Tag Archives: asteroid

Bennu: How a Little Asteroid Became a Rock Star

Formerly known as 1999 RQ36, the space rock was chosen by process of elimination as the destination for the UA-led OSIRIS-REx mission, which will pick up a sample of its regolith and return it to Earth for analysis. Launch is little more than two months away. (more…)

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Die verräterische Strahlung von metallischen Asteroiden

Tausende von Datensätzen des NASA-Weltraumteleskops WISE (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer) haben die Planetenforscher des Deutschen Zentrums für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) ausgewertet – und kamen dabei den metallischen Asteroiden auf die Spur: Die Schwergewichte unter den Asteroiden bleiben erstaunlich kühl und geben anscheinend weniger Wärmestrahlung als die Gesteinsasteroiden ab, wenn man sie mit einem Infrarot-Teleskop beobachtet. “Das war für mich eine große Überraschung”, betont Prof. Alan Harris. “Unsere Ergebnisse deuten auf eine höhere Anzahl von metallischen Objekten im Sonnensystem hin, als wir bisher vermutet haben.” Das Aufspüren von metallreichen Asteroiden ist aus mehreren Gründen wichtig: Sie sind besonders gefährlich, wenn sie auf die Erde einschlagen würden, und sind zugleich potenzielle Rohstofflieferanten für die Industrie in der Zukunft. Die Forschungsarbeit ist in der aktuellen Ausgabe der Zeitschrift “Astrophysical Journal Letters” erschienen. (more…)

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Lander Philae: Das Ende des Winterschlafs naht

Einen Raketenstart im März 2004, mehrfaches Schwungholen an Erde und Mars, zwei rasante Vorbeiflüge an den Asteroiden Šteins und Lutetia – das alles hat der Lander Philae an Bord der ESA-Raumsonde Rosetta bei seinem Flug zum Kometen 67P/Churuymov-Gerasimenko bisher bereits gut überstanden. Am 28. März 2014, nach mehr als zweieinhalb Jahren Winterschlaf, nehmen die Wissenschaftler des Deutschen Zentrums für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) Philae wieder in Betrieb. Knapp vier Millionen Kilometer trennen Sonde und Lander dann noch von Churyumov-Gerasimenko. (more…)

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From Mercury to Morocco, and onward to Yale: a meteorite’s tale

Talk about a precious stone — the largest piece of the only known meteorite from the planet Mercury has found its way to Yale, where it is now on display at the Peabody Museum of Natural History.

Known as NWA 7325, the fist-size, greenish space rock is a rarity among rarities:  there just aren’t many verified planetary meteorites. Scientists know of about 70 from Mars and, until now, none from any of the other planets in Earth’s solar system. There are about 180 known meteorites from the moon. NWA 7325 is the first believed to be from Mercury. (more…)

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NASA Releases Radar Movie of Asteroid 2012 DA14

An initial sequence of radar images of asteroid 2012 DA14 was obtained on the night of Feb. 15/16, 2013, by NASA scientists using the 230-foot (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif. Each of the 72 frames required 320 seconds of data collection by the Goldstone radar.

The observations were made as the asteroid was moving away from Earth. The asteroid’s distance from the radar dish increased from 74,000 miles (120,000 kilometers) to 195,000 miles (314,000 kilometers). The resolution is 13 feet (four meters) per pixel. The images span close to eight hours and clearly show an elongated object undergoing roughly one full rotation. The images suggest that the asteroid has a long axis of about 130 feet (40 meters). The radar observations were led by scientists Lance Benner and Marina Brozovic of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. Additional Goldstone radar observations are scheduled on February 18, 19 and 20. (more…)

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Hungry Black Hole

Astronomers poised for galactic chow-down

The super-massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy has a healthy appetite, frequently snacking on asteroids and comets. Now, a cloud of gas and dust called G2 is on a dangerous course to become its next meal.

Even though Sagittarius A* (pronounced “Sagittarius A-star”) hasn’t been easy to see through the cosmic dust, sitting 25,000 light years away at galaxy central, scientists know it is a black hole — and a hungry one at that. Its weight has been estimated to be more than that of 4 million suns. (more…)

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Dinosaur Die Out Might Have Been Second of Two Closely Timed Extinctions

The most-studied mass extinction in Earth history happened 65 million years ago and is widely thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs. New University of Washington research indicates that a separate extinction came shortly before that, triggered by volcanic eruptions that warmed the planet and killed life on the ocean floor.

The well-known second event is believed to have been triggered by an asteroid at least 6 miles in diameter slamming into Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. But new evidence shows that by the time of the asteroid impact, life on the seafloor – mostly species of clams and snails – was already perishing because of the effects of huge volcanic eruptions on the Deccan Plateau in what is now India. (more…)

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Meet a Face Behind the MIRI

This summer welcomed the delivery of the James Webb Space Telescope’s first flight instrument, the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI). The instrument will peer out into the farthest depths of the cosmos and capture light showcasing star and galaxy formation.

MIRI’s design, assembly and journey were made possible because of a collaboration between a European consortium of institutes that developed the instrument in a partnership with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., working with the European Space Agency, University of Arizona and NASA. (more…)

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