Asteroid Ryugu May Be Rubble of Two Space Rocks

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SPACE.COM)

 

Asteroid Ryugu May Be Rubble of Two Space Rocks Smashed Together

A photograph of Ryugu's surface captured by the MASCOT lander.

A photograph of Ryugu’s surface captured by the MASCOT lander.
(Image: © Jaumann et al., Science (2019))

A robot deployed on one of the darkest asteroids in the solar system may now shed light on the origins of some of the oldest, rarest meteorites, a new study finds.

These findings suggest that this asteroid formed during a collision of two very different space rocks, the scientists said. The research also suggests that dust may float off this asteroid, possibly driven by electric fields.

In 2018, the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 arrived at Ryugu, a 2,950-foot-wide (900 meters) near-Earth asteroid that is one of the darkest celestial bodies in the solar system. Its name, which means “dragon palace,” refers to a magical underwater castle in a Japanese folktale.

One reason scientists may want to learn more about Ryugu is because its orbit brings it close — potentially dangerously close — to Earth.

“Knowing the composition and geological structure of asteroids and comets is essential to [developing] mitigation strategies in the case of potential collision scenarios,” study lead author Ralf Jaumann, a planetary scientist at the Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin, told Space.com.

In addition, previous research suggested Ryugu may contain primordial material from the nebula that gave birth to the sun and its planets. Hayabusa2 is designed to return samples from the asteroid to shed light on the formation of the solar system.

The first image captured by the MASCOT rover during its descent to Ryugu’s surface.

(Image credit: Jaumann et al., Science (2019))

To investigate Ryugu’s surface, Hayabusa2 deployed the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) lander. This shoebox-size robot took photos both as it dropped from the main Hayabusa2 spacecraft onto Ryugu and after it landed on the asteroid’s surface, where it operated for a little more than 17 hours before its batteries ran out.

“To have this small lander reaching the surface and providing detailed images of the surface was very exciting,” Jaumann said.

MASCOT found Ryugu was covered with two kinds of rocks and boulders — one dark with a cauliflower-like, crumbly surface and the other bright with smooth faces and sharp edges. Both types are nearly evenly distributed on the surface of the asteroid, suggesting Ryugu was a pile of rubble that coalesced after two parent bodies crashed into one another, “indicating a violent history of asteroid collision,” Jaumann said.

Close-up images of Ryugu’s dark, rough stones revealed they often seem to possess small, colored inclusions similar to those found in one of the most primitive and rare types of meteorites, known as carbonaceous chondrites.

“Carbonaceous material is the primordial material of the solar system, from which all planets and moons originate,” Jaumann said. “Thus, if we want to understand planetary formation, including the formation of Earth, we need to understand its building parts.” He said the new findings support long-standing speculation that carbonaceous chondrites come from C-type asteroids — dark-gray, carbon-rich space rocks such as Ryugu.

Unexpectedly, the MASCOT images of Ryugu showed no fine dust, which scientists had expected would accumulate on the asteroid’s surface due to micrometeoroid impacts and other forms of weathering. The mission’s predecessor, Hayabusa, found that another rubble-pile asteroid, Itokawa, also seemed dust-free.

The researchers suggested that some as-yet-unknown force removes dust from Ryugu’s surface. Electric fields on the asteroid might cause dust to float away, Jaumann said, or micrometeoroid impacts and seismic vibrations could be responsible.

The scientists detailed their findings online on Aug. 22 in the journal Science.

Follow Charles Q. Choi on Twitter @cqchoi. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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Asteroid tsunami: Scientist’s dire warning to US coast over ocean impact

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE UK EXPRESS NEWS)

 

Asteroid tsunami: Scientist’s dire warning to US coast over ocean impact

AN ASTEROID plunging into the Pacific Ocean would spark a tsunami that would wipe out “the entire west coast of North America”, a scientist warned.

Apophis: Astrophysicist forecasts an asteroid ‘tsunami’

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Apophis 99942 is a 370-metre-wide near-Earth space rock that caused a brief period of concern in December 2004 when initial observation indicated a probability of up to three percent that it could hit Earth on April 13, 2029. However, in 2006 scientists ruled that date out, determining that Apophis could pass through a gravitational keyhole – a tiny region of space where a planet’s gravity is altered. Researchers calculated it might set up a future impact exactly seven years later – on April 13, 2036.

However, the likelihood of a direct impact in 2036 is now all but impossible, with just a 1-in-150,000 chance of a collision in 2068.

Neil deGrasse Tyson warned what would happen if the rock did crash into Earth.

The American astrophysicist and author revealed his research during a public lecture with Ryan Watt in San Francisco in 2008.

He said: “In the era of observing the cosmos with technology, this will be the closest biggest thing we will ever see.

“The orbit we now have for it is uncertain enough, because these things are hard to measure, we cannot tell you exactly where that trajectory will be.

JUST IN: Rock bigger than Empire State Building shooting towards Earth

An asteroid could hit the Pacific Ocean

An asteroid could hit the Pacific Ocean (Image: GETTY)

Apophis poses a threat

Apophis poses a threat (Image: GETTY)

It sandblasts the entire west coast of North America clean

Neil deGrasse Tyson

“We know it won’t hit Earth, we know it will be closer than the orbiting satellites.

“But there is a 600-mile zone – we call it the keyhole – and if the asteroid goes through the middle of that it will hit the Earth 13 years later.

“It will hit 500 miles west of Santa Monica.”

He went on to explain how an impact in the ocean would cause a tsunami, adding: “If it goes through the centre, it will plunge down into the Pacific Ocean to a depth of three miles, at which point it explodes, caveatting the Pacific in a hole that’s three miles wide.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson has his own theory

Neil deGrasse Tyson has his own theory (Image: YOUTUBE)

“That will send a tsunami wave outwards from that location that is 50 feet high.

“Oceans don’t like having holes in them, so this three-mile-high wall does what? It collapses.

“It falls back into the hole sloshing against itself with such ferocity that it rises high into the atmosphere and falls back down to the ocean, caveating it again.

“This cycle takes about 50 seconds, you can calculate it.”

He then revealed the sobering prospects for North America in such a scenario.

Neil deGrasse Tyson offered a warning

Neil deGrasse Tyson offered a warning (Image: YOUTUBE)

Asteroids threaten life on Earth

Asteroids threaten life on Earth (Image: GETTY)

He continued: “So there you are on the beaches of Malibu and a tsunami comes in.

“The first wave needs a supply of water to exist, so the next wave actually sucks back on it to create itself.

“Whatever was there on the coastline is now brought back out to sea and the next tsunami brings it back to the shore.

“So what happens is, all the artificial stuff, all the houses, factories, they get churned into the force that sandblasts the entire west coast of North America clean.

NASA warn of ‘Empire State’ sized asteroid flying by Earth

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“It’s April 12, 2029, and if it threads the keyhole it will hit Earth on April 13, 2036.”

Despite his claims, the keyhole has since been determined to be less than 600 metres wide, meaning the possibility of Apophis passing through it is extremely unlikely.

In 2008, NASA reaffirmed the chance of Apophis impacting Earth in 2036 as being 1 in 45,000.

However, in February 2014, the odds of an impact on April 12, 2068, were calculated by the JPL Sentry risk table as 1 in 150,000.

An Asteroid Impact With the Earth in September Is Not Entirely Impossible 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INVERSE NEWS)

 

An Asteroid Impact With the Earth in September Is Not Entirely Impossible

It is extremely unlikely, but the probability is actually higher than zero.

Dinosaur asteroid impact

Filed Under AsteroidsESA & NASA

Keep September free … because a massive, football field-sized asteroid has a one in 7,300 chance of smashing into the Earth on the morning of September 9, 2019, according to the European Space Agency.

But it most likely won’t hit us.

Known as asteroid 2006 QV89, it has a diameter of 164 feet — that’s double the width of the meteor that exploded in the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk in Russia in 2013. That meteor came from behind the shadow of the sun and wasn’t seen by astronomers until it was already entering our atmosphere.

Current modeling of the asteroid’s orbit shows it more likely passing by Earth at a distance of over 4.2 million miles this September, but ESA says there’s roughly a one hundredth of a 1 percent chance the model is wrong and it hits our planet instead.

Only last month, US scientists took part in an exercise simulating an imminent asteroid impact with the Earth, and NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine warned that we need to take the real-world threat seriously during his keynote speech at the International Academy of Astronautics Planetary Defense Conference in College Park, Maryland.

But it most likely won’t hit us.

New York gets hit by a meteor shower in the 1998 movie 'Armageddon'
New York gets hit by a meteor shower in the 1998 movie ‘Armageddon’. 

Bridenstine also said that detecting, tracking, and studying asteroids and other near-Earth objects (NEOs) should be taken more seriously following the Chelyabinsk event. The resulting shock wave from that 65-foot-wide asteroid damaged thousands of buildings, and debris and flying glass injured over 1,500 people.

Last June, NASA produced a 20-page plan that details the steps the US should take to be better prepared for NEOs that come within 30 million miles of Earth.

Lindley Johnson, the space agency’s planetary defense officer, said that the country “already has significant scientific, technical, and operational capabilities” to help with NEOs, but implementing the new plan would “greatly increase our nation’s readiness and work with international partners to effectively respond should a new potential asteroid impact be detected.”

According to a 2018 report put together by Planetary.org, there are more than 18,000 NEOs.

Hollywood enjoyed a brief spell of asteroid impact-themed disaster movies during the summer of 1998. In the movie Deep Impact, a comet 1½ miles long slammed into the Atlantic ocean off the coast of Cape Hatteras, creating, at first, a tsunami 100 feet high traveling at 1,100 mph (that’s faster than the speed of sound). Then, when it reached shallow water, it slowed but increased in height to 3,500 feet. The wave washed away farmland and cities and eventually reached as far inland as the Ohio and Tennessee valleys (over 600 miles).

But it most likely won’t hit us.