Near-Earth objects and close calls

Chad

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
One to keep an eye on: NASA's James Webb Space Telescope was hit by a micrometeoroid that was much larger than they'd modeled for, and it struck earlier than they had expected (6 months after launch).

In addition it sounds like it might send back some pretty nifty images come July 12th.

First micrometeoroid impact hits James Webb Space Telescope just months into flight



Meghan Bartels
Space
Wed, 08 Jun 2022 22:00 UTC






James Webb Space Telescope
© Northrop Grumman
An artist's depiction of the James Webb Space Telescope at work.
NASA's next-generation space observatory has sustained its first noticeable micrometeoroid impact less than six months after launch, but the agency isn't too concerned.

The James Webb Space Telescope, also known as Webb or JWST, launched on Dec. 25, 2021. It has spent the intervening months trekking out to its deep-space post and preparing for science observations, a complicated process that has gone remarkably smoothly; recently, NASA said it expects to unveil the first science-quality images from the telescope on July 12.

Now, the agency announced on Wednesday (June 8) that the observatory has experienced its first few impacts from tiny pieces of space debris called micrometeoroids. But don't panic: Neither the observatory's schedule nor its scientific legacy is expected to suffer.

"With Webb's mirrors exposed to space, we expected that occasional micrometeoroid impacts would gracefully degrade telescope performance over time," Lee Feinberg, Webb optical telescope element manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, said in the statement. "Since launch, we have had four smaller measurable micrometeoroid strikes that were consistent with expectations, and this one more recently that is larger than our degradation predictions assumed."

The most serious of the impacts occurred between May 23 and May 25 and affected the C3 segment of the 18-piece gold-plated hexagonal primary mirror, according to the statement.

All spacecraft are expected to experience and designed to withstand micrometeoroid impacts, and JWST is no different. The observatory's engineers even subjected mirror samples to real impacts to understand how such events might affect the mission's science.

However, the recent impact was larger than those that mission personnel had modeled or could test on the ground, according to the statement.

Despite the impact coming so early in the observatory's tenure, NASA officials are confident that the $10 billion telescope will still perform adequately.


Comment: They're 'confident' despite the impact being much larger and coming earlier than they'd expected: Russian space surveillance station records space activity surge in 2021


"We always knew that Webb would have to weather the space environment, which includes harsh ultraviolet light and charged particles from the sun, cosmic rays from exotic sources in the galaxy, and occasional strikes by micrometeoroids within our solar system," Paul Geithner, technical deputy project manager at NASA Goddard, said in the statement. "We designed and built Webb with performance margin — optical, thermal, electrical, mechanical — to ensure it can perform its ambitious science mission even after many years in space."

In addition, JWST launched with its optics in even better shape than the agency bargained for, officials noted in the statement.

Some micrometeoroid impacts can be predicted, officials wrote. For example, when the spacecraft is set to fly through known meteor showers, personnel can maneuver JWST's optical systems into safety for these events. However, the recent impact was not part of such a meteor shower and the statement classified it as "an unavoidable chance event."

After an impact occurs, engineers can individually adjust the 18 primary mirror segments on the observatory to keep the mirror as a whole finely tuned.

As the JWST team continues to evaluate the impact, NASA is focused on better understanding both the particular event and the environment that the observatory will experience throughout its mission. The telescope is orbiting what scientists call the Earth-sun Lagrange point 2, located nearly 1 million miles (1.5 million kilometers) away from Earth in the direction opposite the sun.

"We will use this flight data to update our analysis of performance over time and also develop operational approaches to assure we maximize the imaging performance of Webb to the best extent possible for many years to come," Feinberg said.
Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels@space.com or follow her on Twitter @meghanbartels (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) and on Facebook (opens in new tab).
 

Voyageur

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
A bright fireball lit up the night sky over the Andalusia, Spain.

Published on May 30, 2022 (2:36)

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A bright fireball lit up the night sky over the Malaga and Sevilla, Spain.

Published on Jun 10, 2022 (2:02)
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After catching the Jun 10th fireball, recalled the one from 10 days earlier. Actually pretty close to each other, an attracter or something.
 

c.a.

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Jerusalem Post
US Capitol-sized asteroid set to pass by Earth Sunday in a close flyby
By AARON REICH Published: JUNE 12, 2022 13:23
Designated 2022 GU6, this asteroid's flyby will be very close on a cosmic scale, passing by the Earth at a distance of around 1.2 million kilometers.
An asteroid roughly the size of the US Capitol building is set to pass by the Earth Sunday in a very close flyby on a cosmic scale, according to NASA's asteroid tracker.

Designated 2022 GU6, this asteroid was calculated by the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to have a mean diameter of 86.4 meters – just a bit smaller than the 88-meter-high US Capitol.

Will the asteroid hit us?

Almost definitely not, but the flyby will be very close on a cosmic scale, passing by the Earth at a distance of around 1.2 million kilometers. More than three times as far as the Moon, which orbits the Earth at a distance of approximately 384,000 km, but still close on a cosmic scale.

It is not deemed potentially hazardous. While an impact of an asteroid of this size could still cause significant damage, it would be far from a potential apocalypse.

 An asteroid is seen heading towards the planet in this artistic rendition. (credit: PIXABAY)
zoom-image-icon.svg

An asteroid is seen heading towards the planet in this artistic rendition. (credit: PIXABAY)

Regardless, NASA has calculated that the Earth is free of the risk of a catastrophic asteroid impact for the next century. Minor impacts can still happen, however. In fact, one did back in March when asteroid 2022 EB5 impacted the planet.

In other words, Earth is safe from the worst.

Small asteroids can still cause damage, though. That was the case with a previous asteroid impact in 2013, when a small one around 17-20 meters wide impacted, exploding over Chelyabinsk, Russia. While the impact itself wasn't severe, the shockwave caused thousands of windows to shatter and many people were injured and in need of medical attention from the shattered glass.

It is for this reason that scientists worldwide have worked to study the many asteroids in space and catalog them, calculating their trajectories and anticipating any possible impact events.

And there are many of them. Asteroids make up one of the most numerous types of objects in the solar system, where more than 1,113,000 of them are known to exist, according to NASA, but those are just the ones definitively identified, with experts always finding more.

It is for this reason that scientists are working on finding means of defending against a possible asteroid impact.

This includes NASA's groundbreaking Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission that is set to test the possibility of asteroid deflection.


U Sco It cannot be observed after the 8th. It seems that it is already 10 mag or less.
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Repeated nova in Scorpio U Sco Brightening for the first time in 12 years. For the time being, I measured only the V band. 2022/06/07.51974 UT, V mag =8 .37


GRAZING BOLID #SPMN110622B associated with the meteoric swarm of the Delta Arietids detected this morning at 2h15m28s TUC by Marc Corretgé @marccg96. This event was produced by a centimetric meteoroid that flew over #Huesca at 130,000 km/h. Go to the list http://spmn.uji.es/ESP/SPMNlist.h

The Natural History Museum
First published 10 June 2022 By Josh Davis
A tiny sample of the Ryugu asteroid collected by the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 indicates the asteroid formed right when the solar system was being born some 4.5 billion years ago.

This material is some of the most pristine rock ever studied and will hopefully give scientists a glimpse into the origin of life.

Initial analyses of the samples collected from the asteroid Ryugu indicate that it is some of the most pristine matter in the entire solar system.

The piece was collected when the Japanese space mission Hayabusa2 briefly touched down on the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu to sample its surface. Once the mission returned to Earth, scientists began eagerly studying its precious cargo to see what the sample could reveal.
They discovered that the asteroid's chemical composition is incredibly similar to that of the Sun, and that it formed just five million years after the solar system came into existence. The information that is being gleamed from this tiny sample will help us to better understand the origin not only of the planets and stars but also of life itself.

Professor Sara Russell is a planetary science researcher at the Museum who specialises in the formation of the solar system. She was involved with this new paper, which was published in the journal Science.

'Looking at the chemistry of Ryugu, it looks very much like the elementary composition of the Sun,' explains Sara. 'If you were to take away the hydrogen and helium from the Sun, you'd have this bunch of other elements, and they are in about the same proportion as what we see in the Ryugu sample.'

'What this means is that Ryugu represents very primordial material from which the whole solar system was made - it is kind of the ancestral material. This exceeded our wildest dreams.'
A view of Ryugu from space, showing it's roughly square shape.

The spacecraft Hayabusa2 launched in 2014 and didn't arrive at Ryugu until 2018. ©JAXA

Sampling an asteroid

In December 2014 the Japanese space agency JAXA launched their spacecraft Hayabusa2 with the aim of traveling across the solar system and making contact with the asteroid Ryugu.

Reaching the asteroid in 2018, the plan was to land several rovers onto its surface and to collect not only surface material but also sub-surface samples of rock. This was achieved by firing a tiny pellet at the asteroid, before flying in to collect the fragments of rock and soil that were dislodged.

After six years and travelling some five billion kilometres, the spacecraft returned to Earth in December 2020 and released a capsule, containing these important samples, above Woomera in South Australia.

This material has formed the basis of an international quest to test, study and analyse every aspect of the asteroid in order to better understand exactly how it formed and what secrets it might hold.

'Hayabusa2 collected about five grams of material, which might not sound like very much, but it is loads,' says Sara. 'It is actually more than JAXA were expecting and more than an order of magnitude than Hayabusa1 - their first asteroid return mission.'

This first paper looking into the properties of the material sampled is focusing on its chemistry, whilst subsequent studies will be delving into its mineralogy and petrology.

A deep dive into an asteroid

This initial work has shown that the chemical makeup of the asteroid is incredibly ancient and far more pristine than anything seen before.

'Before the Ryugu sample came back, we thought we had the most-primitive material in the solar system, a type of meteorite called CI-chondrites,' explains Sara. 'At the Museum we actually have the type specimen of this meteorite, called Ivuna.'

'When comparing the Ryugu sample to Ivuna, the material actually looks very similar. But the bottom line is that Ryugu is even more unaltered than Ivuna.'

A picture of the Ivuna meteroite, showing its metallic, almost coppery colour.

It was thought that Ivuna was the most pristine material in the solar system until Hayabusa2 brought its sample back. ©The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

This is because, by comparing the two samples, researchers can now see that when Ivuna travelled through Earth's atmosphere and landed on the planet's surface, it absorbed liquid water. This had the effect of subtly altering the chemistry of the meteorite.

'The Ryugu sample, however, is super pristine,' says Sara. 'That is one of the reasons why sample return missions have an advantage over meteorites because the sample has never been exposed to Earth's atmosphere and has been kept in very careful curatorial conditions.'

The pristine nature of the Ryugu sample is also related to the fact that the asteroid has never experienced temperatures above 100°C. This is significant because scientists believe that the building blocks of life itself - compounds such as amino acids - were originally brought to Earth by asteroids.

If the asteroid had been heated to temperatures exceeding 100°C, then these compounds would have effectively been boiled off the surface and lost to space.

The way in which Ryugu formed means that while chemically the asteroid is very primitive, it is difficult to say whether the sample represents the exact starting material from which the planets in the solar system were built. This is because, as the asteroid was forming, it gathered ice particles within the grit and pebbles, which subsequently melted over time. This water then turned the rock into clay, which is what it has stayed as ever since.

This research is just scratching the surface of what we are likely to discover about space, the solar system and our origins. It is the first step on a very long journey that will take us far into the future.

'I see it as like the famous explorer Sir Walter Raleigh going out and bringing back a potato from South America,' says Sara. 'It is the beginnings of what could be an amazing frontier.'
 

Magnolia

Padawan Learner
This material is some of the most pristine rock ever studied and will hopefully give scientists a glimpse into the origin of life.......

This is significant because scientists believe that the building blocks of life itself - compounds such as amino acids - were originally brought to Earth by asteroids........This research is just scratching the surface of what we are likely to discover about space, the solar system and our origins.

I've come across a range of technical, political to 'new age' interpretations of such cosmic relics scientists have investigated. Of them all, I really liked the MindMatters interview in 2020 with Ken Pedersen re: intelligent design. It is a more philosophical than a nitty gritty technical explanation of the process:

MindMatters: Interview with Ken Pedersen: Quarks, DNA, Consciousness - It's All Information, Always Has Been

"The purpose of galaxes is to create stars......galaxies are made out of stars. The purpose of stars is to smash helium and hydrogen together to make all the atoms that live in our reality. We've got 92 stable elements and another 18 to 20 unstable elements. But you had to have stars to smash all this information together into this form, and once you get that form those atomic elements are an alphabet that you can build molecules with.

"So the beauty of the galaxies and stars is that they are absolutely necessary steps to get from quarks and atoms to stardust and planets. And they process the information. If you look at it from layers of processing, you get the quarks and you get the photons and you get the hydrogen atom, then you get clouds of hydrogen........The clouds of hydrogen then become a galaxy. A galaxy's information rules are such that they will create stars, the stars' information rules are such that they will create this stardust. And the stardust creates everything else, including us.

It's all digital processing, absolutely totally amazing.........It is just beautifully simple, beautifully elegant, unbelievably precise....."

I'm just catching up with The MindMatters' Interviews. It will take me a while. They are pretty amazing.
 

Puma

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Fireball lit up the night sky over Gunma prefecture, Japan

A comparatively bright composite image and orbit of a fireball that flowed at 21:34:07 on June 17, 2022. It fell at a ground speed of 18.0 km / s and a plunge angle of 69.1 degrees, and flowed over Gunma prefecture.
It looks like the fireball that flowed at 21:34:07 on June 17, 2022 was captured by a camera pointing from Hiratsuka to the northern sky. It exploded in the middle of the route. I was able to capture the sound of electromagnetic waves, which makes a sound at the same time as the meteor shines. It was a scattered meteor.
 

c.a.

The Living Force
FOTCM Member

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Comets visible in June 2022

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Artificial meteor shower over Spain. It seems that a fireball by a Chinese rocket (Chang Zheng 2F) that re-entered was caught at multiple points such as the Spanish meteor network.



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LINE-1
Reentry of an upper stage of the Chinese CZ-2F rocket recorded from Valladolid at 00:31 local time on June 21, 2022. Many thanks to
@FronteraSpacial for the alert.
Line-2
From the Campo de Gibraltar (Cadiz)
 

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Eboard10

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Thought I would share a chat I had with people actively involved in the space sector and in planetary defence in particular earlier today at an event not far from where I live.

One person I got to talk was Danica, co-founder and director of two asteroid foundations which advocate for the awareness of asteroids and are actively involved in detecting them. Her team has developed a software that is able to scan images of space from different time periods and angles to detect space objects more accurately. They are waiting for the new LSST telescope to be completed in Chile which will survey the sky in greater detail, and expect to be able to detect at least 250,000 new asteroids once it’s operational.

Another guest was former astronaut Dumitru Prunariu who participated in the Soyuz 40 mission some 41 years ago and is a representative at the UN promoting awareness of impact hazards. When asking him what he sees as the most likely threat for Earth in the near-term, he referred to the Chelyabinsk meteor back in 2013 and how we didn’t see it coming as the size of these asteroids are too small to detect and the consequences, although localised, can be devastating. In fact, Danica told me that had the meteor exploded just 2 seconds earlier, it would have levelled the city of Chelyabinsk!

I then asked the same question to another guest, Patrick Michel, lead scientist at ESA for the HERA project (you may be surprised to know that Brian May is an astrophysicist too) which in conjunction with NASA’s DART aims to crash a spacecraft into the moon of a binary asteroid with the intention of deflecting it. This would be the very first real attempt at deflecting an asteroid - we’re clearly far from Armageddon. Although they already analysed the asteroid, they don't know much about its size and shape or about its composition. In essence, they don’t know what the result of the impact will be. Would be ironic if they miss it or unintentionally end up releasing fragments into space.

He even showed me a picture of another asteroid where NASA landed a probe to collect material from the surface. The surface looked very solid covered in rocks and smaller stones. As one component of the space probe touched the ground though, the surface of the asteroid reacted almost as if it was fluid (his own words)! They were shocked when it first happened but they now theorise it’s because of the lack of coherence of the asteroid due to the very low gravity.

Getting back to the question, what Patrick fears the most are larger asteroids in the range of 140-500 meters in diameter. For comparison, the Chelyabinsk meteor was circa 20 meters in diameter. While the smaller ones still pose a threat, the damage would be localised (as if the risk of levelling a city is not much of a concern) but the larger ones can cause destruction on a regional scale and while they are aware of most of them, there are others they cannot detect especially if they were to come from the direction of the Sun. I wonder how he qualifies the term “most”.

The impression I got from these people is that they do seem to be aware that there are many potentially hazardous objects they cannot detect but that’s what excites them and motivates them to keep on looking and exploring. It’s good to see their enthusiasm but when you have a comet appearing in the sky, I’m not sure they will be jumping in excitement any longer :rolleyes:

Here's a couple of pictures I took of a meteorite piece they brought which comes from the Arizona Meteor Crater.

IMG_1191.HEIC.jpgIMG_1192.HEIC.jpg
 

Carl

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Thought I would share a chat I had with people actively involved in the space sector and in planetary defence in particular earlier today at an event not far from where I live.

One person I got to talk was Danica, co-founder and director of two asteroid foundations which advocate for the awareness of asteroids and are actively involved in detecting them. Her team has developed a software that is able to scan images of space from different time periods and angles to detect space objects more accurately. They are waiting for the new LSST telescope to be completed in Chile which will survey the sky in greater detail, and expect to be able to detect at least 250,000 new asteroids once it’s operational.

Another guest was former astronaut Dumitru Prunariu who participated in the Soyuz 40 mission some 41 years ago and is a representative at the UN promoting awareness of impact hazards. When asking him what he sees as the most likely threat for Earth in the near-term, he referred to the Chelyabinsk meteor back in 2013 and how we didn’t see it coming as the size of these asteroids are too small to detect and the consequences, although localised, can be devastating. In fact, Danica told me that had the meteor exploded just 2 seconds earlier, it would have levelled the city of Chelyabinsk!

I then asked the same question to another guest, Patrick Michel, lead scientist at ESA for the HERA project (you may be surprised to know that Brian May is an astrophysicist too) which in conjunction with NASA’s DART aims to crash a spacecraft into the moon of a binary asteroid with the intention of deflecting it. This would be the very first real attempt at deflecting an asteroid - we’re clearly far from Armageddon. Although they already analysed the asteroid, they don't know much about its size and shape or about its composition. In essence, they don’t know what the result of the impact will be. Would be ironic if they miss it or unintentionally end up releasing fragments into space.

He even showed me a picture of another asteroid where NASA landed a probe to collect material from the surface. The surface looked very solid covered in rocks and smaller stones. As one component of the space probe touched the ground though, the surface of the asteroid reacted almost as if it was fluid (his own words)! They were shocked when it first happened but they now theorise it’s because of the lack of coherence of the asteroid due to the very low gravity.

Getting back to the question, what Patrick fears the most are larger asteroids in the range of 140-500 meters in diameter. For comparison, the Chelyabinsk meteor was circa 20 meters in diameter. While the smaller ones still pose a threat, the damage would be localised (as if the risk of levelling a city is not much of a concern) but the larger ones can cause destruction on a regional scale and while they are aware of most of them, there are others they cannot detect especially if they were to come from the direction of the Sun. I wonder how he qualifies the term “most”.

The impression I got from these people is that they do seem to be aware that there are many potentially hazardous objects they cannot detect but that’s what excites them and motivates them to keep on looking and exploring. It’s good to see their enthusiasm but when you have a comet appearing in the sky, I’m not sure they will be jumping in excitement any longer :rolleyes:

Here's a couple of pictures I took of a meteorite piece they brought which comes from the Arizona Meteor Crater.

View attachment 60228View attachment 60229

Thanks for this report, it's interesting to hear the perspectives of people who are in the business. It paints a pretty good picture of how drastically far any technological solutions for the coming problems will fall short of the mark, and just how much of a futile exercise in wishful thinking it must be to think we can defend the planet from any and all asteroids. At least they have the self awareness to recognise this, unlike many in other tech fields, such as the "let's upload our consciousness to computers and live forever" crowd.

It does beg the question though, if the PTB really wanted to stop this, surely the really top-level people in intel agencies etc. must have something better up their sleeves than this? What about the crazy secret tech they must have, like what may have been used on 9/11? Perhaps there are some laws of the cosmos they can't violate, or perhaps it's just a case of "as above, so below" and wishful thinking rules across the board.
 

Eboard10

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
It does beg the question though, if the PTB really wanted to stop this, surely the really top-level people in intel agencies etc. must have something better up their sleeves than this? What about the crazy secret tech they must have, like what may have been used on 9/11? Perhaps there are some laws of the cosmos they can't violate, or perhaps it's just a case of "as above, so below" and wishful thinking rules across the board.

Maybe it’s wishful thinking and hubris on their part thinking they can accurately detect and stop these asteroids from hitting the Earth and their ability is still very limited despite the technology they have at hand, or maybe they know they are helpless which would explain why they need "Cold War to disguise celestial intentions". In the end, a tool is only as good as its user. Mind you, they did manage to make a direct hit on the Columbia space shuttle back in 2003:

Q: One of the first questions we want to ask tonight is about the event of the Space Shuttle that was lost. First, was it an explosion, or was it just disintegration, or breaking up?

A: It was a "direct hit."

Q: A direct hit by what?

A: EM pulse.

Q: (S) What was the source of the EM pulse?

A: 3/4th density Consortium.

According to this article, the shuttle entered the atmosphere traveling at 23 times the speed of sound, that’s almost 8 km/s which is fast. However, the trajectory was likely known in advance. I would guess that the trajectory of a meteor is much harder to predict with a high enough degree of accuracy for a “direct hit” and they travel at higher speeds too, on average from 17-51 km/s according to this page.
Just some thoughts.
 
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