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Near-Earth Asteroid Held Together by Unknown Force

RATE THIS! +27
Posted in Science on 17th Aug, 2014 02:38 AM by AlexMuller

One of the most infamous near-Earth asteroids is held together by forces other than just gravity and friction. Researchers have found that the asteroid is a loose blob of particles that clot together much as Moon dust collects on astronauts’ spacesuits. Any mission to divert an asteroid on a collision course with Earth would need to take these newfound cohesive forces into account.

 

This means that gently nudging an asteroid onto a new trajectory is potentially a safer option than blasting it to smithereens, Armageddon-style. “You’d want to avoid interacting with the asteroid directly,” says Ben Rozitis, a planetary scientist at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and a co-author of the study.

 
Researchers have suspected that undetected cohesive forces help to hold some asteroids together, especially ‘rubble-pile’ asteroids, which are agglomerations of dirt and rock. Some of these rotate slowly enough for the gravitational attraction between the particles to hold them together.
 
But for faster-spinning asteroids, centrifugal forces would overwhelm the gravitational pull and rip the rocks apart. The fast-spinning 1950 DA will pass close by Earth in the year 2880. At one point, the odds of its hitting Earth were estimated to be as high as 1 in 300, but more recent observations have lowered that risk to 1 in 4,000.

Tags: spaceasteroidEarthgravity

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Comments

Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-08-17
+1
Interest for asteroids is increasing and that is in my opinion justified. Now we can do something about diverting them from impacting on Earth (so that the consequence is not as on dinosaurs) and also they could be mined Reply


 

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