Tag Archives | WISE

NASA Close to (Dis)Proving the Existence of a ‘Death Star’ in our Solar System

Star Size ComparisionCharlie Jane Anders has a fun post on io9.com about the Nemesis theory, which the WISE telescope will prove or disprove, hopefully, soon.

The reason I say “fun” post is it’s very unlikely a Nemesis star does exist, as we have been able to figure out masses and orbits in the solar system with a high degree of accuracy for quite some time. Meaning if an object this massive was this close — Nemesis is thought to be a red dwarf star or brown dwarf — we’d have to account for it in the astronomy.

In any event, I do expect Nibiru devotees to disagree with this opinion, or if/when WISE doesn’t find it.

Charlie’s post refers to an article in Astrobiology Magazine, which is sponsored by NASA. Check out what they have to say, Leslie Mullen writes:

Is our Sun part of a binary star system? An unseen companion star, nicknamed “Nemesis,” may be sending comets towards Earth.

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Dark Asteroids Found Lurking Near Earth

Dark Asteroid

A near-Earth object becomes visible in infrared (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA)

David Shiga writes on New Scientist:

An infrared space telescope has spotted several very dark asteroids that have been lurking unseen near Earth’s orbit. Their obscurity and tilted orbits have kept them hidden from surveys designed to detect things that might hit our planet.

Called the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), the new NASA telescope launched on 14 December on a mission to map the entire sky at infrared wavelengths. It began its survey in mid-January.

In its first six weeks of observations, it has discovered 16 previously unknown asteroids with orbits close to Earth’s. Of these, 55 per cent reflect less than one-tenth of the sunlight that falls on them, which makes them difficult to spot with visible-light telescopes. One of these objects is as dark as fresh asphalt, reflecting less than 5 per cent of the light it receives.

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NASA Launches WISE To Spot Near Earth Objects

In her book 2012: Science or Superstition, Alexandra Bruce writes:

We’ve been told since childhood that an asteroid extinguished the mighty dinosaurs in a single day. When we look out at our pockmarked celestial neighbors, we know that something similar could happen here again. Recent discoveries at the bottom of the seas seem to bear this out and the “Planet X” rumors probably stem from these new scientific observations. “In 1980, only 86 Near Earth Asteroids and comets were known to exist…[today] NASA estimates that there are perhaps 20,000 potentially hazardous asteroids and comets in the general vicinity of Earth.” So far, the technology to adequately view and track these potential threats simply didn’t exist. With the November 2009 launch of NASA’s “WISE”: Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer, it is hoped that we’ll be able to see any hazards that we’ve missed.

NASA was a little late, but on December 14, 2009 at 14:09 GMT WISE was successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The rocket deposited WISE into a polar orbit 326 miles above Earth.

In a cheap but cute video, NASA scientist Dr. Amy Mainzer describes how the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) will provide a map to the universe’s hidden treasures, not to mention warning us of impending impact with Near Earth Objects:

[cross posted from 2012SOS.com]

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