Rosetta: “We’ll need some luck not to land on a boulder or a steep slope.”

[Image credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA] The ESA Rosetta probe has been on a long journey – spotted en route briefly on Slugger in 2008, and more leisurely in 2010 as it took time out from its mission to the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko to take a look at the asteroid Lutetia.  Ten years after launch, it’s now orbiting its designated target, and the lander, Philae, is descending.  However, there has been a hiccup… During checks on the lander’s health, it was discovered that the active … Read more

“on the timescales involved in this event, we’re really catching it in the moment of happening”

When the comet-like asteroid P/2010 A2 was identified as a suspected asteroid-asteroid collision in January this year it was the first such collision caught “in the act”.  Images Credit: NASA, ESA, and D. Jewitt (UCLA). As the BBC notes, subsequent observations by the Hubble Space Telescope and the Rosetta probe suggest that the collision probably occurred in early 2009. Here’s a sequence of Hubble observations from January to May 2010, with scale. As the associated text explains The asteroid debris, dubbed P/2010 A2, appears to be … Read more

Vesta awaits!

Nasa previews the Dawn mission’s visitation with the asteroid Vesta, due next year as noted here, with a video presentation narrated by Leonard Nimoy – as opposed to the previously noted video narrated by William Shatner.  Whether the encounter will be as stunning as that of the Rosetta probe was remains to be seen…  The Dawn mission website is here.  More Dawn related  videos and interviews here. Pete Baker

Asteroids Rock! – redux – Updated

[Updated with images from the fly past]  Japan’s Hayabusa probe looks like it might have successfully returned material from the asteroid Itokawa, if not as much as they had hoped.  Meanwhile Esa’s Rosetta probe, last seen [on Slugger] in 2008, is taking time out from its mission to the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko to take a look at the asteroid Lutetia. Artist’s impression of Lutetia. Image credits: ESA – C. Carreau. At 4.44pm [BST] today Rosetta will fly past the 100km wide Lutetia … Read more