The spacecraft OSIRIS-REx has reveled a wealth of new information about Bennu, a large, ancient asteroid. On March 19th, researchers released a wide range of scientific papers, providing a new look at this diamond-shaped body. New data shows Bennu is covered in massive boulders, which could hinder the spacecraft from gathering materials from the surface. Researchers have also spotted evidence water once existed on the body from which Bennu broke free. Gravity on the asteroid was also found to act in a strange manner, causing anything just outside its equator to be pulled toward the center of the asteroid, and shot into space.Read More OSIRIS-REx Reveals Secrets of Bennu — The Doomed Asteroid
Science fiction is filled with stories of astronauts blowing up asteroids just before they strike the Earth. But, doing so could be even worse than doing nothing, as fragments of these bodies could impact the Earth in multiple locations, like a shotgun blast. Now, new research from Johns Hopkins University shows even attempting to blow up an asteroid might prove futile. Computer models of impacts between two asteroids show that such events would likely result in short-term fragmenting of the bodies, but these pieces would come together again within hours, recreating a mass much like the original asteroid. Researchers are on the lookout for asteroids and comets heading toward the Earth that could endanger areas from small cities to the entire planet.Read More Want to Blow Up an Asteroid? It’s Harder than You Think
Astronomers have long theorized that planetary systems can be affected by stars passing near solar systems. However, direct evidence of this has never been seen, until now.
Sitting 300 light years from Earth, the star HD 106906 is accompanied by a planet 11 times the size of Jupiter, orbiting the pair of binary stars 738 times further away than the distance between the Earth and the Sun. Computer simulations show that roughly 12 million years ago, another pair of stars passed the system, altering the orbit of this giant world, pulling it far from its stellar companions. Had the encounter not taken place, this world would have crashed into the stars around which it orbits.
Evidence of rain has been spotted near the north pole of Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, for the first time ever, Since the arrival of the Cassini spacecraft at Saturn in 2004, astronomers have been expecting to see this phenomenon, which they expected to occur in 2016 or 2017. Titan is the second-largest moon in the Solar System, and is the only one known to possess a thick atmosphere, along with vast lakes and seas of liquid methane and ethane. These conditions make it one of the most-likely places to find life in our solar system. Currently, NASA is considering sending a drone, called Dragonfly, to the moon, to be launched in the year 2025.Read More Rain on Saturn’s Moon Titan Could Make this World the Life of the Party
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.Read More OSIRIS-REx Arrives at the Asteroid Bennu – Tucson and the World Celebrates
A giant planet, more than 12 times as massive as Jupiter, has been discovered floating freely through space 20 light years from Earth. This gas giant exhibits a powerful magnet field, 3.8 million times stronger than the one surrounding Earth. The planet was found utilizing the Very Large Array of radio telescopes in New Mexico. This marks the first time ever that a planet has been discovered using a radio telescope.Read More Glowing Rogue – Massive Young Planet Found Floating Alone Through Space