Probe Hayabusa’s Asteroid Samples Reveal Surprising Look at Space Rock Crashes

The Japanese asteroid probe Hayabusa succeeded in returning more than 1,500 grains of dust from the asteroid 25143 Itokawa when it parachuted into the Australian outback in June 2010. Already, the samples from this 1,800 foot-long (550 meter) rubble pile have helped solve the longstanding mystery of where most meteorites striking our planet come from. To uncover still more details about asteroids, scientists analyzed the size, mineralogy, shape and geochemistry of five dust grains recovered by Hayabusa.

Asteroid 2011 AG5 Could Pose Threat to Earth

Scientists are keeping a close eye on a big asteroid that may pose an impact threat to Earth in a few decades.The space rock, which is called 2011 AG5, is about 460 feet (140 meters) wide. It may come close enough to Earth in 2040 that some researchers are calling for a discussion about how to deflect it. The object was discovered in January 2011 by Mount Lemmon Survey observers in Tucson, Ariz. While scientists have a good bead on the space rock’s size, its mass and compositional makeup are unknown at present.

Small Asteroid will Make an Extremely Close Pass by Earth Friday

According to Nasa scientists a small asteroid will make an extremely close pass by Earth on January 27, coming much nearer than the moon, but the space rock poses no danger of impacting our planet. The newfound asteroid 2012 BX34, which is about the size of a city bus, will pass within 36,750 miles (59,044 kilometers) of Earth at about 10:30 a.m. EST (1530 GMT) Friday. The space rock is about 36 feet (11 meters) wide, making it much too small to pose a threat to Earth. Asteroid 2012 BX34 will zip by at a distance about 0.17 times that separating Earth and the moon. The moon orbits Earth at an average distance of about 240,000 miles (386,000 km).

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