Earth

0

Asteroid Bennu Could Shed Light on How Ingredients for Life Reached Earth | Smart News

Posted on

A series of studies published last week in the journals Science and Science Advances offer a new, detailed look at the makeup of a small asteroid called Bennu. The studies come just before NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft plans to pick up a sample from the asteroid’s surface on October 20 and return with it to Earth in 2023.

Before the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft reached the asteroid in 2018, astronomers could only study it with telescopes that couldn’t make out details smaller than cities or states, Michael Greshko reports for National Geographic. OSIRIS-REx allows astronomers to map details the size of basketball courts, sheets of paper and postage stamps, depending on the imaging tool they used.

“The reason there’s so much interest in asteroids is a lot of them are very primitive, from when the Solar System formed, and they didn’t change with wind and water, or weather like on Earth,” planetary scientist Amy Simon of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center tells Passant Rabie at Inverse. “They’re still more pristine than anything you could find in the universe.”

Researchers chose Bennu for close study and a sample-return mission because it is a relatively rare type of asteroid that’s rich in carbon-containing molecules, or organics, and because it formed early in the history of our solar system, Neel Patel reports for the MIT Technology Review. It’s also relatively close to Earth.

Bennu is about a third of a mile wide, made of a pile of rubble that is loosely held together by its own gravity, per National Geographic. The rubble resulted from a collision with a 60-mile-wide object in the asteroid belt that destroyed Bennu’s parent body, a larger asteroid. Bennu probably formed between 700 million and two billion years ago somewhere between Mars and Jupiter, and has drifted closer to Earth

0

Study Suggests A Supernova Exploded Near Earth About 2.5 Million Years Ago, Possibly Causing An Extinction Event

Posted on

Supernovas are amazingly bright explosions of massive stars at the end of their lives. During the gravitational collapse, the outer layers of the star are pushed away, and chemical elements formed inside the dying star are released into space. This cosmic dust rains down onto the Earth continuously, eventually becoming part of sediments deposited in the sea.

Research published in the journal Physical Review Letters used the concentrations of elements formed in an exploding star and preserved in oceanic sediments to hypothesize that a supernova exploded near Earth just 2.5 million years ago.

The authors, led by Dr. Gunther Korschinek from the Technical University of Munich, focused their study on ferromanganese crusts collected in the Pacific Ocean. Ferromanganese crusts form on the bottom of the ocean by layers of iron- and manganese-oxides precipitating out of seawater. The studied samples started to grow some 20 million years ago at depths ranging from 5,200 feet to 3.18 miles (approximately 1.600 to 5.120 meters). The researchers measured the concentrations of iron-60 and manganese-53 isotopes in the hardened crust. They differ from Earth’s most common form of the elements by their varying number of neutrons in the atomic nucleus. Both isotopes are synthesized in large stars shortly before supernova explosions and are unstable, decaying completely after 4 to 15 million years. Their presence in sediment samples is evidence for Earth passing through a cloud of cosmic dust generated by an exploding star in – geologically speaking – recent times.

0

Mini moon called 2020 SO to orbit Earth may be NASA Surveyor 2 rocket

Posted on

CLOSE

One cosmic rock a half-mile wide could change our planet forever, unless we spot it well-ahead of time.

USA TODAY

An asteroid likely to get caught in Earth’s orbit and become a “mini moon” for several months may in fact not be an asteroid at all.

Dubbed 2020 SO, the object is on track to be pulled into Earth’s orbit in the coming weeks and circle the planet until it returns to its own track.

But instead of being space rock, experts think it is actually part of a rocket from a failed moon-landing mission in 1966.

“I’m pretty jazzed about this,” Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told The Associated Press. “It’s been a hobby of mine to find one of these and draw such a link, and I’ve been doing it for decades now.”

Mini moons – objects that temporarily orbit Earth – are rare. While more have likely occurred over history, only two have been confirmed: one from 2006 to 2007 and another discovered earlier this year that was in orbit from 2018 to 2020, according to space and astronomy news outlet Universe Today.

While those mini moons were space rocks, 2020 SO has a few characteristics that make scientists skeptical.

Its orbit is nearly a circle, similar to Earth’s, and is not tilted, on the same plane as Earth. The object is also moving much slower than scientists would expect a similar asteroid to move.

“The velocity seems to be a big one,” space archaeologist Alice Gorman of Flinders University in Australia told science news outlet ScienceAlert. “What I’m seeing is that it’s just moving too slowly, which reflects its initial velocity. That’s essentially a big giveaway.”

The object was discovered by a telescope in Hawaii

0

China’s Mars Probe Tianwen-1 Sends Home Selfies Captured 15 Million Miles From Earth

Posted on

KEY POINTS

  • The CNSA released new selfies of Tianwen-1 captured 15 million miles away from Earth
  • The Mars probe took images of itself using a tiny camera ejected from the spacecraft
  • Tianwen-1 is expected to reach the red planet in February 2021

Talk about a clever way to take self-portraits in space! Tianwen-1 has snapped some selfies while in outer space using a camera ejected from its spacecraft.

While on its way to Mars, Tianwen-1 sent home new images of itself captured 15 million miles away from Earth. They were released by the China National Space Administration earlier this month as part of the country’s national day celebrations.

The small camera the Mars probe used to snap selfies had wide-angle lenses on each side and took one photo every second. It sends the images it takes to Tianwen-1, which would then transmit the pictures to Earth.

One of the many photos snapped by the camera is a close-up of the Tianwen-1 spacecraft that shows its two silver solar arrays and the conical aeroshell containing the mission’s rover. Another photo was taken from farther away and showcases the vastness of outer space surrounding Tianwen-1 as it makes its way to its mission.

The little photoshoot went both ways as the Tianwen-1 also took images of the tiny camera while it was being jettisoned into outer space and leaving the spacecraft.

Tianwen-1 was launched by China on July 23 aboard the Long March 5 rocket from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island. This mission is considered to be China’s first attempt at reaching and eventually landing on the red planet.

If all goes according to plan, Tianwen-1 should arrive on Mars in February 2021. The rover will land on the red planet’s surface somewhere along Utopia Planitia, a large empty

0

Two Massive Asteroids, 1 Smaller NEA To Zip Past Earth On Tuesday

Posted on

KEY POINTS

  • The NEAs will pass by Earth on Tuesday, Oct. 13
  • 2018GD2 has been included in the ESA’s Risk List
  • 2020TN3 is expected to be three times as big as the Statue of Liberty in New York

A total of three Near-Earth Asteroids (NEA) are expected to pass by the planet this Tuesday in varying times, the same day when Mars will be in opposition. One of the NEAs to zip by is three times the size of the Statue of Liberty in New York.

The first of the three to zip past Earth on Tuesday is also the largest. 2020TN3 is about 278 ft in diameter and is expected to zip by early in the morning, at 5:12 a.m. EDT. The giant asteroid will be three times the size of the Statue of Liberty. NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies claims the NEA will be flying by at a safe distance of about 5 million kilometers away from the planet’s surface and luckily has not been included in the European Space Agency’s Risk List.

About an hour after 2020TN3 passes by Earth, a 101-foot asteroid is anticipated to zip by the planet. Asteroid 2020TA3, recently discovered on Oct. 10, will be as long as an adult blue whale and will reach its closest approach to Earth at a distance of 5 million kilometers from the planet. The said NEA is set to fly by at 6:32 a.m. EDT, at a speed of 6 kilometers per second. Asteroid 2020TA3’s next Earth close approach is expected by Oct. 8, 2036, according to the ESA and has also not been included in its Risk List.

The last asteroid to zip by the home planet on Tuesday is called 2018GD2. Although only 25 feet in diameter, this NEA has been included

1 2 3 4