They came from outer space--and you can have one! Genuine meteorites are now on sale in the Space Weather Store.
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TROUBLE CONTACTING MARS: NASA is suspending communications with Mars rovers and orbiters this month as the Red Planet passes almost directly behind the sun. Mars is less than 2o from the sun now, and the distance will narrow to a mere 0.4o on April 17th. "The sun can easily disrupt radio transmissions during the near-alignment," explains a NASA press release.
COMET ISON UPDATE: In November 2013, Comet ISON could become one of the brightest and most active comets in years when it races through the hot atmosphere of the sun. Right now, though, it is just a dim speck in the deep-freeze of space near the orbit of Jupiter. Alberto Quijano Vodniza photographed the barely-visible comet on April 7th from his private observatory in Pasto, Narino, Colombia:
Comet ISON may look underwhelming, but that is only because it is so far away, more than 400 million miles from the sun. In fact, it is already an active comet with considerable promise. Recent measurements by NASA's Swift spacecraft shows that the comet's nucleus is spewing more than 112,000 pounds (51,000 kg) of dust, or about two-thirds the mass of an unfueled space shuttle, every minute. To produce so much dust, the comet's nucleus is probably about 5 km wide. For comparison, the nucleus of bright sungrazing Comet Lovejoy, which wowed observers in 2011, was only about one-tenth as large. Comet ISON could put on quite a show when it approaches the sun later this year.
More about Comet ISON: NASA video, 3D orbit, ephemeris, light curves.
Realtime Comet Photo Gallery
SPOTTED SUN: With nine sunspot groups peppering the solar disk, the sunspot number is surging. Each of the circles in this April 8th image from the Solar Dynamics Observatory contains an active region:
Three of the sunspots, AR1713, AR1718 and AR1719, have 'beta-gamma' magnetic fields that harbor energy for M-class solar flares. Eruptions from AR1718, in particular, would likely be Earth-directed. NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of M-flares on April 8th. Aurora alerts: text, voice.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
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