New Images of Asteroid Ryugu from Hayabusa-2

Asteroid Ryugu imaged by Hayabusa2 from between 220 ~ 100 km. (Credit: JAXA)

Comment by Project Scientist, Sei-ichiro Watanbe

The direction of the rotation is reversed compared to the Earth, with a rotation period of about 7.5 hours.

The diameter of Ryugu is about 900m, which is consistent with the prediction from ground observations. However, since the distance between the spacecraft and Ryugu is not precisely determined, there is still some uncertainty in the exact diameter at this time.

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Asteroid Institute Praises U.S. Government Plan for Asteroid Defense

Message From Ed Lu, Asteroid Institute Executive Director

In December 2016, the U.S. Government released its strategy document on preparing for and preventing asteroid impacts in which they outlined which government agencies would be involved in the planning for such an event, and the broad goals to be achieved. At the time, we commented that it was good news that the government was taking the issue of asteroid impacts seriously, but what would really matter is the concrete steps they actually take towards meeting their goals.

Yesterday, the U.S. Government released an implementation plan for carrying out the strategy laid out in 2016. The good news is the report recommends beginning preliminary mission designs towards eventually testing asteroid deflection technologies including both gravity tractors and kinetic impactors. Since our inception, we have recommended the testing of such technologies, ahead of when they might actually be used for real, and we wholeheartedly agree with these initial steps.

Also, we concur with the emphasis on finding and tracking asteroids as a necessary step. The Asteroid Institute, through its Asteroid Decision Analysis and Mapping (ADAM) project, is working on computational tools for interpreting and understanding the flood of new asteroids which will be discovered and tracked in the near future when telescopes like the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) come online in the next few years. The Asteroid Institute also agrees with the recommendation that these surveys should be extended down to asteroids as small as approximately 50 meters across. The Asteroid Institute is working on new technologies which could aid in their discovery and tracking.

Thank you for your support.

To our future,

Dr. Ed Lu
Executive Director
Asteroid Institute

Federal Government Releases National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Plan

A depiction of asteroid 2012 TC4 as it safely passes under Earth on Oct. 12, 2017. While scientists cannot yet predict exactly how close it will approach, they are certain it will come no closer than 4,200 miles (6,800 kilometers) from Earth’s surface. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) –A new multiagency report outlines how the U.S. could become better prepared for near-Earth objects—asteroids and comets whose orbits come within 30 million miles of Earth—otherwise known as NEOs. While no known NEOs currently pose significant risks of impact, the report is a key step to addressing a nationwide response to any future risks.

NASA, along with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and several other governmental agencies collaborated on this federal planning document for NEOs.

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More Than 2000 Asteroid Day Events Planned for 28-30 June

Hayabusa-2 spacecraft (Credit: Akihiro Ikeshita / JAXA)

LUXEMBOURG, SILICON VALLEY  (Asteroid Day PR) — Asteroid Day, the official United Nations’ day of global awareness and education about asteroids, has announced worldwide events for the week of 25-30 June.  Co-founded by astrophysicist and famed musician Dr. Brian May of the rock group Queen, Apollo 9 Astronaut Rusty Schweickart, Filmmaker Grig Richters, and B612 President Danica Remy, Asteroid Day began with two major events in 2015, and has grown to more than 2000 self-organized events worldwide.

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Hayabusa-2 Approaches Asteroid Ryugu

Hayabusa-2 spacecraft (Credit: Akihiro Ikeshita / JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — On June 3, 2018, ion engine operation was completed and the final approach to the asteroid begun. By photographing the asteroid with the Optical Navigation Camera, optical navigation (precisely “hybrid navigation using optical and radiometric observations”) can be used to approach Ryugu while accurately estimating the trajectory of the spacecraft and asteroid.

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Pew Poll Show Strong Support for U.S. Space Leadership, Little for Returning Astronauts to Moon

The newly-expanded Expedition 54 crew gathers in the Zvezda service module for ceremonila congratulations from family and mission officials. (Credit: NASA TV)

A new poll by the Pew Research Center showed strong support for maintaining U.S. leadership in space, but little interest in returning astronauts to the moon.

“Roughly seven-in-ten Americans (72%) say it is essential for the U.S. to continue to be a world leader in space exploration, and eight-in-ten (80%) say the space station has been a good investment for the country,” the survey found.

However, only 13 percent felt that sending astronauts back to the moon should be a top NASA priority. Mars came in slightly higher at 18 percent.

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NEOWISE Thermal Data Reveal Surface Properties of Over 100 Asteroids

Rosetta's closest approach to the asteroid Lutetia. (Credits: ESA 2010 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)
Rosetta’s closest approach to the asteroid Lutetia. (Credits: ESA 2010 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Nearly all asteroids are so far away and so small that the astronomical community only knows them as moving points of light. The rare exceptions are asteroids that have been visited by spacecraft, a small number of large asteroids resolved by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope or large ground-based telescopes, or those that have come close enough for radar imaging.

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Lucy Asteroid Mission Moves Toward 2021 Launch

Southwest Research Institute is leading NASA’s Lucy mission, which will launch in 2021 for the first reconnaissance of the Trojans, a population of primitive asteroids orbiting in tandem with Jupiter. In this artist’s concept (not to scale), the Lucy spacecraft is flying by Eurybates, one of the six diverse and scientifically important Trojans to be studied. (Credit: SwRI)

The first mission to explore Trojan asteroids that orbit in tandem with Jupiter is moving forward toward a late 2021 launch date using heritage hardware that has already been tested in space, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) assessment.

“Project officials characterize the Lucy design as low risk because it does not require development of any critical technologies and has a high heritage design,” the GAO found. “For example, these officials stated that Lucy’s design has the same architecture as prior NASA projects such as Juno and the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN).

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NASA’s Psyche Mission Aims to Launch Ahead of Original Schedule

NASA’s Psyche mission to a distant metal asteroid will carry a revolutionary Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) package. This artist’s concept shows Psyche spacecraft with a five-panel array. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin)

The Psyche asteroid project is a rarity among the 17 major NASA projects that were recently assessed by the Government Accountability Office (GAO): it’s actually aiming to launch ahead of schedule.

“NASA selected the project’s 2023 launch proposal, but later directed the project to work to an accelerated launch readiness date of August 2022,” the GAO report stated. “The accelerated launch date will allow Psyche to arrive at the asteroid over 4 years earlier than the original timeline due to a quicker flight.”

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GAO: NASA Asteroid Impact Mission Faces Technical, Schedule Challenges

DART spacecraft (Credit: JHU APL)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s ambitious effort to redirect a small asteroid has run into challenges with its financing, technology and foreign partner that could delay its launch and reduce its scientific return, according to a new assessment by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) will impact the smaller of the binary near-Earth asteroid Didymos. Scientists will study how the asteroid is deflected to learn how similar systems might be used on potentially hazardous near-Earth objects.

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Asteroid Institute, York Space Systems to Explore Low-Cost Space-Based Asteroid Tracking System

SILICON VALLEY, CA., May 10, 2018 (B612 Foundation PR)-– The Asteroid Institute, a program of the B612 Foundation, has announced a new collaboration with York Space Systems to explore a data-gathering constellation of satellites for a new asteroid tracking system. In addition, the Institute will join York’s innovative program with Metropolitan State University (MSU) of Denver, by engaging students to work on the project, providing both motivation and practical skills to train the next generation space industry workforce.

“We are tremendously impressed with York’s capabilities, facilities and engineering expertise to initiate this collaboration,” stated B612 President Danica Remy. “We are also highly supportive of their innovative enterprise business model, which integrates all segments of a space mission, from provision of the standardized bus through launch and mission operations. This allows an organization like the Asteroid Institute, to concentrate on developing special purpose instruments with partners and advanced data processing, while York takes responsibility for the spacecraft mission.”

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Planetary Resources Declares Arkyd-6 a Success

Arkyd-6 spacecraft (Credit: Planetary Resources)

Mission Update from Planetary Resources

On January 12, 2018, we launched the Arkyd-6, a 6U CubeSat, a demonstration platform for technology intended to detect water resources in space. The launch on the Indian PSLV C40 was spectacular and within hours after our spacecraft reached its polar Earth orbit, the team began to regularly receive healthy telemetry from the spacecraft.

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NASA’s NEOWISE Asteroid-Hunter Spacecraft Releases Fourth Years of Survey Data

NEOWISE (Credit; NASA)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission has released its fourth year of survey data. Since the mission was restarted in December 2013, after a period of hibernation, the asteroid- and comet-hunter has completely scanned the skies nearly eight times and has observed and characterized 29,375 objects in four years of operations. This total includes 788 near-Earth objects and 136 comets since the mission restart.

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Deep Space Industries Raises $3.5 Million

SAN JOSE, Calif. (DSI PR) — Deep Space Industries (DSI), a leading space technology company, announced today the closing of the first tranche of its Series A funding round. The company raised just over $3.5M from private investors. The funding will be used to develop MeteorTM, the company’s new launch-safe bipropellant rocket engine, and continue the ongoing development of the XplorerTM spacecraft, the company’s deep space exploration platform scheduled for launch in 2020.

“Deep Space Industries has rapidly developed a leadership position in the space technology market”, said Eric Uhrhane, one of several private investors in this round. “The propulsion and spacecraft technologies this team have developed over the last few years will dramatically lower the cost of access to deep space, and I’m excited to be a part of that.”

The company recently announced two significant contracts for its water-based Comet propulsion systems for small satellites, and plans to release Meteor, its second-generation propulsion system, later in 2018.

“With the growing interest in our green propulsion systems, this funding round ensures that we’ll be able to meet customer demand, while also moving forward with our more advanced systems and spacecraft,” said Bill Miller, chief executive of DSI. “Our continued investor support is appreciated as we work to lower the cost of high performance missions in Earth orbit, and beyond.”

Deep Space Industries plans to launch the first private deep space mission in 2020, using its Xplorer spacecraft. This funding round allows the company to accelerate the development of this compact, affordable, and versatile exploration spacecraft that can be used for a wide range of scientific and commercial missions in Earth orbit, and throughout the inner solar system.

About Deep Space Industries

Deep Space Industries (DSI) is a Silicon Valley-based space technology company dedicated to making space resources available to fuel humankind’s expansion into space. DSI is developing a suite of technologies intended to dramatically lower the cost of undertaking high-performance missions in both Earth orbit and deep space. Its first commercial offerings have been low-cost, launch-safe propulsion systems, which are a key missing piece for a wide range of low-cost missions. DSI is headquartered in San Jose, California, with offices in Florida and Luxembourg. For more information, visit: www.DeepSpaceIndustries.com