10 Things for the Week of Jan. 13 - 19
11 January 2013
Your weekly look at upcoming events and stories from around our solar system:
1. HELLO VARUNA
Kuiper Belt Object 20000 Varuna is at opposition (on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun) on Monday (14 Jan.). The tiny world will be about 3.9 billion miles from the sun.
2. WOOD ANNIVERSARY
Monday also marks the 5th anniversary of our return to Mercury. On Jan. 14, 2007, NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft made its first Mercury flyby, becoming only the second spacecraft to visit the innermost planet. Mariner 10 made the first visit back in 1974.
3. NEAR-EARTH FLYBY
On Tuesday astronomers will be watching Asteroid 2012 UW68 fly past Earth at a distance of 0.048 AU (about 4.5 million miles). For reference, the moon is about 384,000 km, or 238,606 miles from Earth.
4. RANDOM DINNER TABLE FACT OF THE WEEK No. 1
Sunlight Affects Asteroid Motion: After sunlight reaches an asteroid, it is absorbed by the surface and, after a short-time delay, re-emitted back into space. The energy from the re-emitted heat, or thermal radiation, adds a tiny thrust to the asteroid's motion..
5. JUPITER RULES
The bright planet you see in the night sky this month is Jupiter. It's easy to spot.
6. SNEAK PEEK
We've rolled out our new kids section -- Solar System 101 -- for a preview. Take a look and tell us what you think.
7. ON THE ROAD TO MOUNT SHARP
Curiosity's rover team is evaluating Martian rocks as potential targets for the first use of the rover's hammering drill in coming weeks.
8. DON'T FORGET OPPORTUNITY
Almost nine years into its mission on Mars, NASA's Opportunity rover is exploring Matijevic Hill on the western rim of Endeavor crater on the Red Planet.
9. OLD SCHOOL ROVER
Tuesday (Jan. 15) is the 40th anniversary of the Soviet Union's Luna 21/Lunokhod 2 mission to the moon. The rover's tracks are still visible on the moon's surface.
10. IT'S A NEW MOON
The darkness of last Friday's New Moon slowly gives way to the first quarter moon this Friday (Jan. 18).
Read More by Phil Davis