Hayabusa 2 Proposed for Launch in 2014

Dec 06

Following the first Hayabusa mission that launched in 2003, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced that Hayabusa 2 is planned for launch in 2014. The JAXA Hayabusa missions aim to land the spacecraft on an asteroid and bring sample material back to Earth. The first Hayabusa mission landed on S-type asteroid Itokawa. The selected asteroid for Hayabusa 2 is C-type asteroid 1999 JU3. 

Image: JAXA

The Hayabusa

Gaia set for launch on 19th December

Dec 03

The Gaia telescope will be launched later this month to create, for the first time, an extraordinarily precise three-dimensional map of our Galaxy and beyond. It will measure the positions, distances, space motions, and many physical characteristics of some one billion stars in our Galaxy. The observational data will be detailed to 20th magnitude. 

While surveying the stars in our Galaxy, Gaia will also be observing, amongst others, solar system objects by the thousands, including

Did comet ISON survive? Maybe

Nov 29

Comets are notorious for being unpredictable – seems like comet ISON is no exception. On its closest approach to the Sun on 28th November 2013, comet ISON was first thought to have disintegrated and therefore not have survived. However, new observations suggest that a small part of comet ISON’s nucleus may still be intact. 

On Thanksgiving Day, scientists were observing if comet ISON frizzled as it grazed the Sun at a close 0.0124 AU (1.86

“Asteroid Quakes” – Mars is shaking up NEOs too

Nov 22

Scientists have long observed that the surfaces of most asteroids appear redder than meteorites. In 2010, a professor of planetary sciences at MIT, Richard Binzel, offered an explanation. Cosmic radiation changes the chemical nature of asteroid surface turning them red over time while Earth’s gravitational effect on asteroids is causing “asteroid quakes” that changes the surface of asteroids. This is consequently referred to as “refreshed” asteroids. In a recently published paper, scientists found that planet