Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It's Time For Another Installment Of DEEP SPACE NEWS......

First up is the latest from NASA's Swift Satellite, which recently (ho-hum) picked up the single most luminous event ever witnessed by humans.

Take it away NASA

On March 19, 2008, Swift discovered a bright Gamma-Ray Burst (GRB 080319B). The image shows the X-ray afterglow as seen by the X-Ray Telescope (left) and the bright optical afterglow as observed by the Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope on board Swift.

Credit: NASA/Swift/Stefan Immler

The folks at the Eberly College of Science continue-
"Naked-Eye" Gamma-Ray Burst Was Aimed Squarely at Earth
10 September 2008 -- Unparalleled data from satellites and observatories around the globe show that the jet from a powerful stellar explosion on 19 March was aimed almost directly at Earth. The event, called a gamma-ray burst, became bright enough for human eyes to see. The burst's extraordinary brightness arose from a jet that shot material directly toward Earth at 99.99995 percent the speed of light.

NASA's Swift satellite detected the explosion -- formally called GRB 080319B -- at 2:13 a.m. U.S. Eastern Time that morning and pinpointed its position in the constellation Boƶtes. The Swift satellite is controlled by Penn State University from its Mission Operations Center at University Park, and Penn State led in the development and assembly of two of the Swift satellite's three telescopes. "Swift was designed to find unusual bursts," says Swift principal investigator Neil Gehrels at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "We really hit the jackpot with this one."

By the way, this Gamma Ray Burst was 7.5 billion light years away, which is more than halfway across the visible Universe. Very cool, and even cooler that it did not irradiate the entire planet with lethal high-energy gamma and X-rays in a matter of seconds. That would be bad, mmmmkay?

Also we have the latest from the Rosetta Mission . It recently flew within 800km of an asteroid known as Steins, which is orbiting in our solar system more than 220 million miles from Earth, whilst en route to the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. In 2015 Rosetta will do with a comet what NASA did with an asteroid during the NEAR Shoemaker mission in 2001: land a spacecraft on said comet/asteroid and ideally transmit back some data.

Here is the 3-mile wide in diameter asteroid Steins-For an amazing video, click here and watch the actual animation of the raw data from Rosetta as it flew by Steins.

Yes, since you didn't ask I'll tell you: if this asteroid was on its way to earth and scheduled to hit us within the next five years, we would be pretty much farked. We have nothing remotely capable of diverting a 3 mile wide asteroid from it's pre-ordained path that is available to launch in the next five years.

Yes, the folks at the B612 Project Foundation are one of the only groups currently doing anything about this. As former astronaut and current B612 Foundation contributor Ed Lu and said recently-"The number of people, worldwide, who are actively working on this problem, is enough to staff one shift at McDonalds. And that's about accurate."

Sure looks pretty though, don't it?

And finally in somewhat related deep space news, they turned on the Large Hadron Collider and sent a pair of photon beams around the 17 mile long path in different directions successfully. No, they didn't create any mini-black holes which was the latest fad conspiracy. And they won't when they send the other photon beam in to collide with the first one. Hopefully.

Take it away Science Daily-

It will take about a month for scientists to align the proton beams traveling in opposite directions in the LHC so that proton-proton collisions are generated. The LHC will create almost a billion such collisions per second at an energy of 14 trillion electron volts. These collisions will take place at four points around its 17-mile ring, where the four main LHC experiments, including CMS, are located.

"This is an extremely important moment," said Clare, a professor of physics. "We are now on the verge of making hopefully many discoveries over the next years in our understanding of particle physics and how the universe works. For the first time in a long time, we will be breaking new ground. We may discover the Higgs boson; we may discover supersymmetry. We may discover completely new and unexpected phenomena, which would be by far the most exciting prospect."

For a good chuckle, check out The 5 Scientific Experiments Most Likely to End the World

Until next time thanks for reading the latest installment of DEEP SPACE NEWWWWWSSSSSSSSsssssss........

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