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Asteroid

Path of asteroid (872) Holda, as seen by NEOWISE, shown as a dotted red line (Image: NASA)

NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) has sent back the first test images from its 16-in (40-cm) telescope and infrared cameras as it is prepared for its new mission. Intended to seek out potentially dangerous asteroids and help in selecting a near-Earth object as part of the space agency’s asteroid retrieval effort, NASA says NEOWISE will be a powerful tool for discovering, cataloging and understanding the asteroids in the inner Solar System.  Read More

The new suit undergoing neutral buoyancy testing (Image: NASA)

Sometimes you have to take a step back to take a step forward. NASA is carrying out initial tests on a new, lighter spacesuit for use by the crew of the Orion spacecraft that is currently under development. The tests are being carried out in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory near the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas on a modified version of the pumpkin orange suit normally worn by Space Shuttle crews during liftoff and re-entry and is a return to a space suit design of the 1960s.  Read More

The fireball of the Chelyabinsk meteor (Image: NASA/M. Ahmetvaleev)

We are continually being surprised by new discoveries of near-Earth asteroids and comets, often noticing them only after they have completed a close approach. Only one asteroid has ever been found and projected to impact prior to its actually doing so. With that in mind, NASA, Planetary Resources, and Zooniverse have formed a collaboration to use citizen scientists to detect members of the vast swarm of near-Earth objects not yet recognized or mapped.  Read More

P/2013 P5 is an asteroid with six comet-like tails (Image: NASA, ESA, and D. Jewitt)

In the old days, astronomy was simple – comets had tails and asteroids didn’t. Now, as if to not only disprove such established views, but drive the point home, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope took images in September of an asteroid called P/2013 P5 that has not one, but six comet-like tails.  Read More

Artist's impression of the GRAIL spacecraft, which has helped provide a better understandi...

Sometimes great mysteries hang right over our heads. We’re so used to looking up and seeing the “Man in the Moon” that we often don’t realize that those familiar dark areas on the face of our nearest neighbor are part of a centuries old question that has yet to be answered. Many hypotheses have been put forward and now data from NASA's twin Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) lunar orbiters has provided new insights into how the surface of the Moon formed and how its distinctive “seas” came to be.  Read More

A sampling spacecraft launching a penetrator missile (Image: NASA)

In what at first glance seems like a terrible sense of direction, in March students from the University of Washington fired rockets from kites and balloons at an altitude of 3,000 ft (914 m) straight into the ground at Black Rock, Nevada: a dry lake bed in the desert 100 mi (160 km) north of Reno. This may seem like the ultimate in larking about, but it's actually a serious effort to develop new ways of collecting samples from asteroids.  Read More

Gaia mapping the stars of the Milky Way (Photo: ESA/ATG medialab; background image: ESO/S....

The Gaia mission to map a billion stars in the Milky Way has been delayed for about two months by the European Space Agency. Problems in X-band transponders used in other satellites have begun to appear, and the ESA has decided to replace those modules prior to launching. The likely blastoff date will be in late December of this year.  Read More

Artist's impression of a massive asteroid impact (Image: NASA/Don Davis)

Last year, the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow put forward the idea of using fleets of laser-toting satellites to deflect potentially dangerous objects away from Earth. Now, Dr. Richard Fork, principal investigator for the Laser Science and Engineering Laboratory at the University of Alabama and his team have refined the idea, saying that it’s not only feasible, but could handle anything up to the size of a comet.  Read More

An asteroid impact has the potential to produce a mass extinction event (Image: NASA/Don D...

There are hundreds of near-Earth asteroids hurtling through space that are a potential danger to our planet. One way of dealing with the problem is to deflect them with a space probe deliberately set on a collision course. To see how effective such a collision would be, Frank Schäfer of the Fraunhofer Institute for High-Speed Dynamics, Ernst-Mach-Institut, EMI in Freiburg, Germany is looking at what asteroids are made of and how this affects a deflection impact.  Read More

Engineers will bring WISE out of hibernation in September to hunt potentially dangerous as...

NASA will be putting another eye on potentially dangerous asteroids in September when it reactivates the retired Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). The space telescope, which was deactivated in 2011, will use its infrared instruments to carry out a survey of near-Earth asteroids that may pose a threat to our planet.  Read More

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