Asteroids In the News

NASA's first asteroid samples land on Earth after release from spacecraft   PhysOrg - September 24, 2023

In a flyby of Earth, the Osiris-Rex spacecraft released the sample capsule from 63,000 miles (100,000 kilometers) out. The small capsule landed four hours later on a remote expanse of military land, as the mothership set off after another asteroid.

This Strange Metal Object Could Unlock Secrets Buried Inside Earth   Science Alert - August 18, 2023

NASA's robotic mission to a metal world is scheduled for liftoff on October 5, 2023. That mission, the spacecraft traveling there, and the world it will explore all have the same name - Psyche - considered an iron giant of asteroids.

Scientist Unveils a Bold Plan to Turn an Asteroid Into a Space Station   Science Alert - August 9, 2023

The basic idea of turning an asteroid into a rotating space habitat has existed for a while. Despite that, it's always seemed relatively far off regarding technologies, so the concept hasn't received much attention over the years. That is precisely what David W. Jensen, a retired Technical Fellow at Rockwell Collins, recently did. He released a 65-page paper that details an easy-to-understand, relatively inexpensive, and feasible plan to turn an asteroid into a space habitat.

A 'quasi-moon' - asteroid - has been following Earth around the sun since 100 BC, and astronomers just noticed it   Yahoo News - June 3, 2023

Scientists recently discovered an asteroid that tags along with Earth during its yearly journey around the sun. Dubbed 2023 FW13, the space rock is considered a "quasi-moon" or "quasi-satellite," meaning it orbits the sun in a similar time frame as Earth does, but is only slightly influenced by our planet’s gravitational pull. It is estimated to be 50 feet (15 meters) in diameter - roughly equivalent to three large SUVs parked bumper to bumper.

During its orbit of the sun, 2023 FW13 also circles Earth, coming within 9 million miles (14 million kilometers) of our planet. For comparison, the moon has a diameter of 2,159 miles (3,474 km) and comes within 226,000 miles (364,000 km) of Earth at the closest point of its orbit, according to NASA.

Some estimates suggest that 2023 FW13 has been Earth's cosmic neighbor since at least 100 B.C. and that the space rock will continue to follow this orbital path until around A.D. 3700, Adrien Coffinet, an astronomer and journalist who first categorized the asteroid as a quasi-moon after modeling its orbit.

'Building blocks of life' recovered from asteroid Ryugu are older than the solar system itself   Live Science - February 28, 2023
An analysis of a tiny portion of this sample revealed that the carbon-rich asteroid also contains molecules that are crucial to all known life, including 15 amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. These molecules themselves are not alive, but because they are found in all life, scientists call them "prebiotic."

New astronomical measurements in the infrared range have led to the identification of a heretofore unknown class of water-rich asteroids   PhysOrg - February 21, 2023
They are located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and are similar to the dwarf planet Ceres rich in water. According to computer models, complex dynamic processes shifted these asteroids from the outer regions of our solar system into today's asteroid belt shortly after their creation.

Eerie green fireball detected hours before smashing into Lake Ontario in the dead of night   Live Science - November 22, 2022
A renegade meteor flared in Earth's atmosphere in the wee hours of Nov. 19, creating a bright green fireball in the sky over the eastern US and Canada. This fireball was a small meteor, detected by astronomers just three hours before it tumbled through Earth's atmosphere, caught fire and broke up into hundreds of pieces. Most of those pieces likely smacked straight into Lake Ontario, though some small chunks may have impacted land on the lake's southern shore, according to NASA.

Maybe ... 2022 WJ1 was a tiny asteroid on a collision course with Earth But astronomers saw it coming, and NASA's Scout impact hazard assessment system calculated where it would hit -   Live Science - November 23, 2022

Nasa's Dart spacecraft 'changed path of asteroid'   BBC - October 11, 2022

The American space agency says its recent attempt to deflect the path of an asteroid was successful. Scientists have now confirmed the orbit of a 160m-wide (520ft) space rock known as Dimorphos was altered when the Dart probe struck it head on last month. Researchers came to the conclusion after making measurements using a range of space and Earth-based telescopes. The mission was conceived to test a potential strategy to defend the Earth against threatening objects.

Astronomers Unveil The Most Detailed Map of The Metal Asteroid Psyche Yet   Science Alert - June 19, 2022

If you wanted to do a forensic study of the Solar System, you might head for the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. That's where you can find ancient rocks from the Solar System's early days. Out there in the cold vacuum of space, far from the Sun, asteroids are largely untouched by space weathering.

Asteroid Ryugu contains material older than the planets, among the most primitive ever studied on Earth - June 10 , 2022
The asteroid Ryugu contains some of the most primitive material ever studied in a laboratory on Earth, dating back to just 5 million years after the formation of the solar system, according to an analysis of samples retrieved by Japan's Hayabusa2 mission. Because it is so old, it is made of the same stuff that formed the planets. Ryugu is one of the building blocks of Earth.

What happened before, during and after solar system formation? Asteroid Ryugu study holds the answers - June 10 , 2022

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) Hayabusa2 mission returned uncontaminated primitive asteroid samples to Earth. A comprehensive analysis of 16 particles from the asteroid Ryugu revealed many insights into the processes that operated before, during and after the formation of the solar system, with some still shaping the surface of the present-day asteroid.

'Rubber-ducky' asteroid 200 million miles away holds building blocks of life   Live Science - June 9, 2022

For the first time, scientists have found the building blocks for life on an asteroid in space. Japanese researchers have discovered more than 20 amino acids on the space rock Ryugu, which is more than 200 million miles from Earth. Scientists made the first-of-its-kind detection by studying samples retrieved from the near-Earth asteroid by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) Hayabusa2 spacecraft, which landed on Ryugu in 2018. In 2019, the spacecraft collected 0.2 ounce (5.4 grams) from the asteroid's surface and subsurface, stowed it in an airtight container and launched it back to Earth on a fine-tuned trajectory.

First quadruple asteroid system detected  PhysOrg - February 19, 2022

It's a a quadruple asteroid system meaning an asteroid with three moons orbiting around it. The asteroid Elektra was first seen back in 1873, by astronomer Christian Peters. Since that time, the outer main-belt asteroid has been classified as a G-type - it measures approximately 260 kilometers across and is believed to have a Ceres-like composition. Back in 2003, researchers found that it had a companion moon and then in 2014, a second moon was found. In this new effort, a third moon has been discovered, earning the system a quadruple designation - the first ever observed.

Behold, This Is The First Asteroid Ever Discovered to Have Three Moons   Science Alert - February 19, 2022

It's Official! A New Trojan Asteroid Has Been Discovered Sharing Earth's Orbit   Science Alert - February 1, 2022

Earth has officially been joined in its orbit around the Sun by a new trojan asteroid. Named 2020 XL5, this chunk of rock is only the second object of its type ever to have been conclusively identified. Its discovery suggests that perhaps Earth trojans may be more common than we knew, and offers new insights into these mysterious rocks.

We Finally Have The First-Ever Analysis of Stardust Retrieved From The Ryugu Asteroid   Science Alert - December 22, 2021
It's been over a year since the Hayabusa2 probe delivered its precious cargo of dust from an alien space rock, and we're finally getting a more detailed glimpse of what makes up asteroid Ryugu. It is very dark, very porous, and some of the most primitive Solar System material we've ever had access to here on Earth.

The Very Real Effort to Track Killer Asteroids and Comets   Smithsonian - December 13, 2021
It’s not a question of if but when: Eventually, astronomers will discover a celestial object on an Earth-bound trajectory. It might be an asteroid–a big chunk of rock, orbiting the sun in the inner part of the solar system–or it might be a comet, containing ice as well as rock, and typically moving in a slower, more oval-shaped orbit. To be very clear, no asteroids or comets are currently known to present any danger. Nonetheless, it pays to be prepared, given the devastation that such an impact would bring.

Highly porous rocks are responsible for asteroid Bennu's surprisingly craggy surface   PhysOrg - October 8, 2021
Scientists thought asteroid Bennu's surface would be like a sandy beach, abundant in fine sand and pebbles, which would have been perfect for collecting samples. Past telescope observations from Earth's orbit had suggested the presence of large swaths of fine-grain material called fine regolith that's smaller than a few centimeters.

Weird Space Rock Confirmed as Super-Rare Hybrid of Comet And Asteroid   Science Alert - October 5, 2021

52-foot-tall 'megaripples' from dinosaur-killing asteroid are hiding under Louisiana   Live Science - July 20, 2021
The 52-foot-tall (16 meters) megaripples are about 5,000 feet (1,500 m) under the Iatt Lake area, in north central Louisiana, and date to the end of the Cretaceous period 66 million years ago, when that part of the state was underwater, the researchers said. The megaripples' size and orientation suggest that they formed after the giant space rock, known as the Chicxulub asteroid, slammed into the Yucatán Peninsula, leading to the Chicxulub impact tsunami, whose waves then rushed into shallower waters and created the megaripple marks on the seafloor, the researchers said. The occurrence of "ripples of that size means something very big had to disturb the water column," study lead researcher Gary Kinsland, a professor in the School of Geosciences at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, told Live Science. "This is just further evidence that the Chicxulub impact ended the Cretaceous period."

52-foot-tall 'megaripples' from dinosaur-killing asteroid are hiding under Louisiana   Live Science - July 21, 2021

Ancient "megaripples" as tall as five-story buildings are hiding deep under Louisiana, and their unique geology indicates that they formed in the immediate aftermath of the asteroid strike that killed the nonavian dinosaurs, a new study finds. The 52-foot-tall (16 meters) megaripples are about 5,000 feet (1,500 m) under the Iatt Lake area, in north central Louisiana, and date to the end of the Cretaceous period 66 million years ago, when that part of the state was underwater, the researchers said. The megaripples' size and orientation suggest that they formed after the giant space rock, known as the Chicxulub asteroid, slammed into the Yucatán Peninsula, leading to the Chicxulub impact tsunami, whose waves then rushed into shallower waters and created the megaripple marks on the seafloor, the researchers said.

Planetary defense experts use infamous asteroid Apophis to practice spotting dangerous space rocks   Live Science - March 5, 2021
Earth's most recent brush with asteroid danger was eight years ago, when a space rock the size of a six-story building came seemingly out of nowhere, injuring 1,200 people when it exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia. Now, scientists are using this month's flyby of the infamous asteroid Apophis to test their responses to potentially hazardous space rocks, honing the fine art of planetary defense. Planetary defense focuses on identifying asteroids and comets that hang out around Earth, mapping their precise paths and seeing how their orbits compare with Earth's.

For The First Time, Organic Matter Crucial For Life Has Been Found on an Asteroid's Surface   Science Alert - March 5, 2021
Researchers have found the first evidence of organic materials essential to life on Earth on the surface of an S-type asteroid. An international team of researchers recently conducted an in-depth analysis on one of the particles brought back from the asteroid Itokawa by the Japanese Space Agency's (JAXA) original Hayabusa mission back in 2010.

Giant Asteroid Survivor of Failed Planet Discovered to Be Slowly Rusting in Space   Science Alert - October 28, 2020
Roughly two to three times Earth's distance from the Sun, in the Asteroid Belt that lies between Mars and Jupiter, 16 Psyche makes its home. This giant metal asteroid is one of the most massive objects in the Asteroid Belt, categorized as a minor planet. Astronomers think that 16 Psyche is the exposed core of a full planet that didn't make it all the way, and we're itching to know more about it. NASA will be sending a probe to check it out in the next few years, and in the meantime, scientists are working to glean what they can from Earth. Now, for the first time, 16 Psyche has been studied in ultraviolet wavelengths using the Hubble Space Telescope, revealing that, just as we thought, the dense chunk of space rock is remarkably metallic.

A collection chamber that could contain more than 2 pounds of samples gathered from an asteroid in deep space last week has been sealed inside of a return capsule on NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to bring the extraterrestrial specimens back to Earth in 2023   Space Flight - October 29, 2020
Mission managers accelerated plans to stow the sample inside the return capsule after finding that asteroid particles were escaping from the collection chamber last week. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft descended to a precise touch-and-go landing on asteroid Bennu Oct. 20 to gather the surface specimens.

A Handful of Asteroid Could Help Decipher Our Entire Existence   The Atlantic - October 22, 2020

Asteroid shower on the Earth-Moon system 800 million years ago revealed by lunar craters   PhysOrg - July 21, 2020
Since a thin layer of iridium (Ir) enrichment (a rare earth element) 65.5 Ma had been detected worldwide, it is thought that an asteroid of 10-15 km in diameter hit the Earth and caused or greatly contributed to the Cretaceous mass extinction. The probability of an asteroid of this size striking Earth is thought to be once in 100 million years. It is known that impact craters on Earth created before 600 Ma have been erased over the years by erosion, volcanism, and other geologic processes. Thus, to find out about ancient meteoroid impacts on Earth, they investigated the Moon, which has almost no erosion.

ATLAS telescope discovers first-of-its-kind asteroid with a comet-like tail   PhysOrg - May 21, 2020
While ATLAS has discovered more than 40 comets, what makes this object extraordinary is its orbit. The early indication that it was an asteroid near Jupiter's orbit have now been confirmed through precise measurements from many different observatories. In fact, 2019 LD2 is a special kind of asteroid called a Jupiter Trojan—and no object of this type has ever before been seen to spew out dust and gas like a comet.

Earth's oldest asteroid impact 'may have ended ice age'   BBC - January 22, 2020
Scientists have identified the world's oldest asteroid crater in Australia, adding it may explain how the planet was lifted from an ice age. The asteroid hit Yarrabubba in Western Australia about 2.2 billion years ago - making the crater about half the age of Earth, researchers say. Their conclusion was reached by testing minerals found in rocks at the site. The scientists say the find is exciting because it could account for a warming event during that era.

OSIRIS-REx mission explains Bennu's mysterious particle events

NASA's daring asteroid mission is trying to find a landing spot on Bennu - The Osiris-Rex team asked citizen scientists for help finding the perfect landing site on the asteroid strewn with giant boulders

Hayabusa-2: Japanese spacecraft makes final touchdown on asteroid   BBC - July 11, 2019

Touchdown! Incredible Photos Show 2nd Asteroid Landing by Japan's Hayabusa2 - July 11, 2019

Comet Ingredients Swallowed by an Asteroid, Found Sealed Inside a Meteorite   Live Science - April 15, 2019
The raw materials from a comet have been found sealed inside a pristine, primitive meteorite. The meteorite was found in the LaPaz icefield of Antarctica and has weathered very little since the time it crashed to Earth. According to a new study published today (April 15) in the journal Nature Astronomy, researchers found that this sample of space rock contains something strange: bits of the building blocks of a comet that became trapped in the meteorite's parent asteroid just 3 million years after the solar system formed. Because this sample of cometary building block material was swallowed by an asteroid and preserved inside this meteorite, it was protected from the ravages of entering Earth's atmosphere.

The Asteroid Bennu Keeps Spinning Faster and Scientists Aren't Sure Why - March 12, 2019
Right now, the asteroid known as Bennu is spinning once every 4.3 hours. But scientists working on NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission to the space rock have used data gathered before the probe's arrival to calculate that Bennu's rotation rate is speeding up over time by about 1 second each century.

Hayabusa-2: Movie shows moment of asteroid landing   BBC - March 5, 2019

Sorry, Bruce Willis: Big Asteroids Die Hard   Live Science - March 5, 2019

Why Smashing Asteroids to Save Earth Likely Won't Work - March 5, 2019

Astronomers Around the World Are Training in Case a Giant Asteroid Threatens Earth   Gizmodo - March 5, 2019

Touchdown! Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa 2 lowers itself to asteroid Ryugu and fires a pellet at the surface in historic attempt to take a 'bite' of its dust and return the samples to Earth   Daily Mail - February 21, 2019

Hayabusa-2: Japan spacecraft touches down on asteroid   BBC - February 22, 2019
A Japanese spacecraft has touched down on an asteroid in an attempt to collect a sample of rock from the surface. The Hayabusa-2 probe was trying to grab the sample from a pre-chosen site on the asteroid Ryugu just before 23:00 GMT on 21 February. The spacecraft reached asteroid Ryugu in June 2018 after a three-and-a-half-year journey from Earth. It is expected to return to Earth with the rocky material it has cached in 2020. During sample collection, the spacecraft approached the 1km-wide asteroid with an instrument called the sampler horn. On touchdown, a 5g "bullet" made of the metal tantalum was fired into the rocky surface at 300m/s. The particles kicked up by the impact should have been be caught by the sampler horn.

IAU names landing site of Chinese Chang'e-4 probe on far side of the moon - Statio Tianhe   PhysOrg - February 19, 2019

'Rare species' of asteroid spotted in our solar system   CNN - February 9, 2019

An odd kind of asteroid has been hiding out in our solar system, close to Venus, and it took a new state-of-the-art surveying camera to detect it. The Zwicky Transient Facility, known as ZTF, was installed on the Samuel Oschin Telescope at the California Institute of Technology's Palomar Observatory in March. Since then, it has observed over a thousand supernovae outside our galaxy, extreme cosmic events and more than a billion Milky Way stars.

A NASA funded project plans to turn asteroids into spaceships. This project plans to use 3D printing to turn the asteroids into self-esteem flying vehicles by 2030.   Quora - December 6, 2018

Water found on asteroid, confirming Bennu as excellent mission target   Science Daily - December 11, 2018
Spectral observations made by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft identified hydrated minerals across the asteroid, confirming that Bennu, a remnant from early in the formation of the solar system, is an excellent specimen for the OSIRIS-REx mission to study the composition of primitive volatiles and organics.

Lonely asteroid tells solar system story   BBC - May 9, 2018
Researchers have observed the first object of its kind - a carbon-rich asteroid in the Kuiper Belt. Orbiting in the collection of icy rubble beyond Neptune, the asteroid's composition strongly suggests it did not form there. Instead, the 300km-wide object may have been ejected from an orbit among the giant planets, during the turbulent early history of the Solar System. The object is so distant, it took scientists several years to analyze.

Primordial asteroids discoveries include a void in the main belt and the oldest family of asteroids   Science Daily - August 3, 2017
Astronomers recently discovered a relatively unpopulated region of the main asteroid belt, where the few asteroids present are likely pristine relics from early in solar system history. The team used a new search technique that also identified the oldest known asteroid family, which extends throughout the inner region of the main asteroid belt.

A few decades from now, asteroids may be flying themselves to mining outposts in space, nobly sacrificing their abundant resources to help open the final frontier to humanity - June 6, 2016
A few decades from now, asteroids may be flying themselves to mining outposts in space, nobly sacrificing their abundant resources to help open the final frontier to humanity. That's the vision of California-based company Made In Space, which was recently awarded NASA funding to investigate how to turn asteroids into giant, autonomous spacecraft. The project, known as RAMA (Reconstituting Asteroids into Mechanical Automata), is part of Made In Space's long-term plan to enable space colonization by helping make off-Earth manufacturing efficient and economically viable.

Clues to ancient giant asteroid found in Australia   PhysOrg - May 16, 2016
Scientists have found evidence of a huge asteroid that struck the Earth early in its life with an impact larger than anything humans have experienced. Tiny glass beads called spherules, found in north-western Australia were formed from vaporized material from the asteroid impact. The impact would have triggered earthquakes orders of magnitude greater than terrestrial earthquakes, it would have caused huge tsunamis and would have made cliffs crumble.

Congress Passes Landmark Space Mining Rights Bill   Epoch Times - November 11, 2015
The Senate has passed legislation expected to spur the development of the space mining industry, by establishing property rights for minerals harvested in outer space and lengthening the period for which space companies would be exempt from certain regulatory bodies. Rare earth minerals are abundant on asteroids throughout the solar system, including the six platinum group metals, and the value of minerals buried inside a single asteroid could figure in the hundreds of billions.

Asteroid Impacts 3.3 Billion Years Ago Caused Earth's Oceans To Boil   Huffington Post - May 28, 2015
Some 3.3 billion years ago, monster asteroids -- in some cases bigger than Rhode Island -- repeatedly slammed into the Earth with impacts so violent that air temperatures soared to 932 degrees Fahrenheit for weeks at a time, according to a new study published in the journal Geology.

'Largest ever asteroid impact' found in Australia   BBC - March 24, 2015
The 400-kilometre (250-mile) wide area is buried deep in the earth's crust and consists of two separate impact scars. The team behind the discovery, from the Australian National University (ANU), said the asteroid broke into two before it hit, with each fragment more than 10km across. The impact is thought to have occurred at least 300 million years ago. The surface crater has long since disappeared from central Australia's Warburton Basin but geophysical modeling below the surface found evidence of two massive impacts.

Largest-ever meteorite crater found in Australian outback - March 23, 2015
Scientists have discovered two deep scars in the earth's crust in outback Australia that are believed to mark the remains of a meteorite crater with a 250-mile diameter – the largest ever found. The scars are each more than 120 miles in diameter and are believed to mark the spot where a meteorite split into two, moments before it slammed into earth. The impact is believed to have occurred more than 300 million years ago.

Asteroid impacts on Earth make structurally bizarre diamonds   PhysOrg - November 21, 2014
Scientists have argued for half a century about the existence of a form of diamond called lonsdaleite, which is associated with impacts by meteorites and asteroids. A group of scientists based mostly at Arizona State University now show that what has been called lonsdaleite is in fact a structurally disordered form of ordinary diamond.

  Two Rings for Asteroid Chariklo   NASA - April 9, 2014
Asteroids can have rings. In a surprising discovery announced two weeks ago, the distant asteroid 10199 Chariklo was found to have at least two orbiting rings. Chariklo's diameter of about 250 kilometers makes it the largest of the measured centaur asteroids, but now the smallest known object to have rings. The centaur-class minor planet orbits the Sun between Saturn and Uranus. The above video gives an artist's illustration of how the rings were discovered. As Chariklo passed in 2013 in front of a faint star, unexpected but symmetric dips in the brightness of the star revealed the rings. Planetary astronomers are now running computer simulations designed to investigate how Chariklo's unexpected ring system might have formed, how it survives, and given the asteroid's low mass and close passes of other small asteroids and the planet Uranus, how long it may last.

Icy Chariklo asteroid has ring system   BBC - March 26, 2014
The asteroid Chariklo has been confirmed as the smallest object in the Solar System to display a ring system. Encircling bands of material are more usually associated with the giant planets, such as Saturn and Uranus. Chariklo may be just 250km wide but observations made when it passed in front of a distant star reveal the presence of two distinct rings.

Watch Potentially Hazardous Asteroid Whip Past Earth -   National Geographic - February 18, 2014
A giant space rock three times the size of football field is about to sail past Earth. Its passage will be broadcast live around the world via the web. Thankfully there was no chance of collision.

A close call in space tonight: Asteroid zips by Earth   CNN - February 18, 2014
Only in space would 2 million miles be considered a close call. An asteroid with an estimated diameter of three football fields zoomed by Earth late Monday, missing our home by about that distance. It traveled at some 27,000 miles per hour.

Rock from heaven is a scientists' delight   PhysOrg - February 12, 2014
A year ago on Saturday, inhabitants of the Russian city of Chelyabinsk looked skyward, some frozen in fear that a nuclear war had begun. Overhead, an asteroid exploded in a ball of fire, sending debris plummeting to Earth in brilliant streaks. The shockwave blew out windows, hurting about 1,600 people, and the burst of ultraviolet light was so strong that more than two dozen people suffered skin burns. Today, enshrined in Russia's folk memory as a big scare, the Chelyabinsk Meteorite, for space scientists, is a boon. They say it has yielded unprecedented insights into the makeup and orbit of asteroids and the risks that a rogue rock may pose to Earth. Only a few asteroids ever cross Earth's path. Fewer still survive the fiery contest of friction with the atmosphere. Those that do are likely to fall in the sea, which covers more than two-thirds of the planet, or in a remote area, such as desert, tundra or Antarctica.