Asteroid (Sample Safely Harvested By Japanese Satellite) To Hit Earth!

Posted by on May 6th, 2010


Scientists might be able to gawk at a piece of asteroid that hasn’t been through the horrific re-entry process after a Japanese satellite sends a sample it collected back to Earth on June 13th.

Why do we care about this? It could revolutionize how Bruce Willis and a ragtag gang of oil drillers save the world…

As you can see in the picture, it’s covered in rubble, and lacks impact craters! This is strong evidence that it’s not a single, monolithic body; in other words, it’s not a solid rock. It may instead be more like a pile of rubble, an asteroid that has been shattered repeatedly by low-speed impacts with other rocks, but had its own gravity hold it together like a bag full of shattered glass.

Asteroids like this may comprise a significant percentage of all the asteroids we see. And if one of them is headed toward Earth, how we deal with a rubble pile may be very different than how we might try to push a solid rock out of the way. Studying Itokawa is therefore very important… and may just save the world.

The sample return capsule will land in Woomera, Australia, where it hopefully will not be attacked by venomous Koalas (everything Down Under can kill you).


[Bad Astronomy]

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