Tagged With asteroid

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Tomorrow morning, an asteroid-bound mission will launch towards a shadowy space rock, Bennu. There, it will scoop up a bit of dirt and deliver it back to us, all without ever attempting a landing. It's not just any dirt, though. Bound up in these grains could be the answer to how life first emerged here on Earth.

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No one has managed to pluck valuable minerals from an asteroid quite yet, but when they do, the legal framework will be firmly in place: earlier today, President Obama signed the US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (CSLCA) into law.

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What you see above could have not happened, as far as astronomers know. The Hubble space telescope has photographed this never-before-seen break-up of an asteroid. The observed space object has fragmented into several smaller pieces — which is common when comets approach the sun — but the process has never been observed before in the asteroid belt. Yet that is where asteroid P/2013 R3 has now ceased to exist.

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The other day we dealt with an asteroid and a meteor. The 2012 DA14 asteroid zipped passed Earth today and a meteor exploded over in Russia. What the heck is the difference between an asteroid and a meteor? And a meteorite? And a meteoroid? Not too much, apparently!