NASA’s DART asteroid-impact mission will be a key test of planetary defense

When NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) slams into the tiny asteroid Dimorphos, it will be our first attempt to demonstrate our ability to deflect dangerous incoming asteroids. For decades, scientists around the world have been scanning the skysearching for potentially hazardous asteroids in the vicinity of Earth. And as astronomers discover near-Earth asteroids in … Read more

DART asteroid mission: NASA’s first planetary defense spacecraft

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission, or DART for short, is an ambitious project designed to test a method of deflecting an asteroid for the purpose of planetary defense, using the “kinetic impactor” technique. DART mission key facts – Launched: Nov. 24, 2021 at 1:20 am EDT (0620 GMT) – Launch site: Space Launch Complex … Read more

Stellar Flybys Leave a Permanent Mark on Newly Forming Planetary Systems

What do UX Tauri, RW Aurigae, AS 205, Z CMajoris, and FU Orionis have in common? They’re young stellar systems with disks where planets could form. It appears those disks were disturbed by stellar flybys or other close encounters in the recent past. Astronomers want to know: did those events disrupt planet formation in the … Read more

Dead star’s cannibalism of its planetary system is the most far-reaching ever to witness

Diagram illustrates the slow destruction of G238-44’s planetary system, with the tiny white dwarf at the center, surrounded by a faint accretion disk made up of pieces of shattered bodies falling onto the dead star. Remaining asteroids form a thin stream of material surrounding the star. Larger gas giant planets may still exist in the … Read more

Scientists on the hunt for planetary formation fossils reveal unexpected eccentricities in nearby debris disk

Artist’s impression of the billion-year-old Sun-like star, HD 53143, and its highly eccentric debris disk. The star and a second inner disk are shown near the southern foci of the elliptical debris disk. A planet, which scientists assume is shaping the disk through gravitational force, is shown to the north. Debris disks are the fossils … Read more

Planetary defense exercise uses asteroid Apophis as hazardous asteroid stand-in

Clockwise from top left are three of the observatories that participated in a 2021 planetary defense exercise: NASA’s Goldstone planetary radar, the Mount Lemmon telescope of the Catalina Sky Survey, and NASA’s NEOWISE mission. At bottom left is an illustration of the path of Apophis’ close approach in 2029. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona Watching the … Read more

Here’s how we can escape planetary destruction, according to physicists

Artist concept of an alien planet. Could this be out there waiting for us to explore? (Image credit: Mark Garlick/Science Photo Library via Getty Images) Our species faces a pivotal moment in human history. Either we develop the technology to safely harness the energy needed to escape our planet, or we kill ourselves in some … Read more

Planetary Volatiles Laboratory: I know what you did last summer: Grad School Edition

With May having just begun, undergraduate students are looking forward to the summer, but the situation is different for Professors and graduate students. Though few grad students take courses during this time of the year, it is nevertheless one of the busiest times of the year. Below, MSc student Justin Kerr explains why and describes … Read more

Adventures in Exploring the Planetary Science Data Archives

This week, Conor discusses that wonderful repository of US-generated planetary science data: the Planetary Data System. This data, provided for free on the web at allows any researcher – no matter whether they are professional or amateur – to benefit from the space missions that have been funded by US taxpayer money. Sometimes, this … Read more