This Week in Space: A stellar auction and a plan to blow up an asteroid
If for some reason you forgot to attend the Space History Sale at Bonhams in New York today, don’t worry—so did we. Why not read some fascinating stories about space to take your mind off the fact that you totally could have gotten your hands on 120-year-old photographs of the moon just a few hours ago?
If your flight from Atlanta to Charlotte was delayed by an hour this weekend on account of inclement weather,try to keep in mind that weather delays not only affect 747s, but basically everything trying to land on Earth.
In fact, the SpaceX Dragon was supposed to return today, but ugly weather has resulted in a slight shift in schedule, so the spacecraft will have to wait until tomorrow to head home. Be sure to tune in to NASA TV to watch live tomorrow starting at 4am EDT, with the spacecraft set to detach from the ISS at 7:06am EDT.
According to NASA’s press release, the SpaceX Dragon craft “is the only space station resupply spacecraft able to return to Earth intact.” This means that over 2000 pounds of samples and research will be stored on the ship for its return journey, which should keep scientists busy for quite some time. We can only hope that another press conference about a rock is forthcoming.
Every once in a while, I’ll come across an auction on TV where relics from a bygone era are sold to the highest bidder. Some of these are much more interesting than others, but few genuinely excite me. In the case of the Bonhams auction house's Space History Sale, not a single item is anything less than incredible.
The auction took place Monday in New York, where over 325 artifacts from space travel and aviation history were up for auction, starting from a few hundred dollars to nearly $100,000 depending on the item’s size and rarity.
The Wall Street Journal has a roundup of some of the most noteworthy photos, maps and letters in the auction, but be sure to check out the list at Bonhams yourself to see everything that was auctioned off today.
Not to be outdone by the recent release of Olympus Has Fallen, scientists in Europe and the U.S. have teamed up to prepare for a mission that will send two probes on a collision course with the asteroid Didymos in 2022, which could totally be the plot of an action movie.
Although this sounds eerily similar to the plot of Armageddon (without any Bruce Willis intervention, anyway), Didymos is not going to come close to Earth.
The probes launching in 2019 are part of the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) mission, which will allow scientists to study the innards of a “binary space rock system.” Its distance from our planet also makes Didymos a prime candidate for studying the impact of a spacecraft collision with an approaching asteroid, in case an even larger rock than the Russian meteor threatens Earth in the future.