Eiffel Tower-sized asteroid to pass Earth today, would leave 3-mile crater if it hit

A massive asteroid bigger than the Eiffel Tower is set to whizz by Earth on Friday, NASA has warned. The potentially hazardous space rock is so large it would leave a three mile crater and mass destruction if it hit our planet.

2019 GT3 is almost as big as a skyscraper, with a diameter of 1,247 feet and will hurtle past Earth at 30,500 miles per hour. If it were to head straight for our planet, it would be too large to break up in the atmosphere and would crash to the ground, likely causing massive damage. 

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The asteroid is due to come within 0.04996 astronomical units or around 4.6 million miles of Earth, placing it squarely in the potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA) category used by astronomers to describe some near-Earth objects that could make “threatening close approaches,” NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) explains

Our close encounter with 2019 GT3 comes just weeks after another close call with a “city-killer” asteroid, 2019 OK, which scientists only detected mere hours before it sped by Earth. 

Asteroid Will Hit Earth Eventually, We Have No Defence Yet: Elon Musk

San Francisco: A huge asteroid will eventually hit the humanity and there will be no way out, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has predicted.

A monster asteroid called Apophis -- named after an Egyptian "God of Chaos" -- will come dangerously close to the Earth, about 19,000 miles (31,000 kms) above the surface.

"Great name! Wouldn't worry about this particular one, but a big rock will hit Earth eventually & we currently have no defence," Musk tweeted late Monday.

On April 13, 2029, a speck of light will streak across the sky, getting brighter and faster.

At one point it will travel more than the width of the full Moon within a minute and it will get as bright as stars.

But it won't be a satellite or an airplane -- it will be a 1,100-foot-wide, near-Earth asteroid called "Apophis" that will potentially cruise harmlessly by Earth.

"The Apophis close approach in 2029 will be an incredible opportunity for science," said Marina Brozovic, a radar scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who works on radar observations of near-Earth objects (NEOs).

"We'll observe the asteroid with both optical and radar telescopes. With radar observations, we might be able to see surface details that are only a few meters in size," she added.

It's rare for an asteroid of this size to pass by the Earth so close.

Although scientists have spotted small asteroids, on the order of 5-10 meters, flying by Earth at a similar distance, asteroids the size of Apophis are far fewer in number and so do not pass this close to Earth as often.

The asteroid, looking like a moving star-like point of light, will first become visible to the naked eye in the night sky over the Southern Hemisphere, flying above Earth from the east coast to the west coast of Australia.

It will then cross the Indian Ocean, and by the afternoon in the eastern US, it will have crossed the equator, still moving west, above Africa.

"Current calculations show that Apophis still has a small chance of impacting Earth, less than 1 in 100,000 many decades from now, but future measurements of its position can be expected to rule out any possible impacts," said NASA recently.

Apophis is a representative of about 2,000 currently known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs).

"It is possible that there will be some surface changes, like small avalanches," Davide Farnocchia, an astronomer at JPL, said in the blog post.

Gigantic ‘potentially hazardous asteroid’ due to speed past Earth this week

A huge asteroid three times as long as a football field is set to speed by Earth on Thursday. The “potentially hazardous asteroid” is projected to whizz by our planet at over 25,400 mph (40,800 kph).

Asteroid ‘2008 KV2’ is estimated to measure 1,082 feet (330 meters) across and will be just 4.2 million miles (6.7 million kilometers) from Earth when it flies by. 

The gigantic space rock is considered a Near Earth Object (NEO) and the center at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for studying such close encounters considers 2008 KV2 to be a “potentially hazardous asteroid” because of its size and its relative proximity to our planet, passing within 0.045 astronomical units (AU) of Earth. One AU is about the distance between the Earth and the Sun. 

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As indicated in its name, the asteroid was first discovered in 2008 and scientists began to calculate how often to expect it to come near our planet. It orbits the Sun, like Earth, but doesn’t always get so close. It’s expected to pass Earth again in 2021.

World Watches Last Blue Moon of the Decade

"The Moon will not appear blue. Got it? Good,” NASA wrote on Twitter.

For the last time in this decade, a "Blue Flower Moon" will appear Saturday night at approximately 10:21pm (BST), science experts said.

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On Twitter, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) wrote, “Since the 1940s, ‘Blue Moon’ has referred to the second full Moon in a month - but tonight’s Blue Moon is from the older definition, which is the third full Moon in a season that has an atypical four full Moons. And please note, the Moon will not appear blue. Got it? Good.”

Despite the colloquial phrase, “Once in a blue moon,” they are relatively common and appear once every two to three years. Still, this blue moon or "May Flower Moon" sighting is exceptional as it will be its last appearance for the decade until August 22, 2021.

Rome’s astrophysicist and the director of the Virtual Telescope Project, Gianluca Masi, told CNN, “[The moon] will put [on] its usual great show and we will show the moon rising above the legendary skyline of Rome … Every two to three years we have 13 full Moons within a year. This way, we can have four full Moons during a given season or two full Moons in a given month."

Since the 1940s, ‘Blue Moon’ has referred to the second full Moon in a month - but tonight’s Blue Moon is from the older definition, which is the third full Moon in a season that has an atypical four full Moons. And please note, the Moon will not appear blue. Got it? Good.

 

Major magnetic storm may displace satellites from orbit & hamper GPS navigation – scientists

The largest magnetic storm in two years, which hit Earth on Tuesday, is no joke, Russian scientists warned, saying that increased solar activity threatens electronics and people’s health.

The phenomenon may divert spacecraft from their orbit and create problems for satellite communications and GPS navigation, the Laboratory of X-Ray Astronomy at the Lebedev Institute of the Russian Academy of Science said.

Radio interference and Aurora Borealis in unusual places will be the other side effect of the magnetic storm. The Northern Lights may be seen in the sky, starting from the latitudes of 60 degrees – where Russia’s Saint Petersburg is located – and above.

“During such events, the voltage in electrical systems may require correction. False triggering of safety systems is also possible,” the scientists warned.

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But it’s not only hardware, but people as well, who will be affected. Those, who are aware that they are weather-sensitive, may feel discomfort and should take precautions.

The storm began early on Tuesday and will last during the day, with normalization only expected on Wednesday night, the researcher said.

The current event “is a large one compared to what was happening in recent years.” It was ranked at level three, with the strongest – level five – storm occurring once every 10 or 20 years.

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"Big Step For Chinese People" As Rover Drives On Far Side Of The Moon

Beijing: A Chinese lunar rover has driven on the far side of the moon, the national space agency announced on Friday, hailing the development as a "big step for the Chinese people".

The Yutu-2 (Jade Rabbit-2) rover drove onto the moon's surface from the lander at 10:22pm Thursday, about 12 hours after the groundbreaking touchdown of the Chang'e-4 probe, the agency said.

The China National Space Administration released a photo taken by the lander showing tracks left by the rover as it departed the spacecraft, though it did not specify how far the rover travelled.

Beijing is pouring billions into its military-run space programme, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022, and of eventually sending humans to the moon.

Chang'e-4 lunar probe mission -- named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology -- was the second Chinese probe to land on the moon following the Yutu rover mission in 2013.

The separation of the rover -- which is named after the moon goddess' pet white rabbit -- went smoothly, said Wu Weiren, chief designer of the lunar project.

"Although this was one small step for the rover, I think it is one big step for the Chinese people," he said in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV, echoing the famous quote by US astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the Moon in 1969. 

No lander or rover has ever previously touched the surface of the far side of the moon, and it is no easy technological feat. Challenges include communicating with the robotic lander as there is no direct "line of sight" for signals.

The photo of the rover was sent via the Queqiao (Magpie Bridge) satellite, which was blasted into the moon's orbit in May to relay data and commands between the lander and Earth.

Chang'e-4 is carrying six experiments from China and four from abroad, including low-frequency radio astronomical studies -- aiming to take advantage of the lack of interference on the moons' far side.

The rover will also conduct mineral and radiation tests, the China National Space Administration has said.

Beijing is planning to send another lunar lander, Chang'e-5, later this year to collect samples and bring them back to Earth.

It is among a slew of ambitious Chinese targets, which include a reusable launcher by 2021, a super-powerful rocket capable of delivering payloads heavier than those NASA and private rocket firm SpaceX can handle, a moon base, a permanently crewed space station, and a Mars rover.

China Lands Probe On "Dark Side" Of Moon In Global First: State Media

Beijing, China: A Chinese lunar rover landed on the far side of the moon on Thursday, in a global first that boosts Beijing's ambitions to become a space superpower.

The Chang'e-4 probe touched down and sent a photo of the so-called "dark side" of the moon to the Queqiao satellite, which will relay communications to controllers on Earth, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Beijing is pouring billions into its military-run space programme, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022, and of eventually sending humans to the moon.

The Chang'e-4 lunar probe mission -- named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology -- launched in December from the southwestern Xichang launch centre.

It is the second Chinese probe to land on the moon, following the Yutu (Jade Rabbit) rover mission in 2013.

Unlike the near side of the moon that offers many flat areas to touch down on, the far side is mountainous and rugged.

The moon is "tidally locked" to Earth in its rotation so the same side is always facing Earth.

Chang'e-4 is carrying six experiments from China and four from abroad, including low-frequency radio astronomical studies -- aiming to take advantage of the lack of interference on the far side.

The rover will also conduct mineral and radiation tests, the China National Space Administration has said, according to state news agency Xinhua.

Extreme challenges 

It was not until 1959 that the Soviet Union captured the first images of the moon's mysterious and heavily cratered "dark side".

No lander or rover has ever previously touched the surface there, and it is no easy technological feat -- China has been preparing for this moment for years.

A major challenge for such a mission was communicating with the robotic lander: as there is no direct "line of sight" for signals to the far side of the moon.

As a solution, China in May blasted the Queqiao ("Magpie Bridge") satellite into the moon's orbit, positioning it so that it can relay data and commands between the lander and Earth.

In another extreme hurdle, during the lunar night -- which lasts 14 Earth days -- temperatures drop to as low as minus 173 degrees Celsius (minus 279 Fahrenheit).

During the lunar day, also lasting 14 Earth days, temperatures soar as high as 127 C (261 F).

The rover's instruments have to withstand those fluctuations and it has to generate enough energy to sustain it during the long night.

Adding to the difficulties, Chang'e-4 was sent to the Aitken Basin in the lunar south pole region -- known for its craggy and complex terrain -- state media has said.

Yutu also conquered those challenges and, after initial setbacks, ultimately surveyed the moon's surface for 31 months. Its success provided a major boost to China's space programme.

Beijing is planning to send another lunar lander, Chang'e-5, next year to collect samples and bring them back to Earth.

It is among a slew of ambitious Chinese targets, which include a reusable launcher by 2021, a super-powerful rocket capable of delivering payloads heavier than those NASA and private rocket firm SpaceX can handle, a moon base, a permanently crewed space station, and a Mars rover.

Water on Mars PICTURED: ESA shares incredible IMAGES of Martian ice crater

The European Space Agency has shared an incredible composite image showing a 50-mile wide crater on Mars that is filled with water ice all year long.

Budding future colonists hoping for a white Christmas on Mars will be somewhat disappointed as the ESA has confirmed that sitting in the Korolev crater is, in fact, a thick block of water ice, not snow. The enormous, 82-kilometer-wide, 2-kilometer-deep “ice trap” could still be good for ice skating though.

A beautiful wonderland... on ! This ice-filled crater was imaged by our Mars Express spacecraft. Korolev crater is 82 kilometres across and found in the northern lowlands of Mars. More images:

Even better, the 2,200 cubic kilometers of water ice – same as the volume of Canada’s Great Bear Lake – could be important for the survival of future colonists, and may even enable them to return back home, as water could be split into hydrogen and oxygen for rocket fuel.

For those of you asking - yes it is water ice. Mars Express first detected water on in 2004, see our release at the time . More recently, the spacecraft detected liquid water under the planet’s south pole, see:

The crater is found in the northern lowlands of Mars near the planet's north pole which is known as Olympia Undae for its wavy, dune-filled terrain. The crater's ice is protected by the topography and by a lair of cold air that shields it from the elements.

 

© ESA/DLR/FU Berlin

 

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The icy crater is named after chief rocket engineer and spacecraft designer Sergey Korolev, known as the father of Soviet space technology and the head of iconic space exploration missions including the Sputnik, Vostok, and Voskhod programs. A lesser known fact is that Korolev dreamt about a flight to Mars for decades and was actually working on a rocket that would have brought a man to the Red Planet – and who knows where this unfinished project might have ended if it wasn’t for the Soviet visionary’s untimely death in 1966.

READ MORE: Sergey Korolev: Space exploration's No. 1 constructor & total enigma

 
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