Monday, January 7, 2013

From mosquitos to new planets.....

Asteroid makes an appearance on Wednesday.
  • The name: Apophis, and its all the buzz in the astronomy world.  This flying rock first made headlines about 10 years ago. Back then, it was thought that it was aiming for earth.

  • The big deal:With this latest fly by, astronomers hope to get a better fix on the location and help better determine what the future path will be. It is expected to get near us on Friday the 13th (Oh boy!) 2029.Experts will take new pictures and recheck their projections to make sure we are still in the clear.

This space rock is roughly 1000 feet in diameter and sometimes its difficult to see due to the sun's glare, but come Wednesday January 9th, it will be in a spot that will enable astronomers to get a better look.

Astronomers are expected to get a better handle on its physical make up and figure out how which direction it is spinning.

One interesting discussion experts would like answers to is ,  if the gravitational pull from this asteroid  could change its course when it nears us in 2029.
Experts say the asteroid will make another pass in 2036 but, just like expected in 2029 , there is a
small chance of a impact.

Discovery of 461 new planets:
This following article comes from Nasa, and its exciting news for those searching for earth-like planets.

NASA's Kepler space telescope has uncovered another 461 potential new planets, most of which are the size of Earth or a few times larger, scientists said on Monday.
The announcement brings Kepler's head count to 2,740 candidate new worlds, 105 of which have been confirmed.

"Two years ago we had around 1,200 candidate planet objects. A year later, we added a significant number of new objects and saw the trend of huge numbers of very small planets ... twice the size of Earth and smaller," Kepler astronomer Christopher Burke told a news conference webcast from the American Astronomical Society conference in Long Beach, California.
With the addition of 461 new candidate planets, collected over 22 months of Kepler telescope observations, the proliferation of smaller planets continues.

The new targets include what appears to be a planet about 1.5 times bigger than Earth circling its sun-like parent star in a 242-day orbit - a distance where liquid water, believed to be necessary for life, could exist on its surface.

In related research, astronomers have determined that about one in six sun-like stars have Earth-sized planets circling their parent stars closer than Mercury's 88-day day orbit around the sun.

The dreaded mosquito. Vampire-like, and now experts say its has barely changed in 46 million years.

This feature coming to us from Smithsonian Scientific

Two new mosquito species discovered in Eocene deposits from northwestern Montana reveal just how remarkably little these parasites have changed in the last 46 million years. Found in well preserved shale deposits the new fossils are so detailed that scientists were able to determine they represent two previously unknown species.

Culiseta lemniscata, female, mosquito from the EoceneImage above: The remarkably detailed fossil of a female Culiseta lemniscata mosquito from the Eocene.

The fossils are not insects trapped in amber but compression fossils made of shale, explains Dale Greenwalt, a volunteer at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and co-author of a recent paper on the discovery.

The newly named Eocene mosquitoes—Culiseta kishenehn and Culiseta lemniscata—represent just two of perhaps hundreds of mosquito species that have come and gone in the last 45-million years, Greenwalt explains. “The consensus is that one species of insect might be able to make it through one million or two million years, and in the extreme maybe 10 million years. So it is amazing how similar the insects flying around today are to the ones that were flying around 50 million years ago. We can find morphological differences that distinguish specific species, but overall they are extremely similar.”Culiseta kishenehn, female mosquito from the Eocene

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