NASA’s Newly Arrived OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Already Discovers Water on Asteroid

This mosaic image of asteroid Bennu is composed of 12 PolyCam images collected on Dec. 2 by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from a range of 15 miles (24 km). (Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Recently analyzed data from NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission has revealed water locked inside the clays that make up its scientific target, the asteroid Bennu.

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Planetary Defense: The Bennu Experiment

This artist’s concept shows the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security – Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft contacting the asteroid Bennu with the Touch-And-Go Sample Arm Mechanism or TAGSAM. The mission aims to return a sample of Bennu’s surface coating to Earth for study as well as return detailed information about the asteroid and it’s trajectory. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — On Dec. 3, after traveling billions of kilometers from Earth, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft reached its target, Bennu, and kicked off a nearly two-year, up-close investigation of the asteroid. It will inspect nearly every square inch of this ancient clump of rubble left over from the formation of our solar system. Ultimately, the spacecraft will pick up a sample of pebbles and dust from Bennu’s surface and deliver it to Earth in 2023.

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Planetary Resources’ New Owner Seems a Bit Flaky

Forbes takes a critical look at cryptocurrency/block chain guru Joe Lubin, whose ConsenSys company purchased asteroid mining company Planetary Resources. (Although given the headline, critical seems polite: Cryptopia In Crisis: Joe Lubin’s Ethereum Experiment Is A Mess. How Long Will He Prop It Up?)

So, how does asteroid mining fit into Lubin’s master plan?

Lubin insists ConsenSys is getting more selective in picking projects. But old habits die hard. In October it bought a nine-year-old asteroid-mining company called Planetary Resources. “We see it as a group of amazingly capable people who are interested in exploring how blockchain could ramify on space operations,” Lubin says abstrusely.

Ramify? Huh…

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NASA to Highlight Asteroid Bennu, Earth’s Polar Ice at AGU Meeting

Asteroid Bennu (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA researchers will present new findings on a wide range of Earth and space science topics at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), Dec. 10-14 in Washington. NASA-related briefings will stream live on the agency’s website.

Briefing topics include: the latest findings from the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-Rex) mission to asteroid Bennu and the new Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) Earth-observing mission; the lingering impact of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico; and an update on Voyager 2 at the edge of the solar system.

Agency scientists, and their colleagues who use NASA research capabilities, also will present noteworthy findings during scientific sessions that are open to registered media.

Details on NASA presentations will be updated online throughout the week. For a complete and up-to-date schedule of briefings and media participation information, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/agu

For more information about NASA missions and programs, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov

NASA to Provide Live Coverage of OSIRIS-REx’s Arrival at Bennu on Monday

Asteroid Bennu (Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

LITTLETON, Colo. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft is scheduled to rendezvous with its targeted asteroid, Bennu, on Monday, Dec. 3 at approximately noon EST.

NASA will air a live event from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. EST to highlight the arrival of the agency’s first asteroid sample return mission. The program will originate from OSIRIS-REx’s mission control at the Lockheed Martin Space facility in Littleton, Colorado, and will air on NASA Television, Facebook LiveUstreamYouTube and the agency’s website. NASA TV also will air an arrival preview program starting at 11:15 a.m. EST.

OSIRIS-REx launched in September 2016 and has been slowly approaching Bennu. The spacecraft will spend almost a year surveying the asteroid with five scientific instruments with the goal of selecting a location that is safe and scientifically interesting to collect the sample. OSIRIS-REx will return the sample to Earth in September 2023.

Participants in the arrival coverage event include:

  • Michelle Thaller, moderator, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md
  • Rich Burns, OSIRIS-REx project manager, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md
  • Heather Enos, OSIRIS-REx deputy principal investigator, University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Mark Fisher, OSIRIS-REx spacecraft engineer, Lockheed Martin Space, Littleton, Colo.
  • Coralie Adam, OSIRIS-REx flight navigator, KinetX, Inc. Space Navigation and Flight Dynamics, Simi Valley, Calif.

Media can submit questions in advance to Danielle.M.Hauf@lmco.com. On Dec. 3. media and the public may ask questions using the hashtag #askNASA on Twitter or by leaving a comment on the livestream of the event on the OSIRIS-REx Mission Facebook page.

For more information about OSIRIS-REx, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/osiris-rex

Lucy in the Sky with…Asteroids

Conceptual image of the Lucy mission to the Trojan asteroids. (Credits: NASA/SwRI)

By Tamsyn Brann
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

A little over 4 billion years ago, the planets in our solar system coexisted with vast numbers of small rocky or icy objects orbiting the Sun. These were the last remnants of the planetesimals – the primitive building blocks that formed the planets. Most of these leftover objects were then lost, as shifts in the orbits of the giant planets scattered them to the distant outer reaches of the solar system or beyond. But some were captured in two less-distant regions, near points where the gravitational influence of Jupiter and the Sun balance, and have remained trapped there, mostly untouched, for billions of years.

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NASA OSIRIS-REx Flexes “Arm” Before Arriving at Asteroid Bennu

This image of the OSIRIS-REx Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism arm and sampling head in space was taken on Nov. 14, 2018, by the spacecraft’s SamCam imager as part of a visual checkout of the sample return system. (Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

DENVER, Nov. 16, 2018 (Lockheed Martin PR) — TAGSAM, or Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism, completed a successful practice deployment in space on Nov. 14—an important milestone in the OSIRIS-REx mission to the asteroid Bennu. TAGSAM is the first-of-its-kind robotic arm and sampling head invented by Lockheed Martin.

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Luxembourg Lost $13.7 Million on Planetary Resources Investment

Luxembourg Economy Minister Etienne Schneider has disclosed to Parliament that the nation lost €12 million ($13.7 million) investing in the asteroid mining company Planetary Resources, the Luxembourg Times reports.

In October, Luxembourg sold its stake in the company, which was acquired by the block chain management firm ConsenSYS.

The SNCI set up the SAAM Luxembourg, a company created with €13.75 million [$15.7 million], of which €12 million [$13.7 million] was directly invested in Planetary Resources for the 10% stake in its shares.

“This decision to sell results, among other things, from an analysis of the particular American legal context and prudent management which intends to limit the potential exposures of SAAM Luxembourg, or even of SNCI as sole shareholder of SAAM Luxembourg,” Schneider explained.

“The realised capital loss corresponds roughly to the value adjustment (of 100% of the sums invested in Planetary Resources) in the accounts in SAAM Luxembourg’s 2017 annual results,” he added.

Massive Impact Crater from a Kilometer-wide Iron Meteorite Discovered in Greenland

COPENHAGEN (University of Copenhagen PR) — An international team lead by researchers from the Centre for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen have discovered a 31-km wide meteorite impact crater buried beneath the ice-sheet in the northern Greenland. This is the first time that a crater of any size has been found under one of Earth’s continental ice sheets. The researchers worked for last three years to verify their discovery, initially made in the 2015. The research is described in a new study just published in the internationally recognized journal Science Advances.

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Hayabusa2 Rehearses Landings on Asteroid Ryugu

Figure 2: Image of the surface of Ryugu captured with the ONC-W1 at an altitude of about 47m. The image was taken on October 15, 2018 at 22:45 JST. The red circle indicates the candidate point for touchdown, L08-B. (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu, AIST)

Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft spent the last several weeks rehearsing for a landing on asteroid Ryugu scheduled for early next year. JAXA’s status reports for the last three weeks are reproduced below.

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Cosmic Detective Work: Why We Care About Space Rocks

This artist’s concept depicts the spacecraft of NASA’s Psyche mission near the mission’s target, the metal asteroid Psyche. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin)

By Elizabeth Landau
NASA

The entire history of human existence is a tiny blip in our solar system’s 4.5-billion-year history. No one was around to see planets forming and undergoing dramatic changes before settling in their present configuration. In order to understand what came before us — before life on Earth and before Earth itself — scientists need to hunt for clues to that mysterious distant past.

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NASA to Host Live Science Chat on Asteroid, Kuiper Belt Missions

This is an artist’s concept of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft preparing to take a sample from asteroid Bennu. (Credit: NASA/Goddard/Chris Meaney)

NASA will host a live Science Chat at 2 p.m. EST Wednesday, Nov. 7, to discuss upcoming encounters of two of the agency’s planetary missions – the arrival of the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) at the asteroid Bennu, on Dec. 3, and New Horizons’ historic flyby of Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69, on Jan. 1, 2019.

Topics will include the critical clues these objects hold to the formation of the solar system, complementary mission science goals and much more.

The event will air on Facebook Live, NASA Television, UstreamYouTube and the agency’s website.

Participants include:

  • Hal Weaver, New Horizons Project Scientist, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory
  • Melissa Morris, OSIRIS-REx Deputy Program Scientist, NASA Headquarters

Media may submit questions before and during the event by emailing JoAnna Wendel at joanna.r.wendel@nasa.gov. The public may ask questions on Twitter by using the hashtag #askNASA or by leaving a comment on the livestream of the event on the NASA Solar System page.

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will initiate an intricate dance with Bennu, mapping and studying it in preparation for sample collection in July 2020. OSIRIS-REx will deliver the sample to Earth in September 2023.

New Horizons will fly by its target, nicknamed Ultima Thule, approximately four billion miles from Earth – the farthest space probe flyby in history. This encounter complements the discoveries still coming from the mission’s July 2015 exploration of the Pluto system. However, this time, the spacecraft will come three times closer to Ultima than it did to Pluto.

For information about NASA’s New Horizons mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/newhorizons

For more information about NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/osiris-rex

Luxembourg Pivots Right Out of Planetary Resources’ Investment


The government of Luxembourg’s investment in asteroid miner turned block chainer Planetary Resources is over, the Luxembourg Times reports.

The Luxembourg government sold its 10% stake in US space firm Planetary Resources ahead of its takeover by blockchain venture ConsenSys.

ConsenSys announced on Wednesday it had acquired Planetary Resources through an asset-purchase transaction.

The Luxembourg government first took a stake in the company in 2016, when the Economy Ministry signed a memorandum of understanding and agreed to invest €25 million. 

The Luxembourg government has also invested in Planetary Resources’ rival, Deep Space Industries.

Sun Sets on NASA’s Dawn Mission

Credit: JPL

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has gone silent, ending a historic mission that studied time capsules from the solar system’s earliest chapter.

Dawn missed scheduled communications sessions with NASA’s Deep Space Network on Wednesday, Oct. 31, and Thursday, Nov. 1. After the flight team eliminated other possible causes for the missed communications, mission managers concluded that the spacecraft finally ran out of hydrazine, the fuel that enables the spacecraft to control its pointing. Dawn can no longer keep its antennas trained on Earth to communicate with mission control or turn its solar panels to the Sun to recharge.

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