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Topic: Asteroids

NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) discovers Comet that looked like an Asteroid

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Comet C/2013 UQ4 (Catalina) has been observed by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) spacecraft just one day after passing through its closest approach to the sun.

The comet glows brightly in infrared wavelengths, with a dust tail streaking more than 62,000 miles (100,000 kilometers) across the sky. Its spectacular activity is driven by the vaporization of ice that has been preserved from the time of planet formation 4.5 billion years ago.

Comet C/2013 UQ4 (Catalina) appeared to be a highly active comet one day past perihelion on July 7, 2014. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Comet C/2013 UQ4 (Catalina) appeared to be a highly active comet one day past perihelion on July 7, 2014. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA reports Rosetta spacecraft detects water vapor coming from target Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is releasing the Earthly equivalent of two glasses of water into space every second. The observations were made by the Microwave Instrument for Rosetta Orbiter (MIRO), aboard the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft on June 6th, 2014.

The detection of water vapor has implications not only for cometary science, but also for mission planning, as the Rosetta team prepares the spacecraft to become the first ever to orbit a comet (planned for August), and the first to deploy a lander to its surface (planned for November 11th).

This artist's impression shows the Rosetta orbiter at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image is not to scale. (ESA/ATG Medialab)

This artist’s impression shows the Rosetta orbiter at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image is not to scale. (ESA/ATG Medialab)

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NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover captures first ever photo of Asteroids from the surface of Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new image from NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is the first ever from the surface of Mars to show an asteroid, and it shows two: Ceres and Vesta.

These two — the largest and third-largest bodies in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter — are the destinations of NASA’s Dawn mission. Dawn orbited Vesta in 2011 and 2012, and is on its way to begin orbiting Ceres next year. Ceres is a dwarf planet, as well as an asteroid.

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has caught the first image of asteroids taken from the surface of Mars. The image includes two asteroids, Ceres and Vesta. This version includes Mars' moon Deimos in a circular, exposure-adjusted inset and square insets at left from other observations the same night.

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has caught the first image of asteroids taken from the surface of Mars. The image includes two asteroids, Ceres and Vesta. This version includes Mars’ moon Deimos in a circular, exposure-adjusted inset and square insets at left from other observations the same night.

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NASA to send high tech legs to International Space Station for Robonaut

 

NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s built and is sending a set of high-tech legs up to the International Space Station for Robonaut 2 (R2), the station’s robotic crewmember. The new legs will be delivered to the space station aboard the SpaceX-3 cargo resupply mission, due to launch March 16th from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

These new legs, funded by NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations and Space Technology mission directorates, will provide R2 the mobility it needs to help with regular and repetitive tasks inside and outside the space station. The goal is to free up the crew for more critical work, including scientific research.

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NASA looks for Asteroid candidates for Redirect Mission to the Moon

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – One year ago, on February 15th, 2013, the world was witness to the dangers presented by near-Earth Objects (NEOs) when a relatively small asteroid entered Earth’s atmosphere, exploding over Chelyabinsk, Russia, and releasing more energy than a large atomic bomb.

Tracking near-Earth asteroids has been a significant endeavor for NASA and the broader astronomical community, which has discovered 10,713 known near-Earth objects to date.

This concept image shows an astronaut preparing to take samples from the captured asteroid after it has been relocated to a stable orbit in the Earth-moon system. Hundreds of rings are affixed to the asteroid capture bag, helping the astronaut carefully navigate the surface.

This concept image shows an astronaut preparing to take samples from the captured asteroid after it has been relocated to a stable orbit in the Earth-moon system. Hundreds of rings are affixed to the asteroid capture bag, helping the astronaut carefully navigate the surface.

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NASA scientists use new Technique to examine meteor, comet materials for components of Life

 

Written by Bill Steigerwald
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – While the origin of life remains mysterious, scientists are finding more and more evidence that material created in space and delivered to Earth by comet and meteor impacts could have given a boost to the start of life.

Some meteorites supply molecules that can be used as building blocks to make certain kinds of larger molecules that are critical for life.

Researchers have analyzed carbon-rich meteorites (carbonaceous chondrites) and found amino acids, which are used to make proteins.

This photo compares the sample size typically used in meteorite studies (yellow oval) to the sample size used with the new equipment (blue circle) in Goddard's Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory. (Michael Callahan)

This photo compares the sample size typically used in meteorite studies (yellow oval) to the sample size used with the new equipment (blue circle) in Goddard’s Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory. (Michael Callahan)

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NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) has three new discoveries since reactivation

 

Written by Whitney Clavin/DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – In its first 25 days of operations, the newly reactivated NEOWISE mission has detected 857 minor bodies in our solar system, including 22 near-Earth objects (NEOs) and four comets. Three of the NEOs are new discoveries; all three are hundreds of meters in diameter and dark as coal.

The mission has just passed its post-restart survey readiness review, and the project has verified that the ability to measure asteroid positions and brightness is as good as it was before the spacecraft entered hibernation in early 2011.

More than 100 asteroids were captured in this view from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, during its primary all-sky survey. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA)

More than 100 asteroids were captured in this view from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, during its primary all-sky survey. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA)

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NASA’s NEOWISE Spacecraft discovers it’s first new Asteroid since being reactivated

 

Written by DC Agle / Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) spacecraft has spotted a never-before-seen asteroid — its first such discovery since coming out of hibernation last year.

NEOWISE originally was called the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), which had made the most comprehensive survey to date of asteroids and comets. The spacecraft was shut down in 2011 after its primary mission was completed.

The six red dots in this composite picture indicate the location of the first new near-Earth asteroid seen by NASA's Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) since the spacecraft came out of hibernation in December 2013. The asteroid, called 2013 YP139, is the first of hundreds of space-rock discoveries expected during its renewed mission. The inset shows a zoomed-in view of one of the detections of 2013 YP139. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The six red dots in this composite picture indicate the location of the first new near-Earth asteroid seen by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) since the spacecraft came out of hibernation in December 2013. The asteroid, called 2013 YP139, is the first of hundreds of space-rock discoveries expected during its renewed mission. The inset shows a zoomed-in view of one of the detections of 2013 YP139. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) takes image of dying star

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – In an unexpected juxtaposition of cosmic objects that are actually quite far from each other, a newly released image from NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) shows a dying star, called the Helix nebula, surrounded by the tracks of asteroids. The nebula is far outside our solar system, while the asteroid tracks are inside our solar system.

The portrait, discovered by chance in a search for asteroids, comes at a time when the mission’s team is celebrating its fourth launch anniversary — and new lease on life.

A dying star, called the Helix nebula, is shown surrounded by the tracks of asteroids in an image captured by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA)

A dying star, called the Helix nebula, is shown surrounded by the tracks of asteroids in an image captured by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA)

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NASA’s Deep Space Network celebrates 50 years of operation

 

Written by David Israel
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Deep Space Network, the world’s largest and most powerful communications system for “talking to” spacecraft, will reach a milestone on December 24th: the 50th anniversary of its official creation.

Over the past 50 years, antennas of the Deep Space Network (DSN) have communicated with just about every mission that has gone to the moon or beyond. The historic communiqués include “That’s one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind”; numerous encounters with the outer planets of our solar system; images taken by rovers exploring Mars; and the data confirming that NASA’s Voyager spacecraft had finally entered interstellar space.

Beam Wave Guide antennas at Goldstone, known as the "Beam Waveguide Cluster." Each antenna is 111.5-feet (34-m) in diameter. They're located in an area at Goldstone called "Apollo Valley." This photograph was taken on Jan. 11th, 2012. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Beam Wave Guide antennas at Goldstone, known as the “Beam Waveguide Cluster.” Each antenna is 111.5-feet (34-m) in diameter. They’re located in an area at Goldstone called “Apollo Valley.” This photograph was taken on Jan. 11th, 2012. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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