According to Nasa scientists a small asteroid will make an extremely close pass by Earth on January 27, coming much nearer than the moon, but the space rock poses no danger of impacting our planet. The newfound asteroid 2012 BX34, which is about the size of a city bus, will pass within 36,750 miles (59,044 kilometers) of Earth at about 10:30 a.m. EST (1530 GMT) Friday. The space rock is about 36 feet (11 meters) wide, making it much too small to pose a threat to Earth. Asteroid 2012 BX34 will zip by at a distance about 0.17 times that separating Earth and the moon. The moon orbits Earth at an average distance of about 240,000 miles (386,000 km).
According to new study the moon may have possessed a magnetic field for much longer than previously thought, one that was also much stronger than scientists had predicted. Earth’s magnetic field is created by its dynamo, its roiling molten metal core. Scientists have long suspected that the moon once had a dynamo as well, since evidence of magnetism was found in rocks brought back from the moon by Apollo astronauts. But, meteoroids colliding with the moon could have created plasma, which could in turn have generated magnetic fields.
According to the first published models of Vesta’s average global temperatures and illumination by the sun though generally thought to be quite dry, roughly half of the giant asteroid Vesta is expected to be so cold and to receive so little sunlight that water ice could have survived there for billions of years. According to Timothy Stubbs of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County near the north and south poles, the conditions appear to be favorable for water ice to exist beneath the surface. Vesta probably does not have any significant permanently shadowed craters where water ice could stay frozen on the surface all the time, not even in the roughly 300-mile-diameter (480-kilometer-diameter) crater near the south pole.
In this year astronomers could discover planets in other solar systems, also amateur astronomers discovered new asteroids, comets, and some comet fly at minimum distance from our planet.
In 2011, most of the best meteor showers occurred when the moon was close to full. But 2012 starts out with a fine meteor shower, the Quadrantids, with absolutely no moon to interfere with the viewing.
Earth has two moons, a group of scientists argues. One is that waxing and waning nightlight we all know and love. The other is a tiny asteroid, no bigger than a Smart Car, making huge doughnuts around Earth for a while before it zips off into the distance.
The 2012 Quadrantids, a little-known meteor shower named after an extinct constellation, will present an excellent chance for hardy souls to start the year off with some late-night meteor watching.
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has spiraled closer and closer to the surface of the giant asteroid Vesta.
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft successfully maneuvered into its closest orbit around the giant asteroid Vesta on December 12, beginning a new phase of science observations.