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Number Won 2015. 7. 10. 06:08

July 9, 2015

15-027 (Goddard)

Second Instrument Delivered for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission

An instrument that will explore the surface of a primitive asteroid in search of water and organic materials has arrived at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver for installation onto NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security–Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx).

"The OVIRS team has met all of their technical requirements," said Mike Donnelly, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “This is another step in completing the spacecraft and sending it on its way to rendezvous with the asteroid Bennu."

The OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer (OVIRS) will measure visible and near infrared light from the asteroid Bennu. The instrument's observations could be used to identify water and organic materials. This image shows OVIRS at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, where it was built, prior to shipping to Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver.

Credits: NASA Goddard/Bill Hrybyk

The OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer (OVIRS) measures visible and near infrared light from Bennu, which can be used to identify water and organic materials. Goddard built the instrument.

OVIRS, a point spectrometer, will split the light from the asteroid Bennu into its component wavelengths, similar to a prism that splits sunlight into a rainbow, but over a much broader range of wavelengths. Different chemicals have unique spectral signatures by absorbing sunlight and can be identified in the reflected spectrum. The spectra provided by the instrument will help guide sample site selection.

Artist concept of OSIRIS-REx satellite.

Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

“Through the team’s efforts, OVIRS has become a remarkably capable instrument which we expect to return exciting science from the asteroid, Bennu,” said Dennis Reuter, OVIRS instrument lead from Goddard.

After thorough testing with the spacecraft on the ground, the instrument will be powered on for check-out shortly after launch, with first science data collected during the Earth gravity assist in September 2017.

OSIRIS-REx is the first U.S. mission to return samples from an asteroid to Earth for study. The mission is scheduled for launch in September 2016. It will reach its asteroid target in 2018 and return a sample to Earth in 2023.

The spacecraft will travel to a near-Earth asteroid, called Bennu and bring at least a 2.1-ounce sample back to Earth for study. The mission will help scientists investigate the composition of the very early solar system and the source of organic materials and water that made their way to Earth, and improve understanding of asteroids that could impact our planet.

“The delivery of OVIRS to the spacecraft means the mission now has the capability to measure the minerals and chemicals at the sample site on Bennu,” said Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for OSIRIS-REx at the University of Arizona, Tucson. “I greatly appreciate the hard work and innovation the OVIRS team demonstrated during the creation of this instrument.”

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, provides overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta is the mission's principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver is building the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama manages New Frontiers for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information on OSIRIS-REx visit: 

http://www.nasa.gov/osiris-rex

and

http://www.asteroidmission.org


Nancy Neal Jones
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
301-286-0039
Nancy.N.Jones@nasa.gov

Last Updated: July 9, 2015

Editor: Rob Garner

Tags:  Asteroids, Bennu, Goddard Space Flight Center, OSIRIS-REx (Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer), Solar System,

OSIRIS-REx

June 23, 2015

OSIRIS-REx Team Prepares for Next Step in NASA’s Asteroid Sample Return Mission

With launch only 15 months away, NASA’s Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) team is preparing to deliver instruments for integration with the spacecraft that will travel to, and collect a sample from, an asteroid.

“This is an exciting time for the project,” said Mike Donnelly, OSIRIS-REx project manager from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.  “Years of effort are coming to culmination with the upcoming deliveries of the instruments to the spacecraft.” 

OSIRIS-REx will travel to a near-Earth asteroid called Bennu and bring a small sample back to Earth for study. The mission is scheduled for launch in September 2016. The spacecraft will reach its asteroid target in 2018 and return a sample to Earth in 2023.

The spacecraft will carry five instruments from national and international partners. These instruments will be key to mapping and analyzing Bennu’s surface and will be critical in identifying a site from which a sample can be safely retrieved and ultimately returned to Earth.

The OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite (OCAMS) consists of three cameras that will image the asteroid Bennu during approach and proximity operations. The University of Arizona designed and built OCAMS.

The OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA) will scan Bennu to map the entire asteroid surface, producing local and global topographic maps. OLA is a contributed instrument from the Canadian Space Agency.

The OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer (OTES) will conduct surveys to map mineral and chemical abundances and to take Bennu’s temperature. OTES is provided by Arizona State University.

The OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer (OVIRS) measures visible and infrared light from Bennu, which can be used to identify water and organic materials. The instrument is provided by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

A student experiment called the Regolith X-ray Imaging Spectrometer (REXIS) will map elemental abundances on the asteroid. REXIS is a collaboration between the students and faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.

“These instruments are essential to accomplishing the mission’s science goals and unlocking the secrets of Bennu,” said Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for OSIRIS-Rex at the University of Arizona, Tucson. “I am proud of the dedication to excellence that each of our instrument teams brings to this mission, and I look forward to all that we will discover at the asteroid.”

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland provides overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta is the mission's principal investigator at the University of Arizona. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver is building the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama manages New Frontiers for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information about OSIRIS-REx visit: 

http://www.nasa.gov/osiris-rex and http://www.asteroidmission.org


Nancy Neal Jones
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

Last Updated: July 9, 2015

Editor: Rob Garner

Tags:  Asteroids, Bennu, Goddard Space Flight Center, OSIRIS-REx (Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer), Solar System,

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April 1, 2015

15-056

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission Passes Critical Milestone

NASA's groundbreaking science mission to retrieve a sample from an ancient space rock has moved closer to fruition. The Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission has passed a critical milestone in its path towards launch and is officially authorized to transition into its next phase.

Key Decision Point-D (KDP-D) occurs after the project has completed a series of independent reviews that cover the technical health, schedule and cost of the project. The milestone represents the official transition from the mission’s development stage to delivery of systems, testing and integration leading to launch. During this part of the mission’s life cycle, known as Phase D, the spacecraft bus, or the structure that will carry the science instruments, is completed, the instruments are integrated into the spacecraft and tested, and the spacecraft is shipped to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for integration with the rocket.

“This is an exciting time for the OSIRIS-REx team,” said Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for OSIRIS-Rex at the University of Arizona, Tucson. “After almost four years of intense design efforts, we are now proceeding with the start of flight system assembly. I am grateful for the hard work and team effort required to get us to this point.”

OSIRIS-REx is the first U.S. mission to return samples from an asteroid to Earth. The spacecraft will travel to a near-Earth asteroid called Bennu and bring at least a 60-gram (2.1-ounce) sample back to Earth for study. OSIRIS-REx carries five instruments that will remotely evaluate the surface of Bennu. The mission will help scientists investigate the composition of the very early solar system and the source of organic materials and water that made their way to Earth, and improve understanding of asteroids that could impact our planet.

OSIRIS-REx is scheduled for launch in late 2016. The spacecraft will reach Bennu in 2018 and return a sample to Earth in 2023.

"The spacecraft structure has been integrated with the propellant tank and propulsion system and is ready to begin system integration in the Lockheed Martin highbay,” said Mike Donnelly, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “The payload suite of cameras and sensors is well into its environmental test phase and will be delivered later this summer/fall.”

The key decision meeting was held at NASA Headquarters in Washington on March 30 and chaired by NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

On March 27, assembly, launch and test operations officially began at Lockheed Martin in Denver. These operations represent a critical stage of the program  when the spacecraft begins to take form, culminating with its launch. Over the next several months, technicians will install the subsystems on the main spacecraft structure, comprising avionics, power, telecomm, thermal systems, and guidance, navigation and control.

The next major milestone is the Mission Operations Review, scheduled for completion in June. The project will demonstrate that its navigation, planning, commanding, and science operations requirements are complete.

The mission's principal investigator is at the University of Arizona, Tucson. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will provide overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver will build the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages New Frontiers for the agency's Science Mission Directorate.

OSIRIS-REx complements NASA's Asteroid Initiative, which aligns portions of the agency's science, space technology and human exploration capabilities in a coordinated asteroid research effort. The initiative will conduct research and analysis to better characterize and mitigate the threat these space rocks pose to our home planet.

Included in the initiative is NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), a robotic spacecraft mission that will capture a boulder from the surface of a near-Earth asteroid and move it into a stable orbit around the moon for exploration by astronauts, all in support of advancing the nation’s journey to Mars. The agency also is engaging new industrial capabilities, partnerships, open innovation and participatory exploration through the NASA Asteroid Initiative.

NASA also has made tremendous progress in the cataloging and characterization of near Earth objects over the past five years. The president's NASA budget included, and Congress authorized, $20.4 million for an expanded NASA Near-Earth Object (NEO) Observations Program, increasing the resources for this critical program from the $4 million per year it had received since the 1990s. The program was again expanded in fiscal year 2014, with a budget of $40.5 million. NASA is asking Congress for $50 million for this important work in the 2016 budget.

NASA has identified more than 12,000 NEOs to date, including 96 percent of near-Earth asteroids larger than 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) in size. NASA has not detected any objects of this size that pose an impact hazard to Earth in the next 100 years. Smaller asteroids do pass near Earth, however, and some could pose an impact threat. In 2011, 893 near-Earth asteroids were found. In 2014, that number was increased to 1,472.

In addition to NASA's ongoing work detecting and cataloging asteroids, the agency has engaged the public in the hunt for these space rocks through the agency's Asteroid Grand Challenge activities, including prize competitions. During the recent South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, the agency announced the release of a software application based on an algorithm created by a NASA challenge that has the potential to increase the number of new asteroid discoveries by amateur astronomers.

For more information about the OSIRIS-REx mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/osiris-rex

and

http://asteroidmission.org

For more information about the ARM and NASA's Asteroid Initiative, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/asteroidinitiative

-end-

Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters, Washington
Dwayne.C.Brown@nasa.gov
202-358-1726

Nancy Neal-Jones
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
nancy.n.jones@nasa.gov
301-286-0039

Last Updated: July 9, 2015

Editor: Sarah Ramsey

Tags:  Bennu, Goddard Space Flight Center, OSIRIS-REx (Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer),

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OSIRIS-REx

Feb. 27, 2015

OSIRIS-REx Mission Successfully Completes System Integration Review

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft core structure is successfully lowered and mated to the hydrazine propellant tank and boat tail assembly at Lockheed Martin, Denver, Colo.

Credits: Lockheed Martin

This week marked the completion of an important step on the path to spacecraft assembly, test, and launch operations for the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer or OSIRIS-REx mission.

The team met at the Lockheed Martin facility in Littleton, Colorado during the week of February 23, 2015 to review the plan for integrating all of the systems on the spacecraft, such as the scientific instrumentation, electrical and communication systems, and navigation systems. Successful completion of this System Integration Review means that the project can proceed with assembling and testing the spacecraft in preparations for launch in September 2016. Assembly and testing operations for the spacecraft are on track to begin next month at the Lockheed Martin facilities in Littleton.

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will travel to a near-Earth asteroid, called Bennu, and bring at least a 2.1-ounce sample back to Earth for study. The mission will help scientists investigate how planets formed and how life began, as well as improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will provide overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta is the mission's principal investigator at the University of Arizona. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver will build the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages New Frontiers for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information about OSIRIS-REx visit:  http://www.nasa.gov/osiris-rex and http://www.asteroidmission.org


Nancy Neal-Jones
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Last Updated: July 9, 2015

Editor: Lynn Jenner

Tags:  Goddard Space Flight Center, OSIRIS-REx (Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer), Solar System,

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Launches

Feb. 11, 2015

NOAA’s New Deep Space Solar Monitoring Satellite Launches

A new mission to monitor solar activity is now making its way to an orbit one million miles from Earth. The Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 6:03 p.m. EST Wednesday from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

DSCOVR, a partnership among the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA and the U.S. Air Force, will provide NOAA space weather forecasters more reliable measurements of solar wind conditions, improving their ability to monitor potentially harmful solar activity.

NASA received funding from NOAA to refurbish the DSCOVR spacecraft and its solar wind instruments for this mission. The work was completed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, where a team developed the command and control portion of the spacecraft’s ground segment, and manages the launch and activation of the satellite.

Following successful activation of the satellite and check-out approximately 150 days after launch, NASA will hand over operations of DSCOVR to NOAA.

“DSCOVR is the latest example of how NASA and NOAA work together to leverage the vantage point of space to both understand the science of space weather and provide direct practical benefits to us here on Earth,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

With DSCOVR in its distant orbit, it will become the nation’s first operational satellite in deep space, orbiting between Earth and the sun at a location called the first Lagrange point, or L1. DSCOVR will join at this orbit NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) research satellite, and replace the 17-year-old satellite as America’s primary warning system for solar magnetic storms. ACE will continue its important role in space weather research.

NOAA management of DSCOVR includes spacecraft operation and distribution of the mission’s space weather data. These data, coupled with a new forecast model scheduled to come online later this year, will enable NOAA forecasters to predict geomagnetic storm magnitude on a regional basis.

Geomagnetic storms occur when plasma and magnetic fields streaming from the sun impact Earth’s magnetic field. Large magnetic eruptions from the sun have the potential to bring major disruptions to power grids, aviation, telecommunications, and GPS systems.

In addition to the mission’s primary space weather-monitoring instruments, DSCOVR carries two NASA Earth-observing instruments that will gather a range of measurements from the ozone and aerosols in the atmosphere, to changes in Earth's radiation budget. A NASA solar-science instrument, the Electron Spectrometer, will measure electrons in the solar wind.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology Advanced Radiometer (NISTAR) measures the reflected and emitted energy from the entire sunlit face of Earth. This measurement is intended to improve understanding of the effects of changes in Earth's radiation budget caused by human activities and natural phenomena.

Images of the entire sunlit face of Earth, with ten filter settings in the ultraviolet and visible spectral ranges, are provided by the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) instrument on DSCOVR.  EPIC's observations will be used to measure ozone and aerosol amounts, cloud height, vegetation properties and ultraviolet reflectivity of Earth.

Data from EPIC will be used to create true-color images of the full sun-facing side of Earth that will be publicly available approximately 24 hours after they are taken. At least six images will be produced each day and posted to the NASA website. The first images will be posted approximately six months after launch.

For more information on the DSCOVR mission, visit:

http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/DSCOVR/

Last Updated: July 9, 2015

Editor: Brian Dunbar

Tags:  Earth, Goddard Space Flight Center, Launches, Solar System,

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NEOWISE

Jan. 14, 2015

NEOWISE: A Yearlong Look at the Sky

 

This movie shows the progression of NASA's NEOWISE survey in the year after its Dec. 2013 restart.

Credits:

Full caption

Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) is one of more than 32 comets imaged by NASA's NEOWISE mission from December 2013 to December 2014. This image of comet Lovejoy combines a series of observations made in November 2013.

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Full image and caption

On clear nights in January 2015, comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) is visible in the Taurus region of the sky to observers using binoculars. This chart indicates where to look for it on different dates during the month.

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

NASA's Near-Earth Object Wide-field Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) spacecraft discovered and characterized 40 near-Earth objects (NEOs) in the first year after the mission was re-started in December 2013. Eight of the discoveries have been classified as potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs), based on their size and how close their orbits could come to Earth's orbit.

The mission has further observed and characterized 245 previously known near-Earth objects. From December 2013 to December 2014, NEOWISE discovered three new comets and observed 32 others. one of the others has turned into the brightest comet in Earth's night sky in early 2015, comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy).

NEOWISE always looks in the dawn and twilight skies – the direction perpendicular to a line between Earth and the sun. This unique vantage point makes it easy for NEOWISE to spot NEOs that get particularly close to Earth.

Originally called the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), the spacecraft was placed in hibernation in 2011 after its primary mission was completed. In September 2013, it was reactivated, renamed NEOWISE and assigned a new mission to assist NASA's efforts to identify the population of potentially hazardous near-Earth objects. NEOWISE is also characterizing previously known asteroids and comets to provide information about their sizes and compositions.

NEOWISE is a space telescope that scans the skies for asteroids and comets. The telescope sees infrared light, which allows it to pick up the heat signature of asteroids and obtain better estimates of their true sizes. As a result, NEOWISE can see dark asteroids that are harder for visible-light surveys to find. Nearly all of the NEOWISE discoveries have been large (hundreds of yards, or meters, wide) and very dark, similar to printer toner. When NEOWISE's infrared data on an object is combined with that of a visible-light optical telescope, it helps scientists understand the object's composition.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the NEOWISE mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Space Dynamics Laboratory in Logan, Utah, built the science instrument. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colorado, built the spacecraft. Science operations and data processing take place at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA. For more information about NEOWISE, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/neowise

 

More information about asteroids and near-Earth objects is at:

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroidwatch

DC Agle
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-393-9011
agle@jpl.nasa.gov

 

Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

2015-018

Last Updated: July 9, 2015

Editor: Tony Greicius

Tags:  Asteroids, Comets, NEOWISE, Solar System,

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Magnetospheric Multiscale

Nov. 21, 2014

NASA Releases Narrated Animation of MMS Launch and Deploy

A narrated animation of how NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission – which consists of four separate spacecraft -- will launch into space.

Credits: NASA/Goddard

Download video

In March of 2015, an unprecedented NASA mission will launch to study a process so mysterious that no one has ever directly measured in space. To create the first-ever 3-dimensional maps of this process, a process called magnetic reconnection, which occurs all over the universe, the Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission uses four separate spacecraft equipped with ultra high speed instruments.

Launching four satellites into space simultaneously is a complicated process. In addition, each spacecraft has several booms that will unfold and extend in space once on orbit. A launch and deployment with so many moving parts is meticulously planned. 

Watch the video to get a sneak preview of how MMS will make this journey: The four spacecraft are housed in a single rocket on their trip into space. one by one, each ejects out, before moving into a giant pyramid-shaped configuration. Next each spacecraft deploys its booms.

Once in orbit, MMS will fly through regions near Earth where this little-understood process of magnetic reconnection occurs. Magnetic reconnection happens in thin layers just miles thick, but can tap into enough power at times to create gigantic explosions many times the size of Earth.

Reconnection happens when magnetic field lines explosively realign and release massive bursts of energy, while hurling particles out at nearly the speed of light in all directions. Magnetic reconnection powers eruptions on the sun and – closer to home – it triggers the flow of material and energy from interplanetary space into near-Earth space. The MMS orbit will carry the four spacecraft through reconnection regions near Earth, using this nearby natural laboratory to better understand how reconnection occurs everywhere in space.

For more information about MMS, visit:

www.nasa.gov/mms

Karen C. Fox
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

Last Updated: July 9, 2015

Editor: Holly Zell

Tags:  Goddard Space Flight Center, MMS (Magnetospheric Multiscale), Solar System,

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Asteroids

Nov. 19, 2014

New Animation Follows Long, Strange Trip of Bennu – Target of NASA's Asteroid Sample Return Mission

Born from the rubble of a violent collision, hurled through space for millions of years and dismembered by the gravity of planets, asteroid Bennu had a tough life in a rough neighborhood: the early solar system. "Bennu's Journey," a new animation created at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, shows what's known and what remains mysterious about the life of Bennu and the origin of the solar system.

The animated feature "Bennu's Journey" shows what's known and what remains mysterious about the life of asteroid Bennu and the origin of the solar system.

Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab

Download the movie in various formats/resolutions

"We are going to Bennu because we want to know what it has witnessed over the course of its evolution," said Edward Beshore of the University of Arizona, Deputy Principal Investigator for NASA's asteroid-sample-return mission OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security – Regolith Explorer). The mission will be launched toward Bennu in late 2016, arrive at the asteroid in 2018, and return a sample of Bennu’s surface to Earth in 2023. "Bennu's experiences will tell us more about where our solar system came from and how it evolved. Like the detectives in a crime show episode, we'll examine bits of evidence from Bennu to understand more completely the story of the solar system, which is ultimately the story of our origin."

The video opens with an establishing shot of the galaxy and moves in to a nebula – a vast cloud of gas and dust ejected from the explosions of dying stars. From observations of other star-forming regions in our galaxy, scientists have a good idea of the basic outlines of how our solar system came to be, according to Beshore. As shown in the animation, a nearby exploding star disrupts material in the nebula, causing part of it to collapse under its own gravity and form a disk of material surrounding the infant sun.

This is a conceptual image of a nebula. Nebulas are vast clouds of gas and dust ejected from the explosions of dying stars. Scientists think the solar system formed when a nearby exploding star disrupted material in a nebula, causing part of it to collapse under its own gravity.

Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab

Within this disk, bits of dust are flash heated to molten rock and solidify to become chondrules -- some of the building blocks of the solar system. Chondrules are shown in the animation as they clump together via electrostatic and gravitational forces to become asteroids and planets.

Chondrules may make up a large part of the material in Bennu. on planets like Earth, the original materials have been profoundly altered by geologic activity and chemical reactions with our atmosphere and water. We think Bennu may be relatively unchanged, so this asteroid is like a time capsule for us to examine," said Beshore. By analyzing the sample collected from Bennu, the OSIRIS-REx team will be able to examine some of the most pristine material to be found anywhere in the solar system.

Bennu may also harbor organic material from the young solar system. Organic matter is made of molecules containing primarily carbon and hydrogen atoms and is fundamental to terrestrial life. The analysis of any organic material found on Bennu will give scientists an inventory of the materials present at the beginning of the solar system that may have had a role in the origin of life. "By bringing this material back to Earth, we can do a far more thorough analysis than we can with instruments on a spacecraft, because of practical limits on the size, mass, and energy consumption of what can be flown," said Beshore. "We will also set aside returned materials for future generations to study with instruments and capabilities we can't even imagine now."

The mission also will contribute to NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), which will identify, capture and redirect a near-Earth asteroid to a stable orbit around the moon, where astronauts will explore it in the 2020s, returning with samples. ARM is part of NASA’s plan to advance new capabilities needed for future human missions to Mars. OSIRIS-REx also will support the agency's efforts to understand the population of potentially hazardous near-Earth objects and characterize those suitable for future asteroid exploration missions.

The early solar system was quite chaotic. Giant impact craters throughout the inner solar system indicate there may have been a "late heavy bombardment" by asteroids approximately 4.1 billion to 3.8 billion years ago, right around the origin of life on Earth. The video illustrates one theory for this. The massive "gas giant" planet Jupiter began to migrate inward closer to the Sun due to gravitational interactions with the outer gas giant planets. Jupiter's gravity disrupted the asteroid belt, tossing many asteroids closer to the Sun, where some collided with the terrestrial planets, including Earth. This asteroid bombardment may have been a significant source of organic matter and water for the early Earth.

This is an artist's concept of the young Earth being bombarded by asteroids. Scientists think these impacts could have delivered significant amounts of organic matter and water to Earth.

Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab

After this bombardment, things calmed down a little, but massive collisions still happened occasionally, like the one the video shows happening between an asteroid and a planetesimal about one billion years ago. Scientists think a collision like this may have resulted in the birth of Bennu, and the video illustrates the asteroid forming as some of the rubble from the collision slowly coalesces under its own weak gravity.

This is an artist's concept of the impact that created the asteroid Bennu. Scientists think Bennu formed when some of the rubble from a collision like this coalesced under its own gravity.

Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab

Measurements reveal that Bennu's density is less than that of rock, so scientists think the asteroid may have voids in its interior, according to Beshore. An asteroid like this is called a "rubble pile" -- a loosely bound collection of boulders, rock, and dust.

Bennu is also quite dark. Like an asphalt road on a hot day, it absorbs most of the sunlight that hits it and later radiates this energy away as heat. This radiation gives Bennu a tiny push, called the Yarkovsky effect, which gradually changes its orbit over time. The animation shows how the Yarkovsky effect causes Bennu to migrate until it encounters a so-called gravitational resonance with the planet Saturn. Regular tugs by this resonance eventually push Bennu into the inner solar system, where it has repeated close encounters with Venus and Earth. These encounters pull apart the rubble pile that is Bennu, turning it inside out and reshaping the asteroid.

Because Bennu comes close to Earth, there is a tiny chance – about 1 in 2,500 – that it could hit Earth late in the 22nd century, according to Beshore. "We'll get accurate measurements of the Yarkovsky effect on Bennu by precisely tracking OSIRIS-REx as it orbits the asteroid," said Beshore. "In addition, the instrument suite the spacecraft is carrying is perfectly suited to measure all the things that contribute to the Yarkovsky effect, such as composition, energy transport through the surface, temperature, and Bennu's topography. If astronomers someday identify an asteroid that presents a significant impact hazard to Earth, the first step will be to gather more information about that asteroid. Fortunately, the OSIRIS-REx mission will have given us the experience and tools needed to do the job."

The animation ends with the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft entering orbit around Bennu to tell the tale of the asteroid’s long, strange trip, a journey that promises to reveal the secrets of the solar system and perhaps our own origins.

This is an artist's concept of NASA's OSIRIS-REx asteroid-sample-return spacecraft arriving at the asteroid Bennu.

Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab

The animation is among the most highly detailed productions created by Goddard's Conceptual Image Laboratory (CI Lab), and as such presented significant challenges to realize. Rendered in an 8 by 3 Cinemascope aspect ratio at 5,670 by 2,180 pixels, it has even higher resolution than the 4K "Ultra High Definition" (4K UHD) resolution now being introduced as the next-generation high-definition television format.

"This was done for two reasons; first, with the cinemascope aspect ratio we could take advantage of the extra screen room for a more cinematic design and it would also play well on larger-format screens like IMAX and NASA's hyperwall," said CI Lab Senior Animator Walt Feimer, who was also a producer on the project. "The second advantage was by mastering at the higher resolution we only had to render one time. By keeping the action in the animation in the 16 by 9 aspect ratio, we could cut the animation down to 4K UHD and from there it could be scaled to any of our usual animation products."

One of the major challenges in the movie was with the texture maps; since the format was so large the textures had to dramatically increase in size to hold up at resolution without breaking down visually, according to Feimer. The team also spent a lot of time creating the look and feel of the gases used in the nebula and early solar system scenes.

The enormous size of the animation required significant computer time to render, so it was important to minimize changes through close coordination among the science team, the production team, and the script writers.

"Ed Beshore and Dante Lauretta, the OSIRIS-REx Principal Investigator, held a series of early meetings with me and the animation team – Walt Feimer and Michael Lentz – to discuss the history of Bennu and sketch out the video's narrative arc," said Daniel Gallagher of Goddard Media Studios, a writer and a producer on the project. "Then Walt and Michael began creating storyboards and I began writing narration, based on our meetings and on various science articles. The earliest scripts were densely packed with information but didn't quite capture the epic feel that we were aiming for, so we brought in fellow writer/producer Michael Starobin to rethink the tone of the narration. After some back and forth, the team arrived at a script that retained the most important points scientifically, but also delivered them in a more epic, evocative voice."

"Through a lot of collaborative back-and-forth effort with Dante and Ed we defined the story we wanted to tell and created our shot list," adds Feimer. "We ended up with 31 different shots. Spending the extra time upfront on the storyboards really paid off. It kept changes to a minimum and in the end we only added two shots and dropped one."

The team's efforts have resulted in a signature animation that explains how exploring an asteroid can shed light on how we came to be.

The animation was funded by the OSIRIS-REx project. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., will provide overall mission management, systems engineering, safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta is the mission's principal investigator at the University of Arizona. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver will build the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages New Frontiers for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more images, posters, and a 3D-printable model of Bennu, refer to the Bennu's Journey resource page at:  http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/details.cgi?aid=20218

Bill Steigerwald
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

Last Updated: July 9, 2015

Editor: Bill Steigerwald

Tags:  Asteroid Redirect Mission, Asteroids, Goddard Space Flight Center, OSIRIS-REx (Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer), Solar System,

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MAVEN

Oct. 24, 2014

MAVEN Ultraviolet Image of Comet Siding Spring’s Hydrogen Coma

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft obtained this ultraviolet image of hydrogen surrounding comet Siding Spring on Friday, Oct. 17, two days before the comet’s closest approach to Mars. The Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) instrument imaged the comet at a distance of 5.3 million miles (8.5 million kilometers).

The image shows sunlight that has been scattered by atomic hydrogen, and is shown as blue in this false-color representation. Comets are surrounded by a huge cloud of atomic hydrogen because water (H2O) vaporizes from the icy nucleus, and solar ultraviolet light breaks it apart into hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen atoms scatter solar ultraviolet light, and it was this light that was imaged by the IUVS. Two observations were combined to create this image, after removing the foreground signal that results from sunlight being scattered from hydrogen surrounding Mars.

The bulk of the scattered sunlight shows a cloud that was about a half degree across on the “sky” background, comparable in size to Earth’s moon as seen from Earth.  Hydrogen was detected to as far as 93,000 miles (150,000 kilometers) away from the comet’s nucleus. The distance is comparable to the distance of the comet from Mars at its closest approach. Gas from the comet is likely to have hit Mars, and would have done so at a speed of 125,000 mph (56 kilometers/second. This gas may have disturbed the Mars atmosphere.

Image with scale/annotation

Credit: Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado; NASA

Last Updated: July 9, 2015

Editor: Rob Garner

Tags:  Asteroids, Comet Siding Spring, Comets, Goddard Space Flight Center, Mars, MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution), Solar System,

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MAVEN

Oct. 19, 2014

All Three NASA Mars Orbiters Healthy After Comet Flyby

All three NASA orbiters around Mars confirmed their healthy status Sunday after each took shelter behind Mars during a period of risk from dust released by a passing comet.

Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter all are part of a campaign to study comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring and possible effects on the Martian atmosphere from gases and dust released by the comet. The comet sped past Mars today much closer than any other known comet flyby of Mars or Earth.

Additional information about the precautions and observations by each of the three orbiters is at

http://www.nasa.gov/content/nasas-mars-odyssey-orbiter-watches-comet-fly-near/

http://www.nasa.gov/jpl/mro/nasas-mars-reconnaissance-orbiter-studies-comet-flyby/

and

http://www.nasa.gov/jpl/maven/nasas-maven-studies-passing-comet-and-its-effects/

for Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and MAVEN, respectively.

For more information about comet Siding Spring and the investigations of its Mars flyby, visit:

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/comets/sidingspring/

Guy Webster
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
818-354-6278
guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov

Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

Nancy Jones / Bill Steigerwald
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
301-286-0039 / 301-286-5017
nancy.n.jones@nasa.gov / william.a.steigerwald@nasa.gov

2014-364

Last Updated: July 9, 2015

Editor: Tony Greicius

Tags:  Asteroids, Comet Siding Spring, Goddard Space Flight Center, Mars, MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution), Solar System,

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MAVEN

Oct. 19, 2014

NASA's MAVEN Studies Passing Comet and Its Effects

NASA's newest orbiter at Mars, MAVEN, took precautions to avoid harm from a dust-spewing comet that flew near Mars today and is studying the flyby's effects on the Red Planet's atmosphere.

The MAVEN spacecraft -- full name Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution -- reported back to Earth in good health after about three hours of precautions against a possible collision with high-velocity dust particles released by comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring.

"We're glad the spacecraft came through, we're excited to complete our observations of how the comet affects Mars, and we're eager to get to our primary science phase," said MAVEN Principal Investigator Bruce Jakosky of the University of Colorado, Boulder.

MAVEN began orbiting Mars on Sept. 21. The opportunity to study this rare near-miss of a planet by a comet comes during the project's commissioning phase. A few weeks of instrument calibration and orbit fine-tuning remain before the start of the primary science phase. The mission will study the upper atmosphere of Mars and its interaction with the solar wind.

Comet Siding Spring hurtled past Mars today at about 125,000 mph (56 kilometers per second), coming within about 87,000 miles (139,500 kilometers) of the planet. That is equivalent to about one-third of the distance between Earth and Earth's moon. The closest approach by the comet's nucleus came at about 11:27 a.m. PDT (2:27 p.m. EDT). The period when dust from the comet was most likely to reach Mars and the orbits of spacecraft around Mars peaked about 100 minutes later.

From about 10:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. PDT (1:45 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. EDT) MAVEN kept in a defensive posture to reduce its profile relative to the direction from which the comet's high-velocity dust particles would come. In that "hunkered down" orientation, its main antenna was not facing the right way for transmitting to Earth, so communications were maintained at low data rate via a secondary antenna. Also, the mission performed a maneuver on Oct. 2 that set its orbit timing so that the spacecraft was behind Mars, relative to the possible dust flow, from about 12:53 p.m. to 1:23 p.m. PDT (3:53 p.m. to 4:23 p.m. EDT).

Downlink of data has begun from MAVEN observations of the comet and Mars' atmosphere.  Some observations are designed to provide information about the composition of the gases and dust being released by the comet. Others are investigating possible interaction between material from the comet and the atmosphere of Mars.

Three NASA Mars orbiters, two Mars rovers and other assets on Earth and in space are studying comet Siding Spring. This comet is making its first visit this close to the sun from the outer solar system's Oort Cloud, so the concerted campaign of observations may yield fresh clues to our solar system's earliest days more than 4 billion years ago.

MAVEN's principal investigator is based at the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. The university provided two science instruments and leads science operations, as well as education and public outreach, for the mission. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the MAVEN project and provided two science instruments for the mission. Lockheed Martin built the spacecraft and is responsible for mission operations. The University of California at Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory also provided four science instruments for the mission. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, provides navigation and Deep Space Network support, as well as the Electra telecommunications relay hardware and operations.

For more about MAVEN, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/maven

Nancy Jones / Bill Steigerwald
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
301-286-0039 / 301-286-5017
nancy.n.jones@nasa.gov / william.a.steigerwald@nasa.gov

Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

Guy Webster
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
818-354-6278
guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov

2014-362

Last Updated: July 9, 2015

Editor: Tony Greicius

Tags:  Asteroids, Comet Siding Spring, Goddard Space Flight Center, Mars, MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution), Solar System,

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MAVEN

Sep. 21, 2014

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Celebration: MAVEN Arrives at Mars

Members of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) team celebrate at the Lockheed Martin operations center in Littleton, Colorado, Sunday night, after getting confirmation that the spacecraft entered Mars' orbit.

MAVEN is the first spacecraft dedicated to exploring the tenuous upper atmosphere of Mars, and will soon begin taking measurements of the composition, structure and escape of gases in Mars’ upper atmosphere and its interaction with the sun and solar wind.

Credit: Lockheed Martin

Last Updated: July 9, 2015

Editor: Jim Wilson

Tags:  Goddard Space Flight Center, Mars, MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution), Solar System,

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OSIRIS-REx

July 17, 2014

Canada Contributes to NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission

Today, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) announced a significant contribution to NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission.

Canada’s contribution to the mission is the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA), a sophisticated laser-based mapping system. The OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter will be used to create unprecedented 3-D maps of asteroid Bennu to help the mission team select a site from which to collect a sample.

“The OLA instrument provides a valuable contribution to the OSIRIS-REx mission, so we’re very encouraged that CSA received approval from the Canadian Government’s Treasury Board for the OLA instrument to enter its flight development phase,” said Mike Donnelly, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “We look forward to OLA being delivered for integration with the spacecraft in November 2015.” 

In exchange for the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter, the Canadian Space Agency will own 4 percent of the returned sample, providing the Canadian scientific community with its first-ever direct access to a returned asteroid sample.

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will travel to a near-Earth asteroid, called Bennu (formerly 1999 RQ36), and bring at least a 2.1-ounce sample back to Earth for study. The OSIRIS-REx mission goal is to address basic questions about the composition of the very early solar system, the source of organic materials and water that made life possible on Earth, and to better predict the orbits of asteroids that represent collision threats to Earth.

OSIRIS-REx is scheduled for launch in late 2016. As planned, the spacecraft will reach its asteroid target in 2018 and return a sample to Earth in 2023.

Goddard will provide overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta is the mission's principal investigator at the University of Arizona. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver will build the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages New Frontiers for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.


Nancy N. Jones
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

Last Updated: July 9, 2015

Editor: Rob Garner

Tags:  Asteroids, Goddard Space Flight Center, OSIRIS-REx (Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer), Solar System,

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Apollo 15

June 21, 2014

Apollo 15: Interplanetary Mountaineers

This image from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter shows the area surrounding Apollo 15's landing site, annotated with the traverse plots of the mission's first two moonwalks, abbreviated as EVAs (extra-vehicular activities). Numbers indicate elevations in meters above the landing site (indicated by the arrow labeled "LM" -- lunar module). Astronauts David Scott and James Irwin ventured to the lower slopes of Mons Hadley Delta (center left). The distance they travelled from the lunar module to Elbow crater along the edge of Hadley Rille (EVA 1) is about 2.8 miles. Apollo 15 was the first mission on which the "lunar rover" was used.

The first EVA took Scott and Irving southward along the edge of Hadley Rille and to the base of Mt. Hadley Delta near St. George crater. This traverse took them to a height of just over 65 meters (or 213 feet) above the landing site on the mare plain. At this height, much of the surface material of the mountain comprises debris that, over eons, slid down the upper slopes. The area contains very few surface boulders, so materials collected in this area primarily consist of regolith: dusty, rocky debris.

The second EVA took the astronauts southeast to "South Cluster" and Spur craters. At Spur crater, a very old crystalline rock fragment was collected, containing evidence of geologic processes more than 4 billion years old and representing a piece of the original anorthositic crust of the moon. They also discovered an unusual green material composed of volcanic glass.

This traverse ascended about 95 meters (104 yards) in elevation up the base of Hadley Delta. At times, the slope was so steep that the rover had difficulty getting traction, and the mountain peak loomed so high overhead, that the astronauts could not lean back far enough to get it in the frame of their cameras.

During this traverse, the astronauts commented that they thought they could detect a high-mark where lava might once have filled the basin at the base of nearby Mt. Hadley around a height of 85 meters (93 yards) above the current mare plain.

› More images and information from Arizona State University's LRO Camera website

Image credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

Last Updated: July 9, 2015

Editor: Rob Garner

Tags:  Apollo, Apollo 15, Apollo Revisited, Earth's Moon, Goddard Space Flight Center, LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter), NASA History, Solar System,

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LRO

May 29, 2014

NASA Missions Let Scientists See Moon’s Dancing Tide From Orbit

Scientists combined observations from two NASA missions to check out the moon’s  lopsided shape and how it changes under Earth’s sway – a response not seen from orbit before.

The team drew on studies by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been investigating the moon since 2009, and by NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, or GRAIL, mission. Because orbiting spacecraft gathered the data, the scientists were able to take the entire moon into account, not just the side that can be observed from Earth.

“The deformation of the moon due to Earth’s pull is very challenging to measure, but learning more about it gives us clues about the interior of the moon,” said Erwan Mazarico, a scientist with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., who works at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The lopsided shape of the moon is one result of its gravitational tug-of-war with Earth. The mutual pulling of the two bodies is powerful enough to stretch them both, so they wind up shaped a little like two eggs with their ends pointing toward one another. on Earth, the tension has an especially strong effect on the oceans, because water moves so freely, and is the driving force behind tides.

Earth’s distorting effect on the moon, called the lunar body tide, is more difficult to detect, because the moon is solid except for its small core. Even so, there is enough force to raise a bulge about 20 inches (51 centimeters) high on the near side of the moon and similar one on the far side.

The position of the bulge actually shifts a few inches over time. Although the same side of the moon constantly faces Earth, because of the tilt and shape of the moon’s orbit, the side facing Earth appears to wobble. From the moon’s viewpoint, Earth doesn’t sit motionless but moves around within a small patch of sky. The bulge responds to Earth’s movements like a dance partner, following wherever the lead goes.

“If nothing changed on the moon – if there were no lunar body tide or if its tide were completely static – then every time scientists measured the surface height at a particular location, they would get the same value,” said Mike Barker, a Sigma Space Corporation scientist based at Goddard and co-author of the new study, which is available online in Geophysical Research Letters.

A few studies of these subtle changes were conducted previously from Earth. But not until LRO and GRAIL did satellites provide enough resolution to see the lunar tide from orbit.

To search for the tide’s signature, the scientists turned to data taken by LRO’s Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter, or LOLA, which is mapping the height of features on the moon’s surface. The team chose spots that the spacecraft has passed over more than once, each time approaching along a different flight path. More than 350,000 locations were selected, covering areas on the near and far sides of the moon.

The researchers precisely matched measurements taken at the same spot and calculated whether the height had risen or fallen from one satellite pass to the next; a change indicated a shift in the location of the bulge.

A crucial step in the process was to pinpoint exactly how far above the surface LRO was located for each measurement. To reconstruct the spacecraft’s orbit with sufficient accuracy, the researchers needed the detailed map of the moon’s gravity field provided by the GRAIL mission.

“This study provides a more direct measurement of the lunar body tide and much more comprehensive coverage than has been achieved before,” said John Keller, LRO project scientist at Goddard.

The good news for lunar scientists is that the new results are consistent with earlier findings. The estimated size of the tide confirmed the previous measurement of the bulge. The other value of great interest to researchers is the overall stiffness of the moon, known as the Love number h2, and this was also similar to prior results.

Having confirmation of the previous values – with significantly smaller errors than before – will make the lunar body tide a more useful piece of information for scientists.

“This research shows the power of bringing together the capabilities of two missions. The extraction of the tide from the LOLA data would have been impossible without the gravity model of the moon provided by the GRAIL mission,” said David Smith, the principal investigator for LRO’s LOLA instrument and the deputy principal investigator for the GRAIL mission. Smith is affiliated with Goddard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

LRO is managed by Goddard for the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) at NASA Headquarters in Washington. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., managed the GRAIL mission for SMD.

For more information about LRO, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/lro

Elizabeth Zubritsky
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

Last Updated: July 9, 2015

Editor: Rob Garner

Tags:  Earth's Moon, Goddard Space Flight Center, GRAIL (Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory), LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter), Solar System,

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Meteors & Meteorites

May 22, 2014

NASA, Sky-Watchers to Look for May Camelopardalids Meteor Shower

Map showing where the expected May Camelopardalid meteor shower will be visible during the peak time on May 24, 2014, 6:00-8:00 UTC.

Credits: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

Sky-watchers all across North America are in for a real treat in the early morning hours of May 24 – there's a brand new meteor shower that may light up the night sky. Scientists aren’t sure yet how many shooting stars people may see, but the May Camelopardalids meteor shower could be at a dazzling one-per-minute rate. 

·         Watch Live Coverage on Ustream

This is the first time Earth will directly cross the dusty trails left behind by a recently discovered comet named Comet 209P/LINEAR. Discovered in 2004, this comet’s path has been slowly altered by Jupiter’s gravity over the last 200 years and the leftover dust will now cross Earth’s path. That’s good news for those in North America who – weather permitting – will have a front-row seat to see Mother Nature’s celestial display of fireworks. The meteors will appear from the northern constellation Camelopardalis.

Astronomer Carl Hergenrother, a scientist at the University of Arizona, Tucson, working on a NASA-funded mission to an asteroid called the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer – or Osiris-Rex, said there is no danger to Earth. The particles in this dust trail are small, most about the size of grains of sand, and they will burn up as soon as they hit Earth’s atmosphere.

“What’s really nice about this particular comet [209P/Linear] is that we’re going right smack in the middle of these dust trails and the meteors are going to be pretty slow,” Hergenrother said. “They’re actually going to last maybe for a second or two. It’s going to look almost like slow moving fireworks instead of the usual shooting stars that we’re used to.”

The peak of the shower will be between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. EDT, but Hergenrother said sky-watchers will still see meteors for several hours before and after those times. The biggest advice he has for people is to find a dark, safe place to get cozy and watch the stars.

“Pick someplace where you can see as much of the sky as possible,” he said. “It really doesn’t matter where in the sky you’re looking, even though the meteors will be coming out of the north.”

He added that one great thing about meteor showers is that you don’t need any special equipment to enjoy the show. Just make sure to give your eyes time to adjust to the darkness.

Hergenrother has been studying Comet 209P/Linear for the past few months. He said the comet itself is about one to three miles long, and will make its closest approach to Earth on May 29 at a distance of 5 million miles. This comet is relatively faint, so don’t expect to see it without a sophisticated telescope.

There is still plenty more to learn about Comet 209P/Linear and what it was doing prior to its discovery in 2004. Like a forensic investigation, Hergenrother said scientists will use the brightness of these meteors combined with their distribution and what part of the sky they’re coming from to determine the size of the particles and what speed and when they came off the comet.

“Right before your eyes you’re seeing a grain of dust that was released from a comet hundreds of years ago that resided in that comet for billions of years,” Hergenrother said. “It may have even existed before the Earth existed, and there it is burning up right in front of you. So you’re watching a billions of years journey end right in front of your eyes.”

Hergenrother also has his eyes focused on another ancient piece of the solar system, an asteroid named Bennu.

In 2016, NASA will launch Osiris-Rex, which will travel to Bennu and return samples for study back on Earth in 2023. Asteroids are rocky debris left over from the creation of our solar system 4.5 billion years ago. Some asteroids have changed little over time and are treasure troves of information about the very beginnings of our solar system. They may even shed light on the sources of organic materials that made life possible on Earth. Osiris-Rex will be the first U.S. mission to return samples from an asteroid.

Meanwhile, if you miss the Memorial Day weekend meteor shower don’t worry. There are two more major meteor showers coming up – the Perseids happening Aug. 12-13 and the Geminids on Dec. 13-14. There are also several smaller showers throughout the year.

On the night of May 23 into the early morning hours of May 24, NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, will host a live web chat from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. EDT. To access the chat, log in and ask questions, go to:

http://go.nasa.gov/1m3Wrn7

Related Links

·         Live NASA Chat about the meteors on May 23-24

·         Share your images of the shower with NASA on Flickr

·         More information about the May Camelopardalids meteor shower: 1 | 2

·         NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office

·         NASA's Osiris-Rex website

·         Related multimedia, including B-roll

Michelle Handleman
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

Last Updated: July 9, 2015

Editor: Rob Garner

Tags:  Asteroids, Comets, Goddard Space Flight Center, Meteors & Meteorites, OSIRIS-REx (Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer), Solar System,

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OSIRIS-REx

Dec. 10, 2013

Countdown Begins for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Mission

This artist's concept shows the instrument deck of the OSIRIS REx asteroid sample and return mission. The spacecraft also has instruments that will measure anomalies in the astroid's movement and gravity.

Credits: NASA

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission began its countdown on December 9, at 7:43 PM EST, with 999 days remaining until the opening of the mission’s launch window in September 2016.

“This is a pioneering effort, both technologically and scientifically,” said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-Rex principal investigator from the University of Arizona, Tucson. “Starting the countdown clock carries a lot of symbolism for us. After December 9, we will have a constant reminder of the time remaining to send OSIRIS-REx on his quest to return a sample of asteroid Bennu”

OSIRIS-REx is a University of Arizona-led mission that will visit a primitive, carbonaceous asteroid named Bennu in 2018, obtain a sample from its surface, and return it to the Earth in 2023.

“999 days seems a long time to get the spacecraft on the pad, but we know that time will pass quickly. There is a lot of work to do before our spacecraft begins its journey, and we have to be very disciplined to get everything done in time, ” said Mike Donnelly, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The world will be able to follow along on the university team website, and receive daily updates about the mission and asteroid science on Facebook. Twitter followers will get a special treat, as the spacecraft begins to report on its progress as it is comes together at the Lockheed Martin facility in Littleton, CO.

“Osiris was formed from pieces scattered across ancient Egypt, where he awoke as the bringer of life and ruler of the underworld,” said Lauretta. “Our spacecraft has a similar story — it will be consist of components fabricated in locations around the world, that once together, will allow us to connect with a near-Earth object that is an accessible remnant from the formation of our solar system."

The OSIRIS-REx mission promises to help scientists address some basic questions about the composition of the very early solar system, the source of organic materials and water that made life possible on Earth, and to better predict the orbits of asteroids that represent collision threats to the Earth.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., will provide overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta is the mission's principal investigator at the University of Arizona. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver will build the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages New Frontiers for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information about the OSIRIS-REx project, visit:

http://asteroidmission.org

Follow OSIRIS-REx on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/OSIRISREx and on Twitter at @OSIRISREx.

Last Updated: July 9, 2015

Editor: Karl Hille

Tags:  Asteroids, Goddard Space Flight Center, OSIRIS-REx (Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer), Solar System,

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OSIRIS-REx

Aug. 8, 2013

New NASA Mission to Help Us Learn How to Mine Asteroids

Over the last hundred years, the human population has exploded from about 1.5 billion to more than seven billion, driving an ever-increasing demand for resources. To satisfy civilization's appetite, communities have expanded recycling efforts while mine operators must explore forbidding frontiers to seek out new deposits, opening mines miles underground or even at the bottom of the ocean.

Asteroids could one day be a vast new source of scarce material if the financial and technological obstacles can be overcome. Asteroids are lumps of metals, rock and dust, sometimes laced with ices and tar, which are the cosmic "leftovers" from the solar system's formation about 4.5 billion years ago. There are hundreds of thousands of them, ranging in size from a few yards to hundreds of miles across. Small asteroids are much more numerous than large ones, but even a little, house-sized asteroid should contain metals possibly worth millions of dollars.

This is an artist's concept of NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft preparing to take a sample from asteroid Bennu.

Credits: NASA/Goddard/Chris Meaney

There are different kinds of asteroids, and they are grouped into three classes from their spectral type – a classification based on an analysis of the light reflected off of their surfaces. Dark, carbon-rich, "C-type" asteroids have high abundances of water bound up as hydrated clay minerals. Although these asteroids currently have little economic value since water is so abundant on Earth, they will be extremely important if we decide we want to expand the human presence throughout the solar system.

"Water is a critical life-support item for a spacefaring civilization, and it takes a lot of energy to launch it into space," says Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona, Tucson, principal investigator for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission. "With launch costs currently thousands of dollars per pound, you want to use water already available in space to reduce mission costs. The other thing you can do with water is break it apart into its constituent hydrogen and oxygen, and that becomes rocket fuel, so you could have fuel depots out there where you're mining these asteroids. The other thing C-type asteroids have is organic material – they have a lot of organic carbon, phosphorous and other key elements for fertilizer to grow your food," said Lauretta.

These photos show the relative size of three asteroids that have been imaged at close range by spacecraft. Mathilde (37 x 29 miles) (left) was taken by the NEAR spacecraft on June 27, 1997. Images of the asteroids Gaspra (middle) and Ida (right) were taken by the Galileo spacecraft in 1991 and 1993, respectively.

Credits: NASA/JPL/NEAR and Galileo missions

Somewhat brighter asteroids have a stony composition. These "S-type" asteroids have very little water but are currently more economically relevant since they contain a significant fraction of metal, mostly iron, nickel and cobalt.

"However, there are a fair amount of trace elements that are economically valuable like gold, platinum and rhodium," said Lauretta. "A small, 10-meter (yard) S-type asteroid contains about 1,433,000 pounds (650,000 kg) of metal, with about 110 pounds (50 kg) in the form of rare metals like platinum and gold," said Lauretta.

There are rare asteroids with about ten times more metal in them, the metallic or "M-class" asteroids, according to Lauretta.

However, it currently costs hundreds of millions to billions of dollars to build and launch a space mission, so innovations that would make these costs fall dramatically are needed before it is profitable to mine asteroids for the value of their metals alone.

Another obstacle is simply our lack of experience with mapping and analyzing the resources in asteroids to extract material from them. This critical experience will be gained with NASA's asteroid sample return mission, OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security and Regolith Explorer).

This is an artist's concept showing how NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will explore asteroid Bennu, take a sample, and return it to Earth for analysis.

Credits: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

The spacecraft, scheduled for launch in September 2016, will arrive at the asteroid Bennu in October 2018 and study it in detail before returning with a sample of material from its surface. Its primary purpose is scientific -- since asteroids are relics from our solar system's formation, analysis of the sample is expected to give insights into how the planets formed and life originated. Also, the spacecraft will accurately measure how the tiny push from sunlight alters the orbit of Bennu, helping astronomers better predict this influence on the path of any asteroid that presents an impact risk to Earth.

"However, the mission will develop important technologies for asteroid exploration that will benefit anyone interested in exploring or mining asteroids, whether it's NASA or a private company," said Lauretta.

The mission is designed to have triple redundancy for its sample acquisition – if the first attempt fails, the team can try two more times to get at least 60 grams (about two ounces) of sample, and up to 2,000 grams (about 4.4 pounds). To make the most of these opportunities, the spacecraft is equipped with instruments that map the asteroid's composition from orbit, allowing the team to select the best sample sites well in advance of the first attempt.

A good way to determine an asteroid's composition from a distance is to analyze its light. All materials reflect, emit, and absorb light at specific colors or frequencies depending on the properties of the material. The make-up of a material can be identified using special instruments called spectrometers which measure the intensity of light at different frequencies.

Materials emit and absorb light over an extremely wide range of frequencies, well beyond what our eyes can see, so OSIRIS-REx has three spectrometers that together cover this range in the X-ray, visible and infrared.

The OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer (OVIRS) detects visible and near-infrared light. Infrared light is invisible to the human eye, but we can feel it as heat. This spectrometer will be able to detect organic compounds in addition to a variety of minerals and other chemicals. Organic compounds contain carbon and are of interest because some are used by life. The team hopes to sample a site rich in organic molecules for clues to the organic chemistry in the early solar system that led to the emergence of life on Earth. "OVIRS will help map the distribution of organic molecules on the asteroid and guide sample site selection based on that information," said Lauretta.

The OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer (OTES) goes deeper into the infrared range and will detect minerals on the surface of Bennu and measure the temperature of the asteroid. In particular, clay minerals found by OTES will provide a map of the water-rich material on the asteroid. Just as beach sand heats up quickly in the sun and cools off rapidly at night while the pavement stays hot long after sunset, the rate at which the surface warms in the day and cools at night will be used to measure the surface properties.

The Regolith X-ray Imaging Spectrometer will look at the faint X-ray glow of the sunlit surface to map the distribution and abundance of elements, such as iron, silicon, sulfur, and magnesium.

OVIRS and OTES also will work together to determine the influence of sunlight on Bennu's orbit. This influence, called the Yarkovsky effect, happens when the surface of an asteroid absorbs sunlight and later radiates it as heat while the asteroid rotates, giving the asteroid a tiny push, which adds up over time to significantly change its trajectory.

OVIRS will reveal how much sunlight is reflected from Bennu. Since what's not reflected must be absorbed, the team can use this measurement to calculate how much sunlight is being stored by the asteroid to be later radiated as heat. OTES will measure this heat and provide a map to show which areas on Bennu radiate the most, giving the direction of the Yarkovsky push.

The light detected by the spectrometers doesn't penetrate far, so these instruments can identify composition only in a thin layer near the surface, not more than about one-half of a millimeter deep (about a hundredth of an inch). It's likely that Bennu's composition changes deeper in its interior. The mission's sampling mechanism will go deeper by blowing nitrogen gas to agitate material near the surface, forcing it to flow into a collection chamber.

"We'll get down five or six centimeters (around two inches) with this technique," says Lauretta. Although still relatively shallow, it is about 200 times deeper than with spectrometry alone.

"Also, the spectroscopists will tell us that they know the composition of this material, but at the end of the day, we get to test that," adds Lauretta.  "We'll bring a sample back to the lab and say, alright you guys said it was made out of this, we found it was made out of that, did you get it right or not?"

Other instruments will help refine the composition maps from the spectrometers. The smallest features in the OVIRS chemistry maps will be about 20 meters (yards) across, while the OTES mineralogy features are even bigger, at about 40 meters across. Color maps from the cameras will have much higher resolution, less than a meter, so any variations in color over a feature in the chemistry and mineralogy maps from the spectrometers gives a clue that perhaps the composition changes a bit in those areas, according to Lauretta.

Similar to radar, the laser altimeter instrument will bounce laser light off the surface of Bennu to build a three-dimensional map of its shape and surface features. Measuring how brightly the surface reflects the laser light can give a clue to the type of material present; for example, a really bright reflection could indicate they hit a metallic spot, according to Lauretta.

Although developed for science, the instruments on OSIRIS-REx are similar to those necessary for an asteroid mining mission.

"The mission will be a proof-of-concept – can you go to an asteroid, get material, and bring it back to Earth," said Lauretta. "Next, people will have to industrialize it so that the economy works out, so for the recoverable value in any given asteroid, you're spending half that to bring it back."

"The only thing you might want to add is the ability to do a quick chemical analysis of material on board the spacecraft, so you can say, 'The platinum concentration is X,' for example," says Lauretta. "We couldn't afford it – that's a pretty sporty option. Other than that, for anyone who’s thinking about an asteroid mission, this is the set of instruments that you want to fly."

The University of Arizona, Tucson, is the principal investigator institution which leads the mission. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., provides overall mission management, systems engineering, and safety and mission assurance. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is building the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program.

William Steigerwald
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
, Greenbelt, Md.

Last Updated: July 9, 2015

Editor: Bill Steigerwald

Tags:  Asteroids, Goddard Space Flight Center, OSIRIS-REx (Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer), Solar System,

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Asteroids

July 30, 2012

The Hustle and Bustle of Our Solar System

This diagram illustrates the differences between orbits of a typical near-Earth asteroid (blue) and a potentially hazardous asteroid, or PHA (orange). PHAs are a subset of the near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) and have the closest orbits to Earth's orbit, coming within 5 million miles (about 8 million kilometers). They also are large enough to survive passage through Earth's atmosphere and cause damage on a regional, or greater, scale.

Our yellow sun sits at the center of the crowd, while the orbits of the planets Mercury, Venus and Mars are shown in grey. Earth's orbit stands out in green between Venus and Mars. As the diagram indicates, the PHAs tend to have more Earth-like orbits than the rest of the NEAs. The asteroid orbits are simulations of what a typical object's path around the sun might look like.

The dots in the background are based on data from NASA's NEOWISE, the asteroid-hunting portion of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission, which scanned the whole sky twice in infrared light before entering hibernation mode in 2011. The blue and orange dots represent a simulation of the population of near-Earth asteroids and PHAs, respectively, which are larger than 330 feet (100 meters).

NEOWISE has provided the best overall look at the PHA population yet, refining estimates of their numbers, sizes, types of orbits and potential hazards. The NEOWISE team estimates that about 20 to 30 percent of the PHAs thought to exist have actually been discovered as may 2012, the date of this image.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Last Updated: July 9, 2015

Editor: NASA Administrator

Tags:  Asteroids, NEOWISE, Solar System, WISE (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer),

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Swift

April 28, 2011

NASA's Swift and Hubble Probe Asteroid Collision Debris

In late 2010, images from the University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey, a project of NASA's Near Earth Object Observations Program, revealed an outburst from asteroid Scheila. Swift and Hubble then turned to it and caught the remnants of an asteroid smash-up just weeks after the collision occurred. (Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back™ & © 1980 and 1997 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. Used under authorization. COURTESY OF LUCASFILM LTD.)

Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Download this video in HD formats from NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio

Late last year, astronomers noticed an asteroid named Scheila had unexpectedly brightened, and it was sporting short-lived plumes. Data from NASA's Swift satellite and Hubble Space Telescope showed these changes likely occurred after Scheila was struck by a much smaller asteroid.

Faint dust plumes bookend asteroid (596) Scheila, which is overexposed in this composite. Visible and ultraviolet images from Swift's UVOT (circled) are merged with a Digital Sky Survey image of the same region. The UVOT images were acquired on Dec. 15, 2010, when the asteroid was about 232 million miles from Earth.

Credits: NASA/Swift/DSS/D. Bodewits (UMD)

Unlabeled image

The Hubble Space Telescope imaged (596) Scheila on Dec. 27, 2010, when the asteroid was about 218 million miles away. Scheila is overexposed in this image to reveal the faint dust features. The asteroid is surrounded by a C-shaped cloud of particles and displays a linear dust tail in this visible-light picture acquired by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3. Because Hubble tracked the asteroid during the exposure, the star images are trailed.

Credits: NASA/ESA/D. Jewitt (UCLA)

Unlabeled image

"Collisions between asteroids create rock fragments, from fine dust to huge boulders, that impact planets and their moons," said Dennis Bodewits, an astronomer at the University of Maryland in College Park and lead author of the Swift study. "Yet this is the first time we've been able to catch one just weeks after the smash-up, long before the evidence fades away."

Asteroids are rocky fragments thought to be debris from the formation and evolution of the solar system approximately 4.6 billion years ago. Millions of them orbit the sun between Mars and Jupiter in the main asteroid belt. Scheila is approximately 70 miles across and orbits the sun every five years.

"The Hubble data are most simply explained by the impact, at 11,000 mph, of a previously unknown asteroid about 100 feet in diameter," said Hubble team leader David Jewitt at the University of California in Los Angeles. Hubble did not see any discrete collision fragments, unlike its 2009 observations of P/2010 A2, the first identified asteroid collision.

The studies will appear in the May 20 edition of The Astrophysical Journal Letters and are available online.

Astronomers have known for decades that comets contain icy material that erupts when warmed by the sun. They regarded asteroids as inactive rocks whose destinies, surfaces, shapes and sizes were determined by mutual impacts. However, this simple picture has grown more complex over the past few years.

During certain parts of their orbits, some objects, once categorized as asteroids, clearly develop comet-like features that can last for many months. Others display much shorter outbursts. Icy materials may be occasionally exposed, either by internal geological processes or by an external one, such as an impact.

On Dec. 11, 2010, images from the University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey, a project of NASA's Near Earth Object Observations Program, revealed Scheila to be twice as bright as expected and immersed in a faint comet-like glow. Looking through the survey's archived images, astronomers inferred the outburst began between Nov. 11 and Dec. 3.

Three days after the outburst was announced, Swift's Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope (UVOT) captured multiple images and a spectrum of the asteroid. Ultraviolet sunlight breaks up the gas molecules surrounding comets; water, for example, is transformed into hydroxyl and hydrogen. But none of the emissions most commonly identified in comets, such as hydroxyl or cyanogen, show up in the UVOT spectrum. The absence of gas around Scheila led the Swift team to reject scenarios where exposed ice accounted for the activity.

Images show the asteroid was flanked in the north by a bright dust plume and in the south by a fainter one. The dual plumes formed as small dust particles excavated by the impact were pushed away from the asteroid by sunlight. Hubble observed the asteroid's fading dust cloud on Dec. 27, 2010, and Jan. 4, 2011.

The two teams found the observations were best explained by a collision with a small asteroid impacting Scheila's surface at an angle of less than 30 degrees, leaving a crater 1,000 feet across. Laboratory experiments show a more direct strike probably wouldn't have produced two distinct dust plumes. The researchers estimated the crash ejected more than 660,000 tons of dust - equivalent to nearly twice the mass of the Empire State Building.

"The dust cloud around Scheila could be 10,000 times as massive as the one ejected from comet 9P/Tempel 1 during NASA's UMD-led Deep Impact mission," said co-author Michael Kelley, also at the University of Maryland. "Collisions allow us to peek inside comets and asteroids. Ejecta kicked up by Deep Impact contained lots of ice, and the absence of ice in Scheila's interior shows that it's entirely unlike comets."

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., manages Hubble and Swift. Hubble was built and is operated in partnership with the European Space Agency. Science operations for both missions include contributions from many national and international partners.

For more information, video and images associated with this release, visit:

http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?10747


Frank Reddy
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Last Updated: July 9, 2015

Editor: NASA Administrator

Tags:  Asteroids, Goddard Space Flight Center, Hubble Space Telescope, Solar System, Swift, Universe,

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