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E.g., 06/19/2019
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  • asteroid Ryugu before and after crater pics
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  • News in Brief

    Ryugu is probably a chip off one of these two other asteroids

    THE WOODLANDS, Texas — The asteroid Ryugu is a chip off the old block. Planetary scientists on the Japanese Hayabusa2 spacecraft team have narrowed down the near-Earth asteroid’s parent body to one of two larger, more distant asteroids: Polana and Eulalia.

    “Based on links to those specific asteroids, we can talk about the longer history of Ryugu,” said planetary scientist Seiji Sugita of...

    03/20/2019 - 15:20 Planetary Science
  • News

    Surprising astronomers, Bennu spits plumes of dust into space

    THE WOODLANDS, Texas — Like the “Peanuts” character Pigpen, the near-Earth asteroid Bennu moves around in a cloud of its own dust.

    NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has watched Bennu spit out plumes of dust 11 times since the spacecraft arrived at the asteroid in December 2018. And some of that dust is caught in orbit around the asteroid, scientists announced March 19 at the Lunar and...

    03/19/2019 - 14:55 Planetary Science
  • News

    Ultima Thule may be a frankenworld

    THE WOODLANDS, Texas — Ultima Thule’s history may be written in the sum of its parts.

    New analyses suggest that the tiny space rock formed from a rotating cloud of even smaller rocks that collapsed into two individual objects. Those objects then gently collided in the early days of the solar system, creating the distant double-lobed world studied by the passing New Horizons spacecraft,...

    03/18/2019 - 17:35 Planetary Science
  • News

    3 explanations for ‘Oumuamua that aren’t alien spaceships

    The first known interstellar visitor to the solar system is keeping astronomers guessing.

    Ever since it was spotted in October 2017, major mysteries have dogged the object, known as ‘Oumuamua (SN Online: 10/27/17). Astronomers don’t know where it came from in the galaxy. And they’ve disagreed over whether ‘Oumuamua is an asteroid, a comet or something else entirely.

    One of the...

    02/27/2019 - 11:18 Astronomy, Planetary Science
  • News

    Hayabusa2 just tried to collect asteroid dust for the first time

    The Hayabusa2 spacecraft has quickly tapped the surface of asteroid Ryugu, making the first of three planned attempts to grab a pinch of dust. Analysis of the sample could shed light on the origins of planets or even on the possibility of life elsewhere in the solar system.

    But scientists won’t know for sure how much dust Hayabusa2 succeeded in grabbing until the craft returns to Earth...

    02/22/2019 - 15:07 Planetary Science
  • News in Brief

    Neptune’s smallest moon may be a chip off another moon

    Neptune’s smallest moon may be a chunk of a neighboring moon that was knocked off by a comet.

    One of seven moons that orbit closer to Neptune than the planet’s largest moon, Triton, the newly dubbed Hippocamp is just roughly 34 kilometers across, researchers report in the Feb. 21 Nature. The second-largest moon, Proteus, is Hippocamp’s nearest neighbor, orbiting about 12,000 kilometers...

    02/20/2019 - 13:00 Planetary Science
  • News

    Mars’ lake may need an underground volcano to exist

    If Mars conceals a lake beneath its south polar ice cap, the planet must also have a hidden chamber of magma to keep the water liquid, a new analysis suggests.

    Signs of a 20-kilometer-wide lake, buried beneath about a kilometer and a half of ice near Mars’ south pole, were first reported in 2018 by a team led by planetary scientist Roberto Orosei (SN: 8/18/18, p. 6). The discovery kicked...

    02/19/2019 - 13:04 Planetary Science, Astrobiology
  • News

    After 15 years on Mars, it’s the end of the road for Opportunity

    Opportunity has finally run out of, well, opportunities. After weeks of trying to revive the veteran Mars rover in the wake of a blinding dust storm, NASA has given up on ever hearing from it again.

    After one last failed attempt to reach Opportunity February 12, NASA officials announced the end on February 13. “I was there with the team as these commands went out into the deep sky,”...

    02/13/2019 - 14:16 Planetary Science
  • News in Brief

    A basketball-sized rock hit the moon during the last lunar eclipse

    Thousands of people were watching the total lunar eclipse on January 21 when something suddenly smacked into the moon, creating a flash of light. Now professional and amateur astronomers have used fortuitous photographs of the strike to estimate the object’s size.

    Astronomer Jorge Zuluaga and his colleagues gathered images taken by amateurs in Colombia and the Dominican Republic, plus a...

    02/05/2019 - 12:01 Planetary Science