The Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System, or Pan-STARRS, is stationed on top of Mount Haleakala in Hawaii, turning its 1.4 gigapixel camera on the skies in search of potentially hazardous objects. Now, just three months after its PS1 telescope went online, it’s found one.
In this amazing video of the solar system, the asteroids that were discovered from 1980 to 2010 appear in the sequence as they were discovered. It's very cool to watch the process of discovery. You can observe patterns, as technological innovations come online and spur new batches of findings; and as groups of astronomers all look in the same direction at once -- for instance, when Voyager passed Jupiter, a lot of asteroids suddenly started to be discovered around that region of space.
With President Obama taking the budget axe to some of NASA's most darling projects lately, it makes sense that the agency might look at ways to cut down on waste by getting a little more mileageout of its current hardware. A proposal by NASA's "Blue Sky" group would do exactly that, repurposing a room on the ISS as a crew capsule for a manned mission to an asteroid.
The European Space Agency has released the first close-ups of the asteroid Lutetia snapped by the Rosetta mission over the weekend, revealing that the mysterious asteroid has taken quite a beating over the years. And by years, we mean something like 4.5 billion. As suspected, it turns out that Lutetia is probably very, very old.
ESA's Rosetta mission got a quite a view of Lutetia as it passed within 1,965 miles of it while en route to its final destination, the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission is poised for a flyby of asteroid 21 Lutetia, the largest asteroid to ever be visited by a spacecraft. On Saturday, July 10, Rosetta will skim past Lutetia at a speed of about 33,000 miles per hour, coming to within 1,965 miles of the asteroid.
JAXA, the Japanese space agency, has released the first photographs of the interior of the Hayabusa probe. Last week, we were starting to fear that the seven-year mission had returned to Earth without the crumbs of asteroid Itokawa that it had been sent for. But that photo looks promising.
The Hayabusa spacecraft landed in the Australian outback on June 13, after a seven-year space journey. It is the hope of JAXA, Japan's space agency, that the capsule Hayabusa is carrying contains a sample taken from asteroid Itokawa. If so, this will be the first sample of asteroid material ever returned to Earth by a space mission.
Now, the process of opening the capsule to see what's inside has begun.
A plucky Japanese probe burned up in a spectacular fireworks display Sunday, celebrating the end of a mission that found success despite being plagued with problems.
The Hayabusa probe overcame several obstacles to fly 3 billion miles to and from a tiny asteroid, land on its surface and (hopefully) collect samples. The spacecraft broke up in the upper atmosphere upon returning home, but not before it released a 15-inch capsule that might contain samples from the asteroid Itokawa. If it does, the sample will be the first material ever returned to Earth from a celestial body other than the moon.
A Japanese meteor-investigator probe will become a meteor itself when it returns to Earth over the weekend. The Hayabusa probe is screaming toward Earth at asteroid speed, according to scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center. Scientists hope it is carrying samples obtained from a 2005 visit to the small asteroid Itokawa.
A thin film of water ice and organic materials coats the space rock named 24 Themis, according to a study released today. That discovery marks the first-ever direct detection of water ice on an asteroid, and adds evidence to theories about how asteroids could have brought water and organic material to a primordial Earth.
A NASA telescope on Hawaii's Mauna Kea helped scientists gauge the spectrum of infrared sunlight reflected by 24 Themis. Their findings revealed a spectrum consistent with both frozen water and organic material on the 124-mile-wide asteroid, which sits halfway between Mars and Jupiter.
Pop quiz. An asteroid the size of Manhattan is hurtling towards Earth, its impact is sure to result in mass extinction and the destruction of humanity as we know it. What do you do?
The traditional answers would be "blow it up". But new research from Los Alamos National Lab and the University of California, Santa Cruz, shows that if the asteroid isn't moving fast enough, or if the nuke isn't big enough, the asteroid will pull itself back together, T-1000-style, within a matter of hours.
Diamond may remain the preferred material for wedding rings, Lil' Wayne's birthday gifts, and Damien Hirst sculptures, but it looks like girls' best friend will have to relinquish its title as the hardest natural substance known. The new title holder: mysterious carbon compounds found in a Finnish meteorite.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, it wasn’t uncommon to see X-shaped bodies dashing about a solar system. But in this era, in this neck of the universe, it is decidedly strange. Yet the Hubble Space Telescope picked up just such an X-shaped debris pattern trailing a tail of dust and gravel last month that has NASA’s brain trust excited: We may have witnessed two asteroids colliding head-on for the very first time.
Russia's proposal for an Armageddon-style mission to deflect the space rock Apophis seemed bold, but it's not the only one fretting about a catastrophic impact on Earth. The U.S. National Research Council (NRC) released a new report that calls for an international asteroid defense agency that can organize a proper mission to counter possible asteroid threats, New Scientist reports.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.