Asteroid Ryugu May Have Originated From a Comet Nucleus that Contained Amino Acids Needed for Life on Earth

Asteroid Ryugu with north polar boulder (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu and AIST)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Sample analysis of material returned from asteroid Ryugu through the efforts of the Hayabusa2 Project Team are being carried out by the Hayabusa2 Initial Analysis Team, which consists of 6 sub-teams, and two Phase-2 curation institutions, Okayama University and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) Kochi Institute for Core Sample Research. This paper summarises research results from the Okayama University Phase-2 curation that was published in the Proceedings of the Japan Academy on June 10, 2022.

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Comet Chaser Mission Moves From Blueprint to Reality

Artist’s impression of Comet Interceptor mission. (Credit: Geraint Jones, UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory)

MADRID, Spain (ESA PR) — A new European Space Agency science mission, proposed by the UK, to 3D-map a comet for the first time has reached a major milestone.

The Comet Interceptor mission was formally adopted by the European Space Agency (ESA) at a meeting in Madrid today (Wednesday, 8 June 2022), moving from the design phase to implementation, with the next step to select a contractor to build the spacecraft and a robotic probe.

Due for launch in 2029, it will see one main spacecraft and two robotic probes – the other built by the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) – travel to an as-yet unidentified comet and map it in three dimensions.

Caroline Harper, Head of Space Science at the UK Space Agency, said:

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Planetary Defense Exercise Uses Apophis as Hazardous Asteroid Stand-In

Clockwise from top left are three of the observatories that participated in a 2021 planetary defense exercise: NASA’s Goldstone planetary radar, the Mount Lemmon telescope of the Catalina Sky Survey, and NASA’s NEOWISE mission. At bottom left is an illustration of the path of Apophis’ close approach in 2029. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

Over 100 participants from 18 countries – including NASA scientists and the agency’s NEOWISE mission – took part in the international exercise.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Watching the skies for large asteroids that could pose a hazard to the Earth is a global endeavor. So, to test their operational readiness, the international planetary defense community will sometimes use a real asteroid’s close approach as a mock encounter with a “new” potentially hazardous asteroid. The lessons learned could limit, or even prevent, global devastation should the scenario play out for real in the future.

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Report Identifies Priority Planetary Science Missions, Planetary Defense Efforts, and Strategic Investments for the Next Decade

WASHINGTON (National Academies PR) — A new decadal survey from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine identifies scientific priorities and opportunities and makes funding recommendations to maximize the advancement of planetary science, astrobiology, and planetary defense in the next 10 years.

The recommendations by the steering committee for the decadal survey draw on input from the scientific community through the advice of six panels, hundreds of white papers, invited speakers, outreach to advisory groups and professional society conferences, and work with mission-design teams.

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NASA Funds Research into Destroying Incoming Asteroid on Short Notice

Graphic depiction of PI – Terminal Defense for Humanity. (Credits: Philip Lubin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA is funding research into hypervelocity kinetic penetrators that would allow for the destruction of an incoming asteroid on very short notice.

The space agency awarded a NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase I grant worth $175,000 to Philip Lubin of the University of California, Santa Barbara for his “Pi — Terminal Defense for Humanity project.

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A Christmas Comet for Solar Orbiter

Frame from a movie captured by the SoloHI instrument on the ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter spacecraft of Comet Leonard on 17-18 December 2021. (Credit: ESA/NASA/NRL/SoloHI)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Comet Leonard, a mass of space dust, rock and ice about a kilometre across is heading for a close pass of the Sun on 3 January, and the ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter spacecraft has been watching its evolution over the last days.

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Airbus will Build ESA’s Ariel Exoplanet Hunting Satellite

Artist impression of ESA’s Ariel exoplanet satellite. (Credit: Airbus)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA and Airbus have signed a contract to move forward with the design and construction of the Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey, Ariel, planned for launch in 2029.

Ariel is the third in a trio of dedicated exoplanet missions conceived by ESA focusing on various aspects of this rapidly evolving subject area. It will follow Cheops, which launched in 2019, and Plato, scheduled for launch in 2026.

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Testing Mini-radar to Peer Inside an Asteroid

Juventas CubeSat undergoing tests at ESTEC in The Netherlands. (Credit: ESA-P. de Maagt)

NOORDWIJK, The Netherlands (ESA PR) — A specially upgraded radio-frequency chamber in ESA’s technical heart is testing what is set to become the smallest radar system to be flown in space, hosted aboard a breadbox-sized spacecraft.

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Fizzing Sodium Could Explain Asteroid Phaethon’s Cometlike Activity

This illustration depicts asteroid Phaethon being heated by the Sun. The asteroid’s surface gets so hot that sodium inside Phaethon’s rock may vaporize and vent into space, causing it to brighten like a comet and dislodge small pieces of rocky debris. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/IPAC)

Models and lab tests suggest the asteroid could be venting sodium vapor as it orbits close to the Sun, explaining its increase in brightness.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — As a comet zooms through the inner solar system, the Sun heats it, causing ices below the surface to vaporize into space. The venting vapor dislodges dust and rock, and the gas creates a bright tail that can extend millions of miles from the nucleus like an ethereal veil.

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The Perseids are on the Rise!

In this 30 second exposure taken with a circular fish-eye lens, a meteor streaks across the sky during the annual Perseid meteor shower on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016 in Spruce Knob, West Virginia. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — It’s time again for one of the biggest meteor showers of the year! The Perseids are already showing up in our night skies—and when they peak in mid-August, it’s likely to be one of our most impressive skywatching opportunities for a while.

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Comet Catalina Suggests Comets Delivered Carbon to Rocky Planets

Illustration of a comet from the Oort Cloud as it passes through the inner solar system with dust and gas evaporating into its tail. SOFIA’s observations of Comet Catalina reveal that it’s carbon-rich, suggesting that comets delivered carbon to the terrestrial planets like Earth and Mars as they formed in the early solar system. (Credits: NASA/SOFIA/Lynette Cook)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — In early 2016, an icy visitor from the edge of our solar system hurtled past Earth. It briefly became visible to stargazers as Comet Catalina before it slingshot past the Sun to disappear forevermore out of the solar system.

Among the many observatories that captured a view of this comet, which appeared near the Big Dipper, was the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, NASA’s telescope on an airplane. Using one of its unique infrared instruments, SOFIA was able to pick out a familiar fingerprint within the dusty glow of the comet’s tail – carbon.

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Comet Makes a Pit Stop Near Jupiter’s Asteroids

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope snapped this image of the young comet P/2019 LD2 as it orbits near Jupiter’s captured ancient asteroids, which are called Trojans. The Hubble view reveals a 400,000-mile-long tail of dust and gas flowing from the wayward comet’s bright solid nucleus. (Credit: NASA/ESA/J. Olmsted/STScI)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — For the first time, a wayward comet-like object has been spotted near the family of ancient asteroids.

After traveling several billion miles toward the Sun, a wayward young comet-like object orbiting among the giant planets has found a temporary parking place along the way. The object has settled near a family of captured ancient asteroids, called Trojans, that are orbiting the Sun alongside Jupiter. This is the first time a comet-like object has been spotted near the Trojan population.

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French Scientists to Help Analyze Hayabusa2 Asteroid Samples

Fig. 2 Sample container A inside the room (credit: JAXA)

The Japanese Hayabusa-2 mission returned at least 5.4 g of dust from the asteroid Ryugu. That’s 50 times more than expected! These unpublished samples could contain primitive organic molecules that played a role in the emergence of life on Earth.

PARIS (CNES PR) — A fabulous Christmas present! A harvest beyond expectations! A dream come true … Words fail to qualify the extraordinary success of the Hayabusa2 mission which deposited on December 6, 2020, in the Australian desert, a 40 cm diameter capsule containing a treasure: at least 5.4 g material from asteroid Ryugu. 

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European ‘Comet Chaser’ Probe to be Designed in UK

Comet Interceptor (Credit: Thales Alenia Space)

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — Design work will soon begin in the UK on the spacecraft for a new European Space Agency science mission, which will 3D-map a comet for the first time,

Thales Alenia Space, who have three sites in the UK and employ nearly 200 highly skilled engineers and scientists, have won one of two parallel mission study contracts for the design concept of the mothership and a smaller robotic probe for the European Space Agency (ESA) Comet Interceptor mission. Design work is also taking place in Italy.

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OHB Italia and ESA Sign Contract for Comet Interceptor Mission Study

Artistic rendering of the mission Comet Interceptor. (Credit: OHB Italia)

MILANO (OHB PR) — OHB Italia, a subsidiary of the space and technology group OHB SE, signed a contract appointing OHB Italia as one of the two prime contractors performing a study of the Comet Interceptor mission, a new fast-class, deep space mission led by the European Space Agency.

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