02 April, 2021
7 Min Read
GS: Paper-3: Space-based missions: Prelims-Personality Test
First detected in 2004, Apophis is now officially off the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA's) asteroid “risk list”. This has ruled out any chance of Apophis smacking Earth in 2068, and doesn’t show any impact risk for at least the next 100 years.
Asteroids or planetoids or minor planets are made up of metals and rocks. They revolve around the sun and are too small to be called planets. The asteroid belt is located roughly between the orbits of the planets Jupiter and Mars. The mass of all the asteroids is less than that of Earth's moon.
These are rocky objects that orbit the Sun, much smaller than planets. They are also called minor planets. According to NASA, 9,94,383 is the count of known asteroids, the remnants from the formation of the solar system over 4.6 billion years ago.
Asteroids are divided into three classes.
More than 10,000 such asteroids are known, out of which over 1,400 are classified as potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs). PHAs are currently defined based on parameters that measure the asteroid’s potential to make threatening close approaches to the Earth. Specifically, all asteroids with an Earth Minimum Orbit Intersection Distance (MOID) of 0.05 au or less and an absolute magnitude (H) of 22.0 or less are considered PHAs.
Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA)
AIDA will help in studying asteroid strength, surface physical properties and internal structure.
A recent study at National Aeronautics and Space Administration has found out that asteroid 16 Psyche, which orbits between Mars and Jupiter, could be made entirely of metal and is worth an estimated 10,000 quadrillion US dollars.
The latest study through the Hubble Space Telescope and ultraviolet observation gives a clearer picture of Psyche’s composition. The Hubble Space Telescope was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990 and remains in operation.
It was found that Psyche could be a unique asteroid composed of iron and nickel almost completely which is similar to earth's core. The iron alone would be worth more than 10,000 quadrillion US dollars. Scientists noted that the manner in which Psyche reflected ultraviolet light was very similar to the way iron reflects sunlight.
NASA’s Psyche mission: The primary target of the Psyche mission to be launched in 2022 by NASA is to study this asteroid completely and confirm the assumptions being made by the scientists.
Psyche mission will be the first mission to investigate this metallic asteroid. Psyche spacecraft will land on the asteroid in early 2026. As the composition of Psyche is very similar to earth’s own core, its study will also give an insight to earth’s violent history of collisions and accretion that created it.
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft briefly touched asteroid Bennu, from where it is meant to collect samples of dust and pebbles and deliver them back to Earth in 2023.
What is the OSIRIS-REx mission?
OSIRIS-Rex stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer.
The asteroid was discovered by a team from the NASA-funded Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research team in 1999.
Scientists believe that it was formed in the first 10 million years of the solar system’s formation, implying that it is roughly 4.5 billion years old.
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has decided to make a crater on asteroid 1999 JU3 (Ryugu) to collect underground samples. This is part of the Hayabusa 2 mission launched in December 2014, to explore asteroid 1999 JU3 (Ryugu). The purpose of drilling is to collect samples for possible clues to the origin of the solar system.
Why Study Asteroids?
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