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Posts Tagged ‘asteroid’

NASA Considers Putting an Asteroid Into Orbit Around the Moon

January 4th, 2013 01:41 admin View Comments

Moon

Zothecula writes “To paraphrase an old saying, if the astronaut can’t go to the asteroid, then the asteroid must come to the astronaut. In a study released by the Keck Institute for Space Studies, researchers outlined a mission (PDF) to tow an asteroid into lunar orbit by 2025 using ion propulsion and a really big bag. The idea is to bring an asteroid close to Earth for easy study and visits by astronauts without the hazards and expense of a deep space mission. Now, Keck researchers say NASA officials are evaluating the plan to see whether it’s something they want to do. The total cost is estimated to be roughly $2.6 billion.”

Source: NASA Considers Putting an Asteroid Into Orbit Around the Moon

Asteroid 2011 AG5 Will Miss Earth In 2040

December 22nd, 2012 12:30 admin View Comments

Earth

dryriver writes with a report from CNN that the asteroid known as 2011 AG5 will not hit Earth in 2040 as early calculations had led some to fear when it was first spotted last year. “To narrow down the asteroid’s future course, NASA put out a call for more observation. Astronomers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa took up the task and managed to observe the asteroid over several days in October. ‘An analysis of the new data conducted by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, shows that the risk of collision in 2040 has been eliminated,’ NASA declared Friday.”

Source: Asteroid 2011 AG5 Will Miss Earth In 2040

China’s Chang’E 2 Succeeds In Thrilling Asteroid Flyby

December 17th, 2012 12:09 admin View Comments

China

Zothecula writes “China has now joined the very select group of countries to have succeeded in carrying out an interplanetary probe mission. According to reports from China’s official news agency Xinhua, the Chang’E 2 probe passed a mere 3.2 km (2 miles) from the near-Earth asteroid Toutatis at 8:30:09 GMT on December 13, making it the closest asteroid flyby to date … and resulting in some remarkable photographs.”

Source: China’s Chang’E 2 Succeeds In Thrilling Asteroid Flyby

Views of the Asteroid Toutatis, From Earth As Well As Close-Up

December 16th, 2012 12:26 admin View Comments

Space

When Chinese probe Chang’e buzzed the asteroid Toutatis, it wasn’t the only one watching. NASA’s observatory in Goldstone, CA was taking radar images, which have now been assembled into a short (40-second) animation. The craft was recording the encounter, too, as reported by Sky & Telescope, which also gives a good summary of the history behind Chang’e's mission.

Source: Views of the Asteroid Toutatis, From Earth As Well As Close-Up

Chinese Moon Probe Flies By Asteroid Toutatis

December 15th, 2012 12:20 admin View Comments

China

hackingbear writes “Chinese moon probe Chang’e-2 made a flyby of the near-earth asteroid Toutatis on December 13 at 16:30:09 Beijing Time (08:30″09 GMT), the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) announced today. The flyby was the first time an unmanned spacecraft launched from Earth has taken such a close viewing of the asteroid, named after a Celtic god, making China the fourth country after the U.S., the EU and Japan to be able to examine an asteroid by spacecraft. Chang’e-2 came as close as 3.2 km from Toutatis, which is about 7 million km away from the Earth, and took pictures of the asteroid at a relative velocity of 10.73 km per second, the SASTIND said in a statement. Chang’e-2, originally designated as the backup of Chang’e-1, left its lunar orbit for an extended mission to the Earth-Sun L2 Lagrangian point on June 9, 2011, after finishing its lunar objectives, and then again began its mission to Toutatis this year. ‘The success of the extended missions also embodies that China now possesses spacecraft capable of interplanetary flight,’ said Wu Weiren, chief designer of China’s lunar probe program.”

Source: Chinese Moon Probe Flies By Asteroid Toutatis

Earth Avoids Collisions With Pair of Asteroids

December 12th, 2012 12:29 admin View Comments

Space

Hugh Pickens writes writes “Science Recorder reports that according to NASA a pair of asteroids — one just over three mile wide — passed Earth Tuesday and early Wednesday avoiding a potentially cataclysmic impact with our home planet. 2012 XE5, estimated at between 50-165 feet across, was discovered just days earlier, missing our planet by only 139,500 miles or slightly more than half the distance to the moon. 4179 Toutatis, just over three miles wide, put on an amazing show for astronomers early Wednesday missing Earth by 18 lunar lengths, while allowing scientists to observe the massive asteroid in detail. Asteroid Toutatis is well known to astronomers. It passes by Earth’s orbit every four years and astronomers say its unique orbit means it is unlikely to impact Earth for at least 600 years. It is one of the largest known potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs), and its orbit is inclined less than half-a-degree from Earth’s. ‘We already know that Toutatis will not hit Earth for hundreds of years,’ says Lance Benner of NASA’s Near Earth Object Program. ‘These new observations will allow us to predict the asteroid’s trajectory even farther into the future.’ Toutatis would inflict devastating damage if it slammed into Earth, perhaps extinguishing human civilization. The asteroid thought to have killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was about 6 miles wide, researchers say.The fact that 2012 XE5 was discovered only a few days before the encounter prompted Minnesota Public Radio to poll its listeners with the following question: If an asteroid were to strike Earth within an hour, would you want to know?

Source: Earth Avoids Collisions With Pair of Asteroids

Apollo Veteran: Skip Asteroid, Go To the Moon

December 7th, 2012 12:48 admin View Comments

Moon

astroengine writes “It’s 40 years to the day that the final mission to the moon launched. Discovery News speaks with Apollo 17 astronaut and geologist Harrison ‘Jack’ Schmitt about where he thinks the Earth’s only satellite came from and why he thinks a NASA manned asteroid mission is a mistake. ‘I think an asteroid is a diversion,’ said Schmitt. ‘If the ultimate goal is to get to Mars, you have a satellite only three days away that has a great deal of science as well as resources. The science of the moon has just been scratched. We’ve hardly explored the moon.’” The National Research Council came out with a report a few days ago which found that the inability for the U.S. to find a consensus on where to go is damaging its ability to get there. Bill Nye spoke about the issue, saying, “I believe, as a country, we want to move NASA from [being] an engineering organization to a science organization, and this is going to take years, decades. Now, through investment, we have companies emerging that are exploring space on their own and will ultimately lower the cost of access to low-Earth orbit, which will free up NASA to go to these new and exciting places.”

Source: Apollo Veteran: Skip Asteroid, Go To the Moon

Killer Asteroids Are Good For Life

November 5th, 2012 11:21 admin View Comments

Space

Hugh Pickens writes writes “NASA reports that according to a study by Rebecca Martin and Mario Livio asteroid collisions may have provided a boost to the birth and evolution of complex life on earth delivering water and organic compounds to the early Earth and accelerating the rate of biological evolution with occasional impacts to disrupt a planet’s environment to the point where species must try new adaptation strategies. ‘Too many asteroids, and you’ve got an unrelenting cosmic shooting gallery, raining fiery death from above,’ writes Fraser Cain. ‘Too few asteroids, and complex life might not get the raw material it needs to get rolling. Life never gets that opportunity to really shake things up and evolve into more complex forms.’ Martin and Livio suggest that the location of an asteroid belt relative to a Jupiter-like planet is not an accident. The asteroid belt in our solar system, located between Mars and Jupiter, is a region of millions of space rocks that sits near the ‘snow line,’ which marks the border of a cold region where volatile material such as water ice are far enough from the sun to remain intact. ‘To have such ideal conditions you need a giant planet like Jupiter that is just outside the asteroid belt [and] that migrated a little bit, but not through the belt,’ Livio explains. ‘If a large planet like Jupiter migrates through the belt, it would scatter the material. If, on the other hand, a large planet did not migrate at all, that, too, is not good because the asteroid belt would be too massive. There would be so much bombardment from asteroids that life may never evolve.’”

Source: Killer Asteroids Are Good For Life

Paintball Pellets As a Tool To Deflect Asteroids

October 27th, 2012 10:56 admin View Comments

Space

SternisheFan sends this quote from an article at MIT’s Technology Review: “In the event that a giant asteroid is headed toward Earth, you’d better hope that it’s blindingly white. A pale asteroid would reflect sunlight — and over time, this bouncing of photons off its surface could create enough of a force to push the asteroid off its course. How might one encourage such a deflection? The answer, according to an MIT graduate student: with a volley or two of space-launched paintballs. Sung Wook Paek, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, says if timed just right, pellets full of paint powder, launched in two rounds from a spacecraft at relatively close distance, would cover the front and back of an asteroid, more than doubling its reflectivity, or albedo. The initial force from the pellets would bump an asteroid off course; over time, the sun’s photons would deflect the asteroid even more.”

Source: Paintball Pellets As a Tool To Deflect Asteroids

Dawn Spacecraft Finds Signs of Water On Vesta

September 21st, 2012 09:57 admin View Comments

NASA

ananyo writes “Vesta, the second-most-massive body in the asteroid belt, was thought to be bone dry. But NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has found evidence that smaller, water-rich asteroids once implanted themselves in Vesta’s surface. The water stays locked up in hydrated minerals until subsequent impacts create enough heat to melt the rock and release the water as a gas, leaving pitted vents in the surface. The discovery shows that yet another body in the inner Solar System has a water cycle.”

Source: Dawn Spacecraft Finds Signs of Water On Vesta

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