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Scans reveal failed planet-turned-asteroid worth up to $10,000 quadrillion – Global News

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The wealth is out there.

A single asteroid floating through our solar system might be worth more than the Earth’s entire global economy, based on new scans conducted with the Hubble Space Telescope.

The extremely rare asteroid, dubbed 16 Psyche, is thought to be the once-molten metal core of a planet that never quite formed, according to NASA. It’s a gigantic potato-shaped object floating in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, measuring about 232 kilometres wide.

It would probably be bigger than Nova Scotia if it were placed in the Atlantic Ocean, based on NASA’s estimated dimensions.

Read more:
NASA spacecraft grabs rock from speeding Bennu asteroid in historic first

Most asteroids are composed of ice and rock, but a new study suggests asteroid 16 Psyche might be almost entirely made of metal — though it’ll probably be a long time before humans figure out how to mine it.

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“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,” lead author Tracy Becker, of the Southwest Research Institute, 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.”

In other words, it might be like a smashed Kinder Surprise egg: all prize, no chocolate shell.






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Space Talk: Asteroid mining


Space Talk: Asteroid mining

Becker and her team pointed the Hubble telescope at 16 Psyche and scanned its surface on two separate occasions. They used the Hubble’s spectrograph to examine the asteroid on the ultraviolet (UV) spectrum, which makes it much easier to spot metals from afar.

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The scans revealed that 16 Psyche’s surface is almost entirely composed of iron, with several big splotches of iron oxide, or rust, splashed across it.

Becker and her team pointed out that iron tends to light up brightly on UV scans, so even a small amount would dominate their observations.

Nevertheless, the images add to the growing body of evidence that 16 Psyche might be a rare hunk of metals dating back to the birth of the solar system.

Read more:
Car-sized asteroid passed Earth by a cosmic hair — and NASA missed it

If the object is a failed planet, it could offer researchers some insight into the molten metal core at the centre of the Earth. Our planet’s inner core is basically a liquid sphere of nickel and iron measuring 2,442 kilometres in diameter, according to NASA.

The space agency is already planning to launch a spacecraft toward the asteroid in 2022, in hopes of scraping its surface to find out if all that glitters is iron.

Lindy Elkins-Tanton, NASA’s lead scientist on the mission, told Global News in 2017 that the asteroid might be worth up to US$10,000 quadrillion.

That’s a one with 19 zeroes after it.

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However, she also said there’s no plan — and no technology — to bring the floating treasure trove back to Earth. Yet.

“Even if we could grab a big metal piece and drag it back here … what would you do?” she said.

Read more:
New ‘black neutron star’ stuns astronomers with its spectacular death

Elkins-Tanton and her team will launch their Psyche mission in 2022, then use Mars’ gravity to slingshot the spacecraft toward the asteroid for a 2026 arrival.

“What makes Psyche and the other asteroids so interesting is that they’re considered to be the building blocks of the solar system,” Becker said.

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

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Footage shows catastrophic collapse of iconic Puerto Rico telescope – Global News

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Dramatic video from Puerto Rico captures the moment when a 816-tonne platform came crashing down on the Arecibo Observatory, shattering one of the world’s largest telescopes and striking a crushing blow to the global scientific community.

The catastrophic collapse happened on Dec. 1, less than two weeks after the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) warned that such a disaster was imminent. The NSF had already shuttered operations at the facility after a suspension cable snapped and slashed a hole in the dish last month.

Read more:
Massive Puerto Rico radio telescope collapses after cables snap

The telescope was the largest of its kind when it opened in 1963, and it has contributed to all manner of astronomical discoveries over the years, from asteroids to planets to mysterious radio signals in space. It also won a place in pop culture as the set for such films as Contact and GoldenEye, the first James Bond movie starring Pierce Brosnan.

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The observatory’s telescope consisted of a 816-tonne reflector dish platform suspended 137 metres above a massive, bowl-like dish, which measured 305 metres across.

Suspension cables holding up the platform snapped on Dec. 1, dropping the heavy platform on the dish with a tremendous crash.






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Aerial footage shows damage caused by Arecibo radio telescope collapse


Aerial footage shows damage caused by Arecibo radio telescope collapse

Video captured by the Arecibo control tower shows one of the three major cables snapping, causing the platform to swing down on the remaining cables before snapping them, too.

The footage shows the reflector dish platform falling apart in mid-air, while dragging down several support towers behind it.

Drone footage captured from one of the support towers shows the moment when the first cable snapped. The cable snapped at the tower, then the whole structure came crashing down, pulling other towers with it and cracking the bowl of the telescope. Large clouds of dust rose from the bowl after the catastrophe.

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Read more:
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Jonathan Friedman, who worked for 26 years at the facility and still lives nearby, described the awful sound of the collapse in an interview with the Associated Press.

“It sounded like a rumble. I knew exactly what it was,” he said. “I was screaming. Personally, I was out of control. … I don’t have words to express it. It’s a very deep, terrible feeling.”

Many scientists, Puerto Rico residents and other public figures mourned the telescope’s loss after it was closed, and again after it collapsed.

Ángel Vázquez, the telescope’s director of operations, said it was no surprise when the telescope fell apart early Tuesday.

“It was a snowball effect,” he said. “There was no way to stop it. … It was too much for the old girl to take.”

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Telescope Collapse – SaultOnline.com

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PUERTO RICO, USA – The Arecibo Observatory collapsed on December 1, 2020.

The telescope was the biggest of it’s kind in the world until China built a bigger one in 2016.

Its 305-meter main dish was on the ground while the suspended platform weighing in at 150 tons carried antennas and other equipment suspended over it.

One of the main cables supporting the platform broke in August and then the rest let go Tuesday.

During its lifespan, it made numerous discoveries and was used as a radar to ping near-earth asteroids. It would document size, spin, orbit, and rotation. Without this telescope, there is not another one in the world with the precision capability to do so.

There have been calls on social media to rebuild however no plans for the future of the telescope have been completed.

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NASA buying Moon dust for US$1 – CTV News

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The U.S. space agency NASA awarded contracts to four companies on Thursday to collect lunar samples for US$1 to $15,000, rock-bottom prices that are intended to set a precedent for future exploitation of space resources by the private sector.

“I think it’s kind of amazing that we can buy lunar regolith from four companies for a total of $25,001,” said Phil McAlister, director of NASA’s Commercial Spaceflight Division.

The contracts are with Lunar Outpost of Golden, Colorado for $1; ispace Japan of Tokyo for $5,000; ispace Europe of Luxembourg for $5,000; and Masten Space Systems of Mojave, California for $15,000.

The companies plan to carry out the collection during already scheduled unmanned missions to the Moon in 2022 and 2023.

The firms are to collect a small amount of lunar soil known as regolith from the Moon and to provide imagery to NASA of the collection and the collected material.

Ownership of the lunar soil will then be transferred to NASA and it will become the “sole property of NASA for the agency’s use under the Artemis program.”

Under the Artemis program, NASA plans to land a man and a woman on the Moon by 2024 and lay the groundwork for sustainable exploration and an eventual mission to Mars.

“The precedent is a very important part of what we’re doing today,” said Mike Gold, NASA’s acting associate administrator for international and interagency relations.

“We think it’s very important to establish the precedent that the private sector entities can extract, can take these resources but NASA can purchase and utilize them to fuel not only NASA’s activities, but a whole new dynamic era of public and private development and exploration on the Moon,” Gold said.

“We must learn to generate our own water, air and even fuel,” he said. “Living off the land will enable ambitious exploration activities that will result in awe inspiring science and unprecedented discoveries.”

Any lessons learned on the Moon would be crucial to an eventual mission to Mars.

“Human mission to Mars will be even more demanding and challenging than our lunar operations, which is why it’s so critical to learn from our experiences on the Moon and apply those lessons to Mars,” Gold said.

“We want to demonstrate explicitly that you can extract, you can utilize resources, and that we will be conducting those activities in full compliance with the Outer Space Treaty,” he said. “That’s the precedent that’s important. It’s important for America to lead, not just in technology, but in policy.”

The United States is seeking to establish a precedent because there is currently no international consensus on property rights in space and China and Russia have not reached an understanding with the United States on the subject.

The 1967 Outer Space Treaty is vague but it deems outer space to be “not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.”

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