NASA Video Shows Thousands Of Asteroids Swirling Around The Sun

Posted: Apr 28 2018, 12:20am CDT | by , in Latest Science News

 

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NASA Video Shows Thousands of Asteroids Swirling around the Sun
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/PSI

The animation depicts data collected by the telescope over its four-year survey of the solar system

NASA's Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) has released its fourth year of survey data with many more asteroids and near-Earth objects orbiting around sun. Since the start of its operation, the spacecraft has identified a total of 29,375 celestial objects. Of those, 788 were near-Earth objects and 136 were comets.

NEOWISE is a space mission that hunts for asteroids and comets and gathers data on their size and composition. The mission was launched in December 2009 as the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer or WISE. The primary mission surveyed the sky in infrared and detected asteroids, stars and some of the faintest galaxies in space until 2011. After a period of hibernation, the mission was repurposed as NEOWISE in December 2013 and continues to observe and characterize asteroids, comets and near-Earth object that come dangerously close to our planet and pose a potential threat. Since then NEOWISE has discovered tens of thousands of asteroids whose orbit brings them too close to the Earth, meaning they could hit our planet. These objects have been classified as potentially hazardous asteroids, based on their size and orbit.

"NEOWISE continues to expand our catalog and knowledge of these elusive and important objects," said Amy Mainzer, NEOWISE principal investigator from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "In total, NEOWISE has now characterized sizes and reflectivities of over 1,300 near-Earth objects since the spacecraft was launched, offering an invaluable resource for understanding the physical properties of this population, and studying what they are made of and where they have come from."

The NEOWISE team has also released an animation depicting four years of data collected by the mission. In the video, the Earth orbit is shown in teal color, while blue symbolizes the orbits of Mercury, Venus and Mars. Green dots in video represent near-Earth objects and grey dots are other asteroids which mostly reside in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Yellow dots represent comets.

NEOWISE has captured 2.5 million infrared images of the sky in the fourth year of its survey. Combined with all previous years, the data contains approximately 10.3 million sets of images. The data is now available to the public.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.

 

 

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