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Leftovers from Planet Building: Asteroids
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1 Feb 2013 Small Asteroid to Whiz Past Earth Safely
The small near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass very close to Earth on February 15, so close that it will pass inside the ring of geosynchronous weather and communications satellites. NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office can accurately predict the asteroid's path with the observations obtained, and it is therefore known that there is no chance that the asteroid might be on a collision course with Earth. Nevertheless, the flyby will provide a unique opportunity for researchers to study a near-Earth object up close.
29 Jan 2013 Record Setting Asteroid Flyby
On Feb. 15th an asteroid about half the size of a football field will fly past Earth closer than many man-made satellites. Since regular sky surveys began in the 1990s, astronomers have never seen an object so big come so close to our planet.
20 Jan 2013 More Chang'E 2 Toutatis Flyby Images
Last week at a meeting of NASA's Small Bodies Assessment Group (SBAG), Han Li of the Chinese Academy of Sciences gave a lengthy presentation on Chang'E 2. Much of the presentation focused on the mission's work at the Moon, but at the end she spent several slides discussing the Toutatis flyby, including 11 images of the asteroid. The closest three images are truncated, but not for the usual reason (the usual reason being that the target was out of the frame). They're truncated because they're occulted by the solar panel, which makes sense, because this was a solar-panel-monitoring engineering camera.
9 Jan 2013 Herschel Intercepts Asteroid Apophis
ESA's Herschel space observatory made new observations of asteroid Apophis as it approached Earth this weekend. The data shows the asteroid to be bigger than first estimated, and less reflective.
14 Dec 2012 Asteroid Toutatis Slow Tumbles by Earth
Scientists working with NASA's 230-foot-wide (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif., have generated a series of radar data images of a three-mile-long (4.8-kilometer) asteroid that made its closest approach to Earth on Dec. 12, 2012. The images that make up the movie clip were generated with data taken on Dec. 12 and 13, 2012.
6 Dec 2012 Asteroid 4179 Toutatis' upcoming encounters with Earth and Chang'E 2
Near-Earth asteroid 4179 Toutatis will be passing within 7 million kilometers of Earth on December 12. It's visited us several times before, with a close pass every four years in December. As near-Earth asteroids go, it's a good-sized one, an elongated and lumpy object about 2 by 2 by 4 kilometers in extent. As with all encounters since 1992, it will be the target of an imaging campaign from some of the world's great radio telescopes, including those at Goldstone and Arecibo. This particular close approach by Toutatis is extra-special, because Chang'E 2 (China's erstwhile lunar orbiter) is on its way to a flyby, with a close approach on December 13.
6 Dec 2012 What is Creating Gullies on Vesta?
In a preliminary analysis of images from NASA's Dawn mission, scientists have spotted intriguing gullies that sculpt the walls of geologically young craters on the giant asteroid Vesta. Led by Jennifer Scully, a Dawn team member at the University of California, Los Angeles, these scientists have found narrow channels of two types in images from Dawn's framing camera -- some that look like straight chutes and others that carve more sinuous trails and end in lobe-shaped deposits. The mystery, however, is what is creating them?
3 Dec 2012 Analyzing Asteroid Dust From Space
Scientists are now studying small particles of the asteroid Itokawa that were returned to Earth by the Hayabusa spacecraft. The samples from space are providing new insight into the earliest stages of our solar system's formation and evolution.
5 Nov 2012 NASA Radar Images Asteroid 2007 PA8
Scientists working with NASA's 230-foot-wide (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif., have obtained several radar images depicting near-Earth asteroid 2007 PA8. The radar images of asteroid 2007 PA8 indicate that it is an elongated, irregularly shaped object approximately one mile (1.6 kilometers) wide, with ridges and perhaps craters. The data also indicate that 2007 PA8 rotates very slowly, roughly once every three to four days.
31 Oct 2012 Dawn Sees 'Young' Surface on Giant Asteroid
Like a Hollywood starlet constantly retouching her makeup, the giant asteroid Vesta is constantly stirring its outermost layer to present a young face. Data from NASA's Dawn mission show that a form of weathering that occurs on the moon and other airless bodies we've visited in the inner solar system does not alter Vesta's outermost layer in the same way. Carbon-rich asteroids have also been splattering dark material on Vesta's surface over a long span of the body's history.
15 Oct 2012 NASA's WISE Colors in Unknowns on Jupiter Asteroids
Scientists using data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, have uncovered new clues in the ongoing mystery of the Jovian Trojans -- asteroids that orbit the sun on the same path as Jupiter. Like racehorses, the asteroids travel in packs, with one group leading the way in front of the gas giant, and a second group trailing behind. The observations are the first to get a detailed look at the Trojans' colors: both the leading and trailing packs are made up of predominantly dark, reddish rocks with a matte, non-reflecting surface. What's more, the data verify the previous suspicion that the leading pack of Trojans outnumbers the trailing bunch.
26 Sep 2012 Giant Asteroid's Troughs Suggest Stunted Planet
Enormous troughs that wrap around the giant asteroid Vesta may actually be dropped blocks of terrain bounded by fault lines, suggesting a geologic complexity beyond that of most asteroids.
4 Sep 2012 NASA Announces Asteroid Naming Contest for Students
Students worldwide have an opportunity to name an asteroid from which an upcoming NASA mission, OSIRIS-Rex, will return samples to Earth.
31 Aug 2012 Dawn Mission Says Hasta la Vesta on September 8!
The Dawn spacecraft has been orbiting Vesta for a year! A mission extension allowed us to gain views of its north polar region. Soon, we will be saying Hasta la vista, Vesta, to our favorite giant asteroid as we begin our journey to dwarf planet Ceres!
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Last Updated: 12 Sep 2014