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Bruce's Blog

What's Up

with Bruce Betts

Our resident planetary scientist and Director of Projects will keep you up to date on all the exciting projects we are working on. From searching for dangerous asteroids to flying our very own solar sail spacecraft, Bruce will make sure you know what's going on plus enlighten you with his unique bits of space trivia with Random Space Facts, too!

Bruce Betts

Guide to Asteroid 2012 DA14 Super Close Approach

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2013/02/04 01:46 CST | 17 comments

The 45 meter asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass closer to Earth than geostationary satellites on Feb. 15, 2013. Learn about the asteroid and what to expect from the close approach.

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Reflections on the 10th Anniversary of Columbia Disaster from a Science Investigator

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2013/02/01 11:02 CST

David Warmflash, who organized a science (and peace) experiment with the Planetary Society for the ill fated STS-107 Columbia mission, reflects on that tragic day ten years ago.

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Shoemaker Winner Hug Discovers Near Earth Asteroid 2013 AS27

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2013/01/10 04:43 CST | 8 comments

Using a Planetary Society provided camera, Gary Hug in Kansas, USA discovered Potentially Hazardous Asteroid 2013 AS27 on Jan. 7, 2013. Shoemaker winner Bob Holmes provided the first follow up observations of this 140m-310m wide asteroid.

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Calling (Really Serious) Asteroid Hunters

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/11/19 10:06 CST | 9 comments

I am happy to announce a new call for proposals for The Planetary Society’s Gene Shoemaker Near Earth Object (NEO) grant program, which is celebrating its 15th Anniversary. Proposals are due Feb. 4, 2013.

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PlanetVac: Sucking Up Planetary Regolith

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/10/30 02:27 CDT | 3 comments

Learn about the Planetary Society’s newest project: PlanetVac, with Honeybee Robotics, aims to prototype and test in a huge vacuum chamber a new way to sample planetary surfaces that could be used for sample return or for in situ instruments.

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First Planet Discovered in Alpha Centauri System

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/10/17 07:22 CDT | 12 comments

European astronomers have made the first planetary discovery in the closest-to-Earth Alpha Centauri star system. Here is some information about the discovery, and insights from Yale Astronomer Debra Fischer, who leads another Alpha Centauri planet search partially supported by The Planetary Society.

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Mars Program Update from MEPAG

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/10/05 06:30 CDT | 1 comment

Bruce Betts reports on the status of the current and future Mars program and on acronyms from a meeting of NASA's MEPAG (Mars Exploration Analysis Program Analysis Group).

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Shoemaker NEO Winner Finds Close Fly By Asteroid

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/10/02 05:54 CDT

Gary Hug used his Shoemaker NEO grant provided camera to find 2012 SY49 which flew by Earth at about two lunar distances last week. The tens of meters wide asteroid is a low-probability possible Earth impactor in the future.

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Saving the World: Established 1997

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/09/21 01:00 CDT | 2 comments

The Planetary Society Shoemaker NEO grants celebrate their 15th anniversary of helping to find and track near Earth asteroids. Here's a quick review of the program, and updates on our four multiple-grant winners.

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Optical SETI Gets a Major Upgrade

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/08/30 03:57 CDT | 5 comments

The Planetary Society Optical SETI Telescope in Harvard, Massachusetts just got a major upgrade of its electronics. The telescope, which has been operating the only all-sky optical SETI survey since its opening in 2006, is run by Harvard University Professor Paul Horowitz and his team. The telescope scans the sky every clear night with a 72-inch primary mirror, looking for laser pulses as short as one billionth of a second that could be transmitted by distant extraterrestrials. When observing, it has been able to process 1 terabit (trillion bits) of data every second, that’s as much as in all the books in print every second.

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