Saturday, August 10, 2019

Asteroid’s Features to Be Named After Mythical Birds

This image shows asteroid Bennu’s boulder-covered surface. It was taken by the PolyCam camera on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on April 11, 2019, from a distance of 2.8 miles (4.5 km). The field of view is 211 ft (64.4 m), and the large boulder in the upper right corner of the image is 50 ft (15.4 m) tall. When the image was taken, the spacecraft was over the southern hemisphere, pointing PolyCam far north and to the west. Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

Working with NASA’s OSIRIS-REx team, the International Astronomical Union’s Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN) approved the theme “birds and bird-like creatures in mythology” for naming surface features on asteroid (101955) Bennu.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Speeding Up Science on Near‑Earth Asteroids

In the mid‑1990s scientists knew of less than 200 near‑Earth asteroids, but with better telescopes and more efforts at surveying, the numbers of known asteroids has grown dramatically.

Modeling the shape and movement of near‑Earth asteroids is now up to 25 times faster thanks to new Washington State University research. The WSU scientists improved the software used to track thousands of near‑Earth asteroids and comets, which are defined as being within 121 million miles or about 1.3 times the distance to the sun.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Modeling Early Meteorite Impacts on the Moon

As our solar system was forming nearly four and a half billion years ago, a planet-sized object struck the early Earth, leading to the formation of the moon, possibly from a hot, spinning cloud of rock vapor called a synestia. But after the Earth and moon had condensed from the vapor, there was another phase of growth as meteorites crashed into both bodies.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

ESA's New Mission to Intercept a Comet

Comet Interceptor concept. Credit: ESA

‘Comet Interceptor’ has been selected as ESA’s new fast-class mission in its Cosmic Vision Programme. Comprising three spacecraft, it will be the first to visit a truly pristine comet or other interstellar object that is only just starting its journey into the inner Solar System.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Meteors Help Martian Clouds Form

Computer simulation of middle altitude clouds on Mars. (Credit: Victoria Hartwick)

How did the Red Planet get all of its clouds? CU Boulder researchers may have discovered the secret: just add meteors. Astronomers have long observed clouds in Mars’ middle atmosphere, which begins about 18 miles (30 kilometers) above the surface, but have struggled to explain how they formed.