First images of the mysterious interstellar comet show some familiar features - Digital Trends - Canadanewsmedia
Connect with us

Science

First images of the mysterious interstellar comet show some familiar features – Digital Trends

Published

on


Gemini Observatory two-color composite image of C/2019 Q4 (Borisov), which is the first interstellar comet ever identified. Gemini Observatory/NSF/AURA

Astronomers have gotten their first glimpse at an interstellar comet — and it might be more similar to comets from our solar system than we had originally thought.

Amateur Ukranian astronomer Gennady Borisov first spotted the comet, which originated from outside of our solar system and has been named C/2019 Q4 (Borisov), on August 30. Now that astronomers from the Institute for Astrophysics of the Canaries (IAC) have gotten a closer look at it using a telescope at the Roque de los Mucachos Observatory, they’ve found that it has a lot of characteristics that are similar to the comets from our own neighborhood. It’s likely that they’re made of the same stuff, scientists said.

“The spectrum of this object is similar to those of Solar System comets and this indicates that their composition must be similar,” the IAC’s Julia de León said in a statement after managing to snap a few detailed images of C/2019 Q4 on September 13.

Astronomers from the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii also managed to capture the first multicolor image of the comet, and said they expect to be able to take some better images as Borisov gets closer over the next few months.

C/2019 Q4 Borisov
A look at Borisov’s path as it travels through our solar system. JPL

Astronomers looked at the comet’s tail to help determine that it’s got a similar composition to local ones. Comets themselves are made of ice and dust, though it’s not clear where this comet — and the ice and dust it’s made out of — came from.

That said, if the comet is made of similar materials, it suggests that whatever solar system it originated in has a lot in common with our own.

This is only the second interstellar object discovered by astronomers. The first, ‘Oumuamua, was discovered in 2017, but was spotted on its way out of our solar system, and scientists weren’t able to figure out what it was composed of.

They’ve got a lot more data on Borisov, which is inbound and headed towards the sun at a high speed. The comet currently has a hyperbolic path, and should be closest to the sun — about 2 AU, or twice the distance between the Earth and the sun — in December, according to astronomers’ best estimates.

After that, it will bid our solar system farewell and move on to interstellar space, though scientists still expect to have a year to watch it in action before we can’t observe it from Earth anymore.

Editors’ Recommendations




Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

Billionaire Bezos unveils plans to land humans on Moon, with a little help from some old friends – The Register

Published

on

By


Blue Origin and industry vets eye a slice of NASA’s lunar lander largesse

Richest person in the world, Jeff Bezos, yesterday pitched NASA a team mostly made up of the usual suspects to build a lunar lander for the agency’s ambitious 2024 boots-on-Moon goal.

Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress in Washington, Bezos announced the “national team”, of which his Blue Origin would be the prime contractor (naturally). The members consist of Lockheed Martin for the Ascent Stage, Northrop Grumman for the Transfer Element and Draper providing the guidance and navigation systems.

“We could not ask for better partners,” intoned the billionaire, which is fair enough. After all, elements of all the companies in the team-up worked on the Apollo program back in the day (although those engineers will have long been put out to pasture.)

The Transfer Element will guide the stack from lunar orbit to close to the Moon, from whence the Descent Element will conduct a powered descent. Lockheed Martin’s ascent module will then send the freshly minted Moonwalkers back into space.

Blue Origin will also be building the descent element of the lander, which uses the company’s BE-7 engine. The powerplant, Bezos said, is fuelled by liquid hydrogen and oxygen and as well being “highly throttleable” and developing 10,000 pounds of thrust.

The BE-7, of course, has yet to actually leave the test stand. Bezos told the audience that to date, the company had managed 13 minutes of test time, including a three-minute continuous firing.

That same engine, Bezos added, would be used by Northrop Grumman in the transfer element of the lunar lander stack.

Bezos unveiled the Blue Moon lander back in May and the announcement of the National Team is an indicator that it will take more than one company to meet the 2024 goal. It will also reassure those within NASA nervous about flinging cash at a company that has yet to even make Earth orbit, let alone do anything in deep space.

And NASA has lots of experience in giving money to Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman after all.

Grumman, of course, built the original Apollo Lunar Module back in NASA’s glory days while Draper provided the guidance systems for the Moon missions.

These days, Northrop Grumman provides NASA with ISS cargo services and is working on both the boosters for the eternally-delayed Space Launch System and the habitat for the agency’s Lunar Gateway.

Draper has continued to work on precision guidance, although there is a delightful hole to tumble down in researching the Apollo guidance units, particularly efforts to fire up the old things once more. Naturally, the hand-woven circuitry of the Apollo era won’t feature this time around.

NASA is due to select two contractor teams in late 2020 to actually build the lander, having asked for proposals (and deleted certain reusability requirements in the rush to 2024). ®

Sponsored:
Delivering on the multi-cloud dream: Clear strategies for success

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

Bezos's Blue Origin partners with Lockheed, others on moon lander – Financial Post

Published

on

By


WASHINGTON — U.S. billionaire Jeff Bezos said on Tuesday his space company Blue Origin has signed agreements with Lockheed Martin Corp, Northrop Grumman Corp and research and development organization Draper for development of its lunar lander designed to help NASA put humans on the moon by 2024.

Blue Origin’s so-called Blue Moon lunar lander, unveiled by Bezos in May, is in development and sits at the center of the space company’s ambition to ferry humans into deep space and land key contracts from the U.S. space agency for space exploration.

“I’m excited to announce that we put together a national team to go back to the moon,” Bezos, founder and CEO of online retail giant Amazon, said at the International Astronautical Congress.

The four companies, with Blue Origin as the lead contractor, plan to submit a proposal for the lander to NASA under its Artemis lunar program, an accelerated mission to the moon kickstarted in March by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

Bezos called the partnerships a “national team” whose history in space exploration fits the Blue Moon’s mission. Lockheed is separately developing the moon-bound astronaut capsule named Orion. Northrop helped NASA build the Apollo lunar landers in the 1960s. Draper, a not-for-profit research and development organization, built NASA’s navigation computers for Apollo lunar landers. (Reporting by Joey Roulette; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

A giant full beaver moon set to dazzle Metro Vancouver skies – Vancouver Courier

Published

on

By


While it is getting darker earlier in Metro Vancouver, this month’s full beaver moon promises to illuminate the night sky.

The November full moon is thought to have derived its funny name because it occurred during the optimal time to trap the furry creatures. In fact, both colonial Americans as well as the Algonquin tribes referred to it as such.

article continues below

“Why this name? Back then, this was the month to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs,” reports Farmer’s Almanac.

While it is commonly known as the beaver moon, it was also called the Full Frost Moon by other North American Tribes.

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the moon will be fullest during the day on Tuesday, Nov. 12. However, Vancouver stargazers will still be able to see the nearly-full moon in all her celestial glory the night before (Nov. 11) as well as later that night (Nov. 12).

What’s more, this full moon casts long, hauntingly beautiful shadows in the Northern Hemisphere. They are similar to those cast by the midday summer sun, as the moon is extremely high in the sky during this time.

Stargazers should opt to travel as far away from city lights as possible in order to avoid light pollution that will obscure the clarity of heavenly bodies. While this works best the in more remote places, anywhere that has a higher elevation will also provide more ideal viewing conditions.

Click here for original article.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending