Comets, Meteors, and Asteroids

Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series: Rubble Piles in the Sky: The Science, Exploration, and Danger of Near-Earth Asteroids

This Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series event has passed, but a video of the lecture can be found here. Dr. Michael Busch, of the SETI Institute, will give a free, illustrated, non-technical talk Near-Earth asteroids are a population of small bodies whose orbits around the Sun cross or come near our planet’s orbit.  They turn out to be unusual physical environments: rubble piles, with…
Oumuamua

Is this mysterious space rock actually an alien spaceship?

It’s in the news because people want to know if it’s a rock or a rocket. The “it” in question is a weirdly oblong asteroid that goes by the barely pronounceable moniker Oumuamua. It was first seen about a month ago by Pan-STARRS, a collection of telescopes perched high above the handsome beaches of the Hawaiian island of Maui. Like a motorcycle on the freeway, it was observed by astronomers only…
asteroid Oumuamua

The Three Surprises of 'Oumuamua

One of the defining moments in planetary astronomy in 2017 is that this is the year we discovered the first astronomical object to enter the Solar System from interstellar space. Now known as ‘Oumuamua (Hawaiian for “scout”), the object was discovered by the Pan-STARRS survey team in Hawaii on October 19th. Over the next three weeks it was in turn classified as a comet, a long-period asteroid and…
geminids

Geminids Meteor shower Dec. 12 -15, 2017

People interested in seeing this year's Geminids meteor shower may want to come to California. The weather forecast is good and the Moon is out of the picture. Data from our Cameras for Allsky Meteor Survellance (CAMS) meteor shower video surveillance project, with stations in the San Francisco Bay Area, are now reduced during the day and presented here: http://cams.seti.org/FDL/ The Geminids…

1I/‘Oumuamua, The First known Interstellar Visitor

Join us on January 23 at 7pm for a special SETI Talk on 1I/`Oumuamua, the first known interstellar small body, possibly an asteroid which is probably coming from another planetary system. Its recent discovery by Pan-STARRS1 offers a rare opportunity to explore the planetary formation processes of other stars, and the effect of the interstellar environment on a planetesimal surface. Since its…
flyby

Do You Have the Perfect Nickname for New Horizons’ Next Flyby Target?

Mountain View, CA – Today NASA announced a new naming campaign for the next flyby target of the New Horizons spacecraft. At the moment, the target is officially known as “(486958) 2014 MU69”, or “MU69” for short. Hosted by the SETI Institute, Frontier Worlds (frontierworlds.seti.org) is a new website that invites the public to nominate possible nicknames, vote, and track the progress of the…
Asteroid Florence

Unistellar’s eVscope Successfully Finds, Images Asteroid Florence

Last week, 5-km asteroid Florence paid Earth a visit—and, using the advanced features of Unistellar’s eVscope, we were able to observe it from a location just outside of San Francisco. This, our first attempt to image an asteroid using the eVscope’s Autonomous Field Detection (ADF) feature, was a huge success, as you can see in the image, which captures what we saw in the telescope’s eyepiece…
Perseid Meteors

Perseid Meteor Shower in space

Update:  Although the Perseid meteor shower peaked last weekend, it will still be visible in the sky into September. Not only that, autumn is generally an excellent time of year for viewing meteors. This coming weekend, 12th-13th of August, is a great opportunity to enjoy the Perseid meteor shower because the light from the Moon will not disturb the view. The Moon will not disturb in the early…
Frontier Development Lab

NASA FDL Developing New Approaches to Asteroid, Comet and Solar Threats Using AI

Mountain View, CA - Asteroid Day, June 30th - What do astrophysicist Steven Hawking, Queen guitarist Brian May and the country of Luxembourg have in common? They’re all key figures in Asteroid Day - a UN sanctioned day of education to raise awareness about protecting our planet from dangerous impacts from space.  Asteroid Day is June 30th, the anniversary of the 1908 Tunguska impact, when a…
Frontier Development Lab Group 2017  Credit: Seth Shostak

Welcome NASA Frontier Development Lab!

NASA Frontier Development Lab (FDL), hosted at the SETI Institute, kicked off its 2017 program on Monday. FDL is an applied artificial intelligence research accelerator and public/private partnership between NASA Ames Research Center and the SETI Institute. The program tackles knowledge gaps in space science by pairing machine learning experts with astronomy and planetary science expertise.…