PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission has released its third year of survey data, with the spacecraft discovering 97 previously unknown celestial objects in the last year. Of those, 28 were near-Earth objects, 64 were main belt asteroids and five were comets.
By Greta Keenan Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology
In 2005, the Hayabusa spacecraft developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) landed on Itokawa, a small near-Earth asteroid named after the famous Japanese rocket scientist Hideo Itokawa. The aim of the unmanned mission was to study the asteroid and collect a sample of material to be returned to Earth for analysis. Contrary to scientific predictions that small asteroids are barren nuggets of rock, photographs taken by the Hayabusa spacecraft revealed that the surface of Itokawa is strewn with different sized particles. Even more puzzling was the lateral separation of small and large particles – with large boulders occupying the highlands and small pebbles occupying the lowlands.
Product of the Interagency Working Group for Detecting and Mitigating the Impact of Earth-bound Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) (Damien) of the National Science and Technology Council
The National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy (Strategy) and the forthcoming National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Action Plan (Action Plan) together seek to improve our Nation’s preparedness to address the hazard of near-Earth object (NEO) impacts by enhancing the integration of existing national and international assets and adding important capabilities that are currently lacking. The Strategy and Action Plan build on efforts at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to better detect and characterize the NEO population as well as recent efforts at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prepare for and respond to a NEO impact. Together, they aim to foster a collaborative effort in which the Nation can better understand, prevent, and prepare for the effects of a NEO impact. The Nation must continue to leverage existing networks of expertise and capabilities, both public and private, and pursue targeted enhancements to improve the ability to manage the risks associated with NEOs.
BERLIN, Germany, 14 November 2016 (Press Release) – During a press event today at the Museum für Naturkunde (MfN) (Museum of Natural History) in Berlin, a major campaign was launched to support scientific missions designed to increase our knowledge of asteroids and near Earth objects (NEOs), in particular ESA’s Asteroid Impact Mission.
The campaign, “I Support AIM (www.isupportaim. com) was initiated by the co-founders of Asteroid Day, the global movement to protect the world from dangerous Asteroids, and the Observatoire de la Côte D’Azur, one of the most important research institutions worldwide in the areas of biological and geological evolution and biodiversity.
LUXEMBOURG CITY (Luxembourg Government PR) — The Luxembourg Government forges ahead with the SpaceResources.lu initiative by presenting an overall strategy to be implemented progressively for the exploration and commercial utilization of resources from Near Earth Objects (NEOs), such as asteroids. Amongst the key actions undertaken is the establishment of an appropriate legal and regulatory framework for space resource utilization activities to provide private companies and investors with a secure legal environment.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The global space economy is growing, generating more than $300 billion a year in space-related activities, and attracting new, diverse participants and investors. A recent study also found more private money invested in commercial space development in 2015 than in the previous 15 years combined.
NASA has selected six new research proposals to understand the effective drivers of investments in the space economy.
Somewhere out there in the cosmos, there’s a giant rock with Earth’s name on it. Despite the danger, NASA’s effort to identify potentially dangerous near Earth objects and figure out what to do about them is disorganized and poorly managed, an internal audit has found.
“NASA has organized its NEO Program under a single Program Executive who manages a loosely structured conglomerate of research activities that are not well integrated and lack overarching Program oversight, objectives, and established milestones to track progress,” according to an audit issued Monday by NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).
Aviation Week reports that European space officials will spend the summer reviewing the prospects of NASA’s asteroid retrieval mission even as the proposal struggles to gain support in Congress:
Jean Jacques Dordain, director general of the European Space Agency (ESA), told Bolden he has set up a multi-agency working group headed by ESA human-spaceflight chief Thomas Reiter “tasked to elaborate a coherent approach with regard to your new initiative.”
Representatives of the national space agencies of France, Germany, Italy and the U.K. will participate in the working group, with a report due from ESA to NASA in September, Dordain told Bolden in a June 20 letter.
“[W]e welcome this new initiative and are ready to support discussions on potential cooperation that would strengthen ongoing and future space exploration activities to be performed in an international framework,” Dordain wrote.
However, he noted that ESA’s human spaceflight strategy includes the International Space Station in low Earth orbit, the Moon and Mars. NASA’s idea is to capture a small near-Earth asteroid, nudge it into high retrograde lunar orbit with solar electric propulsion, and send astronauts in an Orion crew vehicle to study it.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA announced Tuesday a Grand Challenge focused on finding all asteroid threats to human populations and knowing what to do about them.
The challenge is a large-scale effort that will use multi-disciplinary collaborations and a variety of partnerships with other government agencies, international partners, industry, academia, and citizen scientists. It complements NASA’s recently announced mission to redirect an asteroid and send humans to study it.
The prospects of a robotic manufacturing base operating off the Earth is not as far-fetched as it used to be according to a study published by a team of NASA researchers led by a Kennedy Space Center physicist.
Because asteroids are loaded with minerals that are rare on Earth, near-Earth asteroids and the asteroid belt could become the mining centers for remotely operated excavators and processing machinery. In 20 years, an industry barely imagined now could be sending refined materials, rare metals and even free, clean energy to the Earth from asteroids and other bodies.
Space News is reporting the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS) is calling for the development of an international network of ground-based telescope to to track potentially dangerous asteroids and other objects.
The NEO study group recommended coordinating investments already made or under way in ground telescopes and the occasional satellite and sending the NEO data to a central clearinghouse, which would then forward them to national space and civil protection agencies as needed. The study group was chaired by Sergio Camacho, secretary general of the Regional Center for Space Science and Technology Education for Latin America and the Caribbean, which is based in Mexico….
Bellevue, Wash., April 16, 2013 (Planetary Resources PR) – Planetary Resources, Inc. announced today that Bechtel has joined their core group of investors and will be a collaborative partner in helping Planetary Resources achieve its long-term mission, which is to mine near-Earth asteroids for raw materials, ranging from elements used in rocket fuel to precious metals, through the development of innovative and cost-effective robotic exploration technologies. Currently, Planetary Resources has multiple contracts to develop miniaturized and responsive technologies with far-reaching applications to space assessment, accessibility and resource recovery.
Washington, DC, April 11, 2013 (NSS PR) — The National Space Society (NSS) applauds the new NASA budget item that would provide close to $100 million for a mission to rendezvous with a small asteroid and move it into orbit around the Moon where it could later be visited by astronauts.
“An asteroid capture mission is a tremendously important mission, and one that could not be more relevant to the challenges our civilization faces today,” said Mark Hopkins, Chairman of the NSS Executive Committee. “Robotic asteroid capture is the first step to exploiting the vast material resources of the solar system for a hopeful and prosperous future for mankind.”
NASA has selected Arkyd Astronautics, the fully-owned subsidiary of the asteroid-mining company Planetary Resources, for a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase I contract for work on advanced software to better guide robotic spacecraft in their exploration of and sample return missions from near Earth objects.
“A real-time convex optimizer named COARSE (Convex Optimizer for Asteroid Rendezvous and Sampling Return) is proposed in order to efficiently guide path planning operations as well as spacecraft guidance and control,” according to the proposal summary. “COARSE consists of a series of high level goals with specific set of execution steps, rather than complex interaction with ground control. This proposal plans to develop and simulate a basic optimizer for the purpose of a robotic spacecraft in proximity operations to an asteroid for a sample return mission, and implement in a spacecraft avionics software environment.”