Top Science Stories This Week

Posted: Nov 5 2016, 4:41pm CDT | by , in News

 
Top Science Stories This Week
Credit: ESA

Asteroids that Pose a Threat to Earth are Now Over 15,000

Asteroids and comets that come too close to the Earth and can potentially collide with it have now reached a new milestone.

According to NASA, more than 15,000 near-Earth objects have been discovered so far and still the counting is not over. Most of these potentially hazardous objects are detected by Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona and the Pan-STARRS project in Hawaii.

The 15,000th near-Earth object is small asteroid called 2016 TB57 which had made its closest approach to the Earth at the end of last month. The milestone also marks a 50 percent increase in the number of known NEAs since 2013 when 10,000th near-Earth object was discovered.

Moon’s Weird Orbit is Caused by Violent, Vaporizing Event

Earth’s moon is an unusual object. It orbits far away from our planet, creating a weird tilt. A new research suggests that moon’s violent and explosive history might have been responsible for this.

The moon was formed when Earth collided with a Mars-sized rock call Theia. That giant impact likely had an effect on Earth as well. It sent Earth spinning much faster, and at a much steeper tilt. Several billion years after the impact, things have changed a lot and eventually they resulted in the Earth-moon system that we see today.

Saturn’s Rings System may be Created from the Remnants of Dwarf Planets

Japanese researchers claim to solve the mystery of Saturn’s rings system.

Based on the results of computer simulations, researchers theorize that around 4 billion years ago gas giants of our solar system - Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune - underwent a migration. Their strong tidal forces drew many dwarf objects out of Kuiper Belt and they were got destroyed when they strayed too close to the giant planets.

That close encounter created tiny pieces that made up the rings of Saturn as well as Uranus and Neptune. When researchers combined the estimated mass of the broken pieces, they found that it was ufficient to explain the mass of current rings around Saturn and Uranus.

Curiosity Rover Spots Strange Metal Meteorite on Mars Surface

NASA’s Curiosity rover has discovered an odd-looking metal meteorite on Mars’ surface.

Dubbed Egg Rock, the meteorite has an ovoid shape and is made of iron and nickel. The meteorite was first noticed in images taken by Curiosity’s Mast Camera. Then, an instrument called ChemCam was used to take close-up images of the strange meteorite, which also provided an opportunity to understand its chemical composition.

Egg Rock is not the first meteorite found on Martian surface but it’s certainly different from the past meteorites due to its more melted appearance. Such iron-nickel meteorites are commonly found in Earth as well but the recent meteorite on Mars could represent a different population of asteroids than Earth. It can also reveal the changes Mars has experienced over the time.

Study Reveals How Much We are Contributing to Arctic Ice Melt

The rapid decline of Arctic sea ice is one of the most obvious signs of the ongoing climate change. Over the past 40 years, the Arctic ice cover has shrunk by more than half. The remaining half could also disappear soon unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced rapidly.

New study gives a sense of how damaging impact an individual is having on Arctic ice melt. An average American melts nearly 50 square meters each year with its everyday activities. This is devastating but study also shows that any measure taken to mitigate CO2 emissions will directly slow down the ongoing loss of Arctic summer sea ice.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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