Asteroid and Comet Deflection

Looking Ahead to OSIRIS-REx

December 29, 2015

Back when I was in grade school, we put in several months studying ancient Egyptian culture. I can remember becoming fascinated with the pyramid builders and wanting to immerse myself in the world that produced them. But I don’t think I ever reached the multidisciplinary level of a third-grader named Michael Puzio, who named the […]

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‘Centaurs’ as Potential Impactors

December 28, 2015

An asteroid shaped something like a sweet potato swept by the Earth on December 24, though at a sufficient distance (28 times further away than the Moon) to pose no hazard to our planet. 2003 SD220 was making the first of five predicted encounters within the next twelve years, and the measurements made by the […]

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An Asteroid Deflection Investigation

October 1, 2015

Yesterday’s post on what we’re learning about Rosetta’s comet (67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko) briefly touched on the issue of changing the orbit of such bodies for use in resource extraction. Moving the comet Grigg-Skjellerup is part of the plot of Neal Stephenson’s novel Seveneves, where the idea is to support a growing human population in space with the […]

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OSIRIS REx: Asteroid Sample Return

August 25, 2015

Just over a year from now, we’ll be anticipating the launch of the OSIRIS-REx mission, scheduled to rendezvous with the asteroid Bennu in 2018. This will be the first American mission to sample an asteroid, and it’s interesting to note that the materials scientists hope to return will constitute the largest sample from space since […]

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Comet Impacts: Triggers for Life?

August 24, 2015

With Rosetta’s continuing mission at Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, now post-perihelion but continuing to gather data, comets and their role in the history of the Solar System stay very much on my mind. Their role as delivery mechanisms for volatiles to an infant Earth is widely investigated, as is the idea that comet impacts may be linked […]

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An Internal Source for Earth’s Water?

December 23, 2014

The last time we caught up with Wendy Panero’s work, the Ohio State scientist was investigating, with grad student Cayman Unterborn, a possible way to widen the habitable zone. Slow radioactive decay in elements like potassium, uranium and thorium helps to heat planets from within and is perhaps a factor in plate tectonics. In 2012, […]

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Tightening the Focus on Near Earth Asteroids

December 15, 2014

The impact at Tunguska, Siberia on June 30,1908, evidently a small asteroid, devastated 1300 square kilometers, which works out to be the equivalent of a large metropolitan area. June 30, 2015 is thus an appropriate date to launch Asteroid Day, a global awareness campaign to put the issue of dangerous impacts in front of as […]

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Digging into the Late Heavy Bombardment

April 11, 2014

The Barberton greenstone belt is considered one of the oldest pieces of continental crust on the planet. About 100 kilometers long and 60 kilometers wide, the belt is in South Africa east of Johannesburg and not far from the border of Swaziland, a region where gold was first discovered in South Africa. Greenstone belts, however, […]

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Asteroid Re-Direct: Finding a Candidate

February 17, 2014

It was just a year ago, on February 15, 2013, that the 30-meter asteroid 2012 DA14 whisked past the Earth at a distance of well less than 30,000 kilometers, inside the orbits of our geosynchronous satellites. If you don’t recall 2012 DA14, it’s probably because it was later on the same day that the Chelyabinsk […]

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Shaking Up a ‘Snow Globe’ Solar System

January 30, 2014

The same issue of Nature that carried Ian Crossfield’s weather map of Luhman 16B, published yesterday, also featured a paper from Francesca DeMeo on planetary systems in chaos. Specifically, DeMeo (a Hubble postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), looks at main belt asteroids in terms of their composition and history. Her findings reveal […]

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