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The number of discovered near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) now tops 15,000, with an average of 30 new discoveries added each week. The number of discovered near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) now tops 15,000, with an average of 30 new discoveries added each week. This milestone marks a 50 percent increase in the number of known NEAs since 2013, when discoveries reached 10,000 in August of that year. Surveys funded by NASA’s Near Earth Object (NEO) Observations Program (NEOs include both asteroids and comets) account for more than 95 percent of discoveries so far. The 15,000th near-Earth asteroid is designated 2016 TB57. 2016 TB57 is a rather small asteroid — about 50 to 115 feet (16 to 36 meters) in size — that will come closest to Earth on Oct. 31 at just beyond five times the distance of the moon. It will safely pass Earth. Read more
Breakthrough Listen at UC Berkeley will conduct follow up observations of reported anomalous spectral features (234 stars out of 2.5 million with unusual light emissions observed by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS)) in solar type stars.
The Berkeley SETI Research Center (BSRC) team has added several stars from the Borra and Trottier sample to the Breakthrough Listen observing queue on the 2.4-meter Automated Planet Finder (APF) optical telescope. The capabilities of the APF spectrograph are well matched to those of the original detection, and these independent follow-up observations will enable us to verify or refute the reported detections. they look forward to consulting with Professor Borra and his team on these observations, as well as additional follow up investigations using other data sources. Read more
If you’ve seen at least one other episode of the Guide to Space, you know I’m obsessed about the Fermi Paradox. This idea that the Universe is big and old, and should be teeming with life. And yet, we have no evidence that it exists out there. We wonder, where are all the aliens?
As we’ve demonstrated here in our own corner of the galaxy, it’s not our weak fleshy bodies that will be doing the hard work of exploring the Solar System, and eventually the galaxy, it’ll be the robots. Read more
A subsurface ocean lies deep within Saturn’s moon Dione, according to new data from the Cassini mission to Saturn. Two other moons of Saturn, Titan and Enceladus, are already known to hide global oceans beneath their icy crusts, but a new study suggests an ocean exists on Dione as well. Read more
Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have imaged what may be water vapor plumes erupting off the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa. This finding bolsters other Hubble observations suggesting the icy moon erupts with high altitude water vapor plumes. The observation increases the possibility that missions to Europa may be able to sample Europa’s ocean without having to drill through miles of ice. “Europa’s ocean is considered to be one of the most promising places that could potentially harbor life in the solar system,” said Geoff Yoder, acting associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “These plumes, if they do indeed exist, may provide another way to sample Europa’s subsurface.” Read more
The world’s largest telescope will be completed this week in China and it has scientists very, very excited. With a whopping 1,640 feet (500 meter) wide dish the size of 30 football fields, the telescope will able to detect radio signals — and potentially signs of life — from distant planets.
For many people, the most exciting goal is the search for extraterrestrial life. The recent discovery of three life-friendly planets outside our solar system has rekindled discussion of whether intelligent life is unique to Earth. FAST’s sensitivity will be capable of detecting exoplanets like these in ways that other telescopes cannot. “FAST’s potential to discover an alien civilization will be five to 10 (times) that of current equipment, as it can see farther and darker planets,” Peng Bo, director of the NAO Radio Astronomy Technology Laboratory, told Xinhua. Read more