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10 Things for the Week of Jan. 13 - 19
Columnist: Autumn Burdick

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).


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About: Autumn Burdick
Photo of Autumn Burdick
Autumn is the science writer who enjoys bringing this weekly look at upcoming events and stories from around our solar system to you. Follow SSE on Twitter: @NASASolarSystem
Read More by Autumn Burdick
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Last Updated: 18 Jan 2013