• Imagen 1 NASA Space Information And NASA NEWS Updates
    Nasa Information blog rolls an important play in publishing more and more effective contents of NASA with the help of nasa updates

Monday, May 2, 2011

Planet X Nibiru Nasa 2012 Doomsday Info Leaked

They came from outer space--and you can have one! Genuine meteorites are now on sale in the Space Weather Store.

SHUTTLE LAUNCH UPDATE: Engineers are still working to repair a problem that delayed space shuttle Endeavour's scheduled launch on April 29th. Heaters on a fuel line for the shuttle's auxiliary power unit failed during the countdown, and it might take as much as a week to get them back online. NASA says the next launch attempt will occur no earlier than May 8th. Stay tuned for updates.

SOUTH POLE AURORAS: A solar wind stream that hit Earth's magnetic field during the weekend sparked auroras over both ends of the planet. "After a slow start to the aurora observing season, we are finally getting some beautiful Aurora Australis here at the geographic South Pole (90 degrees S. latitude)," reports J. Dana Hrubes, science leader at the Amundsen-Scott Station. He took this picture at the peak of the geomagnetic storm on May 1st:

"Red and green auroras were directly overhead and appeared to be 'raining' down on us," says Hrubes. "It was much too cold for rain, however; the air temperature outside was -85 F. The sun set on March 23rd and will not rise again until six months later, so we will surely see more of these lights in the dark nights ahead." 

Indeed, the solar wind continues to blow at high speed, and NOAA forecasters estimate a 50% chance of more geomagnetic activity during the next 24 hours. High latitude sky watchers should remain alert for colorful 'rain.'

STS-134 Launch Scrubbed; Progress Docks to Station

STS-134 Launch Scrubbed; Progress Docks to Station

ISS Progress 42

The ISS Progress 42 cargo craft approaches the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV
Technicians and engineers at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida have identified the likely source of what caused heaters on a fuel line for space shuttle Endeavour's auxiliary power unit-1 (APU-1) to fail on Friday, scrubbing the first launch attempt for the STS-134 mission. The failure appears to be a power problem within the aft load control assembly-2 (ALCA-2), a box of switches controlling power feeds.

Launch of space shuttle Endeavour is now set for no earlier than May 8.

The ISS Progress 42 cargo craft docked to the Pirs docking compartment on the International Space Station at 10:28 a.m. EDT Friday, less than six hours before space shuttle Endeavour’s scheduled launch to the station on the STS-134 mission.

The cargo ship launched at 9:05 a.m. Wednesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, carrying 1,940 pounds of propellant, 110 pounds of oxygen and air, 926 pounds of water and 2,976 pounds of maintenance hardware, experiment equipment and resupply items for the Expedition 28 crew.

Current and Future Expeditions Gallery

International Space Station Sightings

International Space Station watchers are offered some great looks at the orbiting laboratory.

Bill Tracy, a flight dynamics officer in the Mission Control Center in Houston said: "Sightings of a wide variety of satellites are fairly common. Usually, however, sightings of the Station are limited to some parts of the country on some days, and other parts of the country on other days."

Full view of the International Space Station Image to right: Backdropped by the blackness of space and Earth's horizon, this full view of the International Space Station was photographed by a crewmember onboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Credit: NASA

"This week, the conditions all came together that will provide most of the continental United States with at least one sighting opportunity of the ISS on Wednesday or Thursday evenings -- with Thursday being the better of the two days," Tracy said.

NASA's Human Space Flight Web site provides lists of sighting opportunity times for hundreds of cities in the United States and the world. If a person cannot find a nearby location on the city list, the SkyWatch application allows a person to get ISS sighting times by providing some information. It will also provide sighting opportunity times for other satellites orbiting the Earth.

Because of the Station's orbit and the rotation of the Earth, the number of sighting opportunities and times will vary from location to location. For example on Thursday, Ruston, La., will have two 5-minute windows at 5:37 a.m. and 8:28 p.m. CDT. Salt Lake City will have one 6-minute opportunity at 4:32 a.m. MDT on Thursday and two evening opportunities -- at 9:03 p.m. for 4 minutes and at 10:37 p.m. for 5 minutes.

The Space Station will appear as a bright, slow, but steady moving star. Tracy said several conditions must occur for the sighting of the ISS or a satellite to take place in particular locations.

"First, obviously, the satellite must be above the horizon at the observer's location. That's easy enough," he said. "The second requirement is that the observer must be in darkness, when the sun is more than 6 degrees below the horizon. It may not be totally dark, but past experience shows that 6 degrees is about right.

"Third, the satellite itself must be lit by the sun. This means that the sun must be above the satellite's horizon. With the observer in darkness, sightings generally occur near sunrise and/or sunset at the observer's location. Finally, the lit side of the satellite must be facing roughly in the direction of the observer. Even if all other conditions are met, if the lit side of the spacecraft is facing away from the observer, then a sighting cannot take place."

Also, the ISS will appear in different parts of the sky from location to location. For example, Thursday evening Station gazers in Philadelphia should look for the ISS to appear at 9:32 p.m. EDT 10 degrees above the southwestern horizon and sail directly overhead before it disappears 11 degrees above the northeastern horizon.

If a location misses out on the ISS sighting opportunities this week, Tracy said there would be another excellent opportunity this summer. "There will be a few evening opportunities over the next two weeks," he said, "but the best evening sighting opportunities of ISS around the country will not occur again until mid-July of this year."

Royal Sighting Opportunities; Station Crew Sends Congratulations

Flight Engineers Cady Coleman, Paolo Nespoli and Ron Garan
Flight Engineers Cady Coleman, Paolo Nespoli and Ron Garan send a congratulatory message to the royal couple on behalf of the Expedition 27 crew. Photo credit: NASA

ISS006-E-22939 -- London at night
City lights of London, England were captured with a digital still camera by one of the Expedition Six crew members on the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA
Crowds gathering around Buckingham Palace for the Friday wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton may have a special treat this week – royal sightings of the International Space Station, and if it launches, space shuttle Endeavour.

If weather conditions in London cooperate, there are excellent sighting opportunities Thursday and Friday as the space ships fly 220 miles above the United Kingdom. Two of the best opportunities for Londoners to see the space station are tonight at 9:09 p.m. London time and Friday at 9:32 p.m.

If Endeavour launches as planned Friday evening, the shuttle should be visible from London at 8:50 p.m. Saturday. Again, it’s a perfect pass and should be quite a sight.

Since the distance between the station and shuttle is so large at launch, the two will not be visible together until docking.

› Get help with sighting opportunities

In order for the space station, or any other orbiting spacecraft, to be seen by a ground observer, there are four conditions that must be met all at the same time. First, the satellite must be above the horizon with respect to the observer. People cannot see the satellite if it is below the horizon and blocked by the Earth. Second, the observer must be in darkness - that time when the sun is more than four degrees below the horizon.
If the sun is any higher than this, the sky is simply too bright for the spacecraft to be seen. Third, the spacecraft must be lit by the sun. In other words, the sun must be above the horizon with respect to the spacecraft and light must be shining on the spacecraft. Since satellites rarely provide their own lighting (at least lighting that can be seen on the ground), the sighting is made by the spacecraft reflecting sunlight toward the observer. Finally, even if sunlight is shining on the spacecraft, the fourth condition is that the side of the satellite that has sunlight on it must be facing roughly in the direction of the observer. If this condition is not met, then the observer is looking at the dark side of the spacecraft and it won’t be visible.

So when do all of these conditions come together? Since the satellite must be in daylight and the observer must be in darkness, this only happens near sunrise and at sunset. The rest of the conditions vary and depend on the positions of the observer, the spacecraft, and the sun. Many times, sightings can occur at both sunrise and at sunset on the same day depending on the geometry of the spacecraft with respect to the observer and the time of year. Sightings during the day are generally not possible without a telescope since the sky is too bright. Only very bright objects can be seen during the day (like the sun and the moon). Unfortunately, there is no Earth-orbiting spacecraft that can be seen unaided from the ground during daylight hours.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Small Asteroid to Pass Within Earth-Moon System Tuesday

A newly-discovered car-sized asteroid will fly past Earth early Tuesday.  

A newly discovered car-sized asteroid will fly past Earth early Tuesday. The asteroid, 2010 TD54, will make its closest approach to Earth at 6:51 EDT a.m. (3:51 a.m. PDT). Image credit: NASA/JPL 

PASADENA, Calif. -- A small asteroid will fly past Earth early Tuesday within the Earth-moon system. The asteroid, 2010 TD54, will have its closest approach to Earth's surface at an altitude of about 45,000 kilometers (27,960 miles) at 6:50 EDT a.m. (3:50 a.m. PDT). At that time, the asteroid will be over southeastern Asia in the vicinity of Singapore. During its flyby, Asteroid 2010 TD54 has zero probability of impacting Earth. A telescope of the NASA-sponsored Catalina Sky Survey north of Tucson, Arizona discovered 2010 TD54 on Oct. 9 at (12:55 a.m. PDT) during routine monitoring of the skies.

2010 TD54 is estimated to be about 5 to 10 meters (16 to 33 feet) wide. Due to its small size, the asteroid would require a telescope of moderate size to be viewed. A five-meter-sized near-Earth asteroid from the undiscovered population of about 30 million would be expected to pass daily within a lunar distance, and one might strike Earth's atmosphere about every 2 years on average. If an asteroid of the size of 2010 TD54 were to enter Earth's atmosphere, it would be expected to burn up high in the atmosphere and cause no damage to Earth's surface.

The distance used on the Near Earth Object page is always the calculated distance from the center of Earth. The distance stated for 2010 TD54 is 52,000 kilometers (32,000 miles). To get the distance it will pass from Earth's surface you need to subtract the distance from the center to the surface (which varies over the planet), or about one Earth radii. That puts the pass distance at about 45,500 kilometers (28,000 miles) above the planet. NASA detects, tracks and characterizes asteroids and comets passing close to Earth using both ground-and space-based telescopes. 

The Near-Earth Object Observations Program, commonly called "Spaceguard," discovers these objects, characterizes a subset of them, and plots their orbits to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet.

JPL manages the Near-Earth Object Program Office for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

More information about asteroids is available at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroidwatch/ . You can also follow the latest news about asteroids on Twitter at @asteroidwatch .
A technician makes his way across a platform in Endeavour's aft section. 

Image above: At NASA Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A, a technician makes his way across a platform in space shuttle Endeavour's aft section as work begins to remove and replace the aft load control assembly-2 (ALCA-2). Photo credit: NASA/Kim

The crew members for space shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 mission are Commander Mark Kelly, Pilot Gregory H. Johnson and Mission Specialists Michael Fincke, Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel and European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori.

During the 14-day mission, Endeavour and its crew will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) and spare parts including two S-band communications antennas, a high-pressure gas tank and additional spare parts for Dextre.

Teams to Replace APU Heater Power Box; Launch No Earlier than May 8

Technicians and engineers at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida have identified the likely source of what caused heaters on a fuel line for space shuttle Endeavour's auxiliary power unit-1 (APU-1) to fail on Friday, scrubbing the first launch attempt for the STS-134 mission. The failure appears to be a power problem within the aft load control assembly-2 (ALCA-2), a box of switches controlling power feeds.

"That basically means the power is not getting out to the heaters that weren't working on launch day," said Space Shuttle Program Launch Integration Manager Mike Moses.

The plan is to remove and replace the box, but that work and related testing will take several days to complete. Once the new box is installed, the team must verify it's working properly -- at least a two-day process -- and perform forensics on the failed box.

"We can tell you, pretty much, that it's not going to be any earlier than (May 8)," Moses said. "We're really not even setting the schedules today. There's still a whole lot of short-term work that has to be done."

Endeavour's six astronauts have returned to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston for a few days of additional training before they report to Kennedy for the next launch attempt, and the crew's families also are going to return home today. The launch team is backing out of launch countdown operations.

"Responding to problems is one of the things we do best around here, and the team always likes a good challenge," said Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach. "I'm sure we're going to be really glad when Endeavour's finally on orbit, but right now, the team is upbeat and ready to execute."

The Great 2012 Doomsday Scare

Scenes from the motion picture  

The year 2012 is acting like a badly behaved celebrity. Frightful rumors and gossip are spreading. Already more than a half dozen books are marketing, to eager fans, astronomical fears about 2012 End Times. Opening in theaters on Friday, Nov. 13, will be 2012, a $200-million disaster movie that seems designed to break all records for disaster spectacles -- with cracking continents, plunging asteroids, burning cities, and a tsunami throwing an aircraft carrier through the White House. The movie's ominous slogan: "Find out the truth." Two other major movies about the 2012 doomsday are also reported to be in the works.

Anyone who cruises the internet or all-night talk radio knows why. The ancient Maya of Mexico and Guatemala kept a calendar that is about to roll up the red carpet of time, swing the solar system into transcendental alignment with the heart of the Milky Way, and turn Earth into a bowling pin for a rogue planet heading down our alley for a strike.

None of it is true. People you know, however, are likely becoming a bit afraid that modern astronomy and Maya secrets are indeed conspiring to bring our doom. If people know you’re an astronomer, they will soon be asking you all about it.

Here is what you need to know.

Birth of a Notion
We"ve had similar scares in the recent past, but none quite like this. The last time the world got all worked up over the mystical turning of a calendar was the false Millennium of Jan. 1, 2000. Never mind the actual Y2K computer-date bug. True-believer authors  published scary and/or hopeful books about the moment's prophetic potential to catch an immense cosmic wave and change everything for either good or ill. Borrowing a forecast from Nostradamus, the 16th-century French riddler, author Charles Berlitz predicted catastrophe in his 1981 book Doomsday 1999. Berlitz warned that 1999 could inflict flood, famine, pollution and a shift of Earth's magnetic poles. He also spotlighted the planetary alignment of May 5, 2000, and warned that it could bring solar flares, severe earthquakes, "land changes" and "seismic explosions."

In the 1990s an entire "Earth Changes" movement swelled into being as the end of the century neared, with all sorts of Millennial expectations -- earthquakes, plagues, polar axis shifts, continents sliding into the sea, Atlantis rising and more. In England, the Sun tabloid predicted a "marvelous millennium of joy, peace, prosperity."

When Jan. 1, 2000, came and went with nothing worse than ski-lift passes printing the date as 1900, the focus shifted to "5/5/2000" several months later. Most believers in the power of planetary alignments forgot the failure of earlier lineups to induce disaster. The "Jupiter Effect" cataclysm predicted for March 10, 1982 (named for the 1974 book about it by John Gribbin and Stephen Plagemann) commanded headlines but never materialized.

Throughout history, end-of-the-world movements missing their mark number in the "hundreds of thousands at the very least, says Richard Landes, historian at Boston University and director of its Center for Millennial Studies. But people eager for the world to end are not to be denied, and this time, of course, all will be different.

The Rollover
What exactly is the Maya calendar about to do? On Dec. 21, 2012, it will display the equivalent of a string of zeros, like the odometer turning over on your car, with the close of something like a millennium. In Maya calendrics, however, it's not the end of a thousand years. It's the end of Baktun 13. The Maya calendar was based on multiple cycles of time, and the baktun was one of them. A baktun is 144,000 days: a little more than 394 years.

Scholars have deciphered how the Maya calendar worked from historical texts and ancient inscriptions, and they have accurately correlated so-called Maya Long Count dates with the equivalent dates in our calendar. Just as we number our years counting from a historically and culturally significant event (the presumed birth year of Christ), Maya times were numbered from a date endowed with religious and cosmic significance: the creation date of the present world order. A Long Count date is the tally of days from that mythic startup. Most experts think the start point corresponds to Aug. 11, 3114 B.C.

Most of the Maya calendar intervals accumulate as multiples of 20. An interval of 7,200 days (360 × 20) was known as a katun. It takes 20 katuns to complete a baktun (20 × 7,200 = 144,000 days). Although some ancient inscriptions turn 13 baktuns into an important reset milestone, others imply that the calendar simply keeps running. For instance, it takes 20 baktuns to make a pictun.

No one paid much attention to the end of Baktun 13 until fairly recently. In 1975 Frank Waters, a romantic and speculative author, devoted a brief section to the subject in his book Mexico Mystique. He identified the 13-baktun interval as a "Mayan Great Cycle," overestimated its duration as 5,200 years, and equated five such cycles with five legendary eras, each of which ends in the world’s destruction and rebirth. There is no genuine Maya tradition behind any of this.

Waters also miscalculated the date when the calendar would supposedly pull down the shades. "The end of the Great Cycle . . . will occur Dec. 24, 2011 A.D.," he announced, when the world "will be destroyed by catastrophic earthquakes." Exact date aside, the doomsday ball was now rolling.

Another book in 1975 also spotlighted the Maya calendric roundup. Dennis and Terence McKenna discussed it in The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I Ching. That book at least got the Baktun-13 end date right: Dec. 21, 2012. It also noted that the date is the winter solstice, when the Sun will be "in the constellation Sagittarius, only about 3 degrees from the Galactic Center, which, also coincidentally, is within 2 degrees of the ecliptic." The McKennas continued, "Because the winter solstice node is precessing, it is moving closer and closer to the point on the ecliptic where it will eclipse the galactic center." In reality this event will never happen, but it hardly matters. The McKennas linked the whole arrangement with the concept of renewal and called 2012 a moment of "potential transformative opportunity."

Broader interest in 2012 caught on beginning in 1987. In The Mayan Factor: Path Beyond Technology, José Argüelles (an "artist, poet, and visionary historian" according to the dust jacket) linked the 13-baktun period with an impalpable "beam" from the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. According to Argüelles, the Maya knew when we entered this beam and when we would leave it, and set their 13-baktun cycle to mark our passage through it accordingly. The beam, he asserted, operates as "invisible galactic life threads" that link people, the planet, the Sun, and the center of the Galaxy. Neither Maya tradition nor modern astronomy supports a belief in any such beam. It stemmed instead from Argüelles’s personal philosophy, which emphasizes "the principle of harmonic resonance." Argüelles also concluded that the planets are "orbiting harmonic gyroscopes" that “play a role in the coordination of the beam," which advances the development of anything with DNA. The year 2012, therefore, will bring a rosy version of the apocalypse.

If this sounds a bit familiar, you're right. In 1987 Argüelles and his followers predicted, with worldwide fanfare, that Aug. 16–17 of that year would bring a Maya-Galactic "Harmonic Convergence." That event turned into a global phenomenon, with thousands gathering at Earth’s “acupuncture points” to create a "synchronized and unified bio-electromagnetic collective battery." Unfortunately, the date passed with nothing more than colorful newspaper stories and a Doonesbury satire. (A character explains earnestly that that the alignment could bring either "mass unification of divine and earth-plane selves," or perhaps nuclear annihilation. "Either way there will probably be a crafts fair.")

Galactic Guessing Games
Fast-forward to 1995. That year John Major Jenkins packaged several of these themes into Maya Cosmogenesis 2012. According to Jenkins, the winter-solstice point and the centerline of the Galaxy will line up exactly on Dec. 21. Arguing that this motivated the Maya to contrive the calendar to end on that date, Jenkins concludes that it will be "a tremendous transformation and opportunity for spiritual growth, a transition from one world age to another."

In fact, astronomy cannot pinpoint such a "galactic alignment" to within a year, much less a day. The alignment depends on the rather arbitrary modern definition of the galactic equator, and/or the visual appearance of the Milky Way. There is no precise definition of the Milky Way's edges -- they are very vague and depend on the clarity of your view. (Jenkins says that he personally established the Milky Way’s edges by viewing it from 11,000 feet, far above anywhere the Maya lived.) So to give a precise visual position for its centerline is not meaningful.

Jenkins did acknowledge that the winter-solstice Sun actually crosses the center of the Milky Way anytime between 1980 and 2016. Elsewhere he expands this approach zone to a 900-year period, and settles for an imprecise alignment to which Dec. 21, 2012, is arbitrarily and circularly assigned. Real astronomy does not support any match between the Baktun-13 end date and a galactic alignment. The advocates both admit and ignore this discrepancy.

It's almost a sidelight that the winter-solstice sun will never actually "eclipse" the galaxy's true center, the pointlike radio source marking the Milky Way's central black hole. Moreover, the winter-solstice sun won’t even pass closest to it on the sky for another 200 years. What did the Maya themselves think about End Times? There is no evidence that they saw the calendar and a world age ending in either transcendence or catastrophe on December 21, 2012. Some Maya Long Count texts refer to dates many baktuns past 13 and even into the next pictun and beyond. For instance, an inscription commissioned in the 7th century A.D. by King Pacal of Palenque predicts that an anniversary of his accession would be commemorated on Oct. 15, 4772.

In all of the Long Count texts discovered, transcribed, and translated, only one mentions the key date in 2012: Monument 6 at Tortuguero, a Maya site in the Mexican state of Tabasco. The text is damaged, but what remains does not imply the end of time.

The Secret NASA Conspiracy
Some advocates for the 2012 catastrophe say that what will actually cause the devastation is an alignment of planets. There is no planet alignment on the winter solstice in 2012. Nonetheless, advocates of doom connect the fictional alignment to astrological predictions or groundless claims about a reversal of Earth's magnetic field and unprecedented solar storms. Many internet postings and guests on all-night apocalyptic radio have elaborated on these themes.

In particular, several threads of irrational thought have created an internet phantom, the secret planet Nibiru. It's the bowling ball, and Earth is the pin. There is no such planet, though it is often equated with Eris, a plutoid orbiting safely and permanently beyond Pluto. Some insist, however, that a NASA conspiracy is in play and that Nibiru, looming in on the approach, can already be seen in broad daylight from the Southern Hemisphere. It was supposed to become visible from the Northern Hemisphere, too, by last May, but like a fickle blind date, it stood up those awaiting it.

Others on the Web, confused about the supposed alignment of the winter-solstice sun with the Milky Way's center, have declared that the Sun is now plummeting to the Milky Way’s center and dragging Earth with it. The predicted result? Earth’s polar axis will shift. Most of what's claimed for 2012 relies on wishful thinking, wild pseudoscientific folly, ignorance of astronomy, and a level of paranoia worthy of Night of the Living Dead.

So maybe the Maya were on to us after all. The clock is ticking. And it’s the end of the world as we know it.

E.C. Krupp, a Sky & Telescope contributing editor, is Director of Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.