1. Car-sized Object Impacting the Moon: REAL TIME VIDEO
Background: There are two major Moon impact monitoring projects operating presently: the Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System (MIDAS, Spain) and the Automated Lunar and Meteor Observatory (ALaMO, NASA). The Spanish program recently caught an object of about 0.6m-1.4m in size smashing into the Moon at 60 000 km/h. With a mass of 400 kg, this released a 15 tons of TNT sized explosion, appearing as a large flash that lasted about 8 seconds (visible to naked eye). It is expected to have left a crater behind approximately 40 m in size. (Suggested Reading: Universe Today, MNRAS publication, YouTube video, arXiv preprint).
Demonstration: Make your own craters!
You need: Flour, sprinkles, cocoa powder, a pan, impactors (marbles, rocks)
Directions: Fill the cooking pan with about 3 to 5 centimeters of flour, cover the surface with a sparse layer of sprinkles, then cover the entire thing with cocoa powder. Drop your ‘meteorites’ (marbles or rocks) into the powder from varying heights, angles, and speeds to see what kind of craters you can make. Comparing to actual images of craters (there are tons on the internet), you can look for similarities/differences.
Resources: NASA JPL – How to make a crater [VIDEO]
2. NASA and JAXA launch co-operative weathering monitoring satellite
Background: The United States (through NASA) and Japan (through JAXA) launched the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory at 1:37pm EST on Thursday February 27th, 2014. The GPM Observatory is designed to observe the Earth’s changing rain and snow patterns. The goal is to better understand and improve forecasting of water based events like flooding and droughts.
(Suggested Reading: NASA Mission Page)
Demonstration: Launching home made rockets [NOTE: stand back from canister when launching]
You need: a film canister, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), water
Directions: place some baking soda in a film canister, add water, close, shake, place upside down….back away! After 10-20 s (depending on mixture of baking soda and water) the gas pressure inside the can will grow past the containment ability of the canister, launching it into the air.