Asteroids and Comets

Bizarre shape of interstellar asteroid

An asteroid that visited us from interstellar space is one of the most elongated cosmic objects known to science, a study has shown. Discovered on 19 October, the object's speed and trajectory strongly suggested it originated in a planetary system around another star.

Asteroid makes near-miss fly-by

An asteroid hurtled past the Earth on Friday in something of a cosmic near-miss, making its closest approach at about 1600 GMT. The asteroid, estimated to be about 11m (36ft) in diameter, was first detected on Wednesday.

Asteroid Themis has 'frosted surface'

Scientists have detected water-ice on the surface of an asteroid. The first-time observation was made on 24 Themis, a huge rock that orbits almost 480 million km out from the Sun.

Asteroid Lutetia has thick blanket of debris

Lutetia, the giant asteroid visited by Europe's Rosetta probe in July, is covered in a thick blanket of dusty debris at least 600m (2,000ft) deep. Aeons of impacts have pulverised the space rock to produce a shattered surface that in terms of texture is much like Earth's Moon, scientists say.

A perfect view of the asteroid capsule's Earth return

Nothing can prevent it now. Japan's Hayabusa spacecraft is heading home after its seven-year round-trip to the asteroid Itokawa. I wrote earlier in the week about some of the woes Hayabusa experienced as it tried to grab dusty fragments from Itokawa's surface, and now it faces one last challenge.

'Life chemicals' may have formed around far-flung star

There is now even more evidence that life on Earth may have been seeded by material from asteroids or comets. Prior research has shown how amino acids - the building blocks of life - could form elsewhere in the cosmos.

'Crater' spied under California

Oil exploration work in California's Central Valley region has uncovered a possible space impact crater. The 5.5km-wide bowl is buried under shale sediments west of Stockton, in San Joaquin County, and is thought to be between 37 and 49 million years old.

BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | 'A meteorite smashed through my roof'

The chances of being hit by a chunk of space rock are measured in the billions-to-one. Roy Fausset, 59, had the closest of escapes last month when what scientists now say was a meteorite crashed through his New Orleans home.

Hayabusa capsule particles may be from asteroid

Japan's space agency (Jaxa) began to open the Hayabusa craft's sample container on 24 June. It has now revealed images of tiny dust particles inside the container.

Antarctic meteorites yield global bombardment rate

It's in excess of 16,000kg. This is for meteorite material above 50g in mass. It doesn't take account of the dust that's continuously settling on the planet, and of course just occasionally we'll be hit by a real whopper of an asteroid that will skew the numbers.

Meteorites 'could have carried nitrogen to Earth'

Chemical analysis of the meteorite shows it to be rich in the gas ammonia. It contains the element nitrogen, found in the proteins and DNA that form the basis of life as we know it.

Doubts over Latvia 'meteor crash'

Scientists investigating a large crater in a field in northern Latvia, believed to have been caused by a meteorite, now suspect it was a hoax. Fire crews were called to the scene on Sunday outside the town of Mazsalaca by locals who said something had fallen from the sky and set the land on fire.

Has another interstellar visitor been found?

An amateur astronomer has discovered a comet that could come from outside our Solar System. If so, it would be the second interstellar object after the elongated body known as 'Oumuamua was identified in 2017.

First measurements of 'interstellar comet'

Astronomers are gathering measurements on a presumed interstellar comet, providing clues about its chemical composition. The object, C/2019 Q4 (Borisov), is only the second interstellar object ever identified, after 'Oumuamua, which was spotted in 2017.

'Alien comet' visitor has weird composition

The first known comet to visit us from another star system has an unusual make-up, according to new research. The interstellar comet 2I/Borisov was detected in our Solar System last year.

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