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Tiny robotic discovers an asteroid that’s freakishly without dust

Tiny robotic discovers an asteroid that’s freakishly without dust

Enlarge / Ryugu's rubble-pile surface, taken by MASCOT shortly before it hit and started bouncing. For the last few months, Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft has been engaged in various acts of interplanetary aggression, shooting the asteroid Ryugu in order to blast free material for a return to Earth. But Hayabusa2's visit has also featured various less…
Jupiter might have had a head-on crash with an enormous protoplanet

Jupiter might have had a head-on crash with an enormous protoplanet

K. Suda & Y. Akimoto/Mabuchi Design Office Planet-forming disks start out as a mix of dust and gas, but the gas doesn't stick around for long. As the star at their center ignites, the radiation it emits starts driving off the gas, eventually leaving a disk with nothing but dust behind. That creates a narrow…
China’s Chang’ E-4 might have landed near pieces of the Moon’s interior

China’s Chang’ E-4 might have landed near pieces of the Moon’s...

Enlarge / The original Yutu rover, shown on the Moon. While some of the details are still being worked out, it's generally agreed that the Moon formed when a Mars-sized body collided with the early Earth. Some of the debris put into orbit by the collision would then go on to condense into the Moon.…
Very first arise from New Horizons’ time in the Kuiper Belt

Very first arise from New Horizons’ time in the Kuiper Belt

Enlarge / When Ultima met Thule. A view of the two-lobed body, showing the bright neck and the large Maryland crater. For many at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, January 1 this year didn't mean a New Year's celebration. Instead, it meant the first arrival of data from New Horizons' visit to a small…
Craters on Pluto recommend Kuiper Belt consumed its smaller sized bodies

Craters on Pluto recommend Kuiper Belt consumed its smaller sized bodies

Enlarge / A view of Vulcan Planitia's craters on Charon. NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/K. Singer What did the earliest bodies in our Solar System look like, and what was their fate? It's difficult to tell, because it's not clear that there are any of them left. Lots of the earliest material…
The Earth has actually been experiencing more regular asteroid strikes

The Earth has actually been experiencing more regular asteroid strikes

Enlarge / The craters used for this analysis and their locations. Dr. A. Parker, Southwest Research Institute How often does a big rock drop on our planet from space? As we've gotten a better understanding of the impact that did-in the dinosaurs, that knowledge has compelled people to take a serious look at how we…
New Horizons has an effective flyby of the Kuiper Belt’s bowling pin

New Horizons has an effective flyby of the Kuiper Belt’s bowling...

While people around the world were celebrating the arrival of 2019, people at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland were hard at work. Billions of miles away, the New Horizons probe was flying past Ultima Thule, a small object in the Kuiper Belt. By Tuesday morning, the hardware had sent back a status…
Enigmatic ridges on Pluto might be the remains of disappeared nitrogen glaciers

Enigmatic ridges on Pluto might be the remains of disappeared nitrogen...

Enlarge / Washboard terrain fills the basins in the right of this image. As we've gathered more details about the other planets of the Solar System, we've largely managed to explain the geography we've found by drawing analogies to things we're familiar with from Earth. Glaciers and wind-driven erosion produce similar results both here and…
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