Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Nearest flyby in recorded history: Asteroid 2012 DA14

2012 DA14 size relative to the shuttle
Asteroid 2012 DA14 is hurtling toward Earth and will be at its closest approach at 2:24pm on 15 February 2013, just after Valentine's Day.

Is this the end? Is it a planet-killer? Will we go the way of the dinosaurs? No, sorry, the asteroid will miss us and some of you will still need to buy some chocolates and/or flowers if that is your thing.



**LIVE full coverage webcasts of the flyby:**
ADDENDUM: Meteor strike in Russia injured more than 400 people, 15 Feb. 2013. According to Don Yeomans, head of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program "This bolide event probably had nothing to do with the upcoming close Earth approach of asteroid 2012 DA14"
Some facts:
  • 2012 DA14 will pass within 18K miles of Earth between the geosynchronous satellites and the ISS (the moon orbits at 239K miles) making this the closest approach of an asteroid to Earth in recorded history
  • It is 50m long (one half this size created the 1-mile across Meteor Crater in Arizona 50K years ago) or half a football field
  • If it were to hit Earth (which it is NOT), the blast would roughly equal that of the Tunguska event in 1908
La Sagra Observatory tracking images

General Information on Asteroid 2012 DA14
Asteroid 2012 DA14- Earth flyby reality check from NASA
Asteroid 2012 DA14 Flyby News from NASA
Close Flyby: Asteroid 2012 DA14 infographic from SPACE.com
La Sagra Observatory discovers very near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 from The Planetary Society blog
NASA's Near Earth Object Program Close Approach Tables

Library Stuff: Books & Videos
De Villiers, Marq. The end : natural disasters, manmade catastrophes, and the future of human survival. New York : St. Martin's Press, 2008.
--GB5014 .D48 2008                                                        

Hallam, A. (Anthony). Catastrophes and lesser calamities : the causes of mass extinctions Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2004.
--QE721.2.E97 H345 2004

Koppes, Steven N. Killer rocks from outer space : asteroids, comets, and meteorites. Minneapolis : Lerner Publications Co., 2004.
--523.5 K83KI  (ED_YOUTH    ED-RES)

Peebles, Curtis. Asteroids : a history. Washington [D.C.] : Smithsonian Institution Press, 2000.
--QB651 .P44 2000

Plait, Philip C. Death from the skies! : these are the ways the world will end. New York, N.Y. : Viking Penguin, 2008.
--QB638.8 .P53 2008                                                      

Sumners, Carolyn. Cosmic pinball : the science of comets, meteors, and asteroids. New York : McGraw Hill, 2000.
--QB721 .S85 2000

Weinreich, Eitan. Asteroids [videorecording] : deadly impact by the National Geographic Society. Produced by Nina Parmee.
--DVD VIDEO 8298                                                          
     
US Government Reports & Documents                                                                  
The global exploration roadmap [electronic resource] / International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG). Publication info: Washington, DC : National Aeronautics and Space Administration, [2011]
--URL: http://purl.fdlp.gov/GPO/gpo21917
--URL: http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/591067main_GER_2011_small_single.pdf
--URL: http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/591066main_GER_2011_for_release.pdf
--NAS 1.2:EX 7/5

United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Near-Earth object survey and deflection analysis of alternatives [electronic resource] : report to Congress
--URL: http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS123968
--URL: http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/171331main_NEO_report_march07.pdf
--NAS 1.2:EA 7/20                                                        
             
United States. Congress. House. Committee on Science and Technology (2007). Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics.Near-Earth objects (NEOS) : status of the survey program and review of NASA's 2007 report to Congress: hearing before the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, Committee on Science and Technology, House of Representatives, One Hundred Tenth Congress, first session, November 8, 2007.
--URL: http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS92299
--Y 4.SCI 2:110-72  (GOV_US      MICROFORMS)

Planetary fact sheets [electronic resource]. Greenbelt, MD : National Space Science Data Center, 2002.
--URL: http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS23377
--NAS 1.2:P 69/13/  

United States. Congress. House. Committee on Science. Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics. The threat of near-earth asteroids : hearing before the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, Committee on Science, House of Representatives, One Hundred Seventh Congress, second session, October 3, 2002.
--Y 4.SCI 2:107-89  (GOV_US      MICROFORMS)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Charles Darwin & Darwin Day


Charles Robert Darwin: b. 12 Feb, 1809 – d. 19 Apr, 1882
One of the great names in history on par with that of Einstein or Copernicus, his ideas changed our worldview at a fundamental level challenging us to think about ourselves and the universe we live in very differently.

On February 12th, 1809 C.E., Charles Robert Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England. In 1831, he took his famous 5-year voyage aboard the HMS Beagle where he observed the dramatic variation of species in the Galapagos Islands- particularly the finches.

He did not invent the theory of evolution. The idea that species evolved (or "transmuted") from one for to another had been around for some time before Darwin. What he did was to document evidence for it better than anyone previously and work out a theory for how it functioned: the theory of natural selection.

At the same time, Alfred Russel Wallace came up with the same mechanism for evolution and nearly beat Darwin to the publishing house. Wallace graciously stepped aside to let Darwin take the lead in putting forth this theory to the world.

February 12th is Darwin Day. A day of celebration initiated by Darwin Day.org, a science education group, advocating the celebration of science- "our most reliable knowledge system."

Want to know more?
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