Following the explosion of an asteroid over the Nubian desert a handful of years ago, researchers have been studying bits and pieces that were harvested from that event. With these, a big discovery has been made: an asteroid from long ago contained active volcanoes.
NASA wants to play rodeo in the stars. An ongoing project to redirect asteroids to a new orbit for study has yielded some candidates, mostly smaller asteroids with loose density. By capturing the asteroids with a manned spacecraft, then redirecting them to the moon’s orbit, NASA hopes to learn more about asteroids, and possibly protect our Earth from collision.
Scientists estimated in the past that the likelihood of a major asteroid strike with the Earth large enough to destroy a city is once every 3000 years. An organization called the B612 Foundation has a very different estimate for this sort of major impact. B612 believes that an asteroid large enough to decimate a city hits the Earth as often as once per century.
With Earth Day round the bend, you’d expect to hear some positive news regarding our planet and the celestial bodies that surround it; instead we have some not-so-good-news. According to former NASA astronauts, we're depending on "blind luck" when it comes to the asteroids avoiding our planet. Apparently we get hit three to ten times more by large-scale asteroids than what is being officially declared by the authorities, this information being brought forward by this trio of space-fairing fellows this week.
The Asteroid Redirect Mission, which has a fairly self-explanatory name, is part of NASA's mission to develop technologies for redirecting and otherwise neutralizing possible asteroid threats. With the mission comes secondary benefits, as well: the early use of technologies needed to send astronauts to Mars and then bring them back.
One of the research areas that NASA is involved in is the Asteroid Redirect Mission. This happens to be one of the key elements of study that hope to put humans on Mars. Although they have their own resources to explore the options, NASA is throwing open their doors to new ideas and creative solutions from folks involved in studies that can help them in their mission.
Last year, NASA introduced its partnership with Planetary Resources and upcoming Grand Asteroid Challenge, which pits humanity against the race to protect our planet from potentially devastating asteroids. On Monday, the space agency will kick off its first contest under the challenge: Asteroid Data Hunter.
If you are the sort that likes to worry about an asteroid hitting the Earth, you have little to fear today. NASA says that the flyby of asteroid 2014 DX110 is a "non-event" but the 90-foot diameter asteroid is going to pass between the orbits of the Earth and the moon this afternoon.
NASA's efforts on the Red Planet have resulted in thousands of images, some more mystifying than others, but few quite as powerful as a high-resolution photograph taken of a fresh asteroid impact. The photo features the resulting crater in the middle, and shows the huge rayed blast zone around it, revealing something akin to blackened sunbeams.