Tiny worlds, starry nights and views from an asteroid — September’s best science images

Tiny worlds, starry nights and views from an asteroid — September’s best science images

Tiny worlds, starry nights and views from an asteroid — September’s best science images, Published online: 03 October 2018; doi:10.1038/d41586-018-06907-y

The month’s sharpest science shots — selected by Nature’s photo team.
Source: Nature

Japan's Hayabusa2 successfully deploys two rovers on the surface of an asteroid

Japan's Hayabusa2 successfully deploys two rovers on the surface of an asteroidIt’s just like the movie
Armageddon, but without the apocalypse scenario. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has reason to celebrate after successfully deploying a pair of robots on the surface of an asteroid. The mission, which played out on Friday, aims to gather photos and data from the asteroid called Ryugu. SEE ALSO: Astronaut captures photos of ominous-looking Hurricane Florence from space The mission’s success — marking the end of a four-year journey — was confirmed in a tweet on Saturday from JAXA’s account for the Hayabusa2 asteroid explorer. We are sorry we have kept you waiting! MINERVA-II1 consists of two rovers, 1a & 1b. Both rovers are confirmed to have landed on the surface of Ryugu. They are in good condition and have transmitted photos & data. We also confirmed they are moving on the surface. #asteroidlanding — HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) September 22, 2018 A flood of imagery followed as the two hopping rovers — yes, they get around by hopping — set about their important task.  This is a picture from MINERVA-II1. The color photo was captured by Rover-1A on September 21 around 13:08 JST, immediately after separation from the spacecraft. Hayabusa2 is top and Ryugu’s surface is below. The image is blurred because the rover is spinning. #asteroidlanding pic.twitter.com/CeeI5ZjgmM — HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) September 22, 2018 Photo taken by Rover-1B on Sept 21 at ~13:07 JST. It was captured just after separation from the spacecraft. Ryugu’s surface is in the lower right. The misty top left region is due to the reflection of sunlight. 1B seems to rotate slowly after separation, minimising image blur. pic.twitter.com/P71gsC9VNI — HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) September 22, 2018 This dynamic photo was captured by Rover-1A on September 22 at around 11:44 JST. It was taken on Ryugu’s surface during a hop. The left-half is the surface of Ryugu, while the white region on the right is due to sunlight. (Hayabusa2 Project) pic.twitter.com/IQLsFd4gJu — HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) September 22, 2018 You can keep up with the status of Hayabusa2’s mission on JAXA’s English-language website right here. There’s also a post from JAXA discussing the mission here. As JAXA notes, MINERVA-II1 “is the world’s first rover (mobile exploration robot) to land on the surface of an asteroid. This is also the first time for autonomous movement and picture capture on an asteroid surface.” WATCH: Elon Musk just unveiled images of SpaceX’s ship that he hopes will be key to bringing people to Mars


Source: Yahoo! News

NASA spacecraft captures first images of the asteroid it will soon land on

NASA spacecraft captures first images of the asteroid it will soon land onA NASA probe speeding through the solar system has captured its first image of the asteroid Bennu, which the space agency will try to land on in 2020. Once that happens, the spacecraft OSIRIS-REx is designed to collect up to 4.4 pounds of ancient space rock, seal the minerals in a capsule, and blast the capsule back to Earth. If all goes as planned, the canister will drop down into the Utah desert in 2023.  SEE ALSO: A 12-mile, underground lake may have been found on Mars. What could live there? The space probe captured its first image of Bennu from 1.4 million miles away, which is pretty close as far as space distances go (this is about six times the distance between the Earth and moon). But as shown below, the asteroid is still too distant to make out any features or details. It looks like a fuzzy, spinning white dot. Asteroid Bennu speeds through space.Image: nasaIn early December, the probe will begin to orbit quite close to the small asteroid, 4.5 miles (7 kilometers) from the surface. As the craft slowly circles Bennu at just 0.1 mph, NASA scientists will map its rocky surface, scouring the terrain for a suitable landing spot Why is NASA visiting this small asteroid? Compared to many of the 780,000 known asteroids in our solar system, Bennu is pretty small. But it’s quite interesting.  For one, Bennu might contain valuable resources that can be used for future deep space exploration, Dante Lauretta, the OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson, said in a press call.  A conception of the probe collecting samples from BennuImage: nasaLauretta is interested in whether Bennu holds clay deposits, because embedded in clay is water. And water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen, two necessary components for rocket fuel.  One day, perhaps, Bennu may serve as a “fuel depot” in space, said Lauretta. Bennu is also believed to be a well-preserved, ancient asteroid, containing cosmic fragments older than our solar system. Understanding how Bennu formed, and the mish-mash of space materials it’s made of, will likely improve astronomers’ understanding of how the solar system came to be some four billion years ago. Bennu, at center, compared in size to other solar system asteroidsImage: nasaFinally, Bennu has the slight potential to travel dangerously close to Earth in 2175 and 2195.  “Bennu is one of the ones we are watching,” said Lauretta, noting that it has a 1 in 2,700 chance of coming too close for comfort.  Knowing what Bennu is composed of gives NASA better information about how to potentially deflect the large space rock, should it ever veer toward our humble blue planet.  WATCH: Ever wonder how the universe might end?


Source: Yahoo! News

NASA spacecraft approaches asteroid, snaps first pic

NASA spacecraft  approaches asteroid, snaps first picTwo years after launching from Florida, a NASA spacecraft is closing in on an ancient asteroid, Bennu, for a sample of space dust that could reveal clues to the start of life in the solar system. The spacecraft, OSIRIS-REx, has even snapped its first, blurry pic of the cosmic body, which is about the size of a small mountain, about 500 yards (meters) in diameter. The spacecraft is designed to circle Bennu, and reach out with a robotic arm to “high-five” its surface, then return the sample it collects to Earth in 2023.


Source: Yahoo! News

Asteroid battle: Tech entrepreneur doubles down on critique of NASA mission

Asteroid battle: Tech entrepreneur doubles down on critique of NASA mission

Asteroid battle: Tech entrepreneur doubles down on critique of NASA mission , Published online: 15 June 2018; doi:10.1038/d41586-018-05446-w

Nathan Myhrvold argues that the scientific approach of the landmark NEOWISE space-rock mission is deeply flawed.
Source: Nature