Sources for follow-up on the DART asteroid impact

“…As for the details of that impact, we’ll have to wait. The best images we’ll get are from an Italian Cubesat called LICIACube that has been trailing DART since the two separated a few weeks ago. LICIACube will be about 50 km from the point of impact and will get even closer over the three minutes after impact before passing behind Dimorphos. But it will take some time to transmit images to Earth—possibly a day or more for processing and release.
So, the first images are likely to come from ground observatories, which are looking for brightening caused by the debris plume spreading from the point of impact. When asked how much ground-based hardware was dedicated to watching for the plume, Cristina Thomas of Northern Arizona University said, “I don’t know, but there’s a lot of them—it’s very exciting to have lost count.” Nancy Chabot of APL said the count was up to three dozen, and they’ll be joined by the Hubble and Webb Space Telescopes. Some of those images are likely to show up online by tomorrow.

Still exciting. Still fascinating.

Could be the most important planned collision – ever!


That last moment before impact

This coming Monday, NASA will broadcast its first attempt to modify the orbit of an asteroid, a capability that will be essential if we detect an asteroid that poses a threat of colliding with Earth. The planetary defense effort is focused on a craft called DART, for Double Asteroid Redirection Test, which will target a small asteroid called Dimorphos that orbits the larger 65803 Didymos, forming a binary system. If all goes according to plan, DART will direct itself to a head-on collision that slows Dimorphos, altering its orbit around Didymos…

…The planned collision will also be broadcast live on NASA’s YouTube channels. While we’ll know immediately whether the collision occurred as planned, it may take several months before we’re certain that Dimorphos’ orbit was successfully modified…

During its final approach to Didymos, DART will be distant enough that round-trip transmissions will take over a minute. As such, the final approach and targeting of the asteroid will be handled by an on-board navigation system called SMART Nav (Small-body Maneuvering Autonomous Real Time Navigation)…

As described by Evan Smith, DART’s deputy mission system engineer, the system will shift over to on-board navigation at about four hours before impact, and the SMART Nav will track the larger Didymos and use that for navigation until about 50 minutes before collision, or about a half-hour after it can be resolved. At 2.5 minutes prior to the collision, the ion engine will be shut off, and DART will coast into a collision at about 6 kilometers a second.

And then, if everything goes well, the transmissions will stop.

RTFA for all the geek details about the mission. Thoughts to be examined, resolved after the mission. Whatever time the Big Bang happens, I plan to be watching. Even though there is a small companion craft accompanying DART that will record the final encounter from (what we hope is) a safe distance. Slo-mo replays and all.

 ‘We thought we’d die of hunger. Now we fear death from water’

Farmer Ali Baksh stands on an embankment and points across the flooded landscape of Sindh province towards the spot where his fields used to be. He is sheltering in a makeshift camp accessible only by boat with more than 2,000 others forced to flee their homes when the floods hit.

“There was no rain a few months back and there was a severe shortage of water for crops. We prayed for rain. But when it rained, we became homeless and our crops were destroyed. We have nothing left … just oceans on roads, on farms and submerging our homes.”

Pakistan has been battered by drastic weather extremes since the start of the year. Deadly heatwaves sent temperatures above 50C (122F) in the spring, followed by huge wildfires and crippling droughts.

But the floods that have left a third of the country’s provinces underwater in recent weeks have brought with them a new level of human misery – and a glimpse into the apocalyptic impact of the climate emergency in one of the countries least responsible for it.

Folks have to understand we’re all linked together by a singule global environment. You can’t ignore what the greedy idiot down the road is doing…when the result will threaten your own life.

Feds finally ready to tidy up the space junkyard

The Federal Communications Commission has a plan to minimize space junk by requiring low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites to be disposed no more than five years after being taken out of service.

A proposal released yesterday by FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel would adopt “a first-ever rule requiring non-geostationary satellite operators to deorbit their satellites after the end of their operations to minimize the risk of collisions that would create debris.” It’s scheduled for an FCC vote on September 29. The five-year rule would be legally binding, unlike the current 25-year standard that’s based on a NASA recommendation proposed in the 1990s…

The new rule “would require space station operators planning disposal through uncontrolled re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere to complete disposal as soon as practicable, and no more than five years following the end of mission,” an FCC fact sheet on the draft order said…

Someone’s bound to figure a way to make a buck out of this. Too public to not be tempting.

In rural New Mexico, anger toward the Forest Service has been smoldering for decades


Patrick Griego stands in what was a creek bed in the burn area

The air smells of ash and the landscape is leached of color. Spots of green punctuate the valley floor in places. But along the ridges, the powdery residue of charred trees has fallen like snow, accumulating up to 4 inches deep. These are the slices of forest where the fire burned the hottest, scorching ponderosa pines from crown to root. Once titans, they are now matchsticks.

Pola Lopez gestures in their direction, southward toward Hermits Peak. Before a tsunami of flames ripped through this canyon in Tierra Monte, the canopy was so thick that it was impossible to see the nearby mountain. But two prescribed burns set by the U.S. Forest Service — one on Hermits Peak, the other in Calf Canyon to the southwest — have changed all that.

When the blazes merged to form the biggest wildfire in state history, flames engulfed nearly 160 acres of riparian forest that once belonged to her father. “It wiped us out,” Lopez says.

Like so many in the devastation zone, she squarely places the blame on the USFS, not only for starting a prescribed burn in the windy month of April — when gusts reached 70 miles per hour — but for a century of conflict with rural communities. Known locally as La Floresta, the USFS is often seen as a feudal lord, a faraway government entity that has accumulated vast holdings with little idea of how to properly steward them or enough funds to do the job.

The community’s fury runs almost too deep for words, says Antonia Roybal-Mack, a Mora native whose family lost hundreds of acres to the fire. “Really pissed off is literally an understatement.”

RTFA. Please. A tale repeated through hundreds and thousands of acres throughout the Southwest. It extends beyond state lines, borders. But, it feels like here is the worst of it!