NASA Lured By Heavy Metal, Plans Missions To Psyche And Beyond

When most people think of a meteorite, they imagine a lump of iron-nickel metal. And while there are plenty of those, stony meteorites peppered with fine metal flakes are far more common. Psyche, a robotic spacecraft, scheduled to launch in October 2023, will target one of these sources of those ‘heavy metal’ meteorites, when it…
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Three Dawn Planets On A String

My fingertips are still tender after today’s happy morning. I drove out to the country in hopes of seeing three comets — V2 Johnson, ER61 PANSTARRS and U1 NEOWISE — before dawn. I tracked them all down from an icy road in the –24°F shivery silence, my fingers curled around hand warmer packets inside lined gloves. My hunt…
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Solstice Aurora And A Dawn Double Conjunction

Just a few hours ago, the sun reached its lowest point in the sky for the northern hemisphere at exactly 4:44 a.m. Central time (10:44 UT). The moment is known as the winter solstice and the official start of winter. It’s also the shortest day and longest night of the year. If night’s your thing, you’ll have…
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Juno Returns A ‘Pearl’ From Jupiter

NASA’s Juno spacecraft made another of its close flybys of Jupiter on Dec. 11 and returned this new photo featuring a extraterrestrial pearl. But while a real pearl is a lustrous gem built around an irritant such a food particle in a mollusk, this pearl is a storm half the size of the Earth whirling counterclockwise…
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Jupiter Joins The Zodiacal Light Before Dawn

To calm my mind on Election Day morning, I took off before dawn for Lake Superior. Just a quick hop to a beach 10 minutes from home. There along the silent shore stood a slanted feather of comet dust dotted by the bright planet Jupiter. Winds were light, so Jupiter left a gleam line on…
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