In his budget for next year, President Obama will include $100 Million towards NASA "lasso-ing" a nearby asteroid, then exploring it. The money set aside will only cover the costs of planning the mission and identifying a correct asteroid (not too big, not too small), but the project has long been a goal for NASA administrators looking to learn more about how to mine (!) asteroids, as well as deflect them in case of a possible collision with Earth.
According to a NASA press release, the space program governing body lost communication with the International Space Station this morning around 9:45 AM EST. While the situation sounds frightening, NASA made sure to note that the communication breakdown happened during a routine onboard software update, and that the flight crew was able to make contact with Mission Control Houston when the station flew over Russian ground stations before 11:00 AM EST:
All the scientists are quite confident that asteroid 2012 DA14 is going to miss us when it comes by at 2:25 Eastern time. It is not all going to come burning through our atmosphere with the force of umpty many hydrogen bombs, burying whole taxa in iridium and ash, reducing human civilization to a concentrated smear of silicon and copper for far-future sentient descendants of lobsters to mull over as they drill down into old rock, seeking whatever mineral resources the industries of the lobster-people will depend on. Definitely not. It is not even big enough accomplish that, really, even if it did hit us. The appointed minute will come and 2012 DA14 will almost certainly swing harmlessly past our planet, right under our communications satellites, and back out into the interplanetary void till its next pass.
Because space is just amazing, astronomers in Hawaii announced today that they've found a planet 170 light-years away from Earth that is more than thirteen times larger than the largest planet in our solar system (that's Jupiter, for those of you just tuning in). They've also managed to take a photo of its surface, which is a fairly rare occurrence, and the rest of us get to benefit from living in the really tremendous kind of era where anyone can just look at photographs taken in outer space over lunch at our desks.
A galaxy 5.7 billion light years away from Earth has been having so many star babies that the Associated Press deemed it a 'cosmic supermom.' This space mom galaxy, which doesn't have an official name (commenters, do your worst), 'births' 740 stars a year, compared to the Milky Way's very prudish one a year. The rapid creation of stars has scientists baffled.
Here's the first color photo from Curiosity, the two-billion dollar NASA robot that landed on Mars yesterday. What a crock of shit. This is the first color photo of Mars we're getting? An Instagram of a mountain? Is Curiosity taking photos with a RAZR? This is the worst photo I've ever seen. Fire everyone at NASA. [NASA]