“That’s because the gravitational tug of the planets could, over time, cause an object’s orbital path to evolve into an Earth-crossing orbit. This allows for the possibility of a future collision.”
When Asteroid WH1 approaches Earth, it will reach speeds of around 11.77km per second or 26,328mph (42372km/h).
Thankfully, NASA does not expect the space rock to approach Earth close enough to pose any real threat.
At its closest, the asteroid will arrive within about 0.03904 astronomical units.
One astronomical unit describes the average distance from Earth to the Sun – about 93 million miles (149.6 million km).
NASA’s Latest Mission to Explore Asteroids Near Jupiter’s Orbit – VOA Learning English
The latest mission of the American space agency, NASA, will explore a group of ancient objects orbiting the sun at the distance of Jupiter.
Set to launch October 16, the Lucy spacecraft is designed to study Jupiter’s “Trojan” asteroids.
These asteroids are small bodies left over from the formation of our solar system’s large planets. They share an orbit with Jupiter as the planet goes around the sun.
The mission’s aim is to gather new information about the solar system’s formation 4.5 billion years ago.
Lucy will observe eight asteroids over 12 years. One orbits in what is known as the Asteroid Belt, an area between Mars and Jupiter. Most known asteroids orbit within this area.
The spacecraft will also observe seven Trojan asteroids. The Trojans circle the sun in two groups. One group leads Jupiter in its orbital path, while the other follows behind it. Lucy will be the first spacecraft to visit these asteroids. There are believed to be more than 7,000 Trojan asteroids.
Scientists consider the Trojan asteroids to be the ancient remains of the formation of the solar system. They have stayed captured in Jupiter’s orbit for billions of years. Scientists hope that the NASA mission can provide new details about what conditions were like when the planets formed. They also hope the mission will lead to a better understanding of our own planet’s history.
The spacecraft was named Lucy after the ancient fossil discovered in Ethiopia in 1974. Lucy was one of the most famous scientific finds of the 20th century. The collection of skeletal bones gave scientists a better understanding of the evolution of humans.
Cathy Olkin is a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado. She is the deputy lead investigator for the Lucy mission. In a video explaining the mission, Olkin compared the NASA spacecraft to the Lucy fossil.
“Just like the Lucy fossil transformed our understanding of (human) evolution, the Lucy mission will transform our understanding of solar system evolution,” she said.
The spacecraft, built by NASA contractor Lockheed Martin, is expected to fly within 400 kilometers of its targets.
The spacecraft is equipped with several imaging instruments designed to capture information about the composition of materials on the surface of asteroids. Other equipment will be used to record asteroid surface temperatures and measure the size of the objects the spacecraft observes.
Lucy will depend on solar power to operate. NASA says the mission expects to set a record because Lucy will be deployed farther from the sun than any past solar powered spacecraft.
Hal Levison is the mission’s chief scientist. He recently told reporters that although the Trojan asteroids are in a very small area of space, they are physically different from each another.
“For example, they have very different colors, some are grey, some are red,” Levison said. He added that these differences suggest how far away from the Sun they might have formed before getting to their current positions.
Lori Glaze is the director of NASA’s planetary science division. She said: “Whatever Lucy finds will give us vital clues about the formation of our solar system.”
I’m Bryan Lynn.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story based on reports from NASA, Agence France-Presse and Lockheed Martin. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.
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Words in This Story
mission – n. an important project or trip, especially involving space travel
asteroid – n. one of many large rocks that circle the sun
fossil – n. part of an animal or plant from thousands of year ago, preserved as minerals in rock
evolution – n. a gradual process of change and development
transform – v. to change something completely, usually to improve it
composition – n. the parts, substances, etc. that something is made up of
vital – adj. necessary or important
Orion: Nasa's Moon ship ready to be attached to rocket – BBC News
Nasa’s next-generation spaceship is ready to be attached to a rocket that should send it to the Moon this year or in early 2022.
On Monday, the Orion spacecraft was moved between buildings at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center ahead of being lifted on to the powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.
For its upcoming flight, Orion will fly around the Moon without astronauts.
It’s part of a US plan to return people to the lunar surface this decade.
This programme is called Artemis – after the sister of Apollo – and could help establish a long-term human presence on Earth’s only natural satellite.
We’re really movin’!! pic.twitter.com/VhIPLFLZ2j
— NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems (@NASAGroundSys) October 19, 2021
The Orion vehicle that will be used on the Artemis-1 mission was transferred to the famous cuboid Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Kennedy.
It was being housed at another facility on the same site, where engineers had attached the spacecraft’s launch abort system, designed to propel Orion and its astronauts away from the rocket if an emergency occurs during a crewed launch.
Orion is the last key element to be lifted on to the 98m (322ft) -tall SLS launcher, which engineers have been assembling in the VAB since December 2020.
The three-week Artemis-1 mission will test the SLS and Orion before astronauts are allowed aboard for Artemis-2, which will loop around the Moon in late 2023.
Artemis-3 will see astronauts land on the lunar surface for the first time since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. Nasa has selected Elon Musk’s Starship as the vehicle that will carry humans down from lunar orbit to the surface.
The landing mission is currently scheduled for 2024, though many observers expect that date to slip.
The metal frame for the Orion spacecraft that will be used for that mission also arrived at Kennedy Space Center earlier this month.
The Artemis-3 mission will carry the first woman to walk on the surface, along with the next man. The Artemis programme will also see the first person of colour travel to the Moon.
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NASA and Boeing confirm Starliner won’t fly until first half of 2022 as valve investigation continues – Yahoo Movies Canada
NASA and Boeing provided an update on the beleaguered Starliner capsule Tuesday, confirming that the earliest the spacecraft will fly will be sometime during the first half of next year. Starliner was grounded in August, after an issue with the oxidizer valves was discovered roughly four and a half hours before launch.
The launch was part of an uncrewed test flight, dubbed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), the second for Starliner. Since the issue was discovered, Boeing has still been unable to identify the root cause of why 13 of the 24 valves in the propulsion system remained stuck in the closed position during routine pre-mission activities.
Two valves have been removed from the spacecraft and sent to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, where they will be disassembled and examined for further investigation, Michelle Parker, Boeing’s chief engineer of space and launch, said during a media briefing Tuesday.
In 2014, NASA awarded Boeing and SpaceX each contracts for six round-trip crewed missions to the International Space Station under its Commercial Crew Program (CCP). The agency is going through both contracts to potentially add even more flights to each company’s roster, particularly in light of the likely extension of the operational life of the ISS past 2024, Steve Stich, NASA’s manager of CCP, said in the media briefing. The eventual schedule could see each company ferrying astronauts to and from the station once a year.
NASA maintains “every confidence that Boeing will be flying crew soon,” Stich said. “We’ll get this problem solved and then we’ll have two space transportation systems like we want, with Boeing and SpaceX both flying [ … ] I have no reason to believe Boeing won’t be successful.”
Even once Boeing gets Starliner back to the launch pad, Boeing’s CCP program manager John Vollmer estimated it would be around six months between a successful OFT-2 and a crewed mission. He added that the cost of the valve investigation and launch delay will be borne by Boeing, not NASA.
This is the second launch attempt for Starliner, after OFT-1 failed to enter the target orbit in a 2019 launch due to a software issue. SpaceX, the other contractor selected under NASA’s CCP, has flown three crewed missions with its Crew Dragon capsule and will conduct a fourth on Halloween.
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