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Astronomers scout metal-rich asteroid thought to be worth 10,000 quadrillion dollars – ZME Science

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Most asteroids are made of plain rock or ice — but not ’16 Psyche’.

Representation of the Psyche asteroid. Image credits: Arizona State University.

According to recent observations perform using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, the chunky asteroid from the solar system’s main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter is mostly made of nickel and iron. This makes it an extremely atypical asteroid and a very valuable one — it’s worth as much as $10,000 quadrillion in raw resources by some estimates, or almost 70,000 times the value of the global economy in 2019.

Billionaires: ‘hold my beer’

Psyche spans 140 miles (225 km) in diameter, making it one of the largest objects in the main asteroid belt. In fact, Psyche is so large it was easily discovered using 19th-century technology in 1852.

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The novelty is that now scientists have reported in The Planetary Science Journal the asteroid’s composition.

Scientists previously had some hints that Psyche is a dense, largely metallic object. This assumption has now been confirmed thanks to observations at two specific points in the asteroid’s rotation that offered a view of both sides of Psyche at ultraviolet wavelengths.

For the first time, astronomers have recorded iron oxide ultraviolet absorption bands in any asteroid. This is a clear indication that oxidation is occurring on the surface of the asteroid. Its high density suggests that the oxidated metals are nickel and iron. In fact, the entire asteroid might be the leftover core of a failed planet that never succeeded in forming into one.

“We’ve seen meteorites that are mostly metal, but Psyche could be unique in that it might be an asteroid that is totally made of iron and nickel,” Dr. Tracy Becker, Southwest Research Institute planetary scientist and co-author of the new study, said in a statement. “Earth has a metal core, a mantle and crust. It’s possible that as a Psyche protoplanet was forming, it was struck by another object in our solar system and lost its mantle and crust.”

The oxidation is believed to be caused by the solar wind. This flow of charged particles from the sun’s corona is responsible for the beautiful tails of comets, the formation of auroras in Earth’s atmosphere, and, in this case, the space weathering of Psyche.

Such metal asteroids are extremely rare, which is why Psyche was shortlisted in 2017 for a mission to study it closely using a spacecraft. The mission, which will be operated by NASA, is slated for a 2022 launch on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. The unmanned spacecraft would become the first to visit a body almost entirely made of metal, learning more about the asteroid as well as the solar system.

Since Psyche is believed to be as old as the solar system itself, findings from the mission could enrich our understanding of how planets form. Besides the scientific value of the mission, if you take into account the size of the asteroid and its metal composition, its total economic value could add up to $10,000 quadrillion, or $10 million trillion. That’s quite the incentive to visit the asteroid — provided, of course, we one day develop the technology to mine and retrieve metals from such asteroids.

“To understand what really makes up a planet and to potentially see the inside of a planet is fascinating,” Becker said.

“Once we get to Psyche, we’re really going to understand if that’s the case, even if it doesn’t turn out as we expect … any time there’s a surprise, it’s always exciting,” he added.

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Japan capsule with asteroid samples retrieved in Australia – The Chronicle Journal

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TOKYO – Japan’s space agency said its helicopter search team has retrieved a capsule, which is carrying asteroid samples that could explain the origin of life, that landed on a remote area in southern Australia as planned Sunday.

“The capsule collection work at the landing site was completed . . .,” the space agency said in a tweet about four hours after the capsule landed. ”We practiced a lot for today … it ended safe.”

Hayabusa2 had successfully released the small capsule on Saturday and sent it toward Earth to deliver samples from a distant asteroid that could provide clues to the origin of the solar system and life on our planet, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said.

Early Sunday the capsule briefly turned into a fireball as it reentered the atmosphere 120 kilometres (75 miles) above Earth. At about 10 kilometres (6 miles) above ground, a parachute was opened to slow its fall and beacon signals were transmitted to indicate its location.

“It was great … It was a beautiful fireball, and I was so impressed,” said JAXA’s Hayabusa2 project manager Yuichi Tsuda as he celebrated the successful capsule return and safe landing from a command centre in Sagamihara, near Tokyo. “I’ve waited for this day for six years.”

Beacon signals were detected, suggesting the parachute successfully opened and the capsule landed safely in a remote, sparsely populated area of Woomera, Australia, said JAXA official Akitaka Kishi.

About two hours after the capsule’s reentry, JAXA said its helicopter search team found the capsule in the planned landing area. The retrieval of the pan-shaped capsule, about 40 centimetres (15 inches) in diameter, was completed about two hours later.

The fireball could be seen even from the International Space Station. A Japanese astronaut, Soichi Noguchi, who is now on a six-month mission there, tweeted: “Just spotted #hayabusa2 from #ISS! Unfortunately not bright enough for handheld camera, but enjoyed watching capsule!”

Hayabusa2 left the asteroid Ryugu, about 300 million kilometres (180 million miles) away, a year ago. After it released the capsule, it moved away from Earth to capture images of the capsule descending toward the planet as it set off on a new expedition to another distant asteroid.

The capsule descended from 220,000 kilometres (136,700 miles) away in space after it was separated from Hayabusa2 in a challenging operation that required precision control.

JAXA officials said they hoped to conduct a preliminary safety inspection at an Australian lab and bring the capsule back to Japan early next week.

Dozens of JAXA staff have been working in Woomera to prepare for the sample return. They set up satellite dishes at several locations in the target area inside the Australian Air Force test field to receive the signals.

Australian National University space rock expert Trevor Ireland, who was in Woomera for the arrival of the capsule, said he expected the Ryugu samples to be similar to the meteorite that fell in Australia near Murchison in Victoria state more than 50 years ago.

“The Murchison meteorite opened a window on the origin of organics on Earth because these rocks were found to contain simple amino acids as well as abundant water,” Ireland said. “We will examine whether Ryugu is a potential source of organic matter and water on Earth when the solar system was forming, and whether these still remain intact on the asteroid.”

Scientists say they believe the samples, especially ones taken from under the asteroid’s surface, contain valuable data unaffected by space radiation and other environmental factors. They are particularly interested in analyzing organic materials in the samples.

JAXA hopes to find clues to how the materials are distributed in the solar system and are related to life on Earth. Yoshikawa, the mission manager, said 0.1 gram of the dust would be enough to carry out all planned researches.

For Hayabusa2, it’s not the end of the mission it started in 2014. It is now heading to a small asteroid called 1998KY26 on a journey slated to take 10 years one way, for possible research including finding ways to prevent meteorites from hitting Earth.

So far, its mission has been fully successful. It touched down twice on Ryugu despite the asteroid’s extremely rocky surface, and successfully collected data and samples during the 1 1/2 years it spent near Ryugu after arriving there in June 2018.

In its first touchdown in February 2019, it collected surface dust samples. In a more challenging mission in July that year, it collected underground samples from the asteroid for the first time in space history after landing in a crater that it created earlier by blasting the asteroid’s surface.

Asteroids, which orbit the sun but are much smaller than planets, are among the oldest objects in the solar system and therefore may help explain how Earth evolved.

Ryugu in Japanese means “Dragon Palace,” the name of a sea-bottom castle in a Japanese folk tale.

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Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

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Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare to report all positive COVID-19 cases following outbreak – CTV News Windsor

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WINDSOR, ONT. —
Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare will report all positive cases of COVID-19 as it continues to test patients and staff members following an outbreak at the hospital.

A news release from HDGH says there have now been 11 confirmed patients and 22 healthcare workers who tested positive for the virus.

“The investigation into the outbreak continues, and in some cases it is difficult to categorically assign these positive results to the outbreak at this time,’ the release stated. “In the interests of transparency, we will be reporting ALL positive results, although they may or may not be related to the outbreak.”

HDGH officials said once the investigation is complete they will make any needed adjustments to results allocated to the outbreak and those associated with community spread.

“We recognize the impact that this situation has on our hospital system. We continue to work very closely with the Windsor Essex-County Health Unit and are keeping our acute care partners updated daily,” the release said. “We remain committed to resolving the outbreak as quickly as is safe to do so.”

 HDGH is also pausing all admissions to its inpatient Restorative Care Program. The decision is assessed every 24 hours. All other restrictions continue to be in place.

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Japan spacecraft carrying asteroid samples lands in Australia, agency says – Global News

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Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft successfully released a small capsule on Saturday and sent it toward Earth to deliver samples from a distant asteroid that could provide clues to the origin of the solar system and life on our planet, the country’s space agency said.

The capsule successfully detached from 220,000 kilometres away in a challenging operation that required precision control, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said. The capsule — just 40 centimetres in diameter — has landed Sunday in a remote, sparsely populated area of Woomera, Australia.

“The capsule has been separated. Congratulations,” JAXA project manager Yuichi Tsuda said.

Read more:
Japan declares climate emergency, citing ‘unprecedented damage’ from weather events

Hayabusa2 left the asteroid Ryugu, about 300 million kilometres away, a year ago. After it released the capsule, it moved away from Earth to capture images of the capsule descending toward the planet as it set off on a new expedition to another distant asteroid.

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About two hours later, JAXA said it had successfully rerouted Hayabusa2 for its new mission, as beaming staff exchanged fist and elbow touches at the agency’s command centre in Sagamihara, near Tokyo.

“We’ve successfully come this far, and when we fulfil our final mission to recover the capsule, it will be perfect,” mission manager Makoto Yoshikawa said from the command centre during a livestreaming event.

People who gathered to watch the capsule’s separation at public viewing events across Japan cheered the success. ”I’m really glad that the capsule has been successfully released. My heart was beating fast when I was watching,“ said Ichiro Ryoko, a 60-year-old computer engineer who watched at Tokyo Dome.






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Japanese spacecraft successfully lands on aestroid Ryugu


Japanese spacecraft successfully lands on aestroid Ryugu – Feb 22, 2019

Hayabusa2’s return with the world’s first asteroid subsurface samples comes weeks after NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft made a successful touch-and-go grab of surface samples from asteroid Bennu. China, meanwhile, announced this week that its lunar lander collected underground samples and sealed them within the spacecraft for their return to Earth, as space developing nations compete in their missions.

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In the early hours of Sunday, the capsule, protected by a heat shield, briefly turned into a fireball as it reentered the atmosphere 120 kilometres above Earth. At about 10 kilometres aboveground, a parachute opened to slow its fall and beacon signals were expected to be transmitted to indicate its location.

JAXA staff have set up satellite dishes at several locations in the target area to receive the signals. They also will use a marine radar, drones and helicopters to assist in the search and retrieval of the pan-shaped capsule.

Australian National University space rock expert Trevor Ireland, who is in Woomera for the arrival of the capsule, said he expected the Ryugu samples to be similar to the meteorite that fell in Australia near Murchison in Victoria state more than 50 years ago.

Read more:
Whatever happened to… the Great East Japan earthquake and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis

“The Murchison meteorite opened a window on the origin of organics on Earth because these rocks were found to contain simple amino acids as well as abundant water,” Ireland said. “We will examine whether Ryugu is a potential source of organic matter and water on Earth when the solar system was forming, and whether these still remain intact on the asteroid.”

Scientists say they believe the samples, especially ones taken from under the asteroid’s surface, contain valuable data unaffected by space radiation and other environmental factors. They are particularly interested in analyzing organic materials in the samples.

Story continues below advertisement

JAXA hopes to find clues to how the materials are distributed in the solar system and are related to life on Earth. Yoshikawa, the mission manager, said 0.1 gram of the dust would be enough to carry out all planned researches.

For Hayabusa2, it’s not the end of the mission it started in 2014. It is now heading to a small asteroid called 1998KY26 on a journey slated to take 10 years one way, for possible research including finding ways to prevent meteorites from hitting Earth.


Click to play video 'Europe, Japan send spacecraft on 7-year journey to Mercury'



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Europe, Japan send spacecraft on 7-year journey to Mercury


Europe, Japan send spacecraft on 7-year journey to Mercury – Oct 20, 2018

So far, its mission has been fully successful. It touched down twice on Ryugu despite the asteroid’s extremely rocky surface, and successfully collected data and samples during the 1 1/2 years it spent near Ryugu after arriving there in June 2018.

In its first touchdown in February 2019, it collected surface dust samples. In a more challenging mission in July that year, it collected underground samples from the asteroid for the first time in space history after landing in a crater that it created earlier by blasting the asteroid’s surface.

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Asteroids, which orbit the sun but are much smaller than planets, are among the oldest objects in the solar system and therefore may help explain how Earth evolved.

Ryugu in Japanese means “Dragon Palace,” the name of a sea-bottom castle in a Japanese folk tale.

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Associated Press writers Dennis Passa in Brisbane, Australia, and Chisato Tanaka in Tokyo contributed to this report.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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