Blog Archives

Gaia revolutionises asteroid tracking

ESA’s Gaia space observatory is an ambitious mission to construct a three-dimensional map of our galaxy by making high-precision measurements of over one billion stars. However, on its journey to map distant suns, Gaia is revolutionising a field much closer to home. By accurately mapping the stars, it is helping researchers track down lost asteroids.

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Asteroid impact, not volcanoes, made the Earth uninhabitable for dinosaurs

Modelling of the Chicxulub asteroid impact 66 million years ago shows it created a world largely unsuitable for dinosaurs to live in.

The asteroid, which struck the Earth off the coast of Mexico at the end of the Cretaceous era 66 million years ago, has long been believed to be the cause of the demise of all dinosaur species except those that became birds.

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Protecting Earth from asteroid impact with a tethered diversion

Our planet exists within the vicinity of thousands of Near-Earth Objects (NEOs), some of which – Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) – carry the risk of impacting Earth causing major damage to infrastructure and loss of life.

Methods to mitigate such a collision are highly desirable. A new paper published in EPJ Special Topics,

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An ancient airburst apparently destroyed one of the first farming villages.

Debris from a comet may have levelled an ancient village in Syria during a spate of several such explosions occurring around the world, according to new research.

The village of Abu Hureyra was a mound settlement in northern Syria around 13,000 years ago. The site was quickly excavated in 1972 and 1973,

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How the coronavirus pandemic can help us prepare for an asteroid impact

The emergency preparedness activities now underway to combat the coronavirus pandemic offer insight about our readiness to deal with a dangerous incoming asteroid, experts say.

Humanity can learn some valuable lessons about planetary defense from the things that have gone right and wrong in the coronavirus fight, according to asteroid scientists and an authority on emergency preparedness.

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Queen’s Brian May works to probe origin of asteroids

Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May has teamed up with asteroid researchers to investigate striking similarities and a puzzling difference between separate bodies explored by space probes. The research team ran a supercomputer-based ‘fight club’ involving simulated large asteroid collisions to probe the objects’ likely origins. Their work is reported in Nature Communications.

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Steaming cauldron followed the dinosaurs’ demise

A new study reveals the Chicxulub impact crater may have harbored a vast and long-lived hydrothermal system after the catastrophic impact event linked to the extinction of dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

The Chicxulub impact crater, roughly 180 kilometers in diameter, is the best preserved large impact structure on Earth and a target for exploration of several impact-related phenomena.

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Two Unexpected Close Approaches

An unexpected very close approach

On the evening of 27 April (European time), the NASA-funded Pan-STARRS project in Hawaii reported observations of a new asteroid, temporarily labelled P20ZIf8, collected with their second survey telescope over a timespan of less than an hour during the previous observing night.

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Dinosaur asteroid’s trajectory was ‘perfect storm’

A clear picture is emerging of why the asteroid that struck Earth 66 million years ago was so catastrophic.

The space object, which wiped out 75% of all species including the dinosaurs, hit the worst possible place on the planet and – according to new research –

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UH ATLAS telescope discovers first-of-its-kind asteroid

We often think of asteroids and comets as distinct types of small bodies, but astronomers have discovered an increasing number of “crossovers.” These objects initially appear to be asteroids, and later develop activity, such as tails, that are typical of comets.

Now, the University of Hawaii’s Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) has discovered the first known Jupiter Trojan asteroid to have sprouted a comet-like tail.

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