Near-Earth Asteroid Might be a Lost Fragment of the Moon

The Moon as viewed by NASA’s Mariner 10 in 1973, well before research would find signs of rust on the airless surface. (Credits: NASA/JPL/Northwestern University)

TUCSON, Ariz. (University of Arizona PR) — A near-Earth asteroid named Kamo`oalewa could be a fragment of our moon, according to a paper published today in Nature Communications Earth and Environment by a team of astronomers led by the University of Arizona.

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Asteroid 16 Psyche Might Not Be What Scientists Expected

Artist rendition of the asteroid Psyche. (Credit: Peter Rubin/ASU)

New UArizona research finds that the target asteroid of NASA’s Psyche mission may not be as metallic or dense as previously predicted.

By Mikayla Mace Kelley
University of Arizona Communications

The widely studied metallic asteroid known as 16 Psyche was long thought to be the exposed iron core of a small planet that failed to form during the earliest days of the solar system. But new University of Arizona-led research suggests that the asteroid might not be as metallic or dense as once thought, and hints at a much different origin story.

Scientists are interested in 16 Psyche because if its presumed origins are true, it would provide an opportunity to study an exposed planetary core up close. NASA is scheduled to launch its Psyche mission in 2022 and arrive at the asteroid in 2026.

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