Tiny Asteroid Buzzes by Earth – the Closest Flyby on Record

This illustration shows asteroid 2020 QG’s trajectory bending during its close approach to Earth. The asteroid is the closest known nonimpacting asteroid ever detected. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

An SUV-size space rock flew past our planet over the weekend and was detected by a NASA-funded asteroid survey as it departed.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Near Earth Asteroids, or NEAs, pass by our home planet all the time. But an SUV-size asteroid set the record this past weekend for coming closer to Earth than any other known NEA: It passed 1,830 miles (2,950 kilometers) above the southern Indian Ocean on Sunday, Aug. 16 at 12:08 a.m. EDT (Saturday, Aug. 15 at 9:08 p.m. PDT).

(more…)

Broken Cable Damages Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico

The main collecting dish is among the world’s largest single-dish radio telescopes. The reflective dish is 1,000 feet in diameter, 167 feet deep, and covers an area of about 20 acres. (Credit: UCF)

ARECIBO, PR (University of Central Florida PR) — One of the auxiliary cables that helps support a metal platform in place above the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, broke on Monday (Aug. 10) causing a 100-foot-long gash on the telescope’s reflector dish. Operations at the UCF-managed observatory are stopped until repairs can be made.

(more…)

Comet NEOWISE Sizzles as It Slides by the Sun, Providing a Treat for Observers

Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE appears as a string of fuzzy red dots in this composite of several heat-sensitive infrared images taken by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission on March 27, 2020. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — A comet visiting from the most distant parts of our solar system is putting on a spectacular nighttime display. Named Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE, the comet made its once-in-our-lifetimes close approach to the Sun on July 3, 2020, and will cross outside Earth’s orbit on its way back to the outer parts of the solar system by mid-August.

(more…)

Aerojet Rocketdyne Delivers DART Propulsion Systems Ahead of 2021 Asteroid Impact Mission

DART mission (Credit: Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory)

REDMOND, Wash., May 19, 2020 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) – The dual chemical and electric propulsion systems for NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) were recently delivered by Aerojet Rocketdyne to the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland.

The chemical propulsion system and the electric propulsion Xenon feed system have been undergoing assembly and integration onto the spacecraft structure at Aerojet Rocketdyne’s facility in Redmond, Washington, since August 2019.

(more…)

Small Asteroid to Safely Fly by Earth

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — A relatively small asteroid, about 4 to 8 meters in diameter, will fly safely past Earth just before 3 pm today, Apr. 28 (Eastern U.S. time). NASA is tracking the object, but orbit calculations ruled out any chance that the near-Earth object could pose a threat to our planet.

(more…)

Newly Discovered Comet Is Likely Interstellar Visitor

Comet C/2019 Q4 as imaged by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Hawaii’s Big Island on Sept. 10, 2019. (Credits: Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — A newly discovered comet has excited the astronomical community this week because it appears to have originated from outside the solar system. The object — designated C/2019 Q4 (Borisov) — was discovered on Aug. 30, 2019, by Gennady Borisov at the MARGO observatory in Nauchnij, Crimea. The official confirmation that comet C/2019 Q4 is an interstellar comet has not yet been made, but if it is interstellar, it would be only the second such object detected. The first, ‘Oumuamua, was observed and confirmed in October 2017.

(more…)