New Yorkers Will Be Able to See a Lunar Explorer Launch on Friday

The visibility range for Minotaur V's launch.
NASA's LADEE--Lunar Atmospheric and Dust Environment Explorer--will launch from Virginia's Eastern Shore Friday around 11:30 p.m., and much of the eastern seaboard will be able to see it. Minotaur V, a vessel on a 100-day mission to examine the Moon's thin atmosphere, will coast through New York's southern sky on its way into the outer atmosphere.

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Armageddon! Meteor Strikes Russia, 850 Injured

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The headline really says it all...And this article in the UK Daily Mail has a pretty comprehensive run-down of the 10-ton meteor strike yesterday in the Chelyabinsk region, about 900 miles east of Moscow and near Kazakhstan. (This one is far more dramatic than the Perseid Shower pictured here.)

The meteor was traveling at 19 per second, or 20,000 miles an hour, shattered about 18 miles up, and sent shards across the region, including one chunk which left an 18-foot-wide hole in the ground. The city of Chelyabinsk suffered substantial damage from the shock wave, including tons of broken glass, a shattered factory and 82 injured children, including two in intensive care.

Later today, another larger--but still fairly small--meteor called Asteroid 2012 DA14 is due to pass Earth at a distance of 17,000 miles. That one is 150 feet across and weighs 130,000 metric tons.

Space Shuttle Enterprise Will Be Sailing Around the City Today

C.S. Muncy

Remember when we told you guys that the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum on the Hudson was being blessed with NASA's non-flight space shuttle, Enterprise? And then remember when fellow Voice-naut Steven Thrasher and photographer C.S. Muncy saw it being flown in over New York?   

Well, since the end of April, the Enterprise has been posted up at JFK Airport, as it was detached safely from its carrier plane and eventually placed on an enormous barge. The barge will take it from the airport to the Intrepid in a path that circulates most of the boroughs for all of our nerdy viewing pleasures. 

Well, today happens to be the beginning of its maiden voyage. So go grab your binoculars and get to the shore.

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Seeing Space Shuttle Enterprise From the Q Train: A Close Encounter of the Manhattan Bridge Kind

C.S. Muncy
Not the view from the Manhattan Bridge, but it still felt pretty damn close

See C.S. Muncy's photos from the Shuttle landing at JFK

Knowing the Space Shuttle Enterprise was going to be arriving today in New York City, I was extremely pissed off to realize I had a doctor's appointment which would preclude me from actively viewing it, and I'd most likely be underground in the subway when it flew over the Hudson, guaranteeing I wouldn't even catch a glimpse of it. I was also glad, but extremely jealous, that Voice contributor C.S. Muncy would get a front row seat at JFK Airport. My self-pity doubled down when I listened to the Brian Lehrer Show's call in segment of similar space geeks from their perches around the city and in New Jersey.

My only hope was that, in my subway travels on the Q train, I might, maybe have the chance to snatch a glimpse in the three minute window in which the train crossed the Manhattan Bridge. This, I knew, was an implausibly long shot. Using extremely scientific reasoning, I estimated that the odds of the 747 ferrying the Enterprise lifting off from Washington, D.C., flying over the Verrazano, passing by the Statue of Liberty, going up the Hudson, and swinging back over the harbor just as my Q train was on the bridge were about 3,720 to 1...the same odds C-3P0 gave the Millenium Falcon of "successfully navigating an asteroid field."

Well, the odds were with Captain Han Solo and also with me, because I had a close encounter with the Enterprise at exactly the right moment.

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Google and James Cameron: Asteroid Miners?

Looks like Bruce Willis's mining team from Armageddon could be employed again. 

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In a relatively strange press release, according to the Wall Street Journal, a new, fittingly named company called Planetary Resources, Inc. has teamed up with none other than the high officials at Google, Avatar director James Cameron and others in the NASA community for a project that could "add trillions of dollars to the global GDP:" asteroid mining. Who needs a stimulus plan when you can jump-start the world's economy in outer space?

In a plan to be unveiled this Thursday in Seattle, the company will mention that the iron and nickel found in mass quantity on these space rocks can be harvested to our benefit in some way or another. The effort to "help ensure human's prosperity" will "overlay two critical sectors - space exploration and natural resources." Drill, baby, drill.
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New Yorkers Have to Wait to See Their New Spacecraft

It looks like we're going to have to re-mark our calendars for the arrival of Enterprise in our own backyard. And not the one from Star Trek, the one from NASA.

Due to an overcast prediction for Monday's weather, the space agency is holding back on its transfer ("until further notice") of the Enterprise from the Smithsonian in D.C. to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. 

That's right - there's about to be a space shuttle on the Hudson and, yes, its travel can be affected by human realities like rain. The new flight plan will be announced at one point this coming week but, for now, New Yorkers should just be on the lookout.
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Earth, You Are Not Alone, But Commute Will Be Tough, Scientists Say

Well, scientists have finally discovered a cure for the New York City housing crisis, only the subway fare is going to be a doozy.

From the UK Telegraph, scientists say they have discovered at least 100 rocky planets within 30 light years which could be habitable. Of course, 30 light years is 180 trillion miles, so there's that to consider.

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Ashton Kutcher's Going To Space. Sadly, He's Not Staying

There's good news and bad news: Fact-phobic Dude, Where's My Car star Ashton Kutcher is heading to space. Unfortunately, he's not staying.

On his blog yesterday, Sir Richard Branson, the chairman of Virgin Group, announced that Kutcher would be the 500th person to get shot into space on Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Rocket Plane.

Branson also vows to bring him back safely.

From Branson's blog:

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Take Cover from the Space Storm! Two Solar Flares Hit Earth, NASA Says

Today's space-weather report tells of a different kind of sunny sky: Two flares, including the second biggest of the Sun's 11-year solar cycle, hit earth early this morning and could cause the biggest solar storm in five years, NASA says.

Now, what the hell does this mean, exactly?

Every so often, a chunk of charged particles -- called a coronal mass ejection -- spirals earthward, which can cause problems with electronic devices.

So, if your GPS, computer, or cell phone is in a funk, it might very well be the Sun's fault.

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Watch a Meteor Shower Wednesday Morning, You've Got Nothing Better to Do

via NASA
For a couple of hours after 3 a.m. Wednesday morning, the Quadrantids meteor shower will be putting on a show for anyone willing to get up (or stay up) for it. According to NASA, "the Quadrantids have a maximum rate of about 100 per hour," which, weather permitting, should make for a pretty cool sight. If your New Year's resolution was to sit outside in the cold while craning your neck, you're in luck. Video of the Quadrantids meteor shower from two years ago after the jump.

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