Asteroid AX8 Skims Earth as NASA Prepares Plans to Save Planet from Future Threats

On the night of Monday, January 21st, asteroid 2019 AX8 passed 6.9 million kilometers (or 4.3 million miles) from the Earth, after first being seen just two weeks before. The asteroid measured between 28 and 63 meters (equivalent to 92 to 207 feet) across, roughly half the height of the Great Pyramid of Giza. To face threats like this one, NASA is planning to launch the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (called DART) in 2022, in an effort to change the course of such a body. The rocket will collide with the asteroid Didymos B, the smaller of two asteroids which orbit each other. This test will be the first-ever attempt to redirect an asteroid.

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OSIRIS-REx Arrives at the Asteroid Bennu – Tucson and the World Celebrates

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at the asteroid Bennu on December 3rd. This mission will return samples from this body to the Earth for study by researchers. Bennu was discovered in 1999, and this carbon-rich asteroid is believed to be older than the solar system. Researchers hope the mission will help teach us more about the ancient solar system and the formation of life on Earth. The sample material is scheduled to land in the desert of Utah in the year 2023. This is the first U.S. mission to land on an asteroid.

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JAXA Lands Two Hopping Rovers on Asteroid – See the First Picture

The Japanese space agency JAXA has landed two small hopping rovers on the surface of the asteroid Ryugu. These rovers are each seven inches in diameter, and will explore the asteroid by hopping around its surface. Each 50-foot hop will take 15 minutes to complete, due to the extremely weak gravity on the body. These will be followed by two other landers, and the orbiter itself will collect samples of Ryugu to return to Earth in 2020.

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110 Years After Tunguska, Astronomers Ready a New Telescope to Search for Threatening Asteroids from Space

Astronomers are building a new telescope designed to search for asteroids which could threaten the Earth. Called the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, this new observatory under construction in Chile is expected to find 65 percent of the objects which could threaten our home world. It was 110 years ago when an object from space caused a massive blast in Siberia which flattened trees in an area 2,000 square kilometers in size.

Read More 110 Years After Tunguska, Astronomers Ready a New Telescope to Search for Threatening Asteroids from Space

Life Returned Quickly After Dinosaurs were Wiped Out by an Asteroid

Dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid impact 66 million years ago. But, new research suggests plankton and other animals returned to the impact site just a few years after the cataclysmic event. Within 30,000 years, the region was teeming with life. Other areas of the Earth took up to 300,000 years to recover from the collision. Researchers are questioning how life recovered so quickly near the impact site.

Read More Life Returned Quickly After Dinosaurs were Wiped Out by an Asteroid