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NASA Satellite Snaps First Image of Target Asteroid

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the shake-it-like-a-polaroid-picture dept.

NASA 57

coondoggie writes "NASA today said that its Dawn spacecraft snapped the first image of the giant asteroid Vesta it hopes to rendezvous with in July. The asteroid is 530 kilometers in diameter, and appears as a small, bright pearl against a background of stars. Vesta is known as a protoplanet, because it is a large body that almost formed into a planet. It's the second most massive object in the asteroid belt, NASA says."

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Push the asteroid at the earth plz k thx bye (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36095248)

I really hope that NASA pushes the asteroid towards the earth instead of away from it.

I'm sick of going to work every fucking day.

Re:Push the asteroid at the earth plz k thx bye (1)

thePig (964303) | more than 3 years ago | (#36096340)

Talking about asteroid impacts, this is just a question which had popped up in my head. Just thought this will be the best place to get the answer –
I am not an astronomer. So my question below might contain a lot of factual errors and foolishness. But I had this doubt for a long time, which I wanted to solve.

For avoiding asteroid impact – is the following method thought out and discarded?

Keep a pretty big satellite circling (or nearby) the earth. Make it the fastest man made object – if possible even faster than Solar Probe + , by using gravity assists. Now, suppose we find that an asteroid is going to hit the earth, get this satellite to impact the asteroid and nudge it out of position so that it doesnt hit earth.

The advantage of this option is:
1. The satellite is always on standby – so if it is required, we can use it in a short notice (1 year range)
2. The more the time we have – i.e. if the asteroid is going to hit us in say 50 years, more slingshot runs we could do and due to gravity assists so that we can increase the speed to a very huge value
3. The faster it is, the less mass it need be – say a satellite weighing 10 ton and say moving at 200 km/s should be able to nudge a moderate size asteroid –
Comparison:
Asteroid Diameter: 100 m
Asteroid size: approx 10^6 ton – speed 10 km/s
Satellite: size: approx 10 ton – speed 200 km/s
Energy ratio ~= 250 : 1
If, say, we find the asteroid when it is at around 100 Million kms from earth (at least 6 months prior to collision)
This looks good enough to nudge the asteroid enough to avoid collision – from my non-scientific viewpoint. Am I completely wrong here?
Since we usually find asteroids in such time and distances, what are the pitfalls here?

Re:Push the asteroid at the earth plz k thx bye (1)

midicase (902333) | more than 3 years ago | (#36096532)

"Keep a pretty big satellite"

Philip J Fry suggested trash.

Re:Push the asteroid at the earth plz k thx bye (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 3 years ago | (#36096792)

If it was about the energy ratio, you'd be right, but the energy ratio isn't relevant. Alas, it's about momentum, and momentum scales linearly with velocity. This makes the whole thing impractical. Assuming:

- the satellite's path would intersect the asteroid path at right angle,
- the satellite would embed itself in the asteroid

Then, in SI units, the velocity of the compound object is (10E9*[10E3 0] + 10E3*[0 200E3])/(10E9+10E3) = [9.9999 0.002]*1E3 m/s.
The total system would gain a 2m/s motion component in the direction of the satellite's path. Since Earth is about 12.8E6 m in diameter, it'd take about 6E6 seconds to clear Earth -- that's 70 days

Of course we're ignoring the gravitational pull of Earth, so we'd really have to move the asteroid at least a few Earth diameters out. So half a year is cutting it close I'd say.

Alas, your asteroid mass could be off by a bunch of orders of magnitude. The K-T "dino killer" chondrite is estimated at 10E3m in diameter, and I presume its density is about 3ton/m^3. The volume is 5E11m^3, thus mass is 1.5E12 tons. So your mass estimation is off by 6 orders of magnitude. This makes the "clearing maneouver" take proportionally longer -- on the order of a hundred thousand years.

Re:Push the asteroid at the earth plz k thx bye (1)

thePig (964303) | more than 3 years ago | (#36097022)

Actually, I was calculating momentum - not energy ratio - if you check the result of calculations I had mentioned (100 M to 10 M kms distance). But, I agree that my post was misleading since I mentioned energy ratio and not momentum specifically.

Also, for dino-killer I dont think any impact option is feasible at all - other than the hovering spacecraft idea. But the probability of dino killer is pretty low, compared to the 100m asteroid. So, I was considering for moderate asteroid impacts (torino scale - 8/9).

I was just wondering whether it is possible for such impacts?

Re:Push the asteroid at the earth plz k thx bye (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099566)

You're making a (common) incorrect assumption: that the change in velocity you impart maps linearly to a change in distance in the future.

When trying to avoid an impact, the best approach is to shift the phase (the location within the largely fixed orbital path) so that the intersection with the orbit of the Earth occurs either a little before we get there, or a little after. Thus most of the time you're either pushing or pulling in the velocity direction (changing the period ever so slightly).

The thing about the orbit phase, though, is that its incredibly sensitive to anything you might to do the orbit, particularly when you start talking about multiple revolutions. Slight period shifts compound and build up, and a small change leads to a much larger changes later (much larger than distance = velocity*time would suggest). As you might imagine, this can prove to be a huge advantage for any mitigation plan that has a good lead time (10-20 years). Thus while the 70 days estimate is probably decent, most serious mitigation plans focus on early detection so that we can take advantage of gravity to help us out.

Re:Push the asteroid at the earth plz k thx bye (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 3 years ago | (#36101722)

Very informative. I'll run some numbers to see whether phase shifting would work in a short-term scenario (6 months advance warning).

Re:Push the asteroid at the earth plz k thx bye (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 3 years ago | (#36096876)

Whether speed or mass, the energy a satellite can convey will have to be put into it, nothing comes for free.

Solar sails are an example of a space craft using energy that does not need to be carried from earth but regrettably their power is very limited at the distance from the sun where you could possibly still nudge an asteroid.

Re:Push the asteroid at the earth plz k thx bye (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36097322)

Need not be. Check out gravity assists.

Re:Push the asteroid at the earth plz k thx bye (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#36097656)

Nothing comes for free, even in a gravity assist. Every Newton Second of momentum gained by the craft is a Newton Second lost by the planet or moon giving the gravity assist. Nothing comes for free. The real question is who pays.

answer (1)

chronoss2010 (1825454) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098646)

A) impacts are not desired cause if say its a large asteroid and breaks into 4 parts of say 150meters in size thats 4 impacts at different parts of earth that will cause serious damage instead of one giant one ....this is why that isnt what we want. B) were not really concerned with 200m asteroids but ones larger that 200meter one we could blow up to tiny 30 meter rocks that burn up or are so small as to be no impact. think 400-500meter world enders also if you dont know the composition of said asteroid you might only break a smal piece away and you could alter the course to be even worse then you wanted. WHATS a better idea is to send a craft with a rocket or serious of them and nudge it to alter the course right into the sun ....

Re:Push the asteroid at the earth plz k thx bye (1)

TigerNut (718742) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099890)

Ummm... orbital velocity is inversely proportional to its altitude above the earth. For LEO stuff, it's about 17,000 MPH (sorry about the units). If you want a faster velocity, you have to orbit lower, and then atmospheric drag would take it out within a few orbits. The moon's tangential velocity, relative to the earth, is only about 2700 km/h (or 1700 MPH).

Um taco, do you know what a satellite is? (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 3 years ago | (#36096660)

Dear Taco, Satellites orbit things, Items on transfer orbits would almost by definition not be a satellite.

Re:Um taco, do you know what a satellite is? (1)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 3 years ago | (#36097086)

It's probably still orbiting the sun, but yeah I wouldn't necessarily call it a satellite.

The Official NASA Release (5, Informative)

RockClimbingFool (692426) | more than 3 years ago | (#36095266)

Come on, Network World for a NASA news release? Ridiculous.

Here [nasa.gov] is the actual NASA press release.

WHY DON'T THEY TAKE A PICTURE OF MALNOURISHED GHET (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36095416)

Why don't they take a picture of malnourished ghetto kids and post it at the entrance to every building, force it to be the desktop background and put it up on their website. Oh yeah, their PhD's who are above all that nonsense, working for the good of mankind, so those kids can go suck rocks.

Re:The Official NASA Release (3, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 3 years ago | (#36095430)

Yeah, I'm getting pretty tired of random blogs "reporting" stories they steal from a major outlet and getting credited by Slashdot as the source, scoring a huge number of hits for their plaigiarism, and not infrequently, misrepresenting the story into the bargain..

Re:The Official NASA Release (0)

RockClimbingFool (692426) | more than 3 years ago | (#36095482)

Slashdot used to be news for nerds, but lately it seems like it just pimps out either editor's friends blogs, or other sites that may be giving Slashdot kick backs.

If that is Slashdot's new business model, so be it. They should at least be upfront about it though.

Re:The Official NASA Release (0)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36095718)

Fark goes this way now too, especially in the Politics and Showbiz tabs.

My pet peeve are the same headlines and links that go from Digg to Reddit to Fark, usually about 6-8 hours later.

Re:The Official NASA Release (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36095770)

Just lazy submitters who copy/paste the link of wherever they read the story first.

Re:The Official NASA Release (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36097230)

Look at the email address for the submitter of this story - he's from network world. That kind of self-submission is not uncommon on slashdot, unfortunately.

Though in a sense we have only ourselves to blame - the firehose is open to the users now, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if there are a lot of stores where the only person who bothered to submit was someone who worked for the site - ie maybe there was no usable submission for this story from anyone except this network world douche.

What would you do? Mod your self down? (0)

bobs666 (146801) | more than 3 years ago | (#36096952)

Lets say you write a WEblog, on an article you saw on NASA's site. You want people to see it sure, you post it on /. Great, we all get to see some stuff about the Asteroid.

NASA seems to not be all into the promotion thing. So its not going out of its way to post this on /.

So I ask you, Did you liked seeing the info about the asteroid on /. ? If not just move on. If you like it you should be thanking coondoggie for posting his WEblog. He posted the NASA link in the first few lines of the article. SO we get both A link on /. and a link to the NASA source.

So you see CmdrTaco also the right thing! If he bypassed coondoggie then there would be no reason for coondoggie to post to /. in the first point.

When I e-mail friends about stuff I see on /. I send the /. link. I do not by pass it. One of my friends replys to all, "Oh, I get it here is the link" and he sends the by pass link. Do you see?

PS. I have mod points, I did not use'em. I wanted to tell you about your error. So I saved your karma. Did I do the right thing?

Re:What would you do? Mod your self down? (0)

RockClimbingFool (692426) | more than 3 years ago | (#36097992)

Well lets take a closer look at this submission.

1.) The first sentence "NASA today said that its Dawn spacecraft snapped the first image of the giant asteroid Vesta it hopes to rendezvous with in July.", with an embedded hyperlink, seems to indicate that what I click on should bring me to a NASA web page. It doesn't. The link goes to a blog.

2.) The official NASA news release could have been easily embedded into the summary. It wasn't and that wasn't an accident. It is to force a click thru and generate the submitter revenue.

3.) The submitter is the writer of the blog, self pimpage if you will. This site used to be a community that posted links to interesting articles they have come across in their web surfing. This isn't a reader submitting an article, this is a blog writer trying to drive traffic to his site.

Re:What would you do? Mod your self down? (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 3 years ago | (#36102494)

NASA seems to not be all into the promotion thing. So its not going out of its way to post this on /.

Bullshit. NASA has a huge website and sends out press releases to the media.

So I ask you, Did you liked seeing the info about the asteroid on /. ? If not just move on. If you like it you should be thanking coondoggie for posting his WEblog. He posted the NASA link in the first few lines of the article. SO we get both A link on /. and a link to the NASA source.

Coodoggie is a parasitic plaigiarist. He's using NASA's content and adding his own ads, then whoring for hits here. His submission had no links to the NASA story, only his own blog. And he DID NOT provide a link to NASA in his submission. In his blog he steals not only NASA's story, but hotlinks their images.

So you see CmdrTaco also the right thing!

He did, finally, after seeing the comments here. If you look now, besides correcting the typo in the headline "NASAsatellite" (from Coodoggie's submission) NASA's page is now linked directly.

When I e-mail friends about stuff I see on /. I send the /. link. I do not by pass it.

If I was your friend (not likely, I guess) I'd sigh at you sending me to a page which had a link to a blog which had a copy of a story from a real site. After a while I'd just ignore your posts. You don't need to credit every asshole who mentions an article. Just go to the source.

Re:The Official NASA Release (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36095704)

Am I wrong in my belief that most Slashdot articles are from a registered member's journal? If I'm right, then it seems only honest to mention the actual source that turned you on to the news. Even so, I'd much prefer an additional link to the original source.

Re:The Official NASA Release (0)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098940)

Yeah, I'm getting pretty tired of random blogs "reporting" stories they steal from a major outlet and getting credited by Slashdot as the source, scoring a huge number of hits for their plaigiarism, and not infrequently, misrepresenting the story into the bargain..

Not that I necessarily disagree with the overall sentiment, but it has to be pointed out they can't be both plagiarizing the story and misrepresenting the story (in that case, they're merely misrepresenting their own part in its creation). If they're misrepresenting it, they must be reporting on it rather than simply copying it, since the copy would be the story itself, and thus couldn't be a misrepresentation of it. At least something original must be being added by them in order for it to be a misrepresentation of what the story said.

Re:The Official NASA Release (1)

xTEMPLARx (178099) | more than 3 years ago | (#36096112)

You TELL'em, Steve Dave!

next destination after Vesta (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36095362)

It's next rendezvous after Vesta is an asteroid called Wendows-7.

Photoshoped (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36095446)

This is obviously Photoshop. I mean if it were real we should see a 5% whiter pixel in the top left.

Re:Photoshoped (1)

jarlsberg71 (953227) | more than 3 years ago | (#36105970)

I would give my birth certificate for a mod point for you.

The Asteroid Field (1)

MikeMacK (788889) | more than 3 years ago | (#36095612)

I think my eyes are getting better. Instead of a big dark blur, I see a big bright blur.

Error in title (2)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 3 years ago | (#36095630)

The title reads, "NASAsatellite Snaps First Image of Target Asteroid".

Is this a SATELLITE or a SPACECRAFT? If it's not orbiting anything, it's not really a satellite.

And, of course, it's missing a space (no pun intended) between NASA and Satellite.

Re:Error in title (4, Insightful)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 3 years ago | (#36095746)

Its currently orbiting the sun, and will be entering orbit around Vesta during its science phase, so it is technically a satellite.

Still, generally at JPL we use spacecraft (or just s/c) since a satellite could also refer to a natural body.

Re:Error in title (1)

Cochonou (576531) | more than 3 years ago | (#36095914)

Probe is also a name often used in the industry for such spacecrafts.

ax a stupid question... (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#36096150)

Is this a SATELLITE or a SPACECRAFT? If it's not orbiting anything, it's not really a satellite.

It's orbiting the Sun .

Re:Error in title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36096482)

The title reads, "NASAsatellite Snaps First Image of Target Asteroid".

Is this a SATELLITE or a SPACECRAFT? If it's not orbiting anything, it's not really a satellite.

And, of course, it's missing a space (no pun intended) between NASA and Satellite.

From the second sentence of the article on NASA.gov:

Dawn is expected to achieve orbit around Vesta on July 16, when the asteroid is about 188 million kilometers (117 million miles) from Earth.

Re:Error in title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36096974)

The title reads, "NASAsatellite Snaps First Image of Target Asteroid".

Is this a SATELLITE or a SPACECRAFT? If it's not orbiting anything, it's not really a satellite.

And, of course, it's missing a space (no pun intended) between NASA and Satellite.

From the second sentence of the article on NASA.gov:

Dawn is expected to achieve orbit around Vesta on July 16, when the asteroid is about 188 million kilometers (117 million miles) from Earth.

OK, so it WILL be a satellite. What is it now?

Re:Error in title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36097290)

OK, so it WILL be a satellite. What is it now?

It is what it is, no matter where it is, just like most other things.

Re:Error in title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36102174)

so it's a hunk of debris?

Chinese not allowed to view (2)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 3 years ago | (#36095880)

Dear Chinese Friends,

You are prohibited from viewing this image.

Thank you,

NASA

Pshaw. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36096092)

Call me when they get to Ceres.

Vespa (1)

DaPhil (811162) | more than 3 years ago | (#36096222)

"I am Princess Vespa, daughter of Roland, King of the Druids!"

Maybe they'll find a space camper on that rock?

Oblig (-1, Offtopic)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36096240)

'That's no moon.'

In case of slashdotting . . . (1)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | more than 3 years ago | (#36096540)

. . . here's a low-bandwidth version: o

Waste of pixels! (1)

surveyork (1505897) | more than 3 years ago | (#36097190)

Here is a low bandwidth and pixel-efficient version: .

Almost a planet? (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 3 years ago | (#36096582)

A large body that almost formed into a planet? Pluto has more than twice the diameter (i.e. eight times the volume) and is still no planet.

NASA (1)

Laurey09 (2142350) | more than 3 years ago | (#36096790)

Why are chinese not allowed to view, i think that is quite bad.

That satellite isn't even shielded (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#36097416)

How are they supposed to protect it from mynocks chewing on the power couplings?

Marooned? (2)

boristdog (133725) | more than 3 years ago | (#36097922)

I hope the satellite doesn't get Marooned Off Vesta.

No prince. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36098780)

I guess at that distance, you can't yet see the little French prince standing on it.

Marooned Off Vesta (1)

BlueShirt (919167) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099376)

Isaac Asimov's first sale was Marooned Off Vesta [asimovreviews.net] .

I, for one, would welcome having the mission commemorate him somehow.

The good doctor (0)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099476)

Isaac Asimov wrote a short story called Marooned off Vesta

Better watch out for those Chigs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36101170)

Didn't we learn our lesson the first time we tried to colonize Vesta and Telus?

8bit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36101416)

It does seem unnatural to have a giant 8bit blob flying our way.. or any where in space. It's like that game asteroids.

www.happyshopping100.com (-1, Offtopic)

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