As many of you know, I love the NASA site and all things associated with space exploration. In that vein, I had to share this photo of the first meteorite found on another planet. I could come up with a better name than “Heat Shield Rock” (like Rocky McRock Face or something) but those NASA people are a bit literal. There is a stark beauty of such objects, hardened and shaped by billions of years. I also still get a thrill of being able to see these pictures from another world. While this picture was taken in 2015, there are some new pictures that are truly record breaking in terms of distance below. These images should remind the public of the tremendous breakthroughs being made by NASA and its partners with limited funding, including significant cuts. Indeed, as Trump pushes to make the International Space Station a private or corporate effort, we need to keep in mind the windfall of new information that has come with each of these programs.
I admit that when I saw the Heat Shield Rock recently, all I could think is “I want that.” It is the size of a basketball and composed of iron and nickel. It was the first of nine meteorites found on Mars and would likely be a tad above an academic salary.
I find meteorites endlessly fascinating, including what they tell us about our own geologic history. The idea of these objects traveling billions of years through the intense conditions of space is mind blowing.
Along those lines, remember the tumbling cigar-shaped “Oumuamua” object that some people thought might be an alien craft? It is clearly not only from another star system but the tumbling was likely started from a collusion in space and could continue for a billion more years in space. This is equally mind blowing.
Speaking of other star systems, we have another first from NASA from the New Horizons program. You may recall the imagery made possible by the flyover of Pluto:
Most recently, NASA released the pictures below. Using a “routine calibration frame of the ‘Wishing Well’ galactic open star cluster” with the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), this picture was captured from New Horizons when it was 3.79 billion miles (6.12 billion kilometers, or 40.9 astronomical units) from Earth. I know it does not look like much but it is the farthest image ever made from Earth.
Ok, I am done with my nerd fest.