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See The Awesome View Of The Grand Canyon That Is Hard To Beat

See The Awesome View Of The Grand Canyon That Is Hard To Beat

Some people take a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon.  These people wanted more – so they sat above it.

The “Pentagon Space Net” by Moab Monkeys, a Utah-based group of athletes, is a hand-woven pentagonal web located 400 ft above the ground and 200 ft away from the nearest cliff. The spider web-like contraption offers breathtaking views of the canyon, unparalleled with anything else.  The only catch?  You have to climb to it.

To get these awesome views, daredevils first have to walk on the 200 ft rope, then dive into the hole in the center of the net before landing with parachutes.

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Asteroid Headed for Earth in 2880 Is Really Just a Clump of Rubble

Asteroid Headed for Earth in 2880 Is Really Just a Clump of Rubble


Artist’s impression of an asteroid.
Image: Flickr, Hubble ESA

An asteroid on NASA’s list of potential impact threats to the Earth is actually a pile of loosely connected rubble held together by forces weaker than the weight of a penny, scientists say.

The discovery could be vital if humanity ever has to destroy a giant space rock before it hits Earth, researchers added.

Astronomers investigated near-Earth asteroid 1950 DA, which is about four-fifths of a mile wide (1.3 kilometers). This asteroid currently has one of the greatest chances of colliding with Earth of any known asteroid, with about a 1 in 4,000 chance of impacting the Earth in the year 2880.

A study in 2003 suggested that if asteroid 1950 DA smashed into the Atlantic Ocean about 360 miles (580 km) from the United States, the resulting blast could be equal to a 60,000-megaton explosion, or about 3.75 million times stronger than the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima, causing tsunami waves at least 200 feet high (60 meters) to crash against the East Coast.

Unexpectedly, the scientists found 1950 DA is a porous rubble pile, about half of which is empty space. They also discovered that this loose collection of rocks is spinning faster than the forces of gravity or friction would allow it to remain in one piece, which suggests mysterious forces are helping this clump of debris to stick together.

“I was expecting to find a high-density metallic asteroid, as such an asteroid wouldn’t require cohesive forces to hold itself together under its fast rotation,” lead study author Ben Rozitis, an astronomer at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, told “Instead we found the opposite!”

A rock pile in space

In the past decade, scientists have confirmed that many asteroids are not solid rocks, but are instead cosmic rubble piles made up of jumbles of rocks. Researchers typically suggest that these asteroids stay together due to gravity pulling them into clusters and friction locking them in place.

Asteroid 1950 DA is covered with sandy particles known as regolith. At the same time, the asteroid spins quickly, completing one revolution every 2.12 hours. The centripetal force the asteroid experiences — the same force that causes the arms of a spinning ice skater to drift outward — should fling its regolith away.

“We knew from previous work that this asteroid was rotating faster than it should be, and we wanted to know why,” Rozitis said.

Based on the asteroid’s size, density and shape, in order for centripetal force to not break 1950 DA apart, the researchers estimate the asteroid needs at least 64 pascals of pressure to hold together, similar to the amount of pressure a penny exerts on the palm of a person’s hand. Scientists have previously suggested that cohesive forces other than gravity and friction can help keep rubble-pile asteroids from spinning apart — for instance, van der Waals forces are weak, short-range electric forces that can attract particles together.

“We found a low-density rubble pile that traditionally would be unable to hold itself together unless cohesive forces were present,” Rozitis said. “It’s exciting because we’ve provided the first evidence that cohesive forces are important for small asteroids, which had only been predicted up until now.”

These findings could shed light on how disks of gas and dust around newborn stars coalesce into asteroids, comets, rings, moons and planets, researchers say. “Cohesive forces will be present in every asteroid, and not just the fast-spinning ones,” Rozitis said. “It is just easier to observe the effects of cohesive forces in the fast-spinning ones.”

Asteroid mining and defense concerns

In addition, the complexity of the forces holding rubble piles together might complicate government and private missions to visit and mine asteroids, they added.

“Mining missions intend to visit small asteroids about 10 meters (33 feet) or less in size, as it is thought that they are predominantly solid bodies,” Rozitis said. “However, cohesive forces enable such small asteroids to be rubble piles instead. A small rubble-pile asteroid would be harder to interact with and collect, as it can easily deform or break up when subject to external forces.”

This work could also inform future strategies to prevent asteroids from impacting Earth.

“The best way to mitigate an impacting asteroid is to nudge it slightly several years before impact so that it changes course,” Rozitis said. “This can be done by hitting the asteroid with a fast and heavy spacecraft. However, by hitting a fast rotating asteroid held together by cohesive forces, you risk breaking it up into several smaller, hazardous asteroids. Therefore, with such an asteroid, you want to avoid interacting with it directly to prevent it breaking up. An alternative is to use a ‘gravity tractor,’ or a heavy spacecraft placed near the asteroid, which uses the force of gravity to pull the asteroid off course.”

Future research can investigate fast-spinning asteroids of different compositions, “as the cohesive forces involved might vary with asteroid composition,” Rozitis said.

Rozitis and his colleagues Eric MacLennan and Joshua Emery detailed their research in the Aug. 14 edition of the journal Nature.

This article originally published at

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Huge Asteroid Expected To Pass Near Earth

Huge Asteroid Expected To Pass Near Earth

The asteroid will not be visible to the naked eye, but can be seen with a small telescope or strong binoculars.

A massive asteroid the size of five football fields is expected to pass safely near Earth.

According to NASA, the asteroid, designated 2004 BL86, will pass about three times the distance of Earth to the moon, or 745,000 miles, on Monday at approximately 11:19 a.m. ET.

“Monday, January 26, will be the closest asteroid 2004 BL86 will get to Earth for at least the next 200 years,” said Don Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “And while it poses no threat to Earth for the foreseeable future, it’s a relatively close approach by a relatively large asteroid, so it provides us a unique opportunity to observe and learn more.”

The asteroid was first discovered in January 2004. It will not be visible to the naked eye but can be seen through a telescope or strong binoculars in the Americas, Europe, and Africa.

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“I may grab my favorite binoculars and give it a shot myself,” Yeomans said. “Asteroids are something special. Not only did asteroids provide Earth with the building blocks of life and much of its water, but in the future, they will become valuable resources for mineral ores and other vital natural resources.”

The next time an asteroid might be passing Earth will be in 2027.

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