Again, that’s the moment of my summary of space news worth discussing this week (and in the past few, since I haven’t done it in a while). This time there are not amazing discoveries but some quite interesting subjects. As usual, links and a couple of comments included.
A relatively large near-Earth asteroid discovered nearly 3 years ago will fly safely past Earth on April 19 at ~1.1 million miles or ~4.6 times the distance from Earth to the moon. Although there’s virtually no danger for the asteroid to collide with our planet, this will be a very close approach for an asteroid of this size – and an interesting one to watch.
During April 2017 Jupiter is in opposition: it is at its closest to Earth and the hemisphere facing Earth is fully illuminated by the Sun. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope used this special configuration to capture an image of what is by far the largest planet in the Solar System.
The multiple planet system doesn’t stop amazing astronomers. A new study has just suggested that the Trappist System, recently thought to house potentially habitable planets, is prone to frequent and powerful flares from its Red Dwarf star. The flares may make life on any of this system’s seven rocky planets impossible.
We’re near to the Gran Finale. On April 22 engineers will use Titan’s gravity to tweak Cassini’s orbit for the last time—a fuel-saving maneuver that has been used throughout the mission to change the craft’s velocity by slingshotting it through the moon’s gravitational field. This time the adjustment will send Cassini zooming between the rings and the planet, a route never taken by a spacecraft before. Expect amazing imagery and a few surprises.