Articles about asteroid


NASA: Bring on the asteroid, so we can chuck a fridge at it

NASA has okayed one of its save-the-world-from-asteroids proposals to move to the preliminary design phase, on the way to a hoped-for launch early in the 2020s. If it goes ahead, the DART – Double Asteroid Redirection Test – will start with what the space agency describes as “a non-threatening small asteroid”. That way, …

Astroboffins dig into the weird backwards orbit of the Bee-Zed asteroid

Asteroid 2015 BZ509 – also known as Bee-Zed – is the only asteroid in our solar system with a confirmed retrograde orbit lasting 12 years; the same orbital period as Jupiter. The discovery was published in Nature in March by a team of physicists led by Paul Wiegert, a researcher at the University of Western Ontario in Canada. …
Katyanna Quach, 29 Jun 2017

Orbital boffins cut four years off NASA mission to shiniest object in the Solar System

NASA has come up with a cunning plan that will allow it to shave four years of flight time off its mission to the biggest chunk of visible iron in the Solar System, and will use souped-up solar power to get there. In January NASA approved the mission to send a probe out to the asteroid 16 Psyche, which is thought to be a …
Iain Thomson, 25 May 2017
OSIRIS-REx during construction. PIC: NASA

NASA fires first shot in plan to bring a chunk of asteroid down to Earth

NASA's asteroid-exploration mission OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has taken the left turn at Albuquerque on its way to a near-Earth space rock called Bennu. The agency says the burn of 354 kg of fuel (780 pounds) boosted the craft's velocity and put it on a trajectory for an Earth fly-by which will give OSIRIS-REx impart even more …
NASA Stereo Science Center asteroid image

Asteroid nearly gave Earth a new feature, two days after its discovery

On Saturday, the Catalina Sky Survey spotted a near-Earth asteroid of respectable heft – and today, it passed between us and the Moon. 2017 AG13 (the Minor Planet Center, MPC, entry is here) is about the size of a 10-storey building. Its velocity to Earth is 11 kilometres per second. It passed at 0.53 Lunar distance, or 203, …
asteroid mission

NASA plans seven-year trip to Jupiter – can we come with you, please?

Vid NASA has OKed two new missions to study some of the most interesting asteroids in our solar system, as part of its ongoing Discovery mission program. The first mission, named Lucy, will launch in October 2021 and will head off to the gas giant of Jupiter to explore its Trojan zones. These are two points on either side of the …
Iain Thomson, 5 Jan 2017
The PS1 telescope

NASA's asteroid orbit calculator spots a hot rock zipping past

NASA's pleased with its still-under-development asteroid-hunting program after it spotted a 25-metre rock that buzzed Earth at about 1.3 times the distance to the moon on the weekend. Observatories like the ten-year-old PAN-STARRS at Maui in Hawaii scan the skies looking for uncatalogued little dots that might or might not be …
Minor Planet Center image of 2016 QA2 orbit

Blink and you missed it: Asteroid came within 90,000 km, only one sky-watcher saw it

A small asteroid made a rare, close pass between Earth and the moon on August 28. 2016 QA2 is estimated by the Minor Planet Center (MPC) as being somewhere between 25 and 55 metres in diameter – so small that it nearly passed without notice. The MPC's note about the asteroid attributes its discovery to Brazil's SONEAR …

NASA to begin first asteroid sample mission: Seeks 'pristine' specimen

NASA is preparing for its first mission that will see a spacecraft retrieve a “pristine sample” of an asteroid so that it can be studied on Earth. The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft will be launched on 8 September 7:05pm EDT (12:05 am BST) from Cape …
Katyanna Quach, 18 Aug 2016

Asteroid-sampling spacecraft prepped for September launch

NASA's improbably acronmyed* "Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security – Regolith Explorer" (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft has arrived at Florida's Kennedy Space Center ahead of a September launch on an asteroid-sampling mission. OSIRIS-REx will travel to near-Earth asteroid Bennu, arriving in 2018, and …
Lester Haines, 24 May 2016

Mars satellites show remains of massive tsunamis that ravaged Red Planet

Scientists think they have spotted the remains of two huge tsunamis on Mars caused by asteroids striking the planet back when it still had water. In a paper published in Nature Scientific Reports, the boffins say pictures from the imaging and radar satellites orbiting Mars show the effects of two separate asteroid strikes on …
Iain Thomson, 20 May 2016

Laser-zapping scientists will save the Earth from meteorite destruction

Californian scientists are testing a system this month that may save humanity in the not-too-distant future. Boffins at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) will fire up high-energy lasers to see if they can successfully vaporize rocks from outer space. But don't worry; your tax dollars aren't being used to build …
Iain Thomson, 11 May 2016
Dr Strangelove bomb

Russian boffins want to nuke asteroids

Russian space scientists want to deploy nukes against killer asteroids. Russia and India Report quotes Tomsk State University scientist Tatyana Galushina explaining modelling led by the university to find out how best to blow up a dangerous asteroid. Galushina reckons a near-Earth rock that poses a future threat could be …

ESA decupboards asteroid-dusting brush-o-matic

The European Space Agency is poised to conduct zero-grav tests on an impressively brushy "asteroid cleaner". The asteroid cleaner. Pic: Added Value Solutions The space brush-o-matic. Pic: Added Value Solutions As you can see, the prototype space brush-o-matic - designed and lovingly built by Spanish outfit Added Value …
Lester Haines, 6 Apr 2016

Planet-bonking rock hunt armed with humanity's cruellest weapon: bureaucracy

Criticised in 2014 for lax control over how it spent its asteroid-detection dollars, NASA has formalised its response, announcing last week the launch of a Planetary Defense Coordination Office. The 2014 audit (PDF) said NASA's asteroid-detection work was “a loosely structured conglomerate of research activities that are not …
493 Griseldis showing a debris trail

Ouch! Subaru telescope catches astroid prang

Astronomers have announced evidence that a main-belt asteroid called 493 Griseldis took a hit from another object in March of this year. Shots taken by the Subaru 8m optical telescope showed that Griseldis had grown a tail – and unlike a comet's tail, which points away from the sun, the asteroid's tail was “not in the …
Automatic asteroid mining

US Congress grants leftpondians the right to own asteroid booty

Asteroid mining operation Planetary Resources is as pleased as punch with those members of the US Congress who've backed "historic legislation" H.R.2262 – aka the "SPACE Act of 2015". The act "recognizes the right of US citizens to own asteroid resources they obtain as property and encourages the commercial exploration and …
Lester Haines, 11 Nov 2015

Glowing dust doughnut circles white dwarf

Extremely patient astroboffins have put together the first image of debris rings around a white dwarf, obtained over 12 years of Very Large Telescope observations. Researchers led by Christopher Manser of the University of Warwick’s Astronomy and Astrophysics Group used Doppler tomography* to snap the rings of SDSS1228+1040, …
Lester Haines, 11 Nov 2015

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