NEOShield-2 Agent on Board the Queen Mary 2 Cruise Ship

By John Maclean FRAS – NEOShield-2 Agent in the United Kingdom, Exeter Observatory

At the beginning of the year I undertook a lecturing trip on the Queen Mary 2 ocean liner, visiting Australia, Borneo, Vietnam and China. In my role as a Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) speaker, I delivered a series of talks to the guests on the ship.

NEOShield-2 agent John Maclean Queen Mary 2

The Queen Mary 2 is the only ship at sea with a Planetarium and the RAS has an agreement with the ships’ operator, Cunard, to provide Fellows to deliver the Astronomy programme on board. One of the talks I gave was entitled, “OMG, We’re all going to die!” which aims to educate and inform the audience about the dangers posed by Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHA’s).

NEOShield-2 agent John Maclean Queen Mary 2

During the talk I introduced the audience to the NEOShield-2 project and explained the project aims, activities and achievements to date. The talk was very well received, with over 400 people attending and many questions were asked about the NEOShield-2 project, which I was happy to answer. I look forward to further promoting the mission to more audiences in the near future.


NEOShield-2 note:

The project’s team is very happy to have John as agent and appreciate all his effort to help us to raise public awareness about the threat posed by asteroids and what our project is doing to save our planet. We are looking forward to his next events!

Are Mars’ Trojan Asteroids Pieces of the Red Planet?

By Jesse Emspak,

mars trojan

A mosaic of the Valles Marineris hemisphere of Mars. This view is similar to what one would see from a spacecraft, according to NASA.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Trojan asteroids that follow Mars in its orbit might have come from the planet itself, blown off in an ancient impact rather than being late arrivals, a new study suggests.

Several planets in Earth’s solar system have Trojan asteroids — bodies that run ahead of or behind the planet. Jupiter, for example, has thousands. Earth has at least one, discovered in 2010. Uranus, Neptune and Venus also have them. Trojan asteroids are so called because the first ones to be discovered were named for figures from the Trojan War, including Achilles and Agamemnon. NASA plans to launch a mission in 2021, called Lucy, to study six of Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids.

David Polishook, a researcher at the Weizmann Institute in Israel and lead author on the new study, posits that the Trojans following Mars were blasted off the surface of the young planet at least a billion years ago, and settled into their current positions soon after that.

Trojans orbit at Lagrange points, regions of gravitational stability numbered 1 through 5, where an object that is a small fraction of the mass of a planet and the sun, such as an asteroid, will maintain its position.

Around Mars, for example, Lagrange point No. 1 (or L1) is on an imaginary line connecting Mars and the sun, while L2 is directly behind the planet if one extends that same line. Extend the line through the sun so that it touches the point in Mars’ orbit exactly opposite the planet to reach L3. L4 and L5 are at points 60 degrees ahead and behind Mars along its orbit. (If you draw lines between L4, L5, Mars and the sun, you get two equilateral triangles.) Mars’ Trojan asteroids are at L4 and L5.

Mars has nine Trojan asteroids, the study notes. One, called 1999 UJ7, runs ahead of the planet at the L4 position. Three others, 5261 Eureka, 2001 DH47 and 2007 NS2, travel behind at L5. Astronomers had already studied the reflected light from Eureka and noted that the object was rich in the mineral olivine.

The new study shows that 2001 DH47 and 2007 NS2 also are rich in olivine. Olivine is rare in asteroids, but it is common in larger bodies — and occurs on Mars in impact basins.

mars trojan

An artist’s concept of NASA’s Lucy mission, which will study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids.
Credit: Southwest Research Institute

“This mineral crystallizes in high pressure, for example in the mantle of terrestrial planets,” Polishook told, “Mars, Earth and Venus have olivine, too, but dynamically speaking, it is much easier for Mars to capture Martian ejecta than to capture Earth, lunar or Venus ejecta.”

That, Polishook told, is one good reason to think that the Trojans were pieces of Mars. Earlier studies estimated the age of Eureka is about 1 billion years, so that means the cluster of Trojans has to be at least that old.

The question, though, is how such large pieces of Mars settled into the Trojan orbit at the L4 and L5 points. Polishook thinks it happened because Mars and Jupiter — the latter, especially — have both migrated from the positions they were in when they formed.

Mars’ orbit, like many of the planets, changed in the early solar system. As this change progressed, bits of the planet that blasted off in an impact, which might ordinarily have escaped or remained in orbit around the planet itself, ended up as Trojan asteroids, Polishook said. “If ejecta are present within a new orbit of Mars, then they may be captured into a Trojan orbit.”

The Trojans could be captured this way only early in the solar system’s history — once the planets settled into their current positions, any bodies that ended up in Trojan orbits would tend to stay there, and any subsequent planetary migrations would free existing Trojans, Polishook said.

The study appears in Monday’s (July 17) issue of the journal Nature Astronomy.


Original article here.

NEOShield-2 participates in EUCASS 2017

eucass 2017 elecnor deimosThe European Conference for Aeronautics and Space Sciences (EUCASS) is the main continental scientific event for aeronautics and space, second only to the AIAA Scitech in the USA. The Eucass association was created by a group of european scientists in order to provide, on the old continent, a high quality forum for the aerospace scientific community. Eucass is member of Ecaero group, supported by the European commission, with Eccomas, Euromech, Ercoftac, Euroturbo and Ceas.

EUCASS is the natural high-level forum for all aeronautics and space research players. It showcases promising fundamental breakthroughs, enabling sciences and technologies. The main objectives are to:

  1. review the state of the art in Aeronautics and Space Sciences, focusing on promising innovations;
  2. promote industrial understanding of recent scientific breakthroughs and develop synergies between Aeronautics and Space, Academia and Industry;
  3. give Agencies and Industry the opportunity to present their programs, particularly EU’s Framework programmes.
eucass 2017 elecnor deimos

Miguel Hagenfeldt delivering his presentation

This years’ conference was the seventh issue and it took place in Milan, Italy, on 3-6 July. About 600 participants, of which 149 students, have attended and contributed to making it a very warm and lively forum. The number of papers received reached a total of about 700, of which 550 were presented either orally or in poster format. There were 34 countries represented.

The NEOShield-2 project was represented by its consortium member Elecnor Deimos, who presented the work achievements of WP5 (Reconnaissance S/C technologies).

The Reconnaissance GNC/AOCS technologies were presented in the Flight Dynamics, GNC and Avionics symposium, on Thursday 6 July, with oral presentation by Miguel Hagenfeldt of the paper entitled “Autonomous GNC/IP for Approach and Hovering of irregular small bodies”, on behalf of the Elecnor Deimos WP5 Team.



NEOShield-2 Agent Spain – Asteroid Day 2017

By Maksym Abramov, NEOShield-2 Agent in Spain

On the 30th June 2017, I organized a workshop about NEOs, Meteoroids, Asteroids, and Comets. It was to commemorate Asteroid Day and it was about past impact events, the threat from space and our answer to that threat. The event took place at the Avanza Educational Center in Granada, in Spain and target students from all courses.

Asteroid Day 2017 Agent Spain

First part

The workshop was divided in two parts. After a brief introduction, the first part got started, where I talked about mass extinction events on Earth in the past based on historical registers, such as the crater Chicxulub, and about the Chelyabinsk event, which have better coverage because of the amount of data that actually exists for our disposal thanks to recently expeditions to that places. I also talked about impact craters, how to distinguish them from volcanic craters, how they appear and what shapes and types exist, as well as their structure.

Group activity

Closing the first part, it was offered a brief in group activity supported by Deimos (NEOShield-2 project member), who prepared a set of images from their satellite database. There were two groups of pictures – one with real impacts craters and other with volcanic craters and geological structures which appeared as craters. The participants were asked to find the real impact craters. It was a funny activity, people were intrigued and I received very positive feedback.

Second part

In this part I explained which initiatives and programs we as community (UNOOSA) elaborate to protect the Earth and what the NEOShield-2 project does for that common mission. I talked about strategies and the different techniques of mitigation measures associated to asteroids and comets threat. I also explained the purpose, differentiation and value of NEOTωIST as an necessary and important space demo mission to acquire more knowledge and scientific data about asteroids and how we can defend our planet from possible hazardous NEAs.

Asteroid Day 2017 Agent Spain

Later on, I briefly talked about the space missions to asteroids and comets in the past and present. I also talked about the near future of space exploration and exploitation of resources, which could be contained within hundreds of asteroids already identified as potentially rich in high value metals or indeed in the thousands of asteroids in existence whose composition has yet to be confirmed.

And for the end of the workshop, we made a brief excursion on culture background and the participants could see asteroids in literature, movies, and videogames. I delivered some pins, stickers, cards, and flyers from the NEOShield-2 project and people were gladly surprised.

In sum, people liked the new information they received and I liked this experience which I never had before. I am looking forward to my next workshops!


NEOShield-2 Note:

The NEOShield-2 team is very glad to have Maksym on board and very proud of his effort and commitment to the cause. We are looking forward to his future events in Spain.