A few hours ago NASA’s OSIRIS-REx blasted off atop an Atlas 5 411 rocket from Cape Canaveral. After nearly 55 minutes it successfully separated from the rocket’s Centaur last stage, after a few more minutes it deployed its solar panels and started communicating with the mission control center. At that point it started its journey to the asteroid 101955 Bennu to collect a sample and take it back to Earth.
An article published in the journal “Earth and Planetary Science Letters” describes a research on the possible link between the primordial bombardment of meteorites on Earth and the emergence of life forms. According to a team of researchers directed by Simone Marchi of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, USA, the meteorites that struck Earth during its first billion years of life created a greenhouse effect sufficient to maintain the water in its liquid state, allowing the emergence of life.
An article published in the journal “Nature Communications” describes a research about the water on the Moon and concluded that it was brought mostly by asteroids that struck it between 4.5 and 4.3 billion years ago. Until now, scientists generally thought that water was transported by comets but according to the international team led by Jessica Barnes of the British Open University things are different.
NASA has activated the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO), its program for the detection and tracking of space objects belonging to the NEO (Near-Earth Object) category, meaning the type whose orbit is close to that of Earth. This office is part of the agency’s Planetary Science Division, will be responsible for coordinating all projects connected to NEO-type asteroids and comets and will have a leading role in coordinating efforts with other agencies and governments about potential impact threats.
NASA announced the choice of a target for the second mission of the New Horizons space probe. It’s a so-called Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) officially called 2014 MU69. Informally called PT1 (Potential Target 1), it’s one of the objects selected in October 2014 among those discovered using the Hubble Space Telescope with just that purpose.