Small Asteroid to Pass Close to Earth March 5

A small asteroid that two years ago flew past Earth at a comfortable distance of about 1.3 million miles (2 million kilometers) will safely fly by our planet again in a few weeks, though this time it may be much closer.

During the upcoming March 5 flyby, asteroid 2013 TX68 could fly past Earth as far out as 9 million miles (14 million kilometers) or as close as 11,000 miles (17,000 kilometers). The variation in possible closest approach distances is due to the wide range of possible trajectories for this object, since it was tracked for only a short time after discovery.

NGC 6240: Merging Galaxies
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / STScI-ESA / S. Bush, et al. (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA)

Explanation: NGC 6240 offers a rare glimpse of a cosmic catastrophe in its final throes. The titanic galaxy-galaxy collision is located a mere 400 million light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus. One of the brightest sources in the infrared sky, the merging galaxies spew distorted tidal tails of stars, gas, and dust and undergo frantic bursts of star formation. The two supermassive black holes in the original galactic cores will also coalesce into a single, even more massive black hole. Soon, only one large galaxy will remain. This dramatic image of the scene is a multiwavelength composite; red colors trace infrared emission from dust recorded by theSpitzer Space Telescope, with Hubble visible light images of stars and gas in green and blue hues. The view spans over 300,000 light-years at the estimated distance of NGC 6240.

NASA Office to Coordinate Asteroid Detection, Hazard Mitigation

NASA has formalized its ongoing program for detecting and tracking near-Earth objects (NEOs) as the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO). The office remains within NASA’s Planetary Science Division, in the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The office will be responsible for supervision of all NASA-funded projects to find and characterize asteroids and comets that pass near Earth’s orbit around the sun. It will also take a leading role in coordinating interagency and intergovernmental efforts in response to any potential impact threats.

More than 13,500 near-Earth objects of all sizes have been discovered to date—more than 95 percent of them since NASA-funded surveys began in 1998. About 1,500 NEOs are now detected each year.

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8 charts reveal the crazy numbers behind NASA's new monster rocket
This is how they want to get us to Mars.
By Jessica Orwig, Business Insider

Earlier this month, NASA announced the first mission it will be launching aboard its monster rocket, called the Space Launch System.

In 2018, NASA will send 13 shoe-box sized satellites, called CubeSats, to study, for example, different aspects of life in space and ice deposits on the Moon. Eventually, this rocket is destined for NASA’s future deep-space missions to Mars, and beyond.

Taller than the Statue of Liberty and capable of carrying more than twice the payload weight of any of NASA’S former space shuttles, the Space Launch System will transport four astronauts at a time on board the agency’s Orion spacecraft farther into space than any human has ever ventured before. The first unmanned test flight of this rocket is scheduled for September 2018.

A close-up of an active region shows how quickly huge spirals of loops can jut out from the Sun.  The image, taken in extreme ultraviolet light, offers a clear view in profile of magnetic particles spinning along criss-crossing arcs of magnetic field lines (taken in the AIA 171 wavelength but colorized red) from Aug. 14 at 20:48 UT to 19:00 UT on Aug. 15.  So, the video covers almost one full day’s worth of activity. The active region on the left of the image shows its own loops as well as streams of plasma jumping back and forth.  Earth could easily sit inside any of these loops.

SDO