May 17, 2013 |
It's 1.7 miles long. Its surface is covered in a sooty black substance similar to the gunk at the bottom of a barbecue. If it impacted Earth it would probably result in global extinction. Good thing it is just making a flyby. Asteroid 1998 QE2 will make its closest pass to Earth on May 31 at 1:59 p.m. PDT. Scientists are not sure where this unusually large space rock, which was discovered 15 years ago, originated from. But the mysterious sooty substance on its surface could indicate it may be the result of a comet that flew too close to the sun, said Amy Mainzer, who tracks near-Earth objects at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge . It might also have leaked out of the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, she said.
May 1, 2013 |
Asteroid (101955)1999 RQ36 doesn't really roll off the tongue, but asteroid Bennu? That's an asteroid that a person, a country and the world can get excited about. This week, NASA announced that 9-year-old Michael Toler Puzio of North Carolina had won an international student contest to name the asteroid that NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission plans to sample in 2019. The third-grader's entry, Bennu, is the name of an avian deity in ancient Egypt that often takes the form of a blue heron.
April 10, 2013 |
How do you capture an asteroid that is zipping through space, move it into a stable orbit around the Earth-moon system stable enough that an astronaut can visit it? NASA has some ideas. In a new video released Wednesday, the space agency illustrates how its Asteroid Retrieval Initiative might work. The video was released just as NASA disclosed its 2014 budget proposal, which includes $105 million to study the feasibility of capturing an asteroid 23 to 32 feet in diameter. The animation is cool to look at -- an unmanned spacecraft flies into space, and releases what looks like a giant layered garbage bag out its rear.
April 10, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - As if you don't have enough to worry about, consider the subject of a Capitol Hill hearing Wednesday: asteroids that may be headed toward Earth. The good news: NASA is tracking most of the largest asteroids - the kind that a witness said "would likely end civilization" were they to hit. "None of these civilization-enders thus far discovered is known to be on an impact course any time in this upcoming century," Ed Lu, a former astronaut who heads a group working to launch a space telescope to track threatening asteroids, told the House Space, Science and Technology Committee.
March 22, 2013 |
Bruce Willis and his asteroid-fighting abilities in “Armageddon” may have been the star of a Senate hearing this week, but giant space rocks are only one of the many dangers that human civilization must tackle, researchers said on Capitol Hill. Our complex web of technology is at risk on an everyday basis, said Richard DalBello, a vice president at Intelsat General and a witness at the subcommittee hearing on space threats. “We have to daily deal with a range of threats,” he said.
March 20, 2013 |
Faced with space debris, solar weather and giant space rocks, senators at a subcommittee hearing called for backup in the form of a fictitious asteroid-hunter as they discussed the many space-born threats Earth faces. "I was disappointed that Bruce Willis was not available to be a fifth witness on the panel," joked Ted Cruz (R-Texas) during Wednesday morning's hearing. "There probably is no doubt that actually Hollywood has done more to focus attention on this issue than perhaps a thousand congressional hearings could do,” he added.
February 26, 2013 |
Colombian scientists have reconstructed the interplanetary path of a meteor that flamed across the Russian skyline this month and smashed into the countryside, leaving hundreds of people injured. The meteor, estimated to be about 45 feet across and weighing 10,000 tons, was flung toward Earth as it orbited around the sun. It wasn't a declaration of war by bugs on Klendathu after all. Apparently, it was just a matter of time before it hit, researchers concluded in a study published this week on ArXiv.org.
February 17, 2013 |
The 10-ton meteor that streaked into Earth's atmosphere at 40,000 mph and exploded above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk was a reminder that the universe is not such a hospitable place. Still, though hundreds of people were injured and thousands of windows were shattered, no one died and repairs can be made. By comparison, the terrestrial havoc wrought by Hurricane Sandy in the northeastern United States was far more devastating. In the movies, when humanity is faced with imminent doom, whether from a massive asteroid or an invasion of space monsters, the people of the world forget their differences, band together and save themselves.
February 16, 2013 |
Earth dodged a gigantic space bullet Friday when the 143,000-ton asteroid known as 2012 DA14 came within 17,200 miles of the Indian Ocean. Scientists and engineers are looking for ways to head off such close calls by targeting potentially dangerous asteroids well before they're in a position to do us any harm. A group called the B612 Foundation (a reference to the home asteroid of the Little Prince in the classic French novella) recently announced a mission to build a spacecraft that would track dangerous midsize asteroids, and a fledgling company called Deep Space Industries has floated a plan to build swarms of robots that could mine - and even destroy - space rocks.
February 15, 2013 |
The meteor that blazed over a portion of Russia early Friday, blasting windows and triggering car alarms with a series of explosive booms, was not related to asteroid 2012 DA14 and had a very different trajectory, according to scientists at NASA. As numerous videos of the event were viewed worldwide, experts said the meteor was likely about one-third the size of 2012 DA14, too small to track and therefore a surprise. The largest noise heard on video of the event was likely the main mass of the meteor exploding 100,000 to 150,000 feet above the Earth's surface, and not a sonic boom, scientists said.