NASA’s Psyche Mission Has a Metal World in Its Sights

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)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech PR) — Designed to explore a metal asteroid that could be the heart of a planet, the Psyche mission is readying for a 2022 launch. After extensive review, NASA Headquarters in Washington has approved the mission to begin the final design and fabrication phase, otherwise known as Phase C. This is when the Psyche team finalizes the system design, develops detailed plans and procedures for the spacecraft and science mission, and completes both assembly and testing of the spacecraft and its subsystems.

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University of Adelaide Researchers Working on Extracting Materials From Asteroids

This mosaic image of asteroid Bennu is composed of 12 PolyCam images collected on Dec. 2, 2018, by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from a range of 15 miles (24 km). (Credits: NASA/University of Arizona)

ADELAIDE, Australia (University of Adelaide PR) — Work by a team of University of Adelaide scientists to perfect metal and mineral extraction processes is bringing the possibility of mining the wealth contained within asteroids closer to reality. But science fiction won’t become fact until asteroid mining becomes economically as well as technically viable.

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Design of First Nanosat to Rendezvous with Asteroid Begins

M-Argo CubeSat. (Credit: ESA-Jacky Huart)

PARIS, 23 May 2019 (ESA PR) — ESA has just signed a contract with GomSpace Luxembourg to design the first ever nanosatellite to rendezvous with an asteroid.

The Miniaturised Asteroid Remote Geophysical Observer (M-ARGO) mission will be a standalone spacecraft, meaning it will have all of the fuel, propulsion systems and thrusters to complete its journey on board. In comparison to another ESA nanosatellite to be flying in deep space, HERA, which will piggyback on another spacecraft.

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NASA Invites Public to Help Asteroid Mission Choose Sample Site

This image shows a view of asteroid Bennu’s surface in a region near the equator. It was taken by the PolyCam camera on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on March 21 from a distance of 2.2 miles (3.5 km). The field of view is 158.5 ft (48.3 m). For scale, the light-colored rock in the upper left corner of the image is 24 ft (7.4 m) wide. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Citizen scientists assemble! NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission to the asteroid Bennu needs extra pairs of eyes to help choose its sample collection site on the asteroid – and to look for anything else that might be scientifically interesting.

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Hayabusa2 Program Wins Two Prestigious Awards

The award for Hayabusa2. Project Manager Tsuda (far left) received the award. (Credit: Hayabusa2 Project)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Hayabusa2 Project has received awards from the Aviation Week Network and the Japan Society for Aeronautical and Space Sciences.

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Ryugu’s Fast-spinning Past Shaped the Asteroid’s Western Hemisphere

Figure 1: When viewed from a certain direction (90 degrees west), the angle of the equatorial ridge on Ryugu becomes very sharp. This feature is also discussed in the paper led by Sei’ichiro Watanabe. (Hirabayashi, M.+, 2019)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Astrophysical Journal Letters is an academic journal for research results in astronomy and astrophysics published in the United States. Our paper on the shape of asteroid Ryugu was recently included in the journal (publication date: March 26, 2019) entitled:

Hirabayashi, M., and 28 colleagues, “The western bulge of 162173 Ryugu formed as a result of a rotationally driven deformation process,” The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 2019, 874, 1, doi:10.3847/2041-8213/ab0e8b .
https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2041-8213/ab0e8b

In this article, we will highlight our main findings from this research.

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NASA’s First Planetary Defense Technology Demonstration to Collide with Asteroid in 2022

DART mission (Credit: Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory)

by Justyna Surowiec
Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) – NASA’s first mission to demonstrate a planetary defense technique – will get one chance to hit its target, the small moonlet in the binary asteroid system Didymos. The asteroid poses no threat to Earth and is an ideal test target: measuring the change in how the smaller asteroid orbits about the larger asteroid in a binary system is much easier than observing the change in a single asteroid’s orbit around the Sun. Work is ramping up at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, and other locations across the country, as the mission heads toward its summer 2021 launch – and attempts to pull off a feat so far seen only in science fiction films.

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Hera’s CubeSat to Perform First Radar Probe of an Asteroid

Juventas CubeSat (Credit: ESA/GomSpace)

PARIS, 1 May 2019 (ESA PR) — Small enough to be an aircraft carry-on, the Juventas spacecraft nevertheless has big mission goals. Once in orbit around its target body, Juventas will unfurl an antenna larger than itself, to perform the very first subsurface radar survey of an asteroid.

ESA’s proposed Hera mission for planetary defence will explore the twin Didymos asteroids, but it will not go there alone: it will also serve as mothership for Europe’s first two ‘CubeSats’ to travel into deep space.

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Hera’s APEX CubeSat Will Reveal the Stuff Asteroids are Made of

 

APEX CubeSat at Didymos. (Credit: Tomi Kärkkäinen / Reaktor Space Lab)

PARIS (ESA PR) — From Earth asteroids appear as little more than dots in the sky. Europe’s miniature APEX spacecraft will operate as a mineral prospector in deep space, surveying the make-up of its target asteroids down to individual boulders, helping prepare the way for future mining missions.

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OSIRIS-REx Provides New Closeup Image of Asteroid Bennu

Scientists Planning Now for Asteroid Flyby a Decade Away

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech PR) — On April 13, 2029, a speck of light will streak across the sky, getting brighter and faster. At one point it will travel more than the width of the full Moon within a minute and it will get as bright as the stars in the Little Dipper. But it won’t be a satellite or an airplane – it will be a 1,100-foot-wide (340-meter-wide) near-Earth asteroid called 99942 Apophis that will cruise harmlessly by Earth, about 19,000 miles (31,000 kilometers) above the surface. That’s within the distance that some of our spacecraft that orbit Earth.

The international asteroid research community couldn’t be more excited.

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The Day the Asteroid Might Hit

Asteroid Itokawa (Credit: JAXA)

WASHINGTON (ESA PR) — For the first time, ESA will cover a major international asteroid impact exercise live via social media, highlighting the the actions that might be taken by scientists, space agencies and civil protection organisations.

Every two years, asteroid experts from across the globe come together to simulate a fictional but plausible imminent asteroid impact on Earth. During the week-long scenario, participants – playing roles such as ‘national government’, ‘space agency’, ‘astronomer’ and ‘civil protection office’ – don’t know how the situation will evolve from one day to the next, and must make plans based on the daily updates they are given.

For the first time, ESA will cover progress of the hypothetical impact scenario from 29 April to 3 May live via social media, primarily via the @esaoperations Twitter channel.
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JAXA Confirms Creation of Artificial Crater on Asteroid Ryugu

These images were captured by the Optical Navigation Camera – Telescopic onboard Hayabusa2. By comparing the two images, we have confirmed that an artificial crater was created in the area surrounded by dotted lines. The size and depth of the crater are now under analysis. (Credit: JAXA, The University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, The University of Aizu, AIST)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) separated the SCI (Small Carry-on Impactor), which had been onboard the asteroid explorer Hayabusa2, on April 5, 2019, for deployment to Ryugu, and then put the SCI into operation.

As a result of checking the images captured by the Optical Navigation Camera – Telescopic (ONC-T) onboard the asteroid explorer Hayabusa2, we have concluded that a crater was created by the SCI.

Hayabusa2 is operating normally.

Hermes to Bring Asteroid Research to the ISS

Hermes Cassette-1 experiment. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Asteroid researchers on Earth will soon gain a powerful new way to remotely conduct experiments aboard the International Space Station. The device, called the Hermes Facility, is an experiment station that can communicate with scientists on the ground and give them the ability to control their studies almost as if they were in space themselves. Hermes will be carried to the space station aboard the SpaceX CRS-17 ferry flight.

Hermes is the creation of Dr. Kristen John, a researcher with the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) division at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC). John and her research team developed Hermes as a way to study how samples of simulated asteroid particles behave in microgravity and the vacuum of space.
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Hayabusa2 Images Artificial Crater on Asteroid Ryugu