The mission is NASA’s first to retrieve a sample from the surface of an asteroid.
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft made its historic touchdown on asteroid Bennu Tuesday, retrieving a sample from the space rock that will be returned to Earth.
OSIRIS-REx reached the surface of Bennu at 6:11 p.m. EDT in a mission that NASA says will help unlock the secrets of the solar system. The “tag” or sample collection, was complete at 6:11 p.m. EDT and the spacecraft left the asteroid’s surface.
The Lockheed Martin-built van-sized spacecraft successfully reached a tennis court-sized crater named Nightingale. Boulders as big as buildings loomed over the touchdown zone. OSIRIS-REx used a robotic arm to grab the sample from Bennu, which is about 200 million miles from Earth.
“This is history, this is amazing,” said Dante Lauretta, Professor of Planetary Science and Cosmochemistry at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, and OSIRIS-REx Principal Investigator, just after touchdown. “It’s almost hard to process, everything that’s happening right now.”
The mission is NASA’s first to retrieve a sample from the surface of an asteroid.
This illustration shows NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft descending towards asteroid Bennu to collect a sample of the asteroid’s surface. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)
OSIRIS-REx will also provide information that could help protect our planet from a possible collision with Bennu.
Bennu is about as tall as the Empire State Building, and could potentially threaten Earth in the next century, according to NASA. “Bennu has a 1:2700 chance of impacting Earth in the late 2100s, but this mission will also help us learn more about protecting ourselves if necessary,” the agency explains on its website.
OSIRIS-REx, which stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer, launched in September 2016 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The spacecraft reached Bennu in December 2018.
The craft is scheduled to depart Bennu next year and will deliver the asteroid sample to Earth on Sep. 24, 2023.
NASA recently revealed that parts of another asteroid, Vesta, have been spotted on the surface of Bennu.
In April 2019, Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft successfully “bombed” asteroid Ryugu in the name of scientific research.
Earlier in 2019, Hayabusa2 briefly touched down onto Ryugu and fired a scientific research “bullet” into the space rock.
NASA is predicting it will give the Earth a very close shave the day before the presidential election. And while it is not being sent by a “Higher” or evenly “Heavenly Power” smiting us for either reelecting President Donald J. Trump or the prospect of a President Joe Biden, it is a warning we should take extremely seriously.
Worried about COVID-19, the environment, jobs, immigration, terrorism, health care, crime or the cost of education? An asteroid hit will erase all of those worries and quite possibly, all of us.
This is but the latest in an escalating series of asteroid close-calls and fly-bys. Sooner or later – it is the way of the cosmos – one won’t miss. Until that life-destroying impact, the only protection the Earth has at the moment is pure dumb luck.
A direct hit by an even a relatively “small” asteroid could destroy a city, a state or a region. And yet, we continue to basically ignore this threat. Why?
Generally, because asteroids are not seen as a tangible vote-getter for most politicians, a ratings-winner for much of the media, or even a multi-million-dollar government-grant producer for many scientists.
But an asteroid screaming toward Earth with a minuscule chance of impact hours before the election between Trump and Biden? Cue the clicks.
The asteroid named 2018VP1 is estimated to only be about 7 feet in length. Even if it did manage to impact the Earth, all or most of it would burn up in the atmosphere. But again, that is all part of the “dumb-luck” strategy.
Less than two weeks ago, on Aug. 15, an asteroid the size of an automobile missed the Earth by about 1,800 miles. Not only was it completely undetected, but it was the closest call we have ever had without being impacted.
What’s the big deal?
Well, according to NASA, there are about 25,000 of these near-Earth asteroids from 6 to 460 feet wide. With only 8,000 of them detected. Worse, NASA believes there are tens of millions of these 33 to 65 feet in diameter asteroids zooming around undiscovered within 30 million miles of Earth.
To put it into terms everyone could understand, last year NASA simulated a 200-foot asteroid slamming into New York City. Their study concluded it would have hit New York with 1,000 times the destructive force of the nuclear weapon dropped on Hiroshima in World War II and instantly killed upwards of 1.3 million people.
That’s the “big deal.”
Humanity must spread out into the solar system to increase its chance of survival.
For a real-life example of the destructive force from a “small” asteroid, we only have to look at what happened to Siberia on June 30, 1908, when an asteroid less than 150 feet across exploded in the air. It leveled more than 80 million trees and laid waste to an area roughly twice the size of New York City.
Last year in a major study – mostly ignored by our leaders – from Johns Hopkins titled: “Breaking up is hard to do. Asteroids are stronger, harder to destroy than previously thought,” the scientists warned, “It is only a matter of time before these questions go from being academic to defining our response to a major threat.”
All of which begs the question: What are our realistic responses to this major threat?
NASA’s Planetary Science Advisory Committee is now rightfully shifting much of its attention to asteroid detection and deflection. Next year, it will launch the “Double Asteroid Redirection Test” (DART). The goal of this planetary defense mission is to collide with a tiny moon orbiting the near-Earth asteroid “Didymos” to test a technique to deflect its orbit.
That’s better than nothing but any real defense of our planet is still years to decades away and everyone at NASA and within our government knows that.
So then what?
The late professor Stephen Hawking rightfully stressed: “I believe that life on Earth is at an ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster. … I think the human race has no future if it doesn’t go into space.”
Hawking specifically singled out asteroids as a major threat to our existence.
At the moment, the eggs holding all of humanity are in the Earth basket. The United States, Russia and China are now looking to establish bases on the Moon before looking toward Mars.
If anything, we must accelerate those plans. Humanity must spread out into the solar system to increase its chance of survival.
The “Election Day” asteroid is putting an exclamation point on that terrifying reality. Time to focus.
While most people – believers and sceptics alike – almost certainly imagine space travel and aliens when they hear the term UFO, there are many other theories on offer. Might these strange sightings be of time-travellers for example instead of aliens? Might they be nothing more than “phantom” sightings – some type of “rip” in space time that allows us to peek into the future or the distant past?
One particularly interesting alternative theory is that what we are actually witnessing are visitations from another dimension, as opposed to from another planet.
UFO entering a portal
In June 2016 a story appeared online that appeared to show a UFO entering a portal before completely disappearing into it. The event was captured on video and from start to finish lasted less than sixty seconds. A low rumbling sound is also audible throughout the recording.
You can check out the original video posting of this alleged incident below.
Declassified FBI Document Speaks Of “Inter-Dimensional” Beings
There have been many declassified FBI documents relating to UFO activity, and at least one refers to “beings” from another dimension to ours.
What is interesting about the document is that it is dated 8th July 1947 – the same date as the Roswell UFO incident. The document writer acknowledges that the claims made within it are likely to be ignored, but the fact that they are put in front of the FBI in order to investigate is intriguing enough.
Cover page of the FBI UFO Section 1 document.
Perhaps one of the key parts of the declassified paper is the nine bullet points that highlight key information regarding “a very serious situation that may develop at any time with regard to the “flying saucers”. These can be found on page 22 of the declassified file in question. In full these bullet points read:
Part of their disks carry crews, others are under remote control
Their mission is peaceful. The visitors contemplate settling on this planet.
These visitors are human-like but much larger in size.
They are NOT excarnate earth people, but come from their own world.
They do NOT come from any “planet” as we use the word, but from an etheric planet which interpenetrates with our own and is not perceptible to us.
The bodies of the visitors, and the craft, automatically materialize on entering the vibratory rate of our dense matter.
The disks possess a type of radiant energy or ray, which will easily disintergrate any attacking ship. They re-enter the etheric at will, and so simply disappear from our vision without trace.
The region from which they come is not the “astral plane”, but corresponds to the Lokas or Talas. Students of osoteric matters will understand these terms.
They probably can not be reached by radio, but probably can be by radar, if a signal system can be devised for that (apparatus).
The idea that these UFOs are not travelling through space to get here, but simply materializing in to our plain of perception upon hitting the “vibratory rate” is one that has been theorised before this document was made public.
Myrtle Beach, S.C., is the No. 1 place in the country to spot an alien and with the lowest median home price
The Department of Defense announces the creation of a new UFO task force, which will analyze the nature and origin of ‘unidentified aerial phenomena’; insight from Nick Pope, UFO expert and former U.K. Ministry of Defense official.
For those hoping to see a UFO in the U.S., a research firm has compiled a list of the 10 best locations in the country for UFO enthusiasts to buy a home.
National real estate marketplace ISoldMyHouse.com has revealed that Myrtle Beach, S.C., is the No. 1 place in the country to spot an alien and with the lowest median home price, just under $168,000. Other cities in the top three are Columbus, Ohio. ($174,109) and Philadelphia, Pa., with a median home price of $187,772.
“Whether you’re scientifically minded or not, the topic of aliens is one that fascinates a lot of people all over the world,” Kris Lippi, owner of ISoldMyHouse.com, said in a statement. “It’s also a topic that excites a lot of people so I’m happy to be able to provide this sort of information for those who want to or have turned their interest in the extraterrestrial into a passion.”
The Southwest is also prominently featured on the list, with Houston, Texas; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Phoenix, Tuscon and Mesa, Ariz., also on the list.
The firm, which used data from the National UFO Reporting Center, noted that each of these cities has had “at least” 27 reported UFO sightings and some with more than 100.
The research was conducted after a separate survey revealed that more than half of the country believes in extraterrestrial beings and nearly one-third think they have visited our planet.
In February, a separate research firm revealed 61% of survey respondents want the U.S. government to declassify the country’s so-called X-files and 58% said they believe the government “actively investigates extraterrestrial life.”
In a September 2019 Gallup poll, Americans said they are becoming increasingly skeptical of UFOs but think the government knows more than it is letting on.
2020 has been a banner year for UFO discussion in the U.S., as more news comes out of Washington.
In August, the Pentagon announced the establishment of a new task force to investigate reports of “unidentified aerial phenomenon.” The task force was established after the U.S. Navy publicly released videos from the mid-2000s that reenergized the discussion.
In September, the National UFO Reporting Center said UFO spottings were up 51% year-over-year, topping 5,000 incidents.
They were developed more than 40 years ago and then almost forgotten but now Nuclear Rockets are set to make a comeback and possibly provide the fastest way to get around our solar system to date. Here look at their history and how they could be used in the next decade or so.
NTRs have been proposed as a spacecraft propulsion technology, with the earliest ground tests occurring in 1955. The US maintained an NTR development program through 1973, when it was shut down to focus on Space Shuttle development. Although more than ten reactors of varying power output have been built and tested, as of 2019, no nuclear thermal rocket has flown.
Whereas all early applications for nuclear thermal rocket propulsion used fission processes, research in the 2010s has moved to fusion approaches. The Direct Fusion Drive project at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is one such example, although “energy positive fusion has remained elusive”. In 2019, the US Congress approved US$125 million in development funding for nuclear thermal propulsion rockets.
Satellite-tracking company LeoLabs on Wednesday said the defunct objects could come within 39 feet of each other and that there was a 10% chance that they could still collide around 8:56 p.m. ET. The company deemed the potential crash to be a “very high risk.”
“This event continues to be very high risk and will likely stay this way through the time of closest approach,” LeoLabs tweeted.
Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said the two objects were a defunct Soviet navigation satellite called Parus [Kosmos 2004] that launched in 1989 and a Chinese rocket stage.
As of Tuesday, the objects — with a mass of roughly three metric tons — were in low-Earth orbit at an altitude of around 615 miles, LeoLabs said.
Because the objects are located high above the ground, they don’t pose a risk to anyone on earth. However, a crash could cause more debris to orbit the earth, which could increase the risk of future collisions.
The debris could also threaten astronauts.
“If this turns into a collision, it’s probably thousands to tens of thousands of new pieces of debris that is going to cause a headache for any satellite that’s going out into upper low-Earth orbit, or even beyond,” said Dan Ceperley, the CEO of LeoLabs, according to Business Insider. “It’s maybe a much bigger problem than a lot of people realize.”
As of February this year, there are 128 million debris objects in orbit, according to the European Space Agency. Roughly 34,000 of those objects are greater than 10 cm.
The astoundingly complex LHC “atom smasher” at the CERN center in Geneva, Switzerland, are fired up to its maximum energy levels ever in an endeavor to identify – or perhaps generate – tiny black holes.
If successful a very new universe is going to be exposed – modifying completely not only the physics books but the philosophy books too.
It is even probable that gravity from our own universe may “transfer” into this parallel universe, researchers at the LHC say. The experiment is assured to accentuate alarmist critics of the LHC, many of whom initially warned the high energy particle collider would start the top of our universe with the making a part of its own. But up to now Geneva stays intact and securely outside the event horizon.
No doubt the LHC has been outstandingly successful. First researchers proved the existence of the mysterious Higgs boson “God particle” – a key building block of the cosmos – and it’s seemingly well on the thanks to revealing ‘dark matter’ – a previously untraceable theoretical prospect that’s now believed to form up the foremost of matter within the universe. But next week’s experimentation is reflected to be a game-changer. Mir Faizal, one in every of the three-strong group of physicists behind this experiment, said: “Just as many parallel sheets of paper, which are two-dimensional objects [breadth and length] can exist during a dimension [height], parallel universes can even exist in higher dimensions.”
“We predict that gravity can leak into extra dimensions, and if it does, then miniature black holes are produced at the LHC. Normally, when people consider the multiverse, they think about the many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics, where every possibility is actualized. This can not be tested so it’s a philosophy and not science. this is often not what we mean by parallel universes. What we mean is real universes in extra dimensions. “As gravity can effuse of our universe into the additional dimensions, such a model may be tested by the detection of mini black holes at the LHC.”
“We have calculated the energy at which we expect to detect these mini black holes in ‘gravity’s rainbow’ [a new scientific theory].”
“If we do detect mini black holes at this energy, then we are going to know that both gravity’s rainbow and additional dimensions are correct.”
When the LHC is fired up the energy is calculated in Tera electron volts – a TeV is 1,000,000,000,000, or one trillion, electron Volts. Up to now, the LHC has sought for mini black holes at energy levels below 5.3 TeV. But the foremost recent study says this is often too low.
Instead, the model forecasts that black holes might form at energy levels of no but 9.5 TeV in six dimensions and 11.9 TeV in 10 dimensions.
The president replied, ‘Well, I’m gonna have to check on that’
In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, President Trump said he would take a “good, strong look” at whether UFOs exist.
“Sunday Morning Futures” host Maria Bartiromo asked Trump point-blank whether the objects exist, to which the president replied, “Well, I’m gonna have to check on that. I mean, I’ve heard that. I heard that two days ago, so I’ll check on that. I’ll take a good, strong look at that.”
In June, the president’s son Donald Trump Jr. asked his father if he would let us know if there are aliens, adding it’s “the only thing I really want to know” and if he would ever “open up Roswell and let us know what’s going on there.”
“So many people ask me that question,” the president told his son at the time. “There are millions and millions of people that want to go there, that want to see it. I won’t talk to you about what I know about it but it’s very interesting. But Roswell is a very interesting place with a lot of people that would like to know what’s going on.”
When pressed further about declassifying information about Roswell, the president said, “I’ll have to think about that one.”
President Trump had expressed skepticism of the existence of UFOs in previous interviews.
The Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force was launched by Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist, boosting an effort by the Office of Naval Intelligence, officials said.
It’s not yet clear how this new task force relates to the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), Nick Pope, a former employee and UFO investigator for Britain’s Ministry of Defense, told Fox News over the summer. Pope cited “former defense officials” with the group who were involved in work relating to UFOs.
The creation of the task force follows inquiries from lawmakers about the subject. In June, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, instructed the director of national intelligence, the secretary of defense and other agency heads to compile data on “unidentified aerial phenomenon.”
“The Committee remains concerned that there is no unified, comprehensive process within the federal government for collecting and analyzing intelligence on unidentified aerial phenomena, despite the potential threat,” lawmakers wrote in a report.
“The Committee understands that the relevant intelligence may be sensitive; nevertheless, the Committee finds that the information sharing and coordination across the Intelligence Community has been inconsistent, and this issue has lacked attention from senior leaders,” they added.
In July, the New York Times reported that a small group of government officials, including Reid, and scientists believe objects of “undetermined origin” have crashed to Earth and been retrieved. The publication cited Eric W. Davis, an astrophysicist who worked as a subcontractor and a consultant for the Pentagon UFO program. Davis, who now works for defense contractor Aerospace Corporation, said he gave briefings on the recovery of unexplained objects to staff members of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee, on Oct. 21 and Oct. 23, 2019.
In April, the Pentagon officially released videos of “unidentified aerial phenomena,” known as “FLIR1,” “Gimbal” and “GoFast,” previously captured by Navy aircraft. The footage had circulated in the public for years. They were originally released to the New York Times and to The Stars Academy of Arts & Science, headed by Blink-182 co-founder Tom DeLonge.
After the videos were released publicly, DeLonge said “UFOs are real” in a since-deleted tweet.
The first video of the unidentified object was taken on Nov. 14, 2004, and shot by the F-18’s gun camera. The second video was shot on Jan. 21, 2015, and shows another aerial vehicle with pilots commenting on how strange it is.
The third video was also taken on Jan. 21, 2015, but it is unclear whether the third video was of the same object or a different one.
Seven months prior, in September 2019, the U.S. Navy first acknowledged the videos contained unidentified objects, specifically using “unidentified aerial phenomena” terminology.
Fake asteroid? NASA expert IDs mystery object as old rocket
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The jig may be up for an “asteroid” that’s expected to get nabbed by Earth’s gravity and become a mini-moon next month.
Instead of a cosmic rock, the newly discovered object appears to be an old rocket from a failed moon-landing mission 54 years ago that’s finally making its way back home, according to NASA’s leading asteroid expert. Observations should help nail its identity.
“I’m pretty jazzed about this,” Paul Chodas told The Associated Press. “It’s been a hobby of mine to find one of these and draw such a link, and I’ve been doing it for decades now.”
Chodas speculates that asteroid 2020 SO, as it is formally known, is actually the Centaur upper rocket stage that successfully propelled NASA’s Surveyor 2 lander to the moon in 1966 before it was discarded. The lander ended up crashing into the moon after one of its thrusters failed to ignite on the way there. The rocket, meanwhile, swept past the moon and into orbit around the sun as intended junk, never to be seen again — until perhaps now.
A telescope in Hawaii last month discovered the mystery object heading our way while doing a search intended to protect our planet from doomsday rocks. The object promptly was added to the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center’s tally of asteroids and comets found in our solar system, just 5,000 shy of the 1 million mark.
What caught Chodas’ attention is that its near-circular orbit around the sun is quite similar to Earth’s — unusual for an asteroid.
“Flag number one,” said Chodas, who is director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
The object is also in the same plane as Earth, not tilted above or below, another red flag. Asteroids usually zip by at odd angles. Lastly, it’s approaching Earth at 1,500 mph (2,400 kph), slow by asteroid standards.
As the object gets closer, astronomers should be able to better chart its orbit and determine how much it’s pushed around by the radiation and thermal effects of sunlight. If it’s an old Centaur — essentially a light empty can — it will move differently than a heavy space rock less susceptible to outside forces.
That’s how astronomers normally differentiate between asteroids and space junk like abandoned rocket parts, since both appear merely as moving dots in the sky. There likely are dozens of fake asteroids out there, but their motions are too imprecise or jumbled to confirm their artificial identity, said Chodas.
Sometimes it’s the other way around.
A mystery object in 1991, for example, was determined by Chodas and others to be a regular asteroid rather than debris, even though its orbit around the sun resembled Earth’s.
Even more exciting, Chodas in 2002 found what he believes was the leftover Saturn V third stage from 1969′s Apollo 12, the second moon landing by NASA astronauts. He acknowledges the evidence was circumstantial, given the object’s chaotic one-year orbit around Earth. It never was designated as an asteroid, and left Earth’s orbit in 2003.
The latest object’s route is direct and much more stable, bolstering his theory.
“I could be wrong on this. I don’t want to appear overly confident,” Chodas said. “But it’s the first time, in my view, that all the pieces fit together with an actual known launch.”
Asteroid hunter Carrie Nugent of Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Massachusetts, said Chodas’ conclusion is “a good one” based on solid evidence. She’s the author of the 2017 book “Asteroid Hunters.”
“Some more data would be useful so we can know for sure,” she said in an email. “Asteroid hunters from around the world will continue to watch this object to get that data. I’m excited to see how this develops!”
The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics’ Jonathan McDowell noted there have been “many, many embarrassing incidents of objects in deep orbit … getting provisional asteroid designations for a few days before it was realized they were artificial.”
It’s seldom clear-cut.
Last year, a British amateur astronomer, Nick Howes, announced that an asteroid in solar orbit was likely the abandoned lunar module from NASA’s Apollo 10, a rehearsal for the Apollo 11 moon landing. While this object is likely artificial, Chodas and others are skeptical of the connection.
Skepticism is good, Howes wrote in an email. “It hopefully will lead to more observations when it’s next in our neck of the woods” in the late 2030s.
Chodas’ latest target of interest was passed by Earth in their respective laps around the sun in 1984 and 2002. But it was too dim to see from 5 million miles (8 million kilometers) away, he said.
He predicts the object will spend about four months circling Earth once it’s captured in mid-November, before shooting back out into its own orbit around the sun next March.
Chodas doubts the object will slam into Earth — “at least not this time around.”
“This is the first direct confirmation of a planet detected by the radial velocity method,” said Dr. Sylvestre Lacour, an astronomer at Observatoire de Paris and ESO and leader of the ExoGRAVITY observing program.
“We used GRAVITY before to obtain spectra of other directly imaged exoplanets, which themselves already contained hints on their formation process,” said Dr. Paul Molliere, a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy.
“The brightness measurement of Beta Pictoris c, combined with its mass, is a particularly important step to constraining our planet formation models.”
“It is amazing, what level of detail and sensitivity we can achieve with GRAVITY,” said Dr. Frank Eisenhauer, an astronomer at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics and lead scientist of the GRAVITY project.
“We are just starting to explore stunning new worlds, from the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy to planets outside the Solar System.”
The race to the riches of asteroids is on, with several private companies vying for funding to become the first space miners. Andrew Glester digs into the issues involved in making money from asteroids
“I’ll make a prediction right now. The first trillionaire will be made in space.”
So said Texas senator Ted Cruz, shortly after a bill was signed to increase NASA’s budget for 2018. To untrained ears, his claim would have sounded extraordinary. It might even have stretched credulity for those familiar with the challenges of space. But on closer inspection, Cruz was not being that revolutionary. Peter Diamandis – founder of the X Prize competition to encourage tech developments – made the same prediction back in 2008 and expanded on the theme in his 2015 book Bold. As for how those trillionaires will make their riches from space, both he and Neil DeGrasse Tyson – the US astrophysicist and TV host – reckon it will be done by mining asteroids.
Progress is already under way. The first asteroid company, Planetary Resources, was founded in 2012 by Diamandis, Chris Lewicki and others in Washington. Within a year the US company Deep Space Industries was set up by Rick Tumlinson, Stephen Cover and a host of others. A handful more firms have since been established, and while some are admittedly are less serious than others, the race to the riches of space is on.
Despite the existence of such firms and Cruz’s declaration, however, Donald Trump’s 2018 NASA budget cancelled the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), which planned to bring an asteroid into an orbit around Earth where it could be studied and mined a lot more easily than one in the asteroid belt. A NASA spokesperson told me the ARM team is ensuring that the key knowledge from the mission so far is not lost, but NASA pulling out has left the asteroid-mining community without a valuable learning tool and places asteroid mining firmly in the realm of the private space sector.
Nevertheless, the investment bank Goldman Sachs has reassured its clients about the financial benefits of investing in asteroid-mining companies. “The psychological barrier to mining asteroids is high, the actual financial and technological barriers are far lower,” it said in a report published last year. A Caltech study put the cost of an asteroid-mining mission at $2.6bn – perhaps not surprisingly the same estimated cost of NASA’s erstwhile ARM. It might sound a lot, but a rare-earth-metal mine has comparable set-up costs of up to $1bn and a football-field-sized asteroid could contain as much as $50bn of platinum.
There are, however, potentially major challenges for anyone wanting to mine such an asteroid. How do you get it back to Earth through the atmosphere and land it without destroying the planet? Who do you sell it to in space if you can’t get it back to Earth? And even if you can bring it to Earth, all of a sudden platinum is no longer rare. Given that common metals aren’t as expensive as rare metals, will mining an asteroid really be worth it?
Metals and water
Scientists have studied asteroids using ground-based telescopes and space missions – such as NASA’s Galileo and Dawn crafts – which together have gathered close-up imagery and data. Perhaps the most important data came from Japan’s Hayabusa, which in 2010 became the first spacecraft to have landed on an asteroid and successfully returned home with samples. These studies have revealed that there are two types of asteroids of interest to the mining community.
The first are achondrites, which are rich in platinum group metals (ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium and platinum). These precious metals gravitate to the cores of planets as they form, meaning that they are very deep down on Earth. In the turbulent early solar system, however, some burgeoning planets were smashed to pieces in collisions and became some of the achondrite asteroids that may provide a treasure trove for today’s space miners.
The other asteroids of interest are chondrites. They are perhaps the more immediately valuable, being rich in water. Astronauts need this vital resource not only as a drink and to hydrate food, but also because it is a very efficient radiation shield. Water will be precious for the Moon bases and hotels promised by today’s space entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk (founder of SpaceX) and Jeff Bezos (founder of Blue Origin).
But water is heavy and therefore expensive to launch out of the Earth’s atmosphere. Indeed, it costs between $9000 and $43,000 to send a water bottle into space – which is why it is all recycled on the International Space Station. However, Hubble images of the largest known asteroid, Ceres, suggest that it could hold more water than our planet. Smaller asteroids hold lots too and a technique known as optical mining would use the heat from the Sun to bake the water out of the rock.
The elements of water can also be used for rocket fuel. Asteroid miners are already planning to split the water from chondrites into hydrogen and oxygen, which would serve as fuel and oxidizer respectively. They are hoping to set up fuel stations in low-Earth orbit and the asteroid belt so that spacecraft can fill up on their way to the outer planets of the solar system. Currently, around 90% of the weight of modern rockets is taken up with fuel, so if you can carry less fuel on take-off because you can fill up off-Earth, space flight becomes much cheaper.
Within our reach
But how many asteroids are potential mining hotspots? Martin Elvis, a Harvard University astrophysicist with an interest in asteroid mining, developed an equation in 2013 to estimate the number of asteroids that might be potential mining candidates with our current technology. The equation accounts for the number of asteroids within reach of today’s rocket ships, the likelihood of them being worth mining, whether it is practically feasible to mine them, and whether they would yield a profit. When he first ran the numbers back in 2013, Elvis estimated that around 10 potentially metal-rich asteroids, and 18 sufficiently water-rich, lie within our grasp.
SpaceX’s development of increasingly powerful rockets has bolstered the hopes of asteroid miners because it means we can travel further into space. But Elvis told me that recent press reports claiming he thought the successful Falcon Heavylaunch on 6 February had burst open the sky to potential asteroids were wide of the mark. “I made the remark at a conference in Texas recently and the press missed off the word ‘might’, but the truth is that I haven’t run the numbers yet. We need more data before I can run the numbers again, but a wild guess might be that this new fleet of heavy rockets could increase the numbers by a factor of 10.”
Elvis was not just referring to Falcon Heavy either. Blue Origin’s New Glen rocket and, in the longer term, the New Armstrong rocket can all be added to the mix when Elvis next runs his equation. Yet even though the SpaceX rockets are boosting the hopes of asteroid miners who could one day provide his explorers with fuel and raw materials, Musk does not seem convinced. In fact, in 2003 he called asteroid mining “bogus” and, at least publicly, has not updated that view.
Amara Graps, an astrophysicist who organizes the bi-annual Asteroid Science Intersections with In-Space Mine Engineering Conference (ASIME) and founded the Latvian initiative Baltics in Space, is more optimistic. “Elon will come around. He’s a clever guy and he’s surrounded by clever people. He’ll get there but I don’t know how to reach him to sell it to him.” Half the delegates at the most recent ASIME conference, which took place in Luxembourg in April, came from asteroid-mining companies, with the rest being asteroid scientists. Indeed, Graps believes the interface between scientists and business people is essential. The asteroid scientists’ role is to provide scientific support to the companies; addressing some of the companies’ largest asteroid science questions.
Need riches to get rich
Asteroid companies have one major cash-flow issue: if there are riches in space, the miners are reliant on faithful funders to get them there in the first place. That’s why Graps believes communication is key. “Everyone is struggling in their own way,” she says. “So it helps if we can talk to each other. And share. And use our own resources more efficiently.”
Before any company reaches an asteroid, they’ll have to fill that gap in their finances with other revenue streams. The business model for asteroid-mining companies is therefore currently much more Earth-bound. Planetary Resources, for example, which uses its expertise for mining here on Earth, is still reliant on wealthy bankers. Indeed, after missing a funding milestone last year, the company laid off many of its 70 employees. Asteroid-mining companies need to convince potential funders that the claims of untold riches in space are believable and achievable.
But rather than just targeting wealthy investors, Mitch Hunter-Scullion, chief executive of the UK-based Asteroid Mining Corporation, has taken a different tack. He’s turned to crowdfunding for his first asteroid-prospecting mission, which he hopes to fire into space in 2020. “We’re launching APS-1 [Asteroid Prospecting Satellite 1] from India, because it is orders of magnitude cheaper than elsewhere,” he says. “We’re aiming to raise £2.6m through crowdfunding, which, in space terms, is not too overwhelming.” That may be true, but £2.6m will still require a lot of backing from the public for what, to many people, seems like a distant dream. If they do manage to raise the funds, he then plans to sell the data they own to raise more revenue.READ MORERocket for rocketeers
A boost for public interest might not be too far away. Although NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission has been cancelled, its OSIRIS-Rex sample-return mission to asteroid 101955 Bennu left Earth in September 2016, before Trump took office. It will reach Bennu in December this year and then return a sample to Earth in 2023. Asteroid miners will be watching closely, just as they did when Rosetta landed on 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko…and then bounced along its surface.
“We knew a lot about the composition of the comet but that was still a surprise,” Graps tells me. “We need more science before we land on an asteroid to mine it. You don’t want to be bouncing off.”
Graps believes that the asteroid-mining community was distracted by the wrong thing to begin with. “I think [they] wasted time focusing on the metal-rich asteroids,” she says. Her view is shared by Planetary Resources, which puts the platinum-rich asteroids in its second wave of targets. They believe you’re better off targeting chondrites as they have water, which will be your revenue stream in the near future. You mine the water, you own the rocket fuel stations in low-Earth orbit, on the Moon and on the way to deep space. Whether it will make anyone a trillionaire is another question, however. You can use the heat of the Sun to bake the water out of the asteroid but you then need to stop it sublimating off into space. None of this is particularly cheap and you need the spacecraft to come along relatively frequently to keep your revenue streams buoyant. As Elvis says, “In space, no-one can hear you sell.”
How to be a trillionaire
Legally, nobody can own an asteroid, but the US Space Act of 2015 allows companies to own the materials they mine from bodies in space. Luxembourg passed similar laws last year and Hunter-Scullion tells me he is lobbying the UK government to follow suit. Graps is hopeful Latvia will join the party too. In fact, the country that gets the laws right might just win the most lucrative business in space. After all, if your space-mining company is making billions of pounds in space, the money will, for the foreseeable future, be spent on Earth.
There are fabulously wealthy and intelligent people who claim that they will become trillionaires from asteroid mining. Personally, I find it easier to imagine the tidal wave as their asteroid splashes down into the ocean, and the price of platinum dropping through the floor as it becomes suddenly and abundantly available. A future where the metals, rock and water that we mine in space are used in space feels more achievable. Whether that happens soon enough to make the investors of today rich is, I imagine, their big gamble. Elvis for one is convinced that asteroid mining will take place in our lifetime and gave me a top tip on how to become a space millionaire. “It’s relatively easy,” he says. “You just start with a billion.”
A new map of the moon has uncovered a trove of areas rich in precious titanium ore, with some lunar rocks harboring 10 times as much of the stuff as rocks here on Earth do.
The map, which combined observations in visible and ultraviolet wavelengths, revealed the valuable titanium deposits. These findings could shed light on some of the mysteries of the lunar interior, and could also lay the groundwork for future mining on the moon, researchers said.
“Looking up at the moon, its surface appears painted with shades of grey — at least to the human eye,” Mark Robinson, of Arizona State University, said in a statement. “The maria appear reddish in some places and blue in others. Although subtle, these color variations tell us important things about the chemistry and evolution of the lunar surface. They indicate the titanium and iron abundance, as well as the maturity of a lunar soil.”
The results of the study were presented Friday (Oct. 7) at the joint meeting of the European Planetary Science Congress and the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences in Nantes, France.
Mapping the lunar surface
The map of the moon’s surface was constructed using data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which has been circling the moon since June 2009. The probe’s wide angle camera snapped pictures of the surface in seven different wavelengths at different resolutions.
Since specific minerals strongly reflect or absorb different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, LRO’s instruments were able to give scientists a clearer picture of the chemical composition of the moon’s surface.
Robinson and his colleagues stitched together a mosaic using roughly 4,000 images that had been collected by the spacecraft over one month.
The researchers scanned the lunar surface and compared the brightness in the range of wavelengths from ultraviolet to visible light, picking out areas that are abundant in titanium. The scientists then cross-referenced their findings with lunar samples that were brought back to Earth from NASA’s Apollo flights and the Russian Luna missions.
These titanium-rich areas on the moon puzzled the researchers. The highest abundance of titanium in similar rocks on Earth hovers around 1 percent or less, the scientists explained. The new map shows that these troves of titanium on the moon range from about 1 percent to a little more than 10 percent.
“We still don’t really understand why we find much higher abundances of titanium on the moon compared to similar types of rocks on Earth,” Robinson said. “What the lunar titanium-richness does tell us is something about the conditions inside the moon shortly after it formed, knowledge that geochemists value for understanding the evolution of the moon.”
Valuable titanium ore
Titanium on the moon is primarily found in the mineral ilmenite, a compound that contains iron, titanium and oxygen. If humans one day mine on the moon, they could break down ilmenite to separate these elements.
Furthermore, Apollo data indicated that titanium-rich minerals are more efficient at retaining solar wind particles, such as helium and hydrogen. These gases would likely be vital resources in the construction of lunar colonies and for exploration of the moon, the researchers said. [Lunar Legacy: 45 Apollo Moon Mission Photos]
“Astronauts will want to visit places with both high scientific value and a high potential for resources that can be used to support exploration activities,” Robinson said. “Areas with high titanium provide both — a pathway to understanding the interior of the moon and potential mining resources.”
The lunar map also shows how space weather changes the surface of the moon. Charged particles from solar wind and micrometeorite impacts can change the moon’s surface materials, pulverizing rock into a fine powder and altering the chemical composition of the lunar surface.
“One of the exciting discoveries we’ve made is that the effects of weathering show up much more quickly in ultraviolet than in visible or infrared wavelengths,” study co-author Brett Denevi, of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., said in a statement. “In the [Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera] ultraviolet mosaics, even craters that we thought were very young appear relatively mature. Only small, very recently formed craters show up as fresh regolith exposed on the surface.”
In September 2019, a separate group of researchers suggested Venus was once habitable
Pieces of Venus, which scientists recently said showed signs of potential life in its clouds, could actually live on the moon, according to a new study.
The research, which has been accepted by the Planetary Science Journal, said the second planet in the solar system could have sent “as many as 10 billion rocks” into space after impacts from asteroids and comets. These rocks may have ultimately intersected with Earth and the moon.
“Some of these rocks will eventually land on the moon as Venusian meteorites,” said the study’s lead author, Samuel Cabot, a Yale graduate student, in a statement.
It’s likely that these impacts happen “every hundred million years or so,” the statement added but were more frequent billions of years ago.
“The moon offers safe keeping for these ancient rocks,” Cabot explained. “Anything from Venus that landed on Earth is probably buried very deep, due to geological activity. These rocks would be much better preserved on the moon.”
Venus, which has been called “Earth’s evil twin,” has an extremely harsh climate, with a surface temperature of 864 degrees Fahrenheit. Researchers are still learning a great deal about its past, and any fragments that live on the moon could provide a wealth of information, Yale University astronomer and study co-author Gregory Laughlin said.
“An ancient fragment of Venus would contain a wealth of information,” Laughlin explained. “Venus’ history is closely tied to important topics in planetary science, including the past influx of asteroids and comets, atmospheric histories of the inner planets, and the abundance of liquid water.”
In September 2019, a separate group of researchers suggested Venus was once habitable, with stable temperatures and was home to “liquid water” for 2 to 3 billion years. Eventually, a “dramatic transformation” started happening more than 700 million years ago that completely reshaped the planet and resurfaced approximately 80% of it.
It’s likely too hot to support life, but NASA has recently said that it intends to explore the planet. In late 2019, the space agency said it was working on a stingray-like spacecraft to explore the planet.
In July, researchers revealed that Venus has nearly 40 active volcanoes on its surface. It has more volcanoes than any other celestial body in the solar system.
Separately in July, a number of researchers argued that going to the second planet in the solar system could have benefits for a manned mission to Mars.
The planets, which may have conditions suited to host life, could be older, warmer, larger and wetter than Earth
Earth may be the only planet that we know of that supports life, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best one for it.
A new study, published in the scientific journal Astrobiology, has identified 24 potentially “superhabitable” planets that may have conditions more suited to host life. They could be slightly older than the Earth (4.5 billion years old), “a little larger, slightly warmer and possibly wetter.” They may also orbit stars with longer lifespans than the sun, the researchers found.
“With the next space telescopes coming up, we will get more information, so it is important to select some targets,” Washington State University scientist Dirk Schulze-Makuch said in a statement obtained by Fox News. “We have to focus on certain planets that have the most promising conditions for complex life. However, we have to be careful to not get stuck looking for a second Earth because there could be planets that might be more suitable for life than ours.”
The major criteria the researchers looked at to determine the exoplanets are as follows:
Reside within the habitable zone — defined as the area around a star where a planet could support liquid water.
Have cooler G stars (the sun is a G star) or K dwarf stars.
Is up to 10% larger than Earth.
Could have a surface temperature of approximately 5 degrees Celsius greater than Earth.
The 24 exoplanets are more than 100 light-years from Earth, but could be identified by future space telescopes, such as NASA’s James Web Space Telescope, the researchers added. A light-year, which measures distance in space, is approximately 6 trillion miles.
In July, Fox News reported that the launch of the James Webb Telescope originally scheduled for March 2021 was pushed back to Oct. 31, 2021, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Among the 24 exoplanets, none of them meet all of the criteria to be “superhabitable,” but one of them has four of the characteristics, signaling it may indeed be more suited for life than Earth.
“It’s sometimes difficult to convey this principle of superhabitable planets because we think we have the best planet,” added Schulze-Makuch, who is also a researcher at the Technical University in Berlin. “We have a great number of complex and diverse lifeforms, and many that can survive in extreme environments. It is good to have adaptable life, but that doesn’t mean that we have the best of everything.”
More than 4,500 exoplanets have been discovered by NASA in total, approximately 50 of which were believed to potentially be habitable as of September 2018. They have the right size and the right orbit of their star to support surface water and, at least theoretically, to support life.
Since the discovery of the telescope, astronomers have made huge steps into understanding the origin of the known cosmos, however, even after so many years, we are finding things in deep space that no one has seen before.
Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) will soon celebrate 20 years of continuous ham radio operations on the International Space Station (ISS). NASA is commemorating the milestone with a newly produced infographic highlighting the educational contacts via amateur radio between astronaut crew members aboard the ISS and students. Over its 20 years, ARISS has supported nearly 1,400 scheduled ham radio contacts with schools, student groups, and other organizations.
Planning for ARISS began in 1996 as a cooperative venture among national amateur radio and amateur satellite societies, with support from their respective space agencies. The ARISS ham radio gear actually arrived on the station before the Expedition 1 crew, headed by Commander Bill Shepherd, KD5GSL. The FCC issued ham radio call sign NA1SS for ISS operations. After Expedition 1 arrived on station, some initial tests with ARISS ham radio ground stations and individual hams confirmed the ham gear was working properly. The first ARISS school contact was made with students at Luther Burbank Elementary School in Illinois on December 21, 2000, with Shepherd at the helm of NA1SS on the ISS, and ARISS operations team mentor Charlie Sufana, AJ9N, guiding the operation on the ground.
NASA produced a video of students talking with astronaut Chris Cassidy, KF5KDR, during an ARISS contact in May 2020.
Before and during scheduled ham radio contacts, students, educators, parents, and communities learn about space and related technologies, and radio communication using amateur radio. ARISS has inspired thousands of students, promoting exploration through educational experiences spanning science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics.
ARISS relies on a large network of amateur radio operator volunteers, many associated with radio clubs in the communities where students and groups participating in the contact reside. ARISS volunteers support satellite ground stations, serve as technical mentors, and provide additional help in the areas of education, community outreach, and public relations.
While student-to-astronaut radio contacts are a primary objective for ARISS, the capability has also inspired further experimentation for amateur radio in space and evaluation of new technologies. In September, ARISS announced that the initial element of its next-generation ham radio system had been installed in the ISS Columbus module. The new radio system replaces equipment originally certified for spaceflight in mid-2000. The onboard ham station also provides a contingency communications system for the ISS crew. Several astronauts have also enjoyed using NA1SS to make casual contacts with — and delighting — earthbound members of the ham radio community.
In the US, ARISS sponsors include ARRL, AMSAT, and NASA, the ISS National Lab-Space Station Explorers, and NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation program. Global organizing partners include International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) member-societies as well as AMSAT organizations, and space agencies in Canada, Europe, Russia, Japan, and elsewhere.
The next proposal window for US schools and educational organizations to host an amateur radio contact with a crew member on board the ISS opened on October 1 for contacts that would take place from July through December 2021.
Like many educators who have coordinated ARISS radio contacts for their students, teacher Rita Wright, KC9CDL, an ARRL member, described the first ARISS school contact as inspirational and having a lasting impact on their community. Five months after their contact, nearly 500 students greeted Bill Shepherd when he visited Luther Burbank School. Wright said it was “like tossing a pebble into a stream.”
“The ripple effects are still occurring, and I suspect will continue to occur for a long time,” she said. “We have a young staff, and witnessing these events has inspired some to look for other interdisciplinary projects. They are beginning their dream. Many of our students are looking forward to careers associated with the space industry.”
The research notes the ‘pi planet’ known as K2-315b is relatively close to Earth at 186 light-years away
A newly discovered exoplanet the size of Earth has one very peculiar characteristic — it orbits its star every 3.14 Earth days.
The research, published in The Astronomical Journal, notes the “pi planet” known as K2-315b is relatively close to Earth at 186 light-years away. A light-year, which measures distance in space, equals 6 trillion miles.
“The planet moves like clockwork,” the study’s lead author, MIT researcher Prajwal Niraula, said in a statement.
Scientists at MIT and elsewhere have discovered an Earth-sized planet that zips around its star every 3.14 days. (Credit: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle, Christine Daniloff, MIT)
Exoplanet K2-315b was discovered in 2017 thanks to NASA’s Kepler telescope, but it wasn’t until this year that its orbit was confirmed via telescopes on Earth.
“Everyone needs a bit of fun these days,” co-author Julien de Wit added.
It’s believed that K2-315b is approximately 95% the size of Earth. It’s also believed to be terrestrial, or rocky, like Earth, but given its close proximity to the star, it’s likely not habitable with a surface temperature approaching 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
“This would be too hot to be habitable in the common understanding of the phrase,” Niraula added.
Additional research is needed to look into K2-315b and could be “a promising candidate to follow up with” using the James Webb Space Telescope.
“There will be more interesting planets in the future, just in time for JWST, a telescope designed to probe the atmosphere of these alien worlds,” Niraula explained. “With better algorithms, hopefully one day, we can look for smaller planets, even as small as Mars.”
In July, Fox News reported that the launch of the James Webb Telescope originally scheduled for March 2021 was pushed back to Oct. 31, 2021, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 4,000 exoplanets have been discovered by NASA in total, approximately 50 of which were believed to potentially be habitable as of September 2018. They have the right size and the right orbit of their star to support surface water and, at least theoretically, to support life.
The U.S. military aims to get a nuclear thermal rocket up and running, to boost its ability to monitor the goings-on in Earth-moon space.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) just awarded a $14 million task order to Gryphon Technologies, a company in Washington, D.C., that provides engineering and technical solutions to national security organizations.ADVERTISING
The money will support DARPA’s Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) program, whose main goal is to demonstrate a nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) system in Earth orbit.
NTP systems use fission reactors to heat propellants such as hydrogen to extreme temperatures, then eject the gas through nozzles to create thrust. This tech boasts a thrust-to-weight ratio about 10,000 times higher than that of electric propulsion systems and a specific impulse, or propellant efficiency, two to five times that of traditional chemical rockets, DARPA officials wrote in a description of the DRACO program.
Such improvements in propulsion technology are needed for “maintaining space domain awareness in cislunar space — the volume of space between the Earth and the moon,” the DRACO description reads.
Gryphon will work to help make this vision a reality, using the newly awarded $14 million.
“We are proud to support DRACO and the development and demonstration of NTP, a significant technological advancement in efforts to achieve cislunar space awareness,” Gryphon CEO P.J. Braden said in a statement.
DARPA is not alone in seeing great promise in NTP systems. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has lauded the technology’s potential for crewed Mars exploration, for example, noting that NTP-powered spacecraft could get astronauts to the Red Planet in just three to four months — about half the time needed with traditional chemical rockets.
Astronomers using the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope at CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory have tracked four mysterious blasts of cosmic radio waves back to their home galaxies; all four came from the outer regions of massive galaxies with moderate star-formation rates, ruling out central supermassive black holes and cosmic strings as a source.
Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are enigmatic and rarely detected bursts of energy that come from far beyond our Milky Way Galaxy.
Lasting several milliseconds, they were first detected at the Parkes radio telescope by Australian astronomers Duncan Lorimer and David Narkevic in 2007.
Scientists estimate that there are between 2,000 and 10,000 FRBs occurring in the sky every day.
They emit as much energy in one millisecond as the Sun emits in 10,000 years, but the processes that cause them are unknown.
Using a specially designed transient detector on ASKAP, CSIRO astronomer Shivani Bhandari and colleagues found the exact location of four new fast radio bursts: FRB 180924, FRB 181112, FRB 190102 and FRB 190608.
Follow-up observations with the Gemini South, ESO’s Very Large Telescope, Magellan Baade, Keck, and LCOGT-1m telescopes imaged and found the distances to the host galaxies.
“Major advances for other transient events have been made by studying their home galaxies,” said Dr. J. Xavier Prochaska, an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
“We are optimistic that studies like ours will be just as vital.”
The astronomers found FRB 180924, FRB 181112, FRB 190102 and FRB 190608 came from massive galaxies that are forming new stars at a modest rate, very similar to the Milky Way.
All four new FRBs lie in the outskirts of their galaxies, which appears to rule out the progenitor models that involve active galactic nuclei (i.e. accreting supermassive black holes located in the center of galaxies) or free-floating cosmic strings.
“These precisely localized fast radio bursts came from the outskirts of their home galaxies, removing the possibility that they have anything to do with supermassive black holes,” Dr. Bhandari said.
“These fast radio bursts could not have come from a superluminous stellar explosion, or from cosmic strings,” said CSIRO’s Professor Elaine Sadler.
“Models such as mergers of compact objects like white dwarfs or neutron stars, or flares from magnetars created by such mergers, are still looking good.”
“Positioning the sources of fast radio bursts is a huge technical achievement, and moves the field on enormously,” said Dr. Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, an astrophysicist from Northern Ireland who co-discovered the first radio pulsars in 1967.
“We may not yet be clear exactly what is going on, but now, at last, options are being ruled out. This is a highly significant paper, thoroughly researched and well written.”
The findings were published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Shivani Bhandari et al. 2020. The Host Galaxies and Progenitors of Fast Radio Bursts Localized with the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder. ApJL 895, L37; doi: 10.3847/2041-8213/ab672e