Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights


“It was a meteor strike–the most powerful since the Tunguska event of 1908″

Wed 27 February 2013, 4:33pm

Tweet ScienceAtNasa has a sobering video on the latest information about the visitation by the god Ogdy unexpected meteor strike in the Chelyabinsk region of Russia on 15 February.  Video credit: ScienceAtNasa. From the accompanying ScienceAtNasa press release The Russian meteor’s infrasound signal was was the strongest ever detected by the CTBTO network. The furthest station to record the sub-audible sound […] more »

“President Vladimir Putin said he thanked God no big fragments had fallen in populated areas.”

Fri 15 February 2013, 5:36pm

Tweet As I mentioned previously, asteroid 2012 DA14 is due to make its close encounter with Earth later this evening.  Meanwhile, earlier today several hundred people in the Chelyabinsk region of Russia were injured during a visitation by the god Ogdy by debris caused by the unexpected appearance of a relatively large meteor.  It’s reported that a crater 6m (20ft) […] more »

“comets are like cats: they have tails, and do whatever they want to do”

Tue 1 January 2013, 11:25pm
Comet C/2012 S1 Oct04 2012

Tweet In the BBC’s science news preview of 2013, reporter Jason Palmer highlights a couple of astronomical events worth keeping an eye out for. In mid-February we will get another reminder we live in a (potentially) violent cosmos – asteroid 2012 DA14 will make a harmless but attention-grabbing pass near the Earth, at a distance just a […] more »

Jupiter swallows an asteroid – redux

Thu 13 September 2012, 4:43pm

Tweet As Space Weather notes Around the world, amateur astronomers have been scanning the cloudtops of Jupiter for signs of debris from an explosion witnessed by Dan Peterson and George Hall on Sept. 10th. So far the cloud layer is blank. “Several observers have now obtained excellent images on the second and third rotations after […] more »

“Thrust is engaged, and we are now climbing away from Vesta atop a blue-green pillar of xenon ions”

Thu 30 August 2012, 8:18pm
Dawn image of Vesta 17 July 2011

Tweet Having arrived at the 530km-wide giant asteroid Vesta in July 2011, in May this year Nasa’s Dawn Mission scientists published some of their findings.  Now Dawn’s ready to head out on the next leg of its journey - Destination [the even larger protoplanet (dwarf planet)] Ceres, ETA 2015. From the JPL press release “Thrust is engaged, and we are […] more »

“Vesta is special”

Sun 13 May 2012, 7:54pm
Dawn image of Vesta 17 July 2011

Tweet Having arrived at the 530km-wide giant asteroid Vesta in July last year, Nasa’s Dawn Mission scientists have published some of their findings in Science magazine.  As the BBC’s spaceman, Jonathan Amos, notes They confirm that Vesta has a layered interior with a metal-rich core, just as Earth, Mars, Venus and Mercury do. Using information […] more »

“An aircraft carrier-sized asteroid will make a safe, close flyby of Earth…”

Tue 8 November 2011, 3:03pm
Radar image of asteroid 2005 YU55

Tweet If the calculations are correct, the 400m-wide asteroid 2005 YU55 will make a safe, close flyby of Earth at around half past eleven tonight (11.28pm GMT).  [If?! - Ed]  If not, we’ll have a wondrous new scar to boast about!  Radar image of asteroid 2005 YU55 obtained on Nov. 7, 2011, at 11:45 a.m. PST (2:45 […] more »

Of proto- [and exo-] planets. And falling satellites…

Sun 18 September 2011, 7:39pm

Tweet Nasa’s Dawn spacecraft remains in orbit around the 530km-wide proto-planet Vesta – the second most massive object in the main asteroid belt.  And they’ve released this cool video constructed from the images they’ve obtained so far. Via JPLnews Here’s an image of the south pole of Vesta from a distance of about 1,700 miles (2,700 kilometers). [Image […] more »

Vesta’s dark side [and possibly a colourful one]

Mon 1 August 2011, 4:32pm
Dawn image of Vesta's northern hemisphere 23 July 2011

Tweet As the BBC spaceman, Jonathon Amos, notes Nasa’s Dawn spacecraft has taken a close look at the 530 km wide giant asteroid Vesta’s northern hemisphere- to add to all those earlier images.  This image was taken on 23 July, at a distance of about 3,200 miles (5,200 kilometers) away from the proto planet Vesta.  Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.   […] more »

Vesta: “arguably the oldest extant primordial surface in the Solar System”

Tue 19 July 2011, 3:32pm
Dawn image of Vesta 17 July 2011

Tweet With Dawn now safely in orbit around the giant asteroid Vesta, Nasa have released the first close-up image of the ancient protoplanet. [Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA] From the accompanying text July 18, 2011 – PASADENA, Calif. — NASA’s Dawn spacecraft obtained this image with its framing camera on July 17, 2011. It was taken from a distance […] more »

Dawn’s final approach

Sat 9 July 2011, 6:21pm
Dawn image of Vesta 07/01/11

Tweet Next weekend (on 16 July), barring any further unforeseen problems, Nasa’s Dawn spacecraft will enter orbit around the giant asteroid Vesta and begin its year-long observation of the 530km wide proto-planet. [Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA] From the JPL press release (23 June) After Dawn enters Vesta’s orbit, engineers will need a few days to determine the exact time […] more »

“this is probably the biggest known asteroid to have come this close.”

Mon 27 June 2011, 5:35pm
Asteroid 2011MD path with Moon orbit

Tweet As spotted by SpaceWeather.  At about 1700 UT (6pm BST) today Asteroid 2011MD will fly past only 12,300 kilometers (7,600 miles) above the Earth’s surface.  [Image credit NASA/JPL] As the diagram shows, that’s close enough to be affected by Earth’s gravity. This small asteroid, only 5-20 meters in diameter, is in a very Earth-like orbit about […] more »

Destination: Vesta!

Tue 14 June 2011, 7:57pm
Vesta from Dawn at 480,000km

Tweet Nasa’s Dawn spacecraft will arrive at the 530km wide asteroid Vesta on 16 July, where it will spend the next 12 months in orbit.  Then it’s on to the dwarf planet, Ceres [950km wide].  Images Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA. The Hubble Space Telescope has already taken a look at Vesta but, on 1 June, Dawn captured its own views – […] more »

“on the timescales involved in this event, we’re really catching it in the moment of happening”

Wed 13 October 2010, 10:09pm
hubble image of P/2010 A2 January 29 2010

Tweet When the comet-like asteroid P/2010 A2 was identified as a suspected asteroid-asteroid collision in January this year it was the first such collision caught “in the act”.  Images Credit: NASA, ESA, and D. Jewitt (UCLA). As the BBC notes, subsequent observations by the Hubble Space Telescope and the Rosetta probe suggest that the collision probably occurred in early 2009. Here’s […] more »

Let’s be careful out there!

Mon 30 August 2010, 4:24pm

Tweet Here’s a fun video to consider, via  It shows the map of the solar system updating from 1980 to present as more asteroids are discovered.   As Spaceweather notes Warning: Feelings of claustrophobia have been reported among some viewers. It’s crowded out there! New discoveries appear in white.  Final colour indicates how close the asteroid comes […] more »

Vesta awaits!

Thu 19 August 2010, 11:40pm
Hubble vesta  image

Tweet Nasa previews the Dawn mission’s visitation with the asteroid Vesta, due next year as noted here, with a video presentation narrated by Leonard Nimoy – as opposed to the previously noted video narrated by William Shatner.  Whether the encounter will be as stunning as that of the Rosetta probe was remains to be seen…  […] more »

Asteroids Rock! – redux – Updated

Sat 10 July 2010, 3:12pm
Farewell Lutetia!

Tweet [Updated with images from the fly past]  Japan’s Hayabusa probe looks like it might have successfully returned material from the asteroid Itokawa, if not as much as they had hoped.  Meanwhile Esa’s Rosetta probe, last seen [on Slugger] in 2008, is taking time out from its mission to the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko to take a look […] more »

“Asteroids Rock!”

Mon 14 June 2010, 4:52pm
Asteroid Itokawa

Tweet As the BBC notes, Japanese scientists are confident they have successfully retrieved the first samples ever grabbed from the surface of an asteroid, Itokawa, after recovering a capsule from the Hayabusa spacecraft in the Australian outback. The Japanese space agency (Jaxa) says the capsule looks to be intact. The return was the culmination of a […] more »

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