Sunday, June 16, 2019

Uncovering the Hidden History of a Giant Asteroid

Artist's concept of a massive ‘hit-and-run’ collision hitting Asteroid Vesta

A massive 'hit-and-run' collision profoundly impacted the evolutionary history of Vesta, the brightest asteroid visible from Earth. This finding, by a team of researchers from Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan's National Institute of Polar Research and ETH Zurich, Switzerland, deepens our understanding of protoplanet formation more than 4.5 billion years ago, in the early infancy of the Solar System.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Site of Biggest Ever Meteorite Collision in the UK Discovered

A field photo take at Stoer showing the laminar beds of sandstone in the bottom of the picture. In the middle is the impact deposit (12m thick at this location) that contains "rafts" of deformed pink sandstone. Credit: Ken Amor / Department of Earth Sciences

Evidence for the ancient, 1.2 billion years old, meteorite strike, was first discovered in 2008 near Ullapool, NW Scotland by scientists from Oxford and Aberdeen Universities. The thickness and extent of the debris deposit they found suggested the impact crater – made by a meteorite estimated at 1km wide – was close to the coast, but its precise location remained a mystery.

Monday, June 3, 2019

VLT Observes a Passing Double Asteroid Hurtling By Earth at 70,000 km/h

The unique capabilities of the SPHERE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope have enabled it to obtain the sharpest images of a double asteroid as it flew by Earth on 25 May. While this double asteroid was not itself a threatening object, scientists used the opportunity to rehearse the response to a hazardous Near-Earth Object (NEO), proving that ESO’s front-line technology could be critical in planetary defence.  The left-hand image shows SPHERE observations of Asteroid 1999 KW4. The angular resolution in this image is equivalent to picking out a single building in New York — from Paris. An artist's impression of the asteroid pair is shown on the right.  Credit: ESO

The unique capabilities of the SPHERE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope have enabled it to obtain the sharpest images of a double asteroid as it flew by Earth on 25 May. While this double asteroid was not itself a threatening object, scientists used the opportunity to rehearse the response to a hazardous Near-Earth Object (NEO), proving that ESO’s front-line technology could be critical in planetary defense.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Comet Inspires Chemistry for Making Breathable Oxygen on Mars

Konstantinos P. Giapis with his reactor that converts carbon dioxide to molecular oxygen. Credit: Caltech

Science fiction stories are chock full of terraforming schemes and oxygen generators for a very good reason--we humans need molecular oxygen (O2) to breathe, and space is essentially devoid of it. Even on other planets with thick atmospheres, O2 is hard to come by.