NASA Predicts Spectacular Meteor Shower

Dr. James B. Garvin of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center says the stars will align for a meteor shower 2 A.M. ET Saturday 5.23.2014
8:03 | 05/23/14

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Transcript for NASA Predicts Spectacular Meteor Shower
This is a special group. The stars -- -- this holiday weekend and it could mean a dazzling show for sky watchers and night owls across North America. Everyone I'm Dan Cutler in new York and NASA predicting a spectacular meteor shower to begin around two -- AM in the east on Saturday and go on for two hours. Listen to these numbers 202000. Meteors -- lighting up the nighttime sky. So want to bring in doctor James -- chief scientist at NASA's Goddard space flight Saturday as more details on this doctor -- thanks for being with us -- -- exciting time is over at NASA -- to break it down like what what's happening tonight. Or tomorrow morning actions. Well -- and we're going to be flying through the dusty trail if not the tale of a comet known as. Several years ago and this -- -- we'll give us a great opportunity for the earth to encounter all of small particles shed from the small bodies he's commentary nuclear I. As they approach the sun and we will fly right through it. With an opportunity to experience hundreds if not up to a thousand of these. Meteor strikes in our upper atmosphere. Every hour which could be really dazzling. And all safe and really evidence of science in action in our solar system. I -- -- -- -- put in their Allstate because that's the first question always comes to mind as if we've got like thousands of pieces of debris flying through our atmosphere. You know safety obviously some -- it comes up on that it is the first unaware that we're going through this trail this meteor. Yes this is the first time we will have this particular great opportunity to go through it. Scientists are working feverishly to look back through records to see whether we've ever seen any evidence of this one before. But this time we know will be the first in history and least in recent human history. Two of experience that so that's why it's so exciting first science experience for all of us. And so you're talking about -- coming relatively close to the Earth's atmosphere. No communication problem this is nothing like that that your anticipated from this. Not at all -- -- fly through cosmic dust trails all the time there are multiple meteor showers every year from the short period comets that. -- behind that kind of debris we're talking about dust and gas and things the size of sand and finer. So these things burn up when they encounter our atmosphere so they give us a great light show. They also provide science kind of like forensic science so. It's win win. So let me -- -- -- what exactly is happening because you obviously we see it at night is at the reflection off the sign -- a reflection of the other stars. How do we actually succeed you know -- where does the light sort of -- from within is -- -- particles flying through. Sure well. The particles shed from the comet nucleus which could be a few miles across that's what we think on this this commentary nucleus has -- close -- the sun. The sun warms up the gases and dust. -- they become expelled sometimes in Jackson streams they produced this dusty trail it's kind of like -- almost like a fog. That's what astronomers even call them dirty snowballs. And then we pass through it is our earth is a big. Atmosphere that shields us from all the -- stuff. -- that's why we live here so well and when these dust particles these sand sized particles hit the Earth's upper atmosphere. At cosmic salon city's twelve miles a second. They are burnt up immediately the same way. The -- of friction that causes our space shuttle or capsules to heat up as we reenter happens. Such as that happens on these little dust particles and -- essentially vaporized and that. Papers show that spontaneous. Heating and burning up. Produces light that we can see so it's it's really a marvelous science experiment by mother nature -- -- -- OK so who's got front row seats on this show. Well all of us do in tonight in North America we should have a great light show in the wee hours of the morning. And really could be spectacular like some of the best we've had for the last hundred years and gives opportunity to really bear witness to why these small bodies these comets and asteroids so important to the way our solar system put itself together. Any place better than others and North America for viewing. Not really any place dark just look up you don't need anything except -- -- eyeballs if you have glasses of course we have in place. And he should go to see them. -- if you look up sort of a bit north toward the north star the area where there will appear to be emanating from the -- in this in this constellation camera startle us. Com and that's why we'll call them become -- part of its promise -- sort of the nomenclature we use. So what do we know that about this to a nine. Well it's it's one of these special classes of comets. We think it may be one that's a little older. I'm from its various passages closed to the -- it slowly. -- itself over time. It's one of these Jupiter class once -- a little red expect a -- which is very important for composition when it might be made out. But again think of it is dirty. Rock and dust and gas and ice is all conglomerate together passing us. -- close to the sun and these orbits around us on the look like big cigars. This is one of a family of them and the more we study the better we take an inventory of this. Building -- stuff -- is why we want to study the millions of small objects that are part of living in space having to -- Now explain to me a little bit about NASA's plans to eventually put a piece of equipment mounted. On an asteroid and gave her first seven how -- -- would let that he apostle because obviously trying to catch something that's flying through the air is not an easy thing to do an -- actually. Not a piece of equipment on top of it. It just doubles the challenge. Well it's pretty amazing I mean these engineers we have at NASA and across all the supporting institutions. They make -- impossible look so easy it's we almost taken for granted but. In 2016 will be launching a science mission a robot mission. 21 of the interest thing asteroids which has an ankle Ben knew about five football fields across -- a particular type of asteroid that we think contains. -- -- important chemistry that could be part of the building blocks that became. The molecules that could have started life on planets or other places in our solar system will be going to -- with this robot sort of touching it. Taking -- materials and then flying away and returning a capsule of these priceless samples. To earth in contacts to be studied by all the laboratories of our plant although Smart women and that would study these things to try to. Pieced together how are -- -- actually got its it's early building blocks of materials oceans even some of the molecules that became organic so. This is a building block mission the first of its kind real excited to have it. And we should have materials back in the early twenties for the peoples of -- planet to -- Fascinating are so for those of for tonight's different anyone that might be stuck under the clouds or in a storm where can we see the meteor showers as is anything online. Then -- going to be putting up for this. Well there's a lot of things online there is a website. WWW -- NASA dot gov slash Osiris Rex. That's our mission to an asteroid but -- -- posting materials about. This particular meteor shower the -- -- a -- There were other sites available that would they'll be links to including some of the observers in the Canary Islands and other observatories it certainly will not be cloud covered. At least most of the time. To give us a good view of this amazing first encounter with this storm for this meteor shower. The very very cola doctor James Garvin -- -- -- NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center obviously congratulations and a good time for you guys tonight as well go home get a nap. And then get out right. Who for the incitement yep get some sleep and it's going to be great are right now as well but that have a happy Memorial Day weekend as well for you. And of course this has been an ABC news digital special report you can keep up with the story in real time. Downloading the ABC news happened star in this where we're exclusive updates on the go. For now I'm -- Cutler in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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