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A large asteroid is passing reasonably close to Earth in a few hours, and astronomers at the great radio telescopes at Goldstone and Arecibo are zapping it. The latest discovery: QE2, like many asteroids, is a binary.
Anticipating the close flyby of asteroid 2005 YU55 yesterday, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory invited media to tour Goldstone, one of three facilities that make up NASA's Deep Space Network. I've always wanted to see these massive radio dishes up close, so I jumped at the chance!
Here's a lovely picture from the Canberra DSN this morning, showing two of the workhorse 34-meter antennas communicating with the nearby GRAIL spacecraft. In the distance, the huge DSS-43 talks to the solar observatory STEREO-B.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced yesterday that the venerable 70-meter dish at the Goldstone Deep Space Network station is being taken offline so that major surgery can be performed.
I've written before about a serious problem looming for planetary exploration: the aging infrastructure of NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN).
Following the mission- and science-focused presentations of the morning, there came two rather alarming presentations.