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Asteroid

NASA's Asteroid Grand Challenge is aimed at protecting the Earth while exploiting asteroid...

On June 18, the NASA Asteroid Grand Challenge was announced to a flood of media inattention. This was probably to be expected, as NASA actually said very little about it. Maybe so as to not attract the ire of forces in the US Congress that are trying to shut down the largest portion of this Grand Challenge; namely the capture and relocation of a seven-meter (23 ft) asteroid to a stable lunar orbit for study and as a practice site for asteroid exploration and exploitation. We've dug up the formal Request for Information (RFI) associated with the Grand Challenge, which gives a better idea of where NASA wants to put its money.  Read More

OSIRIS-REx spacecraft at asteroid Bennu (Image: NASA/GSFC/UA)

NASA’s first asteroid sample return mission took a step closer to reality on Wednesday, as the OSIRIS-REx project was cleared for development and testing. Scheduled to launch in 2016, the mission passed a series of detailed project assessments and now goes on to the development phase. The Origins-Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security REgolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) is intended to rendezvous with the asteroid Bennu (1999 RQ36) in 2018, carry out an extensive survey, and return a 2-ounce (60 gm) sample of its surface to Earth in 2023.  Read More

The Canadian Space Agency's NEOSSat will be world’s first space telescope for detecting an...

In the wake of the meteor blast over Russia and the close quarter fly by of asteroid 2012 DA14 last week, many people's thoughts have turned to potential dangers from above. It is timely then that the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) will next week launch NEOSSat (Near-Earth Object Surveillance Satellite), the world’s first space telescope for detecting and tracking asteroids, satellites and space debris.  Read More

Vapor trail of the Chelyabinsk meteor (Photo: Nikita Plekhanov/Wikipedia)

The European Space Agency (ESA) is assessing information about the Chelyabinsk meteor that exploded last week over Russia in the hope of improving the space agency’s asteroid-hunting program. Calculations by Peter Brown at Canada's University of Western Ontario based on the analysis of extremely low-frequency sound waves detected by a global network, was combined with videos, satellite images and eyewitness accounts to allow ESA to construct a more complete and accurate account of the event.  Read More

Is a sun-powered space laser the answer to stopping major asteroid impacts? (Photo: Shutte...

This past Friday was not a good day for asteroid-human relations with asteroid 2012 DA14 passing a mere 27,700 km (17,200 miles) from the Earth just a few hours after a meteor exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, damaging hundreds of buildings and injuring thousands. Scientists have been quick to point out that both of these events – a meteor exploding over a populated area and a large asteroid passing through Earth's geosynchronous orbit – are quite rare, but when the worst case scenario is the complete annihilation of all life on Earth, it's probably best to be prepared. That's why researchers in California recently proposed DE-STAR – a system which could potentially harness the sun's energy to dissolve wayward space rocks up to ten times larger than 2012 DA14 with a vaporizing laser.  Read More

Artist's concept of the Deep Space Industries Firefly satellite (Image: Deep Space Industr...

On the same day that a meteor exploded over Russia injuring almost a thousand people and an asteroid passed too close to Earth for comfort, the asteroid-mining company Deep Space Industries (DSI) proposes setting up sentry lines in space to track and study rogue asteroids posing a threat to Earth. Using technology originally intended for prospecting for water and minerals on asteroids, the sentry lines of satellites would provide information for deflecting potentially dangerous near-Earth objects.  Read More

Artist’s concept of the US-European Asteroid Impact and Deflection mission (AIDA)

When you’re trying to keep a rogue asteroid from hitting Earth, you’d better get it right the first time. With this in mind, the European Space Agency (ESA) is looking for new ideas to help develop a US-European asteroid deflection mission. With a target date of October, 2022, the purpose of the mission is to send a pair of spacecraft to a near-Earth asteroid where one will impact it while the other observes the effect.  Read More

An asteroid passing close to Earth next month will provide stargazers with a rare viewing ...

Asteroid 2012 DA14 is about 40 meters (131 ft) in size, has a mass of 130,000 tons, is traveling relative to the Earth at a speed of some 6.3 km/s (14,100 mph) ... and will miss us by less than 32,000 km (20,000 miles) on February 15. If it did hit the Earth, the result would be a huge explosion yielding about 2.5 megatons, but Asteroid 2012 DA14 will not hit our planet in 2013, and probably never will. Despite the lack of a sensational scenario, this close call still warrants our attention – it will allow astronomers to learn a good deal about asteroids, and represents one of the few chances for ordinary folks to see a asteroid pass really close to Earth.  Read More

Artist's concept of the Keck asteroid capture mission (Image: Rick Sternbach / Keck Instit...

To paraphrase an old saying, if the astronaut can’t go to the asteroid, the the asteroid must come to the astronaut. In a study released by the Keck Institute for Space Studies, researchers outlined a mission to tow an asteroid into lunar orbit by 2025 using ion propulsion and a really big bag. The idea is to bring an asteroid close to Earth for easy study and visits by astronauts without the hazards and expense of a deep space mission.  Read More

The Sutter's Mill bolide caught from near Reno, Nevada (Photo: Lisa Warren)

On April 22 this year, a daytime fireball was seen throughout the western United States, accompanied by a loud booming sound heard over much of California's Sierra Nevada mountains around Lake Tahoe. Scientists have now carried out a thorough analysis of the meteorite and found that it was the fastest meteor ever recorded at 28.6 km/s (64,000 mph).  Read More

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