Wednesday, 11 December 2013

News from Outer Space: December 2013

A disturbance about 1 km in diameter in the outermost ring of Saturn has just been discovered by Cassini and given the name Peggy.  What is it?

Also from Cassini's view of Saturn:  There's a striking hexagonal storm at the pole.
Hexagonal storm
The comet ISON has disappeared as it went around the sun.  Predicted as a possible naked eye wonder for early December, it has instead broken up and fizzed out.

Chelyabinsk lake with hole
The Chelyabinsk meteorite has been analyzed and it's history charted from near the beginning of our solar system when it became part of a 100 km object under frequent bombardment, was struck about 30 million years ago whereupon it moved out of the asteroid belt and into near-earth orbit until it was knocked loose from that 1.2 million years ago until it smacked into Russia February 15 2013.  Extraordinarily, scientists have some pieces of the object it broke off from 1.2 million years ago. A Japanese space craft rendezvoused with the 500 metre diameter asteroid, Itokawa, in 2005 and brought samples back to earth in 2010. The analysis of that rock shows the same history.  Links to the kaboom part of the story in Russia.

China's Jade Rabbit lunar lander will be touching down Saturday December 14th.

SpaceX delivered cargo into space orbit for $65 million dollars, $200 million dollars less than Arianespace charges.  Gamechanger as market forces enter space.

A narrow zone in Earth's Van Allen Belt has been discovered to  accelerate particles to near the speed of light.

A neutrino lab under a mile of Antarctic ice is on-line and collecting information left over from the creation of the universe.

The sharp decline in sun spots is turning into a big news story.  Expect surprises as earth may enter a prolonged cool phase or even a Little Ice Age.

Extra-solar planet detection is getting better all the time.  Now they have detected planets with water.

Previous edition of Space News from November.

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