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Asteroid!

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Asteroid 2011 MD is going to be so close to earth on Monday that it will actually be within the orbits of our GPS satellites. Earth’s gravity will slingshot the asteroid around the planet and back into space. Check out the story on discoverynews.com. (Be sure to follow the links if you want more information.) You can also find some more neat animations created by Pasquale Tricarico of the Planetart Science Institute here. Cool!

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Good-bye, Spirit

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Spirit, the intrepid little Mars rover has not responded to the last attempt from NASA to contact it. Satellites orbiting Mars will continue to passively listen for signals from Spirit, but the odds are against the poor little guy, who’s circuits probably froze in the bitter Martian winter.

Originally scheduled to be a three-month mission, Spirit persevered for 5 years until it finally got stuck in a sand pit. Even then, it bravely continued on as a stationary observatory on Mars. Spririt’s “twin,” Opportunity is still going strong, and the mega-rover Curiosity is scheduled to land on Mars next summer.

Good-bye, Spirit, and thanks for all the knowledge!

Read the full story here:
http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-rover-spirit-mission.html

And a cute comic about Spirit from xkcd:
Spirit