Asteroid Bennu Could Shed Light on How Ingredients for Life Reached Earth | Smart News

A series of studies published last week in the journals Science and Science Advances offer a new, detailed look at the makeup of a small asteroid called Bennu. The studies come just before NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft plans to pick up a sample from the asteroid’s surface on October 20 and return with it to Earth in 2023.

Before the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft reached the asteroid in 2018, astronomers could only study it with telescopes that couldn’t make out details smaller than cities or states, Michael Greshko reports for National Geographic. OSIRIS-REx allows astronomers to map details the size of basketball courts, sheets of paper and postage stamps, depending on the imaging tool they used.

“The reason there’s so much interest in asteroids is a lot of them are very primitive, from when the Solar System formed, and they didn’t change with wind and water, or weather like on Earth,” planetary

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This spacecraft is being readied for a one-way mission to deflect an asteroid

In a clean room in Building 23 at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, a spacecraft called DART was splayed open like a fractured, cubic egg. An instrument called a star tracker—which will, once DART is in deep space, ascertain which way is up—was mounted to the core, along with batteries and a variety of other sensors. The avionics system, DART’s central computer, was prominently attached to square, precision-machined panels that will form the sides, once the spacecraft is folded up. Wires ran from the computer to the radiosystem that DART will use to communicate with Earth. Gyroscopes and antennas were exposed. In a room next door, an experimental thruster system called NEXT-C was waiting its turn. Great bundles of thick tendrils wrapped in silver insulation hung down from the spacecraft and ran along the floor to the control room, where they connected to a

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NASA expert identifies mystery object once thought an asteroid

The jig may be up for an “asteroid” that’s expected to get nabbed by Earth’s gravity and become a mini moon next month. Instead of a cosmic rock, the newly discovered object appears to be an old rocket from a failed moon-landing mission 54 years ago that’s finally making its way back home, according to NASA’s leading asteroid expert. Observations should help nail its identity.

“I’m pretty jazzed about this,” Paul Chodas told The Associated Press. “It’s been a hobby of mine to find one of these and draw such a link, and I’ve been doing it for decades now.”

Chodas speculates that asteroid 2020 SO, as it is formally known, is actually the Centaur upper rocket stage that successfully propelled NASA’s Surveyor 2 lander to the moon in 1966 before it was discarded. The lander ended up crashing into the moon after one of its thrusters failed to ignite

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Fake asteroid? NASA expert IDs mystery object as old rocket

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This Sept. 20, 1966 photo provided by the San Diego Air and Space Museum shows an Atlas Centaur 7 rocket on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral, Fla. NASA’s leading asteroid expert, Paul Chodas, speculates that asteroid 2020 SO, as it is formally known, is actually a Centaur upper rocket stage that propelled NASA’s Surveyor 2 lander to the moon in 1966 before it was discarded.

AP

The jig may be up for an “asteroid” that’s expected to get nabbed by Earth’s gravity and become a mini moon next month.

Instead of a cosmic rock, the newly discovered object appears to be an old rocket from a failed moon-landing mission 54 years ago that’s finally making its way back home, according to NASA’s leading asteroid expert. Observations should help nail its identity.

“I’m pretty jazzed about this,” Paul Chodas told The Associated Press. “It’s been a hobby of

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Technology And Science Provide Hope In ‘Asteroid Hunters’

While most of space is vast and empty—hence the name “space”—the reality is that there are countless asteroids, comets and other debris zooming through our solar system as well. Most keep a safe distance, but many do, in fact, crash into Earth. A new IMAX movie, “Asteroid Hunters,” takes a look at the threat of a large asteroid impact on Earth, and what scientists can do to either prevent such a catastrophe, or at least properly prepare to survive with a minimal loss of life.

NASA does its best to monitor asteroids and their paths, and to keep track of those that enter Earth’s atmosphere and impact the planet’s surface. There are about

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Scientists peer inside an asteroid — ScienceDaily

New findings from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission suggest that the interior of the asteroid Bennu could be weaker and less dense than its outer layers — like a crème-filled chocolate egg flying though space.

The results appear in a study published today in the journal Science Advances and led by the University of Colorado Boulder’s OSIRIS-REx team, including professors Daniel Scheeres and Jay McMahon. The findings could give scientists new insights into the evolution of the solar system’s asteroids — how bodies like Bennu transform over millions of years or more.

OSIRIS-REx rendezvoused with Bennu, an asteroid orbiting the sun more than 200 million miles from Earth, in late 2018. Since then, the spacecraft, built by Colorado-based Lockheed Martin, has studied the object in more detail than any other asteroid in the history of space exploration.

So far, however, one question has remained elusive: What’s Bennu like on the inside?

Scheeres,

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Scientists study the rugged surface of near-Earth asteroid Bennu — ScienceDaily

As the days count down to NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft’s Touch-And-Go asteroid sample collection attempt, Southwest Research Institute scientists have helped determine what the spacecraft can expect to return from the near-Earth asteroid Bennu’s surface. Three papers published online by Science on Oct. 8 discuss the color, reflectivity, age, composition, origin and distribution of materials that make up the asteroid’s rough surface.

On October 20, the spacecraft will descend to the asteroid’s boulder-strewn surface, touch the ground with its robotic arm for a few seconds and collect a sample of rocks and dust — marking the first time NASA has grabbed pieces of an asteroid for return to Earth. SwRI scientists played a role in the selection of the sample sites. The first attempt will be made at Nightingale, a rocky area 66 feet in diameter in Bennu’s northern hemisphere. If this historic attempt is unsuccessful, the spacecraft will try again

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Asteroid Bennu may have been home to ancient water flows

Perhaps as a prelude to this attempt, researchers just published a number of new studies about the geochemistry of Bennu today in the journals Science and Science Advances, providing some of the biggest revelations to date. Here are the most compelling.

Bennu’s watery history

In the first Science study, scientists used high-resolution images taken by OSIRIS-Rex, as well as spectroscopy (which involves analyzing electromagnetic waves emitted from Bennu to determine its chemistry), to better understand the composition and history of the asteroid’s Nightingale crater region, where the sample will be collected.

They found that boulders in this area showed bright veins, narrow in width but about a meter in length, similar to what’s found in other carbonaceous chondritic meteorites that have landed on Earth. In those cases, the veins indicate that the rock had once interacted with flowing water. 

So naturally, for Bennu, “the veins suggest that water flowed through

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New Asteroid With Non-Zero Earth Impact Probability Added To ESA Risk List

KEY POINTS

  • The ESA has included a new asteroid (2020 OB) in its Risk List
  • 2020 OB has a non-zero impact probability with Earth and is set to make its next close approach on 2051
  • A new “minimoon” has entered Earth’s orbit and will stay until April 2021

The European Space Agency has included a new asteroid to its Risk List, a catalogue of space objects with a non-zero impact probability with Earth has been detected.

The object, known as 2020 OB, was discovered back in July and scored only a moderate value in the Palermo scale — a scale that enables Near-Earth Object specialists to categorize and prioritize potential impact risks on Earth. However, the addition of more thorough observations made in September has resulted to 2020 OB increasing its risk rating, now taking the fourth spot on ESA’s Risk List. 

According to ESA’s data, the predicted impact date

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Cooperation Key to Spotting an Asteroid Headed for Earth

If you’ve noticed an uptick in reports of asteroids whizzing close to Earth in the last few years, it might seem as if our planet is more in danger of being struck by a space rock than ever before. But there hasn’t really been an increase in the number of asteroids threatening Earth — it’s that our ability to detect those asteroids has dramatically improved.

Our magnificent Milky Way galaxy is radiant over La Silla Observatory.
Our magnificent Milky Way galaxy is radiant over ESO’s La Silla Observatory. ESO/B. Tafreshi (twanight.org)

Thanks to improvements in technology like increases in computing power and more powerful telescopes, astronomers can now scan the sky in more detail than ever before, and they’re discovering more objects orbiting the sun and coming close to Earth. But this work can’t be done by just one country or one agency. To protect the planet, we need a global network of telescopes and researchers working together.

To find out

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