Archive for the ‘asteroid/comet impacts’ category

Mar 19, 2024

DART Impact: Reshaping Dimorphos and Redefining Asteroid Dynamics

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

Dr. Shantanu Naidu: “When DART made impact, things got very interesting…the entire shape of the asteroid has changed, from a relatively symmetrical object to a ‘triaxial ellipsoid’ – something more like an oblong watermelon.”

On November 24, 2021, NASA launched the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission with the goal of demonstrating that deflecting an incoming asteroid could prevent it from striking Earth by striking the asteroid itself. Just over nine months later, on September 26, 2022, this demonstration was successfully carried out as DART acted as a kinetic impactor and intentionally struck the Dimporphos asteroid, which measures 560 feet (170 meters) in diameter.

But while the impact successfully altered Dimorphos’ orbit around the binary near-Earth asteroid, Didymos, could it have altered other aspects of Dimorphos, as well? This is what a recent study published in The Planetary Science Journal hopes to address as a team of international researchers led by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) discovered the impact also altered the shape of Dimporphos.

Continue reading “DART Impact: Reshaping Dimorphos and Redefining Asteroid Dynamics” »

Mar 9, 2024

‘Zero chance’ infamous Apophis collides with another asteroid, redirects to Earth

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

When it was first discovered in 2004, Apophis was identified as one of the most dangerous asteroids in that there was a risk that it could impact Earth. But that impact assessment changed over the years after astronomers tracked Apophis, also known as asteroid 99,942, and its orbit became better determined, and it became clear that it was on course to miss our planet.

Feb 27, 2024

NASA’s OSIRIS-APEX asteroid probe wakes up after surviving close pass by the sun

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

The probe “performed as predicted” during the first of seven close approaches to the sun on its way to Apophis, NASA said.

Feb 19, 2024

NASA Reveals How It Would Warn World of Impending Asteroid Disaster

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks, military

When the Chicxulub impactor, a six-mile-wide asteroid, struck Earth 66 million years ago, the dinosaurs had no warning.

If an asteroid that size hit Earth today, a shock wave two million times more powerful than a hydrogen bomb would flatten forests and trigger tsunamis. A seismic pulse equal to a magnitude 10 earthquake would crumble cities.

And long after the impact, a cloud of hot dust, ash, and steam would blot out the sun, plunging the Earth into freezing cold.

Feb 8, 2024

Asteroid Impact Near Berlin Reveals Rare Aubrite Treasures

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, chemistry, existential risks

Jenniskens’ collaborators at the Museum für Naturkunde officially announced that the first examinations of one of these pieces with an electron beam microprobe prove the typical mineralogy and chemical composition of an achondrite of the aubrite type.

The official classification now aligns with what many suspected from merely looking at the images of the strange meteorites that fell near Berlin on January 21, 2024. They belong to a rare group called “aubrites.”

“They were devilishly difficult to find because, from a distance, they look like other rocks on Earth,” said SETI Institute meteor astronomer Dr. Peter Jenniskens. “Close up, not so much.”

Feb 8, 2024

Temperature inside Chicxulub crater after dinosaur-killing asteroid hit revealed with ‘paleothermometer’

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

Researchers measured the temperature of the Chicxulub crater 66 million years ago, unlocking mysteries of the dinosaur-dooming mass extinction event.

Jan 28, 2024

A ‘Chicken From Hell’ Could Rewrite the Story of the Dinosaurs’ Final Days

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

A newly identified species upends the theory that the dinosaurs were already dying before the asteroid.

Jan 14, 2024

NASA finally opens capsule to potentially hazardous asteroid ‘Bennu’ that may contain seeds of life

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

Two tight fasteners kept the majority of the Bennu asteroid sample from scientists since it returned to Earth in September. Now they’ve finally prised it open.

Jan 5, 2024

ESA’s 2023 Space Saga: From Jupiter’s Moons to Dark Matter Revelations [Video]

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, cosmology, existential risks, satellites

2023 was a landmark year in space exploration for the European Space Agency (ESA), marked by significant missions like Juice’s journey to Jupiter, the launch of the Euclid space telescope for dark matter research, and the decommissioning of ESA’s Aeolus mission.

The year also saw advancements in Earth observation technologies, initiatives to address space debris, and collaborative efforts in asteroid impact studies. Notably, the Galileo satellite system’s new high-accuracy service and the first hardware tests for its second generation of satellites were significant milestones.

Dec 20, 2023

New nuclear deflection simulations advance planetary defense against asteroid threats

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have developed a modeling tool for assessing the potential use of a nuclear device to defend the planet against catastrophic asteroid impacts.

The research, published today in the Planetary Science Journal, introduces a novel approach to simulating the from a nuclear device on an asteroid’s surface. This new tool improves our understanding of the nuclear deflection’s radiation interactions on the asteroid’s surface while opening the door to new research on the shockwave dynamics affecting the inner asteroid.

This model will allow researchers to build upon the insights gained from NASA’s recent Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, where, in Sept. 2022, a kinetic impactor was deliberately crashed into an asteroid to alter its trajectory. However, with limitations in the mass that can be lifted to space, scientists continue to explore nuclear deflection as a viable alternative to kinetic impact missions.

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