Spot on Science: NASA Update

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MARGARET: THERE HAS BEEN A TON OF STUFF GOING ON THAT IS OUT OF THIS WORLD – LITERALLY. LET ME FILL YOU IN.

TO BEGIN, NASA OBSERVED OUR FIRST KNOW INTERSTELLAR VISITOR - INTERSTELLAR MEANING IT CAME TO US FROM A WHOLE DIFFERENT SOLAR SYSTEM. AND NO IT WASN’T AN ALIEN!

THIS ARTIST’S RENDERING MIGHT MAKE IT LOOK LIKE JUST A LONG ROCK, BUT THAT SHAPE IS ACTUALLY WHAT’S FASCINATING ABOUT THE ASTEROID. IT’S NEARLY A QUARTER MILE LONG AND ONLY ONE TENTH OF THAT WIDE, MAKING IT THE LONGEST, SKINNIEST ASTEROID EVER OBSERVED.

OTHER ODD THINGS ABOUT THE ASTEROID INCLUDE ITS FLUCTUATION IN BRIGHTNESS AND ITS REDDISH COLOR THAT SCIENTIST THINK IS FROM THE RADIATION OF COSMIC RAYS. THE INTERNATIONAL ASTRONOMICAL UNION WHICH OFFICIALLY NAMES OBJECTS IN SPACE CLASSIFIED THE VISITOR AS AN INTERSTELLAR ASTEROID AND NAMED IT OUMUAMUA (OH MOO-UH MOO-UH) WHICH IS HAWAIIAN FOR A MESSENGER FROM AFAR ARRIVING FIRST.

THE ASTEROID WAS MOVING ABOUT 85,700 MILES PER HOUR ON NOV. 20TH. AND AT THAT RATE SHOULD PASS BY JUPITER IN MAY. SAYONARA, OH MOO-UH MOO-UH!

ANOTHER NASA FIRST CAME WITH THEIR OBSERVATION OF TWO NEUTRON STARS COLLIDING. A NEUTRON STAR IS EXTREMELY DENSE AND SMALL. THINK OF IT KIND OF LIKE A BOWLING BALL THAT IS SMALL AND HEAVY COMPARED TO A HOT AIR BALLOON THAT IS HUGE AND LIGHT. BUT OF COURSE THEY ARE BALLS OF GAS.

HERE IS NASA’S ANIMATION OF WHAT THEY SAW WHEN THE TWO STARS PULLED INTO EACH OTHER IN AUGUST. WHEN THEY FINALLY CRASHED INTO ONE ANOTHER THE ENERGY RELEASED WAS MORE THAN WHAT OUR OWN SUN HAS GIVEN OFF IN ITS ENTIRE LIFETIME! MIND BLOWN YET?

SOME MORE NASA RESEARCH SUGGESTS THAT OUR MOON MIGHT HAVE HAD AN ATMOSPHERE. THIS IS WHAT THEY THINK IT MIGHT HAVE LOOKED LIKE – VERY THICK, EVEN THICKER THAN MARS’ CLOUDY COVERING. RESEARCHERS STUDIED MOON ROCKS TO ESTIMATE THE AMOUNT OF GASES THAT COULD HAVE BEEN RELEASED BY LAVA ERUPTIONS ON THE MOON LONG AGO. THEY THINK THE ATMOSPHERE COULD BE A SOURCE FOR THE WATER THEY FOUND ON THE MOON.

OKAY ONE LAST NASA UPDATE. SCIENTISTS AT THE NASA GLEN RESEARCH CENTER HERE IN OHIO HAVE DEVELOPED TIRES THAT NEVER GO FLAT. THEY ARE MEANT TO WITHSTAND THE ROCKY TERRAIN OF MARS BUT MIGHT EVEN END UP BEING USED HERE ON EARTH. YOU CAN SEE HOW THE ROUNDED MESH TIRES ARE ABLE TO POP BACK INTO SHAPE WITHOUT BEING DAMAGED. IT’S A SOLUTION FOR ALL THE TIRE ISSUES THAT THE CURIOSITY ROVER ON MARS HAS HAD.

PHEW I THINK WE COVERED EVERYTHING… THAT IS UNTIL NASA’S NEXT BIG DISCOVERY!

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