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Articles on Asteroids

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There are millions of these lurking in Earth’s backyard. NASA

Gecko sticking forces hold rubble-pile asteroids together

Millions of asteroids of all shapes and sizes are littered throughout the inner solar system. In the past three decades, scientists have spotted as many as 500,000 but many more remain unseen. Many of…
That is probably an underestimate. NASA HiRISE camera

Massive asteroid may have kickstarted the movement of continents

Earth was still a violent place shortly after life began, with regular impactors arriving from space. For the first time, scientists have modelled the effects of one such violent event – the strike of…
The main mass of the Chelyabinsk meteorite is kept at the Chelyabinsk State Museum of Local History. The asteroid caused the largest airburst on the planet since the famed 1908 Tunguska event, which also occurred in Russia. Andrey Yarantsev

Chelyabinsk meteor explosion a ‘wake-up call’, scientists warn

Three studies have revealed details of the meteor that exploded above Russian city, Chelyabinsk, in February this year. Their findings, published today in a pair of papers in Nature and one in Science…
Rocky, water-rich asteroids and similar objects likely delivered the bulk of water on Earth. Now they’re being found well outside our Solar system. Mark A. Garlick,, University of Warwick and University of Cambridge

Watery asteroid gobbled up by a white dwarf: implications for life

How will future alien scientists know whether life existed in our solar system? One method may be to sift through the planetary debris left when our sun becomes a white dwarf. Astronomers are doing just…
The chances of the weekends two asteroid events being related are next to zero. NASA/JPL-Caltech

Forensic astronomy: the Russian meteor and 2012 DA14

One of the most exciting things about science is the detective work, and never was this more the case than Friday. Within an hour or so of the event, almost everyone had seen the dramatic footage of the…
A bright flash over Russia’s Chelyabinsk region may have been a meteor. YouTube screenshot

Meteorite soars over Russia

A fireball has flown over Russia, delivering a sonic boom with enough force to shatter windows, amateur footage shows. The astronomical event comes just one day before a large asteroid is expected to pass…
When it comes to asteroids, alert but not alarmed may be the best approach. NASA

Look out: close encounters of the asteroidal kind

An asteroid named 2012 DA14 will come within 27,700 kilometres of Earth early on Saturday morning Australian time (around 6:30am AEDT). At this distance the asteroid will pass within the orbits of several…
We could be engaged in off-Earth mining within a decade. puuikibeach/Flickr

Want to colonise space? It’s time to start off-Earth mining

The prospect of people settling away from Earth has been a topic for dreamers and visionaries for some time. But if it’s ever to happen for real, there needs to be more than starry-eyed optimism. There…
Asteroid impacts make for impressive images and movies, but how realistic is the threat? NASA

How to avoid an asteroid impact (without calling in Bruce Willis)

How many times have you read a headline about our impending doom due to a “Deep Impact”-style annihilation? In a way it’s not surprising – we have an insatiable appetite for disaster stories, a hunger…
When we start building structures outside Earth, the raw materials will likely come from asteroids. Planetary Resources

Asteroid mining will happen … but Australia will miss the boom

There will be a future mining boom, as heralded in recent media stories. But this mining will take place in a location even more hostile than the Australian Outback – space. More specifically, the ore…

Vesta asteroid shown in new light

Images from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft have revealed unusual geological features on the surface of the asteroid Vesta, one of…

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