The darkest hour is just before the dawn

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft on its way to Vesta and Ceres after lifting off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 7.34 am (EDT) on 27 September 2007 It seems as if unmanned probes are finally getting the media attention they deserve. The long journey home of Hayabusa was, in the truest sense, a space odyssey.…

Alien Asteroid (3) – The Sequel

Devastation caused by the explosion of a meteroid at low altitude in the Tunguska region of Siberia in 1908. (Imge: Wikipedia) Every Thursday lunchtime here at the Open University, a small band of enthusiasts meet up to discuss, well, just about anything really, but mainly meteorites. Of course, the group has a nice official title:…

Alien Asteroid (2) – Lost World

Muawia Shaddad (center right) and Peter Jenniskens (center left) point towards a fragment of the Almahata Sitta meteorite, in the company of several students from the University of Khartoum. (Image: Peter Jenniskens/SETI institute). Almahata Sitta arrived on Earth with a bang. It was the first recovered meteorite to be tracked in space (as Asteroid 2008…

Alien Asteroid (1) – Arrival

Image: Estelle Greenwood OK, so you’ve got this idea for a Sci-Fi movie: Scene one: A lonely Arizona astronomer locates a small asteroid. He finds that it is going to collide with Earth within hours. Scene two: Across the globe, frantic astronomers launch a desperate attempt to find out as much as they can about…