A 1,110-foot-wide asteroid named for the Egyptian god of chaos will fly past Earth in 2029 within the distance of some orbiting spacecraft, according to reports. As we've written, there are a load of asteroids we haven't discovered, and potential inaccuracies in the data that scientists have already collected.
After 10 years, an asteroid called Apophis, with a diameter of 340 meters, will approach 31,000 kilometers from Earth, Sabah reported. It is largely made up of minerals like olivine and pyroxene and follows an orbital path that crosses Earth's orbit and then swings out beyond it past the orbit of Mars. This asteroid has two main lobes resembling a pair of rubble pile loosely held together by mutual gravity. Itokawa is part of a more massive asteroid that is 12 miles wide.
The parent body suffered several large shocks from impacts, with one final shattering event that broke it apart.
Itokawa, having been in its current state for 8 million years, has been subject to multiple impacts, shocks and fragmentation.
"It was a privilege that the Japanese space agency JAXA was willing to share five particles from Itokawa with a US investigator", said Maitrayee Bose, a co-author on the paper.
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"We found the samples we examined were enriched in water compared to the average for inner solar system objects", said Dr. Ziliang Jin, lead author of the study. The probe returned to Earth in 2010, and the samples have been analyzed ever since.
To figure out if asteroids like Itokawa were the source of water on Earth, we looked at the ratio of two forms - or isotopes - of hydrogen: hydrogen and deuterium.
Our results support the idea that several Itokawa-like bodies may have collided with the proto-Earth and provided water. Bose and Jin suspected that the Itokawa particles might also have traces of water, but they wanted to know exactly how much. These minerals are also similar to those found on Earth. But the discovery of even these amounts of water with the correct isotope signature means that asteroids like it that struck the Earth could have provided more than half of Earth's oceans.
"These exercises have really helped us in the planetary defense community to understand what our colleagues on the disaster management side need to know", NASA's Planetary Defense Officer Lindley Johnson said in a statement.
"Apophis is a representative of about 2,000 now known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs)", Paul Chodas, Director of JPL's CNEOS, said.