Tag Archives: asteroid

Daring maneuver brings NASA’s orbiter closer to an asteroid than ever before

Daring maneuver brings NASA’s orbiter closer to an asteroid than ever beforeNASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has been orbiting the space rock known as Bennu since the start of the year. It caught up with the asteroid in late December of 2018 and successfully inserted itself into orbit around the object around New Year's day. There have been several "firsts" along the way, but its latest maneuver is the most daring yet, and it allowed the spacecraft to break yet another record.A recent tweak to its orbit has brought the probe to an orbit of just 680 meters, or around 2,230 feet from the asteroid's surface. This is now the closest that any manmade spacecraft has orbited any planetary body.It's a stellar achievement for NASA, but it's worth noting that the previous record was actually already held by the OSIRIS-REx probe. What NASA did was break its own record and set itself even farther ahead from any competition to come in the future.This new orbit, which the research team calls the Orbital B phase, will give scientists a better understanding of the asteroid's surface and hopefully allow NASA to choose a suitable location where the probe can briefly snag a sample of its material.Actually pulling off such a daring maneuver will be incredibly risky, and nobody is quite sure if the spacecraft can make it happen. This is due in large part to the incredibly messy surface of Bennu, which surprised scientists when they got their first close look. The asteroid's surface is littered with debris ranging from tiny pebbles to massive boulders, and the spacecraft's handlers now have to find the safest place on the rock from which to gather a sample.Assuming it pulls off the sample grab, the probe will then leave Bennu and return to Earth with the sample material stowed safely for scientists on Earth to examine.

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A Japanese spacecraft just shot at an asteroid… to try and make a crater

A Japanese spacecraft just shot at an asteroid... to try and make a craterTell you what, it's certainly not everyday someone shoots at an asteroid.Japan's space agency, JAXA, tried to do just that with its Hayabusa-2 spacecraft, which was launched in 2014. It's been hanging out on asteroid called Ryugu since June 2018, where it's been studying the surface. SEE ALSO: Astronaut Anne McClain shares stunning moonset from the International Space StationA bit before midday Japan Standard Time (JST) on Friday, the spacecraft attempted to blast a new crater on Ryugu by firing something called a "small carry-on impactor" (SCI) toward the asteroid.> [SCI] April 5 at 11:56 JST. The SCI operation time has passed and we have confirmed there is no problem with the spacecraft during the evacuation operation.> > — HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) April 5, 2019The SCI is a 2 kilogram (4.41 pound) copper lump which was fired toward the asteroid at a speed of 2 km per second (4,473 mph). Shaped like a cone and containing an explosive, the SCI is designed to create an artificial crater on the surface. The SCI was shot from an altitude of 500 metres (1,640 feet) from the asteroid's surface, and the time from release and explosion was about 40 minutes.In a press conference following the explosion, mission managers were worried about the potential debris from the operation, but said none of it made contact with the spacecraft.You can catch the feed of the operation in its entirety below.The purpose of the experiment is so researchers can analyse changes to the asteroid's surface after shooting at it, and capture materials that might be hidden underneath.You can see what it looks like when they shoot the SCI into Ryugu, thanks to a ground test simulating the experience. The fragments of gravel are meant to simulate the asteroid's surface, but you can imagine the lack of gravity in space would make for a lot more debris floating about.It'll be a few more weeks until the team goes hunting for the crater, with the search operation set to begin the week of Apr. 22.Researchers will take images of the surface where they think the bullet has hit, then look through the images by eye to see where they've made their mark. As for Hayabusa-2, it's expected to make its return to Earth sometime between November and December, with landing set for late-2020. WATCH: NASA's Administrator Jim Bridenstine warns India's anti-satellite test could be dangerous for the ISS

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Japan probe blasts asteroid, seeking clues to life's origins

Japan probe blasts asteroid, seeking clues to life's originsA Japanese probe on Friday launched an explosive device at an asteroid, aiming to blast a crater in the surface and scoop up material that could shed light on how the solar system evolved. The explosive mission is the riskiest yet attempted by the Japanese space agency’s Hayabusa2 probe that aims to reveal more about the origins of life on Earth. Hayabusa2 successfully released as scheduled the so-called “small carry-on impactor” — a cone-shaped device capped with a copper bottom — as the probe hovered just 500 metres (1,650 feet) above the asteroid Ryugu.

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NASA Releases New, High-Quality New Horizons Image of the Ultima Thule "Snowman" Asteroid

NASA Releases New, High-Quality New Horizons Image of the Ultima Thule "Snowman" AsteroidThis new image highlights all kinds of features that weren't visible in the initial images.

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Here’s what NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft sees as it orbits Bennu asteroid

Here’s what NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft sees as it orbits Bennu asteroidIt's only been about a week since NASA successfully inserted its OSIRIS-REx asteroid probe into orbit around the large space rock known as Bennu, after initially arriving in early December. The diamond-shaped object will quickly become one of the most closely-studied asteroids ever, but for now NASA wants to learn as much about Bennu's surface as possible, and that means observing it from every angle.

In a new video animation that has been stitched together from numerous still shots we get one of our best looks yet at the asteroid. As the probe circles the rock, its powerful lens has captured Bennu from just about every angle, making for a neat little movie.

"During the month of December, the spacecraft performed a preliminary survey of Bennu, conducting three flyovers of the asteroid's north pole and one each of its equator and south pole," NASA's OSIRIS-REx team explains. "The data gathered during these flybys allowed the mission team to more precisely estimate Bennu's mass so that the spacecraft could go into orbit around the asteroid."


OSIRIS-REx has a fairly long road ahead of it before NASA declares the mission a complete success. The spacecraft will remain in orbit around Bennu for at least the next year or so, closely studying it and delivering even more images of its messy surface. During that time, NASA will decide on a spot from which to collect a material sample, eventually touching down on Bennu and retrieving some of its surface material before flying back to Earth.

OSIRIS-REx is expected to arrive back on Earth sometime in 2023, at which point eager scientists will have an opportunity to study the sample in great detail. If everything goes according to plan, the mission should teach scientists a great deal about asteroid formation and perhaps even give us a window into the earliest days of our Solar System.

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NASA’s asteroid probe just entered orbit around Bennu in a record-breaking maneuver

NASA’s asteroid probe just entered orbit around Bennu in a record-breaking maneuverNASA's OSIRIS-REx asteroid probe arrived at its target, a large space rock known as Bennu, in early December. The spacecraft's mission will take several years to complete, but it hit a major milestone to close out 2018 by entering orbit around Bennu. It might not sound like much, but it's actually a major accomplishment for NASA, and it's set a couple of new records in the process.

As AP reports, the probe's successful maneuver to enter orbit around Bennu makes it the first spacecraft to orbit a celestial object so small. At only around 1,600 feet in diameter, it's the smallest object ever to be successfully orbited, and OSIRIS-REx's close orbital distance of just over a mile is also record-breaking.

The OSIRIS-REx mission was originally launched way back in late 2016. It took a couple of years for the probe to even make it to its asteroid target, but now that it's there it can begin studying Bennu in much greater detail than has ever been possible before.

We got our first clear look at the rock's surface last month. The images delivered by the probe reveal a messy collection of debris strewn all over the asteroid's exterior. Ultimately, the mission's biggest challenge will be to collect some of that material and then return it to Earth, but the touch-and-go sample collection process won't begin until 2020.

Once the probe snatches some rock from Bennu's exterior it will begin the long trip back to Earth, eventually arriving sometime in 2023 if all goes according to plan.

The in-orbit surveys of the asteroid and eventual delivery of asteroid material will help researchers understand what makes up some of the larger asteroids in our Solar System. Determining how they formed and other details about their origins could help astronomers tell a more detailed story about the origins of our system and Earth itself, and perhaps help us prepare and forecast asteroid impacts in the future.

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NASA probe finds signs of water on nearby asteroid Bennu

NASA probe finds signs of water on nearby asteroid BennuOSIRIS-REx, which flew last week within a scant 12 miles (19 km) of the asteroid Bennu some 1.4 million miles (2.25 million km) from Earth, found traces of hydrogen and oxygen molecules – part of the recipe for water and thus the potential for life – embedded in the asteroid’s rocky surface. The probe, on a mission to return samples from the asteroid to Earth for study, was launched in 2016. Bennu, roughly a third of a mile wide (500 meters), orbits the sun at roughly the same distance as Earth.

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Photos from Japanese space rovers show asteroid is … rocky

Photos from Japanese space rovers show asteroid is ... rockyTOKYO (AP) — New photos taken on the surface of an asteroid show that it is (drum roll, please) … rocky.

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Japan's Hayabusa2 successfully deploys two rovers on the surface of an asteroid

Japan's Hayabusa2 successfully deploys two rovers on the surface of an asteroidIt's just like the movie
Armageddon, but without the apocalypse scenario. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has reason to celebrate after successfully deploying a pair of robots on the surface of an asteroid. The mission, which played out on Friday, aims to gather photos and data from the asteroid called Ryugu. SEE ALSO: Astronaut captures photos of ominous-looking Hurricane Florence from space The mission's success — marking the end of a four-year journey — was confirmed in a tweet on Saturday from JAXA's account for the Hayabusa2 asteroid explorer. We are sorry we have kept you waiting! MINERVA-II1 consists of two rovers, 1a & 1b. Both rovers are confirmed to have landed on the surface of Ryugu. They are in good condition and have transmitted photos & data. We also confirmed they are moving on the surface. #asteroidlanding — HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) September 22, 2018 A flood of imagery followed as the two hopping rovers — yes, they get around by hopping — set about their important task.  This is a picture from MINERVA-II1. The color photo was captured by Rover-1A on September 21 around 13:08 JST, immediately after separation from the spacecraft. Hayabusa2 is top and Ryugu's surface is below. The image is blurred because the rover is spinning. #asteroidlanding pic.twitter.com/CeeI5ZjgmM — HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) September 22, 2018 Photo taken by Rover-1B on Sept 21 at ~13:07 JST. It was captured just after separation from the spacecraft. Ryugu's surface is in the lower right. The misty top left region is due to the reflection of sunlight. 1B seems to rotate slowly after separation, minimising image blur. pic.twitter.com/P71gsC9VNI — HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) September 22, 2018 This dynamic photo was captured by Rover-1A on September 22 at around 11:44 JST. It was taken on Ryugu's surface during a hop. The left-half is the surface of Ryugu, while the white region on the right is due to sunlight. (Hayabusa2 Project) pic.twitter.com/IQLsFd4gJu — HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) September 22, 2018 You can keep up with the status of Hayabusa2's mission on JAXA's English-language website right here. There's also a post from JAXA discussing the mission here. As JAXA notes, MINERVA-II1 "is the world’s first rover (mobile exploration robot) to land on the surface of an asteroid. This is also the first time for autonomous movement and picture capture on an asteroid surface." WATCH: Elon Musk just unveiled images of SpaceX's ship that he hopes will be key to bringing people to Mars

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Japan space robots start asteroid survey

Japan space robots start asteroid surveyA pair of robot rovers have landed on an asteroid and begun a survey, Japan’s space agency said Saturday, as it conducts a mission aiming to shed light on the origins of the solar system. The rover mission marks the world’s first moving, robotic observation of an asteroid surface, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The round, cookie tin-shaped robots successfully reached the Ryugu asteroid a day after they were released from the Hayabusa2 probe, the agency said.

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