Category Archives: Meteorites & Comets

We’ve Found 15,000 Near-Earth Space Rocks

News reports of incoming asteroids are a dime a dozen. Most headlines shout about these incoming marauding space rocks, but buried in the text is the big reveal that those asteroids will fly safely by, missing Earth by a large margin. Though the tabloid press may dull our fears of these scary interplanetary vagabonds, our planet getting hit by an asteroid is a credible threat. We’ve been hit before, and we will get hit again. Continue reading We’ve Found 15,000 Near-Earth Space Rocks

Tiny Asteroid to Make Earthly Close Encounter

A tiny asteroid is to make a very close approach with Earth today (Sept. 7), zooming harmlessly by at a distance of only 23,900 miles (38,500 kilometers) — around 10 times closer to Earth than the moon.

The space rock was spotted by the Mt. Lemmon Survey’s 60-inch telescope near Tucson, Ariz., on Sept. 5 and it quickly became clear that the asteroid, called 2016 RB1, was going to breeze by and not impact our atmosphere. It is set to make its closest approach at 1:28 p.m. ET. Continue reading Tiny Asteroid to Make Earthly Close Encounter

No, Asteroid Bennu Won’t Destroy Earth

NASA’s new asteroid-sampling mission will do a lot of interesting things, but helping prepare humanity for Earth’s imminent destruction is not among them. There is indeed a chance that the 1,650-foot-wide (500 meters) asteroid Bennu — the target of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, which is scheduled to launch next month — could hit Earth late in the 22nd century. But, mission officials stressed, that chance is slim, and the space rock is not nearly big enough to pose an existential threat to the planet, despite what some media reports claimed over the weekend. Continue reading No, Asteroid Bennu Won’t Destroy Earth

Life’s Building Blocks Created on Lab-Grown Comet

Mix water, methanol and ammonia at low temperatures and low pressure, irradiate with ultraviolet light and what do you get? A residue of organics, which when warmed to room temperature, contains ribose and other sugars that are believed to be building blocks for RNA and DNA, molecules essential for all known forms of life. Continue reading Life’s Building Blocks Created on Lab-Grown Comet

Mystery Mountain Pops Up in Striking Ceres

At first glance, it looks like a pile of excavated material from the crater beside it, much like a trench dug in a child’s sandbox. But when you realize the pile of material is actually 3 miles high and on the surface of dwarf planet Ceres, the scene becomes quite mysterious. Continue reading Mystery Mountain Pops Up in Striking Ceres

Farewell, Philae: Hunt for Rosetta’s Lost Lander Ends

The European Space Agency is giving up on trying to contact the lost Philae comet lander, which had an unexpectedly rough touchdown after its release 16 months ago from the orbiting Rosetta mothership.

Rather than harpooning itself onto the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Philae bounced several times before coming to a rest against a cliff wall. Continue reading Farewell, Philae: Hunt for Rosetta’s Lost Lander Ends

Asteroid bar: Study shows comet releases ‘500 bottles of wine every second’

If life on comets was possible, Lovejoy would be a popular destination – scientists have found it releases alcohol and sugar in crazy amounts. But jokes aside, the finding is important as it backs the idea that comets could have seeded life on Earth. This is the first discovery that has witnessed a comet releasing ethyl alcohol in such amounts – 500 bottles of wine every second.

Continue reading Asteroid bar: Study shows comet releases ‘500 bottles of wine every second’