The announcement of the discovery of a possible asteroid coming from another solar system is a big deal. Named as A/2017 U1, it was detected on October 19 by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii, part of a sky observation system normally used to detect celestial bodies of various kinds. Its motion seems incompatible with the trajectories of asteroids and comets gravitationally bound to the Sun so it could be the first celestial body discovered that came from another star, perhaps Vega.
NASA has communicated the results of the observations of 2014 MU69, the object in the Kuiper Belt that represents the next target for the New Horizons space probe. The study of the observations made on July 17, 2017 when 2014 MU69 passed in front of a star suggests that it has the shape of an extreme prolate spheroid or that it’s actually two asteroids very close if not in contact.
An article published in “The Astronomical Journal” describes a research on the Epsilon Eridani system (eps Eri) that shows similarities to the solar system. A team led by Kate Su of the University of Arizona used the SOFIA flying telescope to observe an asteroid belt and a disk of debris with some similarities to the Kuiper Belt.
At the end of February the first data from the Hyper Suprime-Cam Subaru Strategic Program (HSC-SSP) were released to the public. It’s a kind of cosmic census created using a large digital camera installed on the Subaru Telescope. The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) developed a dedicated database and interface to use the wealth of data collected. One hope is to be closer to understand the fate of the universe.
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.