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Chang'E 2 imaging of Toutatis succeeded beyond my expectations!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/12/14 05:59 CST | 19 comments

The Chang'E 2 mission flyby of Toutatis succeeded in acquiring images. Oh my goodness, did they succeed. These, in combination with the incredible radar images still being acquired from Goldstone and innumerable optical observations, make Toutatis one of the best-studied asteroids in the solar system.

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Asteroid 4179 Toutatis' upcoming encounters with Earth and Chang'E 2

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/12/06 12:19 CST | 6 comments

Near-Earth asteroid 4179 Toutatis will be passing within 7 million kilometers of Earth on December 12. Both radio telescopes and the Chang'E 2 spacecraft will be acquiring images.

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Calling (Really Serious) Asteroid Hunters
New Shoemaker NEO Grant Call for Proposals

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/11/19 10:06 CST | 9 comments

I am happy to announce a new call for proposals for The Planetary Society’s Gene Shoemaker Near Earth Object (NEO) grant program, which is celebrating its 15th Anniversary. Proposals are due Feb. 4, 2013.

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PlanetVac: Sucking Up Planetary Regolith
A New Planetary Society Project

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/10/30 02:27 CDT | 3 comments

Learn about the Planetary Society’s newest project: PlanetVac, with Honeybee Robotics, aims to prototype and test in a huge vacuum chamber a new way to sample planetary surfaces that could be used for sample return or for in situ instruments.

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DPS 2012: Future impact risks

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/10/24 01:14 CDT | 7 comments

Continuing my writeup of notes from last week's Division for Planetary Sciences meeting: presentations on the risks of future asteroid impacts. How much risk do we face, and what are the appropriate actions to take in the face of that risk?

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Shoemaker NEO Winner Finds Close Fly By Asteroid

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/10/02 05:54 CDT

Gary Hug used his Shoemaker NEO grant provided camera to find 2012 SY49 which flew by Earth at about two lunar distances last week. The tens of meters wide asteroid is a low-probability possible Earth impactor in the future.

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Saving the World: Established 1997
The Shoemaker NEO Grants at 15

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/09/21 01:00 CDT | 2 comments

The Planetary Society Shoemaker NEO grants celebrate their 15th anniversary of helping to find and track near Earth asteroids. Here's a quick review of the program, and updates on our four multiple-grant winners.

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Zapping Rocks with Lasers to Save the World

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/06/25 05:59 CDT | 9 comments

The Planetary Society Laser Bees project in Scotland is studying in the lab a potential new technique for deflecting dangerous asteroids: laser ablation.

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Hunting Asteroids from a Field in Kansas

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/06/15 06:33 CDT

TPS Shoemaker NEO Grant Winner Gary Hug hunts near Earth objects from his back yard in Kansas. NPR's Morning Edition picked up on this fascinating story.

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Update on yesterday's post about Chang'E 2 going to Toutatis

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/06/15 11:29 CDT | 3 comments

I have a couple of updates on my post from yesterday: confirmation that Chang'E 2 is indeed gone from L2, and more specifics on encounter dates with Toutatis.

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Chang'E 2 has departed Earth's neighborhood for...asteroid Toutatis!?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/06/14 07:53 CDT | 1 comments

According to a Chinese spaceflight forum, Chang'E program chief scientist Ouyang Ziyuan recently announced that Chang'E 2 has departed the Sun-Earth L2 point and is now en route to asteroid 4179 Toutatis!

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More Evidence for Impact Origin for Colombia’s Vichada Structure

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/05/08 03:43 CDT

Evidence continues to pile up that the Rio Vichada structure in Colombia is indeed the largest impact structure in South America.

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La Sagra Observatory discovers very near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14

Posted by Jaime Nomen on 2012/03/27 05:20 CDT | 3 comments

With a new CCD camera configured to shoot rapid, short exposures bought with a Planetary Society Shoemaker NEO Grant we caught near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14.

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New "Snapshot From Space": Defending Our Planet

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2012/03/06 10:18 CST

A new installment of our "Snapshots" video series examines the threat posed by asteroids on collision courses with our home planet. Emily Lakdawalla explains why it's so important to find, understand and learn to deflect these potential civilization enders.

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Our friendly neighborhood asteroid, 2005 YU55 (an animation)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/11/16 02:58 CST

Last week JPL released two animations of asteroid 2005 YU55 made from the radar data acquired by Goldstone's 70-meter radio dish.

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Goldstone: Desert outpost performs radio imaging of close-passing asteroid 2005 YU55

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/11/09 06:52 CST

Anticipating the close flyby of asteroid 2005 YU55 yesterday, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory invited media to tour Goldstone, one of three facilities that make up NASA's Deep Space Network. I've always wanted to see these massive radio dishes up close, so I jumped at the chance!

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Live feeds on asteroid 2005 YU55 as it passes Earth

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/11/08 03:45 CST

Unless you've been living under a rock you've probably heard that there is a relatively large (400-meter) asteroid passing closer to Earth than the orbit of the Moon today -- in just a few minutes, as a matter of fact.

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How radio telescopes get "images" of asteroids

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/11/08 10:52 CST

This is a repost of an article I wrote in April 2010; I thought it'd be useful reading for those of you interested in today's near-Earth flyby of asteroid 2005 YU55.

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Students Design Human Asteroid Mission in Caltech Space Challenge

Posted by Louis D. Friedman on 2011/09/19 11:55 CDT

I spent much of the past week attending the Caltech Space Challenge, a student-organized international competition to design a human mission to a Near-Earth asteroid. It was a great week, and one of the most positive, upbeat and hopeful programs I have participated in concerning the future of space exploration.

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Meeting today: The infelicitously named "SBAG"

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/08/25 01:45 CDT

NASA funds regular meetings of scientists who work on different parts of the solar system to provide scientific input into NASA's future plans. These "analysis groups" are known by their acronyms, all of which sound kind of horrible, but none has quite as terrible-sounding an acronym as "SBAG," usually pronouced "ess-bag," the Small Bodies Assessment Group.

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