Blogs about asteroids

Asteroid Bennu (Image NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

NASA has announced that its OSIRIS-REx space probe has found traces of water in the asteroid Bennu, reached on December 3. This is water bound to minerals present on Bennu’s surface, hydrated silicates formed in the very early stages of the solar system’s history, when the first small bodies such as the asteroids started forming.

Asteroid Bennu (Image NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

NASA and Lockheed Martin have confirmed that the OSIRIS-REx space probe has reached the asteroid Bennu. From its orbit, at a distance of about 5 kilometers (a bit more than 3 miles), it will start studying its surface creating a map over the course of about a year and a half. This will allow NASA scientists not only to get to know it better but also to choose the most suitable area to proceed with the next phase of the mission, which will consist of taking samples from Bennu’s surface to be returned to Earth.

The Dawn space probe during its preparation (Photo NASA/Amanda Diller)

NASA announced the end of the mission of its Dawn space probe after it ran out of the hydrazine used by its thrusters prevented it from orienting towards Earth to communicate with the mission control through NASA’s Deep Space Network. Dawn is in a stable orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres and will probably remain there for at least 50 years. It’s the only space probe to have orbited two celestial bodies since the first part of its mission was orbiting the giant asteroid Vesta.

The discovery images of 2015 TG387 (Image courtesy Scott Sheppard. All rights reserved)

An article submitted for publication in “The Astronomical Journal” describes the discovery of 2015 TG387, an object with a length estimated around 300 kilometers (186 miles) whose distance from the Sun is about 80 times the Earth’s. A team of astronomers led by Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science saw it for the first time on October 13, 2015 during the research of another planet beyond Pluto’s orbit. This orbit of this object – which was nicknamed The Goblin – and those of the dwarf planet Sedna and the possible dwarf planet 2012 VP113 could be explained by the presence of a planet that’s still unknown.

Artist's concept of Patroclus and Menoetius (Image courtesy W.M. Keck Observatory/Lynette Cook)

An article published in the journal “Nature Astronomy” describes a research on the migration of the solar system’s gaseous planets. A team of scientists studied two asteroids called Patroclus and Menoetius that are out of the ordinary as they form a pair of Jupiter trojans, which means that they orbit at a point of equilibrium of the Sun-Jupiter system. Their conclusion is that their existence is evidence of the shifting of the gaseous planets’ orbits.