Questions tagged [asteroid]

Questions about asteroids, bodies in the solar system smaller then planets which orbit the sun.

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59
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3answers
6k views

What resources could be gained from asteroid mining that would be worth the effort?

Obviously asteroids are abundant in many of the raw materials we use today, but considering the (presumably) large expense involved in mining from asteroids it may not be worthwhile to mine some ...
52
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5answers
15k views

Does NASA have an end-of-the-world policy?

If an asteroid were detected, shooting towards earth with enough speed and certainty that it would all but guarantee a sequel of the end of the dinosaurs. Observatories and space agencies would almost ...
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2answers
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Legality of asteroid mining

Exploiting the moon's resources is covered by "The Moon Treaty". Is there something similar or in the works for regulating mining asteroids and other non-lunar bodies?
22
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2answers
3k views

Is Mars more at risk than Earth for asteroid collisions?

When looking at topographical pictures of Mars it seems like there are craters far more frequently than here on Earth. This statement, of course, is just pure speculation on my part. However, it makes ...
21
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3answers
1k views

Can we expect to find pure iron or only nickel-iron alloys in asteroids?

Relatively pure iron has more uses and potential value than nickel-iron alloys. Separating those nickel-iron alloys commonly found in meteorites and expected to be common in asteroids (Kamecite, ...
21
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4answers
5k views

What's the (particle) density of the asteroid belt?

Obviously the asteroid belt is pretty sparsly populated. But how sparsly exactly? What is the state of knowledge regarding how many particles are there in a given size bracket and a volume, what ...
21
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2answers
2k views

What is the largest naturally occurring body that could be hollowed and safely lived in?

Some proposals for living in space envision finding an asteroid that is a solid chunk of something (i.e. Nickel Iron), hollow it out, slap on an air lock, and you have a home. Add a drive and you ...
19
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2answers
4k views

Is it possible for a human to walk on an asteroid?

"We’ll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history" (President Barack Obama on Space Exploration in the 21st Century".) With a very low gravity, an asteroid is not ...
19
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1answer
618 views

Mining in microgravity: are there sound studies?

I was wondering whether there are any sound studies on mining in microgravity. For example, smelting iron (out of ore) in weightlessness has been described and (in theory) solved. Also, there are ...
18
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3answers
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Does the Moon have any captured objects orbiting it?

Does our moon have any captured objects orbiting it that have been discovered, such as asteroids or other debris? If it doesn't, is it possible that it could capture them in the future, given the ...
18
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1answer
16k views

How do spacecraft navigate through the Asteroid belt to avoid collision?

Have any spacecraft been lost transitioning between Mars and Jupiter? How do spacecraft navigate that field unscathed as well?
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5answers
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How is it known that asteroid 2011 UW158 has so much platinum?

Today an asteroid, 2011 UW158, is passing within 2.4 million km of Earth. There are a lot of reports of this asteroid containing $5.4 trillion of platinum in its core. People seem to want to mine it, ...
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8answers
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Why do many comets & asteroids keep moving through the solar system, but space ships need fuel to do so?

Why do many comets & asteroids keep moving through the solar system (for centuries), after they were dislodged from their parent bodies after a cosmic event/explosion? But a space-shuttle ...
17
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2answers
2k views

Traveling through the asteriod belt?

The question What's the (particle) density of the asteroid belt? is about the density of objects in the asteroid belt. As a follow up related question and what I am interested in: When we send ...
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2answers
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How can I derive an asteroid mass/size estimate from JPL parameters?

I want a list of objects with a semi-major axis between 0.95 AU and 1.05 AU that are probably larger than 1 km in diameter. For this, the JPL Small-Body Database Search Engine seems to be the best ...
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5answers
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How hard is it to fly through the tail of a comet? Has it been done?

The line between comets and asteroids is somewhat blurred (see below) but when we see a big bright tail we at least like to call it a comet. This question is about exploration of the tails of big-tail-...
16
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3answers
3k views

Can we destroy an asteroid by spinning it?

In a YouTube video Colonizing the Solar System, part 2: the Outer Solar System, Isaac Arthur who is a YouTuber and also a physicist says something like "you don't spin an asteroid for artificial ...
16
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1answer
596 views

What are the differences in technology between OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa missions?

Up to now two spacecraft have been launched for an asteroid sample return mission. The first one Hayabusa is a completed mission and now OSIRIS-REx is an ongoing mission. Hayabusa was launched in 2003,...
15
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2answers
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Does the Dawn spacecraft have the potential for an extended mission?

The Dawn spacecraft is scheduled to arrive in initial orbit around Ceres in February 2015 with a final planned orbital change in December to reduce its orbit to a 700km altitude. At present I can't ...
15
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1answer
395 views

Would the one million people on Mars be killed by an impact equivalent to an Extinction Level Event on Earth

If there are cities on Mars in the second half of this century with say a million people, they will be living in engineered structures and sustained by agriculture in protected, controlled ...
14
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3answers
763 views

Why paint only one-half of Bennu?

The Gizmodo article Instead of Nuking an Asteroid Headed Toward Earth, We Could Just Splash It With Paint says: “Even just painting the surface a different color on one half would change the ...
14
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3answers
988 views

How useful is placing an asteroid in Lunar orbit?

Quoting from NASA warned plan to send humans to Mars may fail news article: The Obama administration is opposed to another moon landing, saying such a mission would be too costly. It wants ...
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4answers
697 views

What are the actual legal prerequisites for extracting natural resources from asteroids by private entities?

The Moon Treaty states that no extraterrestrial property can be owned by any organization or person, with the exception of international and governmental organization. So, taking the current state of ...
13
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1answer
4k views

How frequently do asteroids collide with each other?

Space is empty ... lots of empty. Apparently so empty that the risk of collision between a spacecraft of our times, and an asteroid in the asteroid belt is said to be infinitesimal. Running a search ...
12
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7answers
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Is it (or why is it) worse to break up a asteroid on a collision course with Earth?

It is quite common to find (pseudo?) scientific statements to the effect that blowing up asteroids which are heading our way is a very bad idea, and that the movie Armageddon got this point totally ...
12
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2answers
703 views

Which are the main challenges for sample return mission from an asteroid and a comet?

The first sample return mission from a comet has been achieved by NASA's Stardust spacecraft, and the first sample return mission from an asteroid has been achieved by JAXA's Hayabusa spacecraft. What ...
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3answers
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Could a Boring Company Excavation Tool be used to create a large circular chamber inside an asteroid?

I saw an awesome post by a user about 1g off-Earth habitats. Radiation protection is provided to humans when habitats have a lot of mass between habitation areas and sources of radiation. Long-term ...
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5answers
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Would a 'space elevator'/sling on a rotating asteroid work?

It is possible to find numerous studies of space elevators, for Earth, Luna, Mars and even Phobos. But would a 'space elevator' work on an asteroid? I use scare quotes because typically the point of a ...
11
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1answer
158 views

Mission concepts for a tomography of an asteroid or other celestial body

Tomographies of various kinds are basically the only possibility right now to look deeper into asteroids or planets. On Earth, "signals" generated by earthquakes are for instance used for performing a ...
11
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2answers
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How to get processed asteroid metals back to Earth in a safe manner

How would you get precious metals (like platinum, lithium, uranium, etc) from an asteroid safely back to Earth? First, assume we don't need the metals in space for in-space manufacturing. Second, ...
11
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1answer
231 views

Does any space program / government have an official stance on a procedure for handling collision-trajectory comets?

. ^ A Bad Idea. (You will now have a whole bunch of little asteroid pieces headed for you). Still, has any government or space program issued an official statement on what it would do if a large ...
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2answers
3k views

What is the possibility of Voyager 1/2 colliding with matter (Asteroids or planetoids) present in space?

It gives me great pleasure to hear about the feat that Voyager 1 achieved. I was wondering if Voyager 1/2 could collide with Asteroids (those,if present, outside our solar system) or any other matter ...
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3answers
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Can an asteroid enter Earth orbit?

Can an asteroid pass near Earth at a right velocity and angle to bend its trajectory and make an orbit? Note: I know about objects such as 2016 HO3, which are quasi-satellites of Earth due to ...
10
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3answers
668 views

Could we deal with an asteroid threat given current technology?

If we discovered a sizeable (Tunguska-like mass or larger) near-earth object tomorrow that was on a definite collision course with Earth in the near future, could we deal with it with our current ...
10
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1answer
867 views

Why is the Deep Space Industries Prospector 1 using water propellant instead of hydrazine?

A lot of satellites use hydrazine propellant but the Prospector 1 is using water. What are the benefits and drawbacks of that decision?
10
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1answer
196 views

What data are used to do these 3D asteroid renderings?

The number of asteroids that have been directly photographed is very limited, because the probes that do so are very large budget and public. That's why it's surprising to see images like this of ...
10
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3answers
334 views

What is the range of strength for asteroidal materials?

Observed rotation rates of small asteroids point to a limit on the material strength of these bodies. This limit is not very high But that's only part of the picture, because an upper limit on ...
10
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1answer
286 views

Do all dangerous asteroids first pass through keyholes?

Scitech Daily's MIT Engineers Devise the Best Way to Deflect an Incoming Planet-Killer Asteroid Now MIT researchers have devised a framework for deciding which type of mission would be most ...
10
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1answer
146 views

Finding non-lit objects at light minute ranges

Let's say my hyperjumpwarpgate McGuffin drive goes bing and I find myself about half a light year away from the sun. This is right in the heart of the outer Oort Cloud. Wikipedia says that there are a ...
9
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2answers
254 views

Could a swarm of probes autonomously establish orbit around an asteroid?

To position a spacecraft around an asteroid, one must know the orbital parameters and orientation of the asteroid and the spacecraft. Formation flying will be more complex in terms of positioning ...
9
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2answers
301 views

How can a planet “catch” an asteroid?

When an asteroid enters the sphere of influence of a planet and the periapsis is above the atmosphere (if it wasn't and the object doesn't leave the atmosphere at escape velocity, the object would ...
9
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1answer
256 views

Would gold in space tend to collect in pockets like it does on Earth?

I was reading Does gold come from outer space?(BBC News). If the majority of gold on Earths surface does come from space would it tend to be equally distributed on comets and asteroids, or would tend ...
9
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1answer
474 views

How do we define geographical coordinates on non-spheroid celestial bodies?

On Earth, we can use latitude and longitude to fairly accurately describe a single point on the surface of the earth. This works because the earth is, for all intents and purposes, a sphere. It got me ...
9
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1answer
853 views

Have there been any documented mini-moons since 2006 RH120?

The conference call with Bill Bottke (MP3 plus other documents) about "minimoons" presents an alternative to Asteroid Redirect first got me interested in orbital mechanics. The idea is that there are ...
9
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1answer
756 views

Where could you go in a 20km iron asteroid?

We know from this question that an asteroid 20 km in diameter is feasible as a hollow space habitat. There are many variables in real life, but assuming you had a spherical solid iron asteroid 20 km ...
9
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1answer
204 views

How small must an asteroid be to burn entirely in the martian atmosphere?

The Martian atmosphere is thinner and the magnetic field isn't present. I wonder how many asteroids fall and if at least the small ones can burn in the atmosphere before reaching the soil. Thanks in ...
8
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3answers
526 views

Can one put a large nickel-iron asteroid into an elliptical solar orbit that results in a soft(ish) earth landing?

My daughter and I are debating whether it is technically feasible to bring a nickel iron asteroid to the surface or the earth non-destructively. I felt it was impossible. Her thought was that with a ...
8
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3answers
719 views

Why does NASA plan to put a meteoroid in Lunar orbit instead of Earth orbit?

NASA is working on an asteroid retrieval mission. A small asteroid will be moved into Lunar orbit where it will be visited by space walking astronauts. Since it will be only max seven meters in ...
8
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1answer
441 views

How can stellar images be “subtracted” from a sequence of exposures? (difference imaging)

The press release UH ATLAS telescope discovers first-of-its-kind asteroid from the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Hawaii shows an image of an "active asteroid" among a field of stars. ...
8
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2answers
212 views

Theories of what asteroid macroporosity actually means

Pretty good science has nailed down the fact that a significant fraction of asteroids have macro-porosity of 10% or more. It seems this was more or less established as of a 2003 paper, and here are ...