Aliens could be all around us. Lurking on the edge, waiting to invade our solar system. Not little green creatures, but asteroids from other stars. That’s the conclusion of a new study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.Continue reading “There Might Be an Entire Orbit, Filled with Asteroids that Came from Outside the Solar System”
Natural processes here on Earth continually re-shape the planet’s surface. Craters from ancient asteroid strikes are erased in a short period of time, in geological terms. So how can researchers understand Earth’s history, and how thoroughly it may have been pummeled by asteroid strikes?
Scientists can turn their attention to our ancient companion, the Moon.Continue reading “800 Million Years Ago, it Was Raining Asteroids on the Earth and Moon”
Asteroid Bennu is blanketed by rocks and huge boulders. And now that the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is taking a close look at those rocks, researchers are able to see something surprising for an airless body: the rocks have tiny cracks and fissures.
The cause?Continue reading “Rocks on Bennu are Cracking Because of the Constant Day/Night Cycling”
The date is finally set for OSIRIS-REx’s sampling maneuver. The spacecraft has been at asteroid Bennu since the end of December 2018. During that time, it’s found a few surprises, and mapped the surface in great detail.
Now, we can circle October 20th on our calendars, as the date OSIRIS-Rex will collect its sample.Continue reading “OSIRIS-REx Will Collect a Sample from Bennu on October 20th”
On a cool Summer morning in 1908, a fireball appeared over Northern Siberia. Eyewitnesses described a column of blue light that moved across the sky, followed by a tremendous explosion. The explosion leveled trees across more than 2,000 square kilometers. The explosion is consistent with a large meteor strike, but to this day no evidence of a crater has been found. Now known as the Tunguska Event, its cause remains a mystery to this day.Continue reading “The Tunguska Explosion Could Have Been Caused By An Asteroid That Still Orbits The Sun”
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is getting ready for its big moment. OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer) is at asteroid Bennu, preparing to collect a sample of ancient rock. And collecting that sample means taking step after meticulous step.Continue reading “OSIRIS-REx Descended Down to Just 75 Meters Above the Surface of Bennu in a Recent Test”
Meet OSIRIS-REx’s “Guide Boulders.”
When the NASA spacecraft first arrived at asteroid Bennu over a year ago, the surface of the asteroid was much different than expected. Instead of a surface with large, smooth areas, nearly the entire surface is covered in boulders. That meant that NASA had to do a re-think of the sampling procedure.Continue reading “These are the Boulders OSIRIS-REx is Going to Use to Navigate Down to the Surface of Bennu”
Late last summer, NASA and the International Astronomical Union’s Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (a.k.a WGPSN) approved the naming convention for features on Bennu, the asteroid currently being orbited and studied by the OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft. The naming theme chosen was “birds and bird-like creatures in mythology.”
The first twelve features thusly named have now been announced. But more importantly, some of these features will be instrumental in helping to guide OSIRIS-REx to the surface of the asteroid later this year.Continue reading “Asteroid Bennu is Getting Some Official Names for its Surface Features”
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx is getting closer, physically and temporally, to its primary goal. The spacecraft arrived at Bennu at the end of 2018, and for just over a year it’s been studying the asteroid, searching for a suitable sampling site. To do that, it’s getting closer and closer.Continue reading “OSIRIS-REx did its Closest Flyover Yet, just 250 Meters Above its Sample Site”
While the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft was orbiting asteroid Bennu, one of the instruments on board happened to catch a glimpse of a black hole ‘out of the corner of its eye,’ so to speak.
While intently focusing on the asteroid, the Regolith X-Ray Imaging Spectrometer (REXIS) happened to catch the X-rays from a newly flaring stellar mass black hole. While the flare occurred 30 thousand light years away, the flash in distant space was visible just off the limb of asteroid Bennu, in the edge of the instrument’s field of view.Continue reading “Even Though it Was Observing an Asteroid, OSIRIS-REx Accidentally Spotted a Black Hole”