UBR Classic UFO Buster Radio News – 424: Election Day Asteroid, Bennu, SN8, and China

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Neil deGrasse Tyson warns asteroid could hit Earth the day before the election
Link: https://thehill.com/changing-america/sustainability/environment/521727-neil-degrasse-tyson-warns-asteroid-could-hit

•Neil deGrasse Tyson shared information about an asteroid headed for the Earth on Instagram.
•NASA says Asteroid 2018VP1 poses no actual threat to Earth.
•Still, many are intrigued by the projected landing date — Nov. 2 — being the day before the presidential election.

Stressed out about the presidential election this year? The Universe heard you and is sending you an asteroid.

In an Instagram post, Neil deGrasse Tyson shared a photo of the Earth from space along with what you can only assume is an asteroid. Asteroid 2018VP1 — now that’s a mouthful — is a space-rock the size of a refrigerator, Tyson said, and it’s hurtling towards us at more than 25,000 miles per hour.

“It may buzz-cut Earth on Nov. 2, the day before the Presidential Election,” Tyson said in the caption. “But it’s not big enough to cause harm. So if the World ends in 2020, it won’t be the fault of the Universe.”
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is fully aware of this and they are not concerned. In fact, they tweeted about it back in August, saying that it was about 6.5 feet (roughly the size of a refrigerator) and only had a 0.41 percent chance of entering the atmosphere.

SpaceX fires up 3-engine Starship SN8 prototype ahead of epic test flight
Link: https://www.space.com/spacex-starship-sn8-prototype-static-fire

An 11-mile-high test flight could be coming soon. Early this morning (Oct. 20), SpaceX lit up the three Raptor engines on its SN8 (“Serial No. 8”) Starship prototype in a brief “static fire” test at the company’s South Texas site, near the beachside village of Boca Chica.

Static fires, in which engines are ignited while a launch vehicle remains tethered to the ground, are a common precursor to flight. And SN8 does have a launch coming up — an uncrewed test flight later this month or next that will reach a maximum altitude of about 11 miles (18 kilometers), if all goes according to plan.

The newest vehicle will look far more spaceship-y when it takes off, sporting a nose cone and orientation-controlling body flaps, Musk has said.

he 165-foot-tall (50 m) Starship vehicle will launch from Earth atop a huge rocket called Super Heavy, which will sport about 30 Raptors of its own.

Both vehicles will be fully and rapidly reusable. SpaceX eventually plans to use Starship and Super Heavy for all of its spaceflight needs, from launching satellites to carrying people and payloads to the moon, Mars and other distant destinations.

Seeking Solar System’s Secrets, NASA’s OSIRIS-REX Mission Touches Bennu Asteroid
Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/20/science/osiris-rex-mission.html

The spacecraft attempted to suck up rocks and dirt from the asteroid, which could aid humanity’s ability to divert one that might slam into Earth.

A NASA robot pogo-sticked off an asteroid on Tuesday and grabbed a sample of dirt and rocks, material that could give scientists new insights to the birth of the solar system.

From first impressions recorded 200 millions away on Earth, the OSIRIS-REX spacecraft pulled off its collection of bits of asteroid, a carbon-rich rock known as Bennu, perfectly. It then backed away and headed back to orbit.

“Transcendental,” Dante Lauretta, the principal investigator of the mission, said moments later. “I mean, I can’t believe we actually pulled this off.”

What is not yet known is how much material was actually grabbed. Scientists are hoping for at least a couple of ounces, but the sampling mechanism can hold up to four pounds.

If it succeeded in its goal of sucking up some rocks and dirt from the asteroid’s surface, it could potentially unlock secrets to what the solar system was like when it first formed 4.5 billion years ago.

“The asteroids are like time capsules, floating in space, that can provide a fossil record of the birth of our solar system,” Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s planetary science division, said during a news conference on Monday.

Why did NASA choose to study Bennu?
Bennu, discovered in 1999, is a carbon-rich asteroid that is almost black in color. It is about 1,600 feet wide. That compares to the Empire State Building, which is 1,454 feet tall including the antenna at the top. The carbon-rich materials are intriguing because asteroids like Bennu might have seeded Earth with the building blocks for life.

China unveils ambitious moon mission plans for 2024 and beyond
Link: https://www.space.com/china-planning-future-moon-missions-change-7

China has a mission operating on the far side of the moon and is preparing to launch another this year to collect lunar samples. And the country plans to add to its impressive lunar resume, with a new set of missions to explore the moon’s south pole.

Chang’e 6, a backup mission for this year’s sample-return launch, is scheduled to head to the moon in 2023 or 2024; Chang’e 7 is planned to launch around 2024 with the dual aims of landing on the south pole of the moon and closely studying the region from orbit. An eighth mission is also in the works for later this decade.

Chang’e 5 is China’s first lunar sample return mission and the most ambitious endeavor in the country’s lunar program, aiming to introduce completely new technologies and techniques such as a fully automated rendezvous in lunar orbit and sample transfers in between different spacecraft modules.

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