A team of astronomers has created the largest ever three-dimensional map of our galaxy’s cosmic dust—and you can fly right through it.
Meteor showers and cometary debris are kicking up lunar dust at rates much higher than initially assumed, producing towering clouds above the Moon’s surface. But what goes up must come down — meaning it’ll only be a matter of time before those iconic astronaut footprints will be gone forever.
Using a specialized facility at the Ames research center, NASA scientists have successfully recreated the cosmic grains that permeate the galaxy and form all planets. Perhaps surprisingly, star-stuff is actually quite complicated.
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The star Zeta Ophiuchi is twenty times the size of our Sun and flying blind through space. Its runaway path has taken it through a huge clump of space dust, creating this beautiful bow-shaped "wake" of gas and dust.
See that? It might be a dust particle from an asteroid! Or it might be a flake of dried skin from a man in the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency factory that built the Hayabusa probe. No one knows yet.