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Video: Asteroids Pose Hazards — and Opportunities


David Morrison talks about the hazards — and opportunities — of asteroids during a recent talk at the SETI Institute.

Stardust Heads for Valentine’s Day Rendezvous With Comet



NASA’s Stardust-NExT spacecraft is nearing a celestial date with comet Tempel 1 at approximately 8:37 p.m. PST (11:37 p.m. EST), on Feb. 14. The mission will allow scientists for the first time to look for changes on a comet’s surface that occurred following an orbit around the sun.

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Energia Wants to Spend $1.9 Billion on Orbital Pod to Clean Up Space Debris


Some interesting news via the Chinese Xinhua news agency that RSC Energia plans to build a nuclear-power “orbital pod” to clean up space debris. The details include:

  • cost: 600 billion rubles ($1.9 billion USD)
  • cleanup 600 satellites by dropping them in the ocean over 10 years
  • begin operations by 2023
  • 15 year lifespan.

The report also indicates that Energia has been developing plans for a “space interceptor designed to destroy dangerous space objects heading toward the Earth.” These presumably would be near Earth objects.

As with many Russian projects, it’s not clear if there is money available or this is a proposal looking for funding.

NASA’s EPOXI Spacecraft Flew Through Cosmic Snow Storm



The EPOXI mission’s recent encounter with comet Hartley 2 provided the first images clear enough for scientists to link jets of dust and gas with specific surface features. NASA and other scientists have begun to analyze the images.

The EPOXI mission spacecraft revealed a cometary snow storm created by carbon dioxide jets spewing out tons of golf-ball to basketball-sized fluffy ice particles from the peanut-shaped comet’s rocky ends. At the same time, a different process was causing water vapor to escape from the comet’s smooth mid-section. This information sheds new light on the nature of comets and even planets.

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Russians Aim for Landings on Moon, Mercury, Phobos and Europa


During the International Academy of Astronautics Summit on Wednesday, Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov laid out Russia’s ambitious plans for Solar System exploration, which includes a sample return from Phobos and the Moon as well as landings on the planet Mercury and Jupiter’s moon Europa. The meeting, which was aimed at deepening international cooperation in space, was attended by 27 heads of space agencies.

The Russian space agency and ITAR-TASS reported on Perminov’s comments, which also included remarks about nuclear propulsion, climate change monitoring, asteroid missions, space situational awareness, and the International Space Station.

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Space Agencies Coordinate Response to Killer Near Earth Objects

Comments’s Leonard David has a report on a recent meeting in Europe to coordinate an action plan to battle near Earth objects that could rain havoc down on our planet:

Space agencies around the world are working to be ready to coordinate their response to any potentially harmful asteroid headed for Earth.

To help focus a world-class planetary defense against threatening near-Earth objects, the space experts are seeking to establish a high-level Mission Planning and Operations Group, or MPOG for short.

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Space Manufacturing 14 Video: Moon, Mars or Asteroids First Discussion


A video of the “Moon, Mars, Asteroids: Where to Go First for Resources?” panel discussion held during  the Space Studies Institute’s Space Manufacturing 14 conference in Silicon Valley. Moderated by tech investor Esther Dyson, the discussion included:

  • Prof. Mike A’Hearn, University of Maryland, Dept. of Astronomy
  • Prof. Greg Baiden, Penguin Automated Systems
  • Mark Sonter, Asteroid Enterprises Pty Ltd
  • Prof. John Lewis, Space Studies Institute
  • Dr. Paul Spudis, Lunar and Planetary Institute
  • Jeff Greason, XCOR Aerospace.

SSI Space Manufacturing 14: Extraterrestrial Prospecting Session


Asteroid Ida

Extraterrestrial Prospecting

Michael A’Hearn, University of Maryland
“Water or Rocks: Resources for Earth or for Exploration?”

Brad Blair, SSI, and Prof. Leslie Gertsch, University of Missouri-Rolla
“Mining Methods for Asteroid Utilization”

Mark Sonter, Asteroid Enterprises Pty Ltd.

“Mining Concepts Development for Assessing Asteroid Resources”

Dr. Faith Vilas, University of Arizona
“Resources from Asteroids: What We Can Expect From What We Now Know”
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Competition Winners for Apophis Rendezvous Mission


Spacework's Foresight Spacecraft

Spacework's Foresight Spacecraft

Bruce Betts of the Planetary Society is blogging from the Planetary Defense Conference in Granada, Spain. He reports that the winners of the society’s Apophis Mission Design Competition are presenting their plans to rendezvous with the Apophis asteroid.

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A Closer Look at Asteroids….


Discovery Space has a special section on asteroids this week with a number of interesting articles:

  • News: Incoming Asteroid Under Close Watch
    Asteroid Apophis is set to swing by Earth 20 years from today, on Friday April 13, 2029. Are we ready? Discovery News reports.
  • Top 10: Asteroid-Stopping Technologies
    Can nuking an asteroid — or simply painting one — really save planet Earth? investigates.
  • Interview: Protecting Earth from Asteroids
    Former astronaut and anti-asteroid advocate Rusty Schweickart spills the beans on an incoming space rock’s most unpredictable factor: humanity itself.
  • Slide Show: Asteroids & Near-Earth Objects
    Get up-close-and-personal with our 10 favorite space rocks floating around in the solar system, some of which may impact Earth.
  • Video: Ancient Tsunami Caused by Asteroid
    An asteroid likely sent an ancient tsunami barrelling toward what is now known as New York City. Jorge Ribas explains.