OSIRIS-REx on a mission to asteroid Bennu and back by 2023


Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx mission, the first mission to sample an asteroid, was launched from Cape Canaveral on September 8. The launching rocket, an Atlas V 411, reached supersonic speed (video @ 01:10).

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Earth has a non-threatening small orbiting asteroid


It was recently discovered that a small asteroid has been in a stable orbit around Earth for at least a decade. The nature of its orbit “prevents the asteroid from approaching much closer than about 38 times the distance of the moon.”.

Source: JPL via Slashdot news

Update on the Rosetta (comet) mission


The Rosetta orbiter is continuing its science until the end of the extended Rosetta mission in September 2016. The lander’s future is less certain. This film covers some of what we’ve learnt from Philae about comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko so far.

This includes information about the comet’s surface structure from the ROsetta Lander Imaging System – or ROLIS camera – a copy of which can be found at the German Space Agency, DLR, in Berlin.

Data from all Philae’s instruments has informed the work of the other scientific teams. Rosetta scientists have analysed grains from the comet and discovered that it contains carbon rich molecules from the early formation of our solar system.

The video also contains footage from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany – where a flight replica of Philae’s COSAC instrument is maintained in a vacuum chamber to test commands. COSAC has already detected over a dozen molecules containing carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen from the dust cloud kicked up from landing.

Breaking News: SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket explodes 2 minutes after launch


The Falcon 9 rocket launched earlier today to supply the International Space Station with food and supplied.

At launch a propulsion anamoly was detected and the rocket, at highest pressure, exploded 2 minutes after launch. Footage of the incident is below:

Watch the Solar Eclipse LIVE


Given the cloudy conditions here in Lebanon and to those who can’t take the safety precautions and those who want to watch the total eclipse (not 18% as in Lebanon):

Watch the solar eclipse live through

Tomorrows Solar Eclipse from Beirut


I have stumbled upon several posts and discussions on social networks, and some have contacted me about whether the eclipse is visible from Lebanon or not and about the timing.
I am writing this post to address some of your confusions. Here’s a general video from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab to start with:

Following is a visualization of the eclipse. The greatest eclipse (totality) occurs above the Faroe Islands, halfway between Norway and Iceland, around 1200 hours Beirut time.
In the visualization below, the strip formed by the two blue curves within which the greatest eclipse occurs is the path of totality. This is the path the shadow due to the moon blocking the Sun’s light from us follows. The further on Earth the observer is from this path the smaller the percentage of the eclipse is observed. Read on for more details.

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Three Supermoons in a row (Science@NASA)


This month as well as the following two months will have three consecutive supermoons. The exact dates and (rise) times (Beirut time) of these supermoons are as follows:

  1. July 12 @ 1940
  2. August 10 @ 1906
  3. September 9 @ 1904
 But what are supermoons?

Supermoons are moons that happen to be at a point of their orbit whose distance is the shortest to Earth. That is they happen to be closest to Earth.
This particular (close) point of the orbit is called the “perigee” thus the scientific term for a supermoon is the “perigee moon“.

Some people have linked supermoons with natural disasters such as tsunami’s like the 2011 tsunami that occurred facing the coast of Japan which destroyed the Fukushima nuclear power plant and the 2004 tsunami that hit the Indian ocean since they occurred in a 1-2 week period within a supermoon.

Scientifically no evidence has been found in this regard. For a detailed explanation check the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory Outreach Program FAQ “Can the position of the moon or planets affect seismicity?” under “Common Myths and Misconceptions”.

Beware of the comming supermoons… whooo!