky observers east of the Mississippi might glimpse the sun and the eclipsed moon AT THE SAME TIME! Geometrically impossible, and well worth setting your alarms for.
I put approximate moonset times in this GIF, but you should look up the specific schedule for your location here.
Saturn’s moon Enceladus.
(photo courtesy of Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA)
Scientists from MIT have designed a next-generation spacesuit that acts practically as a second skin, and could revolutionize the way future astronauts travel into space. (Photo : Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT)
Astronauts are used to climbing into conventional bulky, gas-pressurized spacesuits, but this new design could allow them to travel in style. Soon they may don a lightweight, skintight and stretchy garment lined with tiny, muscle-like coils. Essentially the new suit acts like a giant piece of shrink-wrap, in which the coils contract and tighten when plugged into a power supply, thereby creating a “second skin.”
"With conventional spacesuits, you’re essentially in a balloon of gas that’s providing you with the necessary one-third of an atmosphere [of pressure,] to keep you alive in the vacuum of space," lead researcher Dava Newman, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems at MIT, said in astatement.
"We want to achieve that same pressurization, but through mechanical counterpressure - applying the pressure directly to the skin, thus avoiding the gas pressure altogether. We combine passive elastics with active materials. … Ultimately, the big advantage is mobility, and a very lightweight suit for planetary exploration."
Newman, who has worked for the past decade on a design for the next-generation spacesuit, describes the new garment in detail in the journal IEEE/ASME: Transactions on Mechatronics.
The MIT BioSuit’s coils, which are a main feature of the outfit, are made from a shape-memory alloy (SMA). At a certain temperature, the material can “remember” and spring back to its engineered shape after being bent or misshapen.
Skintight suits are not a novel idea, but in the past scientists have always struggled with the question: how do you get in and out of a suit that is so tight? That’s where the SMAs come in, allowing the suit to contract only when heated, and subsequently stretched back to a looser shape when cooled.
Though the lightweight suit may not seem at first like it can withstand the harsh environment that is outer space, Newman and his colleagues are sure that the BioSuit would not only give astronauts much more freedom during planetary exploration, but it would also fully support these space explorers.
Newman and his team are not only working on how to keep the suit tight for long periods of time, but also believe their design could be applied to other attires, such as athletic wear or military uniforms.
"An integrated suit is exciting to think about to enhance human performance," Newman added. "We’re trying to keep our astronauts alive, safe, and mobile, but these designs are not just for use in space."
Venus has no magnetic field. WHICH IS CRAZY.
If the Earth lacked a magnetic field we wouldn’t be here to take selfies. (“Earth’s magnetic field serves to deflect most of the solar wind, whose charged particles would otherwise strip away the ozone layer that protects the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation” Wiki).
"It appeared that there were holes on the nightside of Venus’ ionosphere. Researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center investigated these mysterious holes, and found evidence that the sun’s magnetic field lines may be penetrating through the planet."
”..the sun’s magnetic field lines may be penetrating through the planet.”
Reid Wiseman is a national treasure.
Coldest Star Found—No Hotter Than Fresh Coffee
According to a new study, a star discovered 75 light-years away is no warmer than a freshly brewed cup of coffee.
Dubbed CFBDSIR 1458 10b, the star is what’s called a brown dwarf. These oddball objects are often called failed stars, because they have starlike heat and chemical properties but don’t have enough mass for the crush of gravity to ignite nuclear fusion at their cores.
With surface temperatures hovering around 206 degrees F (97 degrees C), the newfound star is the coldest brown dwarf seen to date.
I’m gonna…I’m gonna touch it..
What if I just- put my hand-