On May 31, 2013, asteroid 1998 QE2 will sail serenely past Earth, getting no closer than about 3.6 million miles (5.8 million kilometers), or about 15 times the distance between Earth and the moon. And while QE2 is not of much interest to those astronomers and scientists on the lookout for hazardous asteroids, it is of interest to those who dabble in radar astronomy and have a 230-foot (70-meter) — or larger — radar telescope at their disposal.
“Asteroid 1998 QE2 will be an outstanding radar imaging target at Goldstone and Arecibo and we expect to obtain a series of high-resolution images that could reveal a wealth of surface features,” said radar astronomer Lance Benner, the principal investigator for the Goldstone radar observations from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “Whenever an asteroid approaches this closely, it provides an important scientific opportunity to study it in detail to understand its size, shape, rotation, surface features, and what they can tell us about its origin. We will also use new radar measurements of the asteroid’s distance and velocity to improve our calculation of its orbit and compute its motion farther into the future than we could otherwise.”
The closest approach of the asteroid occurs on May 31 at 1:59 p.m. Pacific (4:59 p.m. Eastern / 20:59 UTC). This is the closest approach the asteroid will make to Earth for at least the next two centuries. Asteroid 1998 QE2 was discovered on Aug. 19, 1998, by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program near Socorro, New Mexico.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is scheduled to launch the asteroid explorer “Hayabusa2”*1 on the H-IIA Launch Vehicle in 2014. The Hayabusa2 will arrive at an asteroid in 2018 to investigate it for one and half years, before returning to Earth in 2020.
JAXA will record and load your names, messages and illustrations on onboard devices (the target marker*2 and re-entry capsule*3) of the Hayabusa2. Through this campaign and Hayabusa2’s six-year space mission, we would like people to deepen their understanding of Japan’s space probe activities.
NASA and international researchers have discovered that Earth’s moon has more in common than previously thought with large asteroids roaming our solar system.
Scientists from NASA’s Lunar Science Institute (NLSI) in Moffett Field, Calif., discovered that the same population of high-speed projectiles that impacted our lunar neighbor four billion years ago, also hit the giant asteroid Vesta and perhaps other large asteroids.
The research unveils an unexpected link between Vesta and the moon, and provides new means for studying the early bombardment history of terrestrial planets. The findings are published in the March issue of Nature Geoscience.
Dr Hugh Lewis, Lecturer in Aerospace Engineering, has analysed the recent extraordinary Russian meteor event using the “NEOImpactor” tool, which was developed by researchers from the University and designed to investigate the risks faced by the Earth from asteroid impacts.
On the morning of Friday 15 February, an asteroid estimated to be the size of a five-storey building entered the atmosphere over the Urals region of Russia and disintegrated. It generated a blastwave that blew out windows and damaged buildings in the city of Chelyabinsk, injuring more than 1000 people. Just a few hours later, the world witnessed the 40 metre asteroid 2012 DA14 pass between the Earth and the ring of geostationary satellites; the closest approach of an object this size for a century.
Dr Lewis explained the significance of the event: “This is the first time that we’ve seen injuries resulting from a collision between the Earth and an asteroid. I think that what surprised most people was the scale of the damage from a relatively small object and the fact that we didn’t have any warning.”
You want to protect the Earth from asteroids? Where were you when the dinosaurs needed you? You want to be like Bruce Willis in that asteroid movie?
Wie has a serious reply: After five years of science and engineering work, Wie and his small team have a publication list of 40-plus technical papers, $600,000 of NASA research support and a proposal for a $500 million test launch of an asteroid intercept system. Plus, Wie has just been invited to show off his research as part of NASA’s Technology Day on the Hill in Washington, D.C., on April 17.
“It’s not a laughing matter,” said Wie, the director of the Asteroid Deflection Research Center at Iowa State University and the Vance D. Coffman Faculty Chair and professor of aerospace engineering.
Recent events have certainly highlighted the threat of asteroid strikes. There was the 15-meter (49-foot) meteor that exploded an estimated 12 miles over Chelyabinsk, Russia, on Feb. 15, damaging buildings and injuring more than 1,000 people. That same day, the 45-meter (148-foot) asteroid 2012 DA14 passed within 17,200 miles of Earth.
Slooh Space Camera To Track Newly Discovered Near-Earth Object 2013 ET Zooming By Earth At Only 2.5 Lunar Distances Away
Discovered on March 3, 2013, by the Catalina Sky Survey, NEO (near-Earth object) 2013 ET, an asteroid the size of a city block, will make its closest approach to Earth on Saturday, March 9th, less than 7 days after it was discovered. Slooh Space Camera will cover its closest approach on Saturday, live on Slooh.com, free to the public, starting at 12:15 p.m. PST / 3:15 p.m. EST / 20:15 UTC — International times at http://goo.gl/kQJuL — accompanied by real-time discussions with Slooh president Patrick Paolucci, Slooh engineer Paul Cox, and documentary filmmaker Duncan Copp. Viewers can watch live on their PC/MAC or iOS/Android mobile device.
The asteroid is estimated to be approximately 64-140 meters (210-460 feet) wide and will pass 2.5 times the Moon’s distance from our planet. At its maximum brightness on March 9th, NEO 2013 ET will be at a relatively dim magnitude of 17 — not bright enough to view through a backyard telescope, but should be reasonably bright through Slooh telescopes in the Canary Islands, off the coast of west Africa.
The B612 Foundation believes we should find threatening asteroids before they find us. Today’s meteor explosion over Chelyabinsk is a wake-up call that the Earth orbits the Sun in a shooting gallery of asteroids, and that these asteroids sometimes hit the Earth. Later today, a separate and larger asteroid, 2012 DA14, narrowly missed the Earth passing beneath the orbits of our communications satellites. We have the technology to deflect asteroids, but we cannot do anything about the objects we don’t know exist. To date, less than 1% of asteroids larger than the one that leveled Tunguska in 1908 have been tracked. The B612 Foundation Sentinel Space Telescope, to be launched in 2018, will provide a comprehensive map of the locations and trajectories of threatening asteroids and will give humanity the decades of warning needed to prevent asteroid impacts with existing technology. By the end of its planned lifetime, Sentinel will have discovered well over 90% of the asteroids that could destroy entire regions of Earth on impact (those larger than 350ft in diameter) and more than 50% of the currently unknown DA14-like near-Earth asteroids.
In the realm of potential planetary disasters, asteroids are among the ones to fear—like the meteorite that hit Russia today, they can inflict serious damage on Earth.
With the aid of a $5-million grant from NASA, a University of Hawaii team of astronomers is developing ATLAS, a system to identify dangerous asteroids before their final plunge to Earth. The team is on track to build and operate an asteroid detection system that will patrol the visible sky twice a night looking for faint objects moving through space.
ATLAS (Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System) will operate up to 8 small telescopes, each fitted with cameras of up to 100 megapixels, on mounts housed at one or two locations in the Hawaiian Islands. Astronomers expect the system to be fully operational by the end of 2015.
An asteroid roughly half as large as a football field –– and with energy equal to a large hydrogen bomb –– recently buzzed by Earth at close range. Someday, a threat of that size could be eliminated within an hour under a proposed system just unveiled by two California scientists. The same system could destroy asteroids 10 times larger than that known as 2012 DA14 in about a year, with evaporation starting at a distance as far away as the Sun.
UC Santa Barbara physicist and professor Philip M. Lubin, and Gary B. Hughes, a researcher and professor from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, conceived DE-STAR, or Directed Energy Solar Targeting of Asteroids an exploRation, as a realistic means of mitigating potential threats posed to the Earth by asteroids and comets.
Described as a “directed energy orbital defense system,” DE-STAR is designed to harness some of the power of the sun and convert it into a massive phased array of laser beams that can destroy, or evaporate, asteroids posing a potential threat to Earth.
Full Story: http://www.ia.ucsb.edu/pa/display.aspx?pkey=2943
ESA’s Herschel space observatory made new observations of asteroid Apophis as it approached Earth this weekend. The data shows the asteroid to be bigger than first estimated, and less reflective.
Catalogued as asteroid (99942) Apophis (previously 2004 MN4), it is often nicknamed ‘the doomsday asteroid’ in popular media, after initial observations made after its discovery in 2004 gave it a 2.7% chance of striking Earth in April 2029. With additional data, however, an impact in 2029 was soon ruled out, although the asteroid will pass within 36 000 km of Earth’s surface, closer even than the orbits of geostationary satellites.
The asteroid will return to Earth’s neighbourhood again in 2036, but quite how close it will come then is uncertain, as the 2029 approach is predicted to alter its orbit substantially. Obtaining improved physical parameters for Apophis and its orbit is thus of great importance in being able to make better predictions of its future trajectory.