Asteroid 2005 YU55 closer than ever before, JP Aerospace gets a bit of love, Phobos-Grunt launches tomorrow

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Three things to mention today:

- Asteroid 2005 YU55 is, as of yesterday, closer than any time we have known about it (i.e. since it was discovered in 2005). Last time when this image was taken (or rather formed) it was about 2.5 million km away:


And as of yesterday the asteroid is closer than that. Arecibo begins to observe the asteroid today if I remember correctly, and tomorrow will be closest approach. It's interesting to see size comparisons being made about this asteroid: most say that "asteroid the size of an aircraft carrier" will fly by, a Canadian news article said it was the size of Parliament Hill, another said the size of four football pitches, another a small mountain.

JP Aerospace has gotten some attention here today for their innovative plans to get to space by using airships. It's quite a simple concept and as far as I know they continue to test their designs on private funding and their own free time.

Phobos-Grunt launches tomorrow, Russia's first interplanetary mission since 1996. Good to see Russia back launching these types of probes, and don't forget that China's Yinghuo orbiter is hitching a ride too.

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