The Week: Most Recent outer-space recent posts.en-usTue, 19 Feb 2013 11:20:00 -0500http://theweek.com Recent outer-space from THE WEEKTue, 19 Feb 2013 11:20:00 -0500Russia's massive meteorite: By the numbers<img src="" /></P><p>The bad news about the gigantic meteorite that crashed into the central Russian area of Chelyabinsk on Friday &mdash; the largest to hit the Earth in more than 100 years &mdash; is the unpleasant reminder that "space is out to kill you," says Spencer Ackerman at <em>Wired</em>. And "all the advanced air defenses that humanity has invested in?" The missiles, rockets, and early warning systems are all "useless, <em>useless</em>&nbsp;against a meteorite onslaught." The good news? "Space rocks are lousy shots," and most of the Earth's surface isn't inhabited by mankind. How big and powerful &mdash; and valuable &mdash...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/peter-weber" ><span class="byline">Peter Weber</span></a>Tue, 19 Feb 2013 11:20:00 -0500Everything you need to know about meteor strikes<img src="" /></P><p>On Friday, a meteor exploded 32,000 feet above the Chelyabinsk region of Russia, lighting up the sky and producing a shockwave that shook buildings and shattered windows. At least 1,000 people were injured in the blasts, the highest toll ever caused by an object from space. Video footage of the meteorites, while mesmerizing, is also terrifying. It "appeals to our most primitive fears," tweeted&nbsp;<em>The Week</em>'s D.B. Grady. "It's an astonishing glimpse at the end of the world." Here's what you should know about Russia's meteor blast, and others like it:&nbsp;</p><p><strong>First off: What exactly is a meteor?...</strong></p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/jessica-hullinger" ><span class="byline">Jessica Hullinger</span></a>Fri, 15 Feb 2013 12:02:00 -0500PHOTO: This beautiful black hole is the youngest ever discovered<img src="" /></P><p ><br />(<em>X-ray: NASA/CXC/MIT/L.Lopez et al; Infrared: Palomar; Radio: NSF/NRAO/</em><em>VLA</em>)</p><p>What you're looking at isn't exactly a black hole. Actually, it's the light, matter, and radiation spewed forth &mdash; and subsequently suspended in space &mdash; from a recently exploded star.</p><p>NASA scientists, using the Chandra X-ray space telescope, managed to zoom in on this colorful explosion of&nbsp;W49B &mdash; an oddly mesmerizing piece of universe that, at just 1,000 years old (at least seen from Earth), is theorized to be the youngest black hole ever spotted in our Milky Way galaxy.</p><p>Black holes form when a...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/chris-gayomali" ><span class="byline">Chris Gayomali</span></a>Thu, 14 Feb 2013 15:30:00 -0500Is the asteroid zipping past Earth this week really worth $195 billion?<img src="" /></P><p>A well-documented asteroid is set to safely pass by Earth this&nbsp;Friday. But here's the fascinating fact &mdash; the asteroid is said to be worth close to $200 billion. Deep Space Industries, an ambitious consortium of billionaires&nbsp;that recently revealed plans to mine nearby space rocks, estimates 2012 DA14 may contain $65 billion in recoverable water and $130 billion in metals. Nothing to sneeze at.&nbsp;</p><p>But the 150-foot-wide 2012 DA14 will zip by untouched, thanks to its "highly tilted" orbit relative to Earth, which <em></em> says makes it too elusive to chase down. "While this week...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/chris-gayomali" ><span class="byline">Chris Gayomali</span></a>Wed, 13 Feb 2013 14:10:00 -0500How you can help name Pluto's two new moons<img src="" /></P><p>Technically speaking, Pluto isn't a full-fledged planet, but researchers from the Seti Institute are eliciting names for two of the itty-bitty&nbsp;dwarf planet's recently discovered moons, P4 and P5, which researchers found using the Hubble Space Telescope.</p><p>Pluto is the Roman name for the Greek god Hades, who as anyone who's ever caught an episode of&nbsp;<em>Xena: Warrior Princess</em> will tell you is the lord of the underworld. Sticking with tradition, Seti researchers revealed a shortlist of Roman- and Greek-inspired names they're considering for the moons, which you can vote for through a new website...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/chris-gayomali" ><span class="byline">Chris Gayomali</span></a>Mon, 11 Feb 2013 15:25:00 -05006 clever ways to avoid getting hit by an asteroid<img src="" /></P><p>Asteroids zip by Earth all the time. Nearly all of them pose absolutely no threat, but thanks to the magic of Hollywood, our culture is pervaded by a culpable fear that just one wayward space rock will lead to humankind's end. But don't worry: The chances of an asteroid slamming into our planet are incredibly small. For example,&nbsp;Apophis, the doom-bringing 900-foot-wide asteroid that swung by Earth in January, has a 99.9993 percent chance of missing us on its next pass in 2029. Plus, NASA and other space agencies around the globe have the trajectories of most near-Earth asteroids scouted out...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/chris-gayomali" ><span class="byline">Chris Gayomali</span></a>Thu, 07 Feb 2013 11:25:00 -0500WATCH: A 150-foot asteroid's near-brush with Earth<img src="" /></P><p><iframe width="660" height="397" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p><p>On Feb. 15, an asteroid about half the size of a football field will come awfully close to Earth. Asteroid 2012 DA 14, which is 150 feet in diameter, was discovered about a year ago, and will zoom by our planet about 17,200 miles above the Indian Ocean &mdash; or closer than most weather and communications satellites. Check out NASA's rendition above.</p><p>The space agency says the flyby is "the closest ever predicted Earth approach for an object this large." While it won't hit our planet this time around, there's a small chance it could collide with Earth when it circles back in 2110. Dina Spector...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/chris-gayomali" ><span class="byline">Chris Gayomali</span></a>Tue, 05 Feb 2013 16:42:00 -0500How 3D printers might help us build a base on the moon<img src="" /></P><p>If humanity's longtime dream of a moon colony is ever going to be achieved, its architects will have to deal with the fundamental logistical problem of having to haul boatloads of building materials into outer space &mdash; an expensive and time-consuming endeavor that, quite simply, isn't feasible considering the financial troubles NASA is currently facing.</p><p>So... what then? The answer, say skyward-looking engineers, is to harvest available materials from the moon itself. The European Space Agency recently revealed plans to use a 3D printer to build the complex shapes and pieces of equipment that...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/chris-gayomali" ><span class="byline">Chris Gayomali</span></a>Mon, 04 Feb 2013 13:25:00 -0500Iran's space monkey and other high-flying animals<img src="" /></P><p >Iran said Monday that it had successfully sent a monkey into space and brought it home alive, according to Iranian state TV. The report included photos of a small, gray-tufted monkey strapped into a pod resembling an infant car-seat. The U.S. and its allies are worried that Iran is using its space program as cover for an effort to build long-range missiles that could carry nuclear warheads. Still, several countries, including the U.S., sent animals into space decades ago in the early days of their exploration of space. Here, a look at some of the animals that went where no human had gone before...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/harold-maass" ><span class="byline">Harold Maass</span></a>Mon, 28 Jan 2013 14:55:00 -0500Today in history: Looking back at the 1986 Challenger Shuttle disaster<img src="" /></P><p><iframe width="650" height="398" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p><p >Twenty-seven years ago today, on January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded during its 10th flight mission (STS-51-L), just 73 seconds after liftoff. The mission&nbsp;was originally scheduled to begin on January 22, 1986, but it had to be rescheduled several times before the Challenger finally departed from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Jan. 28. After&nbsp;the failure of an O-ring seal on one of the shuttle's Solid Rocket Boosters, the vessel burst into flames and exploded. The tragic events were captured during a live broadcast, and&nbsp;all seven crew members lost their lives...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/elena-scotti" ><span class="byline">Elena Scotti</span></a>Mon, 28 Jan 2013 13:39:00 -0500One U.S. company's bold plan to mine asteroids flying by Earth<img src="" /></P><p>Brace yourselves for the coming asteroid gold rush. U.S. company&nbsp;Deep Space Industries&nbsp;this week revealed plans to send spacecraft on missions to mine near-Earth asteroids for precious metals. According to the announcement, the company plans to dispatch a series of small, low-cost satellites by 2015. A year later, a larger spacecraft equipped with mining tools will land on any potentially lucrative space rocks to dig out the goods. The mission, says&nbsp;chairman Rick Tumlinson, would tap into resources necessary to "expand the civilization of Earth out into the cosmos ad infinitum."...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/chris-gayomali" ><span class="byline">Chris Gayomali</span></a>Wed, 23 Jan 2013 13:30:00 -0500Behold: The biggest object in the known universe<img src="" /></P><p><em>It's a great big universe</em>, <em>and we're all really puny</em>. Yes, humankind is probably even more insignificant than we could have ever imagined, thanks to new findings from a team of astronomers in the U.K. For the odd-looking heptagon structure seen here&nbsp;represents&nbsp;the largest observable object in the known universe.</p><p>The Huge-LQG (Large Quasar Group), as it's been dubbed, is a grouping of 73 quasars, or galactic nuclei &mdash; which are all thought to have been at the heart of their own respective galaxies at one point &mdash; and stretches <strong>4 billion light years across its longest axis</strong>. Our...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/chris-gayomali" ><span class="byline">Chris Gayomali</span></a>Tue, 15 Jan 2013 13:15:00 -0500The massive comet that may shine brighter than the moon in 2013<img src="" /></P><p>Don't be surprised when you look up this November and see an exceptionally bright object streaking across the night sky. It'll just be the Comet ISON, a large, luminous space rock that astronomers say has the potential to join 1996's Comet Hyakutake and 1997's Hale-Bopp as one of the brightest "Great Comets" in history. Indeed,&nbsp;ISON may go down as <em>the</em>&nbsp;brightest comet ever gazed upon by human eyes. Here's what you should know:&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Why is it called&nbsp;ISON?<br /></strong>Russians&nbsp;Vitali&nbsp;Nevski&nbsp;and&nbsp;Artyom&nbsp;Novichonok&nbsp;are credited with&nbsp;first photographing&nbsp;ISON...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/chris-gayomali" ><span class="byline">Chris Gayomali</span></a>Mon, 14 Jan 2013 15:35:00 -0500NASA's search for another Earth narrows: Meet our closest twin yet<img src="" /></P><p><em>Seventeen billion</em>. That's how many Earth-sized planets exist in our Milky Way galaxy, according to new estimates from NASA. That's enough for every man, woman, and child alive to have at least two planets to call his or her own.</p><p>The revelation is why scientists who are part of NASA's Kepler mission&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;charged with scouting new alien worlds &mdash; are suddenly so enthusiastic about the odds of finding Earth's twin. At the meeting of the American Astronomical Society earlier this week, the Kepler team named 461 new candidates to add to its ongoing tally of 2,740 potential "New Earths...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/chris-gayomali" ><span class="byline">Chris Gayomali</span></a>Fri, 11 Jan 2013 14:10:00 -0500The 900-foot asteroid flying by Earth on Wednesday<img src="" /></P><p>Watch out: Astronomers have spotted a 900-foot-wide asteroid hurtling in the general direction of our feeble little planet. The asteroid is set to fly by on Wednesday, and the good news is it probably won't hit us. (It probably won't even come within 9 million miles of us &mdash; about one-tenth the distance of the Earth to the Sun.) But circle your calendars: There remains a small chance that it <em>could</em> collide with Earth when it circles back again in 2036.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">Apophis, as they call it, is named after a mythical Egyptian demon, and is surprising astronomers because it's <strong>a lot larger than initially...</strong></p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/chris-gayomali" ><span class="byline">Chris Gayomali</span></a>Wed, 09 Jan 2013 16:50:00 -05005 fictional ways to go very fast in space<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>Traveling at 40,000 miles per hour &mdash; the speed at which Voyager is zipping along &mdash; it would take around 17,000 years for the Vulcans to fly to Earth and make first contact. Chances are, by the time they got here we would have already bombed ourselves to extinction and been replaced by evolved apes. Nobody would pay to see a movie like that. To keep things interesting, here are a few fictional ways to go very fast in science fiction.</p><p><strong>1. FTL </strong><strong>Drive<br /></strong>Mr. Gaeta was probably the busiest man on the bridge of the <em>Battlestar Galactica</em>. In addition to his other duties, he was responsible for...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffWed, 09 Jan 2013 15:55:00 -0500