|Can we really detect any asteroids in space with accuracy and do we have any real means of destroying it?||Yes, we can detect new asteroids when they are still in space. Every night dozens of new asteroids are found, including a few that can come close to the Earth.|
|Regarding the second part of the question, the goal would be to deflect them more than destroy them, and it is technologically possible. The Hera/DART mission currently being developed by ESA and NASA will demonstrate exactly this capability.|
|I always wanted to ask: what is worse for life on Earth - to be hit by a single coalesced asteroid chunk, or to be hit by a multiple smaller pieces of exploded asteroid, aka disrupted rubble pile scenario?||DVK: This is difficult to answer. If the rubble is small (centimetres to meters) it is better to have lots of small ones – they’d create nice bright meteors. If the rubble pieces are tens of meters it doesn’t help.|
|Let’s say that hypothetically, an asteroid the size of Rhode Island is coming at us, it will be a direct hit - you’ve had the resources and funding you need, your plan is fully in place, everything you’ve wanted you got. The asteroid will hit in 10 years, what do you do?||DVK: I had to look up how big Rhode Island is – a bit larger than the German Bundesland ‘Saarland’. Ok – this would correspond to an object about 60 km in diameter, right? That’s quite big – we would need a lot of rocket launches, this would be extremely difficult. I would pray. The good news is that we are quite convinced that we know all objects larger than just a few kilometers which come close to our planet. None of them is on a collision course, so we are safe.|
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|Why are you quite convinced that you know all object of that size? And what is your approach in finding new celestial bodies?||DVK: There was a scientific study done over a few years (published in Icarus 2018, search for Granvik) where they modelled how many objects there are out there. They compared this to the observations we have with the telescopic surveys. This gives us the expected numbers shown here on our infographic: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2018/06/Asteroid_danger_explained|
|There are additional studies to estimate the ‘completeness’ – and we think that we know everything above roughly a few km in size.|
|To find new objects, we use survey telescopes that scan the night sky every night. The two major ones are Catalina and Pan-STARRS, funded by NASA. ESA is developing the so-called Flyeye telescope to add to this effort https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2017/02/Flyeye_telescope.|
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|Thanks for the answer, that's really interesting! It's also funny that the fist Flyeye deployed is in Sicily, at less than 100km from me, I really had no idea||DVK: Indeed, that's cool. Maybe you can go and visit it one day.|
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|What about Interstellar objects however, like Oumuamua?||DVK: The two that we have seen - 'Oumuamua and comet Borisov - were much smaller than the Saarland (or Rhode Island ;-) - not sure about Borisov, but 'Oumuamua was a few hundred meters in size. So while they could indeed come as a complete surprise, they are so rare that I wouldn't worry.|
|Would the public be informed if an impending asteroid event were to happen? And, how would the extinction play out? Bunch of people crushed to death, knocked off our orbit, dust clouds forever?||DVK: We do not keep things secret – all our info is at the web page http://neo.ssa.esa.int. The ‘risky’ objects are in the ‘risk page’. We also put info on really close approaches there. It would also be very difficult to keep things ‘under cover’ – there are many high-quality amateur astronomers out there that would notice.|
|In 2029 asteroid Apophis will fly really close to Earth, even closer than geostationary satellites. Can we use some of those satellites to observe the asteroid? Is it possible to launch very cheap cube sats to flyby Apophis in 2029?||DVK: Yes an Apophis mission during the flyby in 2029 would be really nice. We even had a special session on that topic at the last Planetary Defense Conference in 2019, and indeed CubeSats were mentioned. This would be a nice university project – get me a close-up of the asteroid with the Earth in the background!|
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|So you’re saying it was discussed and shelved?||In the conference we just presented ideas. To make them happen needs funding - in the case of ESA the support of our member countries. But having something presented at a conference is the first step. One of the results of the conference was a statement to space agencies to consider embarking on such a mission. See here: https://www.cosmos.esa.int/documents/336356/336472/PDC_2019_Summary_Report_FINAL_FINAL.pdf/341b9451-0ce8-f338-5d68-714a0aada29b?t=1569333739470|
|Go to the section 'resolutions'. This is now a statement that scientists can use to present to their funding agencies, demonstrating that it's not just their own idea.|
|Thanks for doing this AMA! Did we know the Chelyabinsk meteor in 2013 (the one which had some great videos on social media) was coming? Ig not, how comes? Also, as a little side one, have there been any fatalities from impact events in the past 20 years?||Unfortunately, the Chelyabinsk object was not seen in advance, because it came from the direction of the Sun where ground-based telescopes cannot look.|
|No known fatalities from impacts have happened in the past 20 years, although the Chelyabinsk event did cause many injuries, fortunately mostly minor.|
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|How often do impacts from that direction happen, compared to impacts from visible trajectories?||In terms of fraction of the sky, the area that cannot be easily scanned from the ground is roughly a circle with a radius of 40°-50° around the current position of the Sun, corresponding to ~15% of the total sky. However, there is a slight enhancement of objects coming from that direction, therefore the fraction of objects that may be missed when heading towards us is a bit higher.|
|However, this applies only when detecting an asteroid in its "final plunge" towards the Earth. Larger asteroids can be spotted many orbits earlier, when they are farther away and visible in the night side of the sky. Their orbits can then be determined and their possible impacts predicted even years or decades in advance.|
|There must be a trade-off when targeting asteroids as they get closer to Earth, is there a rule of thumb at what the best time is to reach them, in terms of launch time versus time to reach the asteroid and then distance from Earth?||DVK: Take e.g. a ‘kinetic impactor’ mission, like what DART and Hera are testing. Since we only change the velocity of the asteroid slightly, we need to hit the object early enough so that the object has time to move away from it’s collision course. Finding out when it is possible to launch requires simulations done by our mission analysis team. They take the strength of the launcher into account, also the available fuel for course corrections, and other things. Normally each asteroid has its own best scenario.|
|Do you also look at protecting the moon from asteroids? Would an impact of a large enough scale potentially have major impacts on the earth?||DVK: There are programmes that monitor the Moon and look for flashes from impacting small asteroids (or meteoroids) - https://neliota.astro.noa.g or the Spanish MIDAS project. We use the data to improve our knowledge about these objects. These programmes just look at what is happening now.|
|For now we would not do anything if we predicted a lunar impact. I guess this will change once we have a lunar base in place.|
|Why aren't there an international organisation comprised of countries focused on the asteroid defence? Imagine like the organisation with multi-billion $ budget and program of action on funding new telescopes, asteroid exploration mission, plans for detection of potentially dangerous NEA, protocols on action after the detection - all international, with heads of states discussing these problems?||DVK: There are international entities in place, mandated by the UN: The International Asteroid Warning Network (http://www.iawn.net) and the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (http://www.smpag.net). These groups advise the United Nations. That is exactly where we come up with plans and protocols on action. But: They don’t have budget – that needs to come from elsewhere. I am expecting that if we have a real threat, we would get the budget. Right now, we don’t have a multi-billion budget.|
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|There is no actual risk of any sizable asteroids hitting earth in the foreseeable future. Any preparation for it would just be a waste of money.||DVK: Indeed, as mentioned earlier, we do not expect a large object to hit is in the near future. We are mainly worried about those in the size range of 20 m to 40 m, which happen on average every few tens of years to hundreds of years. And where we only know a percent of them or even less.|
|President Obama wanted to send a crewed spacecraft to an asteroid - in your opinion is this something that should still be done in the future, would there be any usefulness in having a human being walk/float on an asteroid's surface?||DVK: It would definitely be cool. I would maybe even volunteer to go. Our current missions to asteroids are all robotic, the main reason is that it is much cheaper (but still expensive) to get the same science. But humans will expand further into space, I am sure. If we want to test human exploration activities, doing this at an asteroid would be easier than landing on a planet.|
|this is another reply||Yes, but I am slightly biased by the fact that I work at the European astronaut centre ;) There exist many similarities to what we currently do for EVA (extra vehicular activities) operations on the International Space Station versus how we would 'float' around an asteroid. Slightly biased again, but using such a mission to test exploration technologies would definitely still have value. Thanks Obama! - AC|
|I've heard that some asteroids contains large amounts of iron. Is there a possibility that we might have "space mines" in the far away future, if our own supply if iron runs out?||Yes, this is a topic in the field known as space mining, part of what we call Space Resources. In fact, learning how we can process material we might find on asteroids or other planetary bodies is increasingly important, as it opens up the opportunities for sustainable exploration and commercialization. Its a technology we need to master, and asteroids can be a great target for testing how we can create space mines :) - AC|
|By how much is DART expected to deflect Didymos? Do we have any indication of the largest size of an asteroid we could potentially deflect?||PM: Didymos is a binary asteroid, consisting of a main asteroid Didymos A (~700m) and a smaller asteroid Didymos B (~150m) orbiting around A with a ~12 hours period. DART is expected to impact Didymos B and change its orbital period w.r.t. Didymos A of ~1%. (8 mins)|
|The size of Didymos B is the most representative of a potential threat to Earth (the highest combination of probability and consequence of impacts), meaning smaller asteroids hit the Earth more often but have less severe consequences, larger asteroids can have catastrophic consequences but their probability of hitting the earth is very very low.|
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|Why is there less probability of larger asteroids hitting earth?||DVK: There are less large objects out there. The smaller they are, the more there are.|
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|Is there any chance that your experiment will backfire and send the asteroid towards earth?||PM: Not at all, or we would not do that :) Actually Dimorphos (the Didymos "moon") will not even leave its orbit around Didymos. It will just slightly change its speed.|
|I'm sure you've been asked this many times but how realistic is the plot of Armageddon? How likely is it that our fate as a species will rely on (either) Bruce Willis / deep sea oil drillers?||Taking into consideration that Bruce Willis is now 65 and by the time HERA is launched he will be 69, I do not think that we can rely on him this time (although I liked the movie).|
|HERA will investigate what method we could use to deflect asteroid and maybe the results will show that we indeed need to call the deep sea oil drillers.|
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|So then would it be easier to train oil drillers to become astronauts, or to train astronauts to be oil drillers?||I do not know which one would be easier since I have no training/experience of deep see oil drilling nor becoming an astronaut, but as long as the ones that would go to asteroid have the sufficient skills and training (even Bruce Willis), I would be happy.|
|If budget was no object, which asteroid would you most like to send a mission to?||Nice question! For me, I'd be looking at an asteroid we know something about, since I would be interested in using it for testing how we could extract resources from it. So for me, I would choose Itokawa (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/25143_Itokawa), which was visited by Hayabusa spacecraft. So we already have some solid prospecting carried out for this 'roid! - AC|
|this is another reply||Not sure if it counts as an asteroid, but Detlef and myself would probably choose ʻOumuamua, the first discovered interstellar object.|
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|Do we even have the capability to catch up to something like that screaming through our solar system? That thing has to have a heck of a velocity to just barrel almost straight through like that.||DVK: Correct, that would be a real challenge. We are preparing for a mission called 'Comet Interceptor' that is meant to fly to an interstellar object or at least a fresh comet - but it will not catch up with it, it will only perform a short flyby.|
|After proving to be able to land on one, could an asteroid serve as a viable means to transport goods and or humans throughout the solar system when the orbit of said asteroid proves beneficial. While it is probably quite problematic to land the payload, it could save fuel or am I mistaken?||Neat idea! Wonder if anyone has done the maths on the amount of fuel you would need/save vs certain targets. - AC|
|PM: To further complement, the saving is quite marginal indeed because in order to land (softly) on the asteroid you actually need to get into the very same orbit of that asteroid . At that point your orbit remains the same whether you are on the asteroid or not..|
|can the current anti-ballistic missiles systems intercept a terminal phase earth strike asteroid? or it is better to know beforehand and launch an impacting vehicle into space?||DVK: While I do see presentations on nuclear explosions to deflect asteroids at our professional meetings, I have not seen anybody yet studying how we could use existing missile systems. So it's hard to judge whether existing missiles would do the job. But in general, it is better to know as early as possible about a possible impact and deflect it as early as possible. This will minimize the needed effort.|
|How much are we prepared against asteroid impacts at this moment?||DVK: 42… :-) Seriously – I am not sure how to quantify ‘preparedness’. We have international working groups in place, mentioned earlier (search for IAWN, SMPAG). We have a Planetary Defence Office at ESA, a Planetary Defense Office at NASA (who spots the difference?), search the sky for asteroids, build space missions… Still we could be doing more. More telescopes to find the object, a space-based telescope to discover those that come from the direction of the Sun. Different test missions would be useful, … So there is always more we could do.|
|Have you got any data on the NEO coverage? Is there estimations on the percentage of NEOs we have detected and are tracking? How can we improve the coverage? How many times have asteroids been able to enter earths atmosphere without being detected beforehand?||Here’s our recently updated infographics with the fraction of undiscovered NEOs for each size range: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2018/06/Asteroid_danger_explained|
|As expected, we are now nearly complete for the large ones, while many of the smaller ones are still unknown.|
|In order to improve coverage, we need both to continue the current approach, centered on ground-based telescopes, and probably also launch dedicated telescopes to space, to look at the fraction of the sky that cannot be easily observed from the ground (e.g., towards the Sun).|
|Regarding the last part of your question, small asteroids enter the Earth atmosphere very often (the infographics above gives you some numbers), while larger ones are much rarer.|
|In the recent past, the largest one to enter our atmosphere was about 20 meters in diameter, and it caused the Chelyabinsk event in 2013. It could not be detected in advance because it came from the direction of the Sun.|
|We have however detected a few small ones before impact. The first happened in 2008, when a ~4-meter asteroid was found to be on a collision course less than a day before impact, it was predicted to fall in Northern Sudan, and then actually observed falling precisely where (and when) expected.|
|this is another reply||>After|
|DVK: And to add what MM said - Check out http://neo.ssa.esa.int. There is a ‘discovery statistics’ section which provides some of the info you asked about. NASA is providing similar information here https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/stats/. To see the sky which is currently covered by the survey telescopes, you need to service of the Minor Planet Center which we all work together with: http://www.minorplanetcenter.org, ‘observers’, ‘sky coverage’. That is a tool we use to plan where we look with our telescopes, so it is a more technical page.|
|Are there any automatic systems for checking large numbers of asteroids orbits, to see if the asteroid's orbit is coming dangerously close to Earth, or is it done by people individually for every asteroid? I ask it because LSST Rubin is coming online soon and you know it will discover a lot of new asteroids.||Yes, such systems exist, and monitor all known and newly discovered asteroids in order to predict possible future impacts.|
|The end result of the process is what we call "risk list": http://neo.ssa.esa.int/risk-page|
|It is automatically updated every day once new observational data is processed.|
|What are your favourite sci-fi series?||DVK: My favorites are ‘The Expanse’, I also liked watching ‘Salvation’. For the first one I even got my family to give me a new subscription to a known internet streaming service so that I can see the latest episodes. I also loved ‘The Jetsons’ and ‘The Flintstones’ as a kid. Not sure the last one counts as sci-fi though. My long-time favorite was ‘Dark Star’.|
|this is another reply||Big fan of The Expanse at the moment. Nice, hard sci-fi that has a good impression of being grounded in reality - AC|
|this is another reply||When I was a kid I liked The Jetsons, when growing up Star Trek, Star wars and I also used to watch with my sister the 'V'.|
|When determining the potential threat of a NEA, is the mass of an object a bigger factor or size? I'm asking because I'm curious if a small but massive object (say, with the density of Psyche) could survive atmospheric entry better than a comparatively larger but less massive object.||The mass is indeed what really matters, since it’s directly related with the impact energy.|
|And as you said composition also matters, a metal object would survive atmospheric entry better, not just because it’s heavier, but also because of its internal strength.|
|What are your thoughts on asteroid mining as portrayed in sci-fi movies? Is it feasible? If so would governments or private space programs be the first to do so?What type of minerals can be found on asteroids that would merit the costs of extraction?||Certainly there is valuable stuff you can find on asteroids. For example, the likely easiest material you can harvest from an asteroid would be volatiles such as H2O. Then you have industrial metals, things like Iron, Nickel, and Platinum group metals. Going further, you can break apart many of the oxide minerals you would find to get oxygen (getting you closer to producing rocket fuel in-situ!). Its feasible, but still needs alot of testing both here on Earth and eventually needs to be tested on a target. It may be that governments, via agencies like ESA or NASA, may do it first, to prove the principles somewhat, but I know many commercial entities are also aggresively working towards space mining. To show you that its definitely possible, I'd like to plug the work of colleagues who have processed lunar regolith (which is similar to what you may find on asteroids) to extract both oxygen and metals. Check it out here: http://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2019/10/Oxygen_and_metal_from_lunar_regolith|
|Will 2020's climax be a really big rock?||DVK: Let's hope not...|
|Considering NASA, ESA, IAU etc. is working hard to track Earth-grazing asteroids, how come the Chelyabinsk object that airburst over Russia in 2013 came as a total surprise?||The Chelyabinsk object came from the direction of the Sun, where unfortunately ground-based telescopes cannot look at. Therefore, it would not have been possible to discover it in advance with current telescopes. Dedicated space telescopes are needed to detect objects coming from this direction in advance.|
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|Is this to say that it was within specific solid angles for the entire time that we could have observed it given its size and speed?||Yes, precisely that. We got unlucky in this case.|
|Have any of you read Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven? In your opinion, how realistic is his depiction of an asteroid strike on Earth?||DVK: I have – but really long ago, so I don’t remember the details. But I do remember that I really liked the book, and I remember I always wanted to have a Hot Fudge Sundae when reading it.|
|I was thinking about the asteroid threat as a teen and came up with this ideas (Hint: they are not equally serious, the level of craziness goes up real quick). Could you please comment on their feasibility? 1. Attaching a rocket engine to an asteroid to make it gradually change trajectory, do that long in advance and it will miss Earth by thousands of km 2. Transporting acid onto asteroid (which are mainly metal), attaching a dome-shaped reaction chamber to it, using heat and pressure to then carry out the chemical reaction to disintegrate asteroids 3. This one is even more terrible than a previous one and totally Dan Brown inspired — transporting antimatter on asteroid, impacting and causing annihilation. Thank you for this AMA and your time!||DVK: Well the first one is not so crazy, I have seen it presented... the difficulty is that all asteroids are rotating in one way or another. So if you continuously fire the engine it would not really help. You'd need to switch the engine on and off. Very complex. And landing on an asteroid is challenging too. Just using the 'kinetic impactor' which we will test with DART/Hera (described elsewhere in this chat) is simpler. Another seriously proposed concept is to put a spacecraft next to an asteroid and use an ion engine (like we have on our Mercury mission BepiColombo) to 'push' the asteroid away.|
|As for 2 and 3 I think I will not live to see that happening ;-)|
|What is the process to determine the orbit of a newly discovered asteroid?||The process is mathematically quite complex, but here's a short summary.|
|Everything starts with observations, in particular with measurements of the position of an asteroid in the sky, what we call "astrometry". Discovery telescopes extract this information from their discovery images, and make it available to everybody.|
|These datapoints are then used to calculate possible trajectories ("orbits") that pass through them. At first, with very few points, many orbits will be possible.|
|Using these orbits we can extrapolate where the asteroid will be located during the following nights, use a telescope to observe that part of the sky, and locate the object again.|
|From these new observations we can extract new "astrometry", add it to the orbit determination, and see that now only some of the possible orbits will be compatible with the new data. As a result, we now know the trajectory better than before, because a few of the possible orbits are not confirmed by the new data.|
|The cycle can then continue, with new predictions, new observations, and a more accurate determination of the object's orbit, until it can be determined with an extremely high level of accuracy.|
|What are some asteroids that are on your "watchlist"?||We have exactly that list on our web portal: http://neo.ssa.esa.int/risk-page|
|It's called "risk list", and it includes all known asteroids for which we cannot exclude a possible impact over the next century. It is updated every day to include newly discovered asteroids, and remove those that have been excluded as possible impactors thanks to new observations.|
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|That's quite a list!! Do you guys ever feel stressed or afraid when you have to add another dangerous candidate (and by dangerous I mean those above 200m) is added to this Risk List?||Yes, when new dangerous ones are added it's important that we immediately do our best to gather more data on them, observing them with telescopes in order to get the information we need to improve our knowledge of their orbit.|
|And then the satisfaction of getting the data needed to remove one from the list is even greater!|
|What inspired you to go into this field of study?||I was fascinated by astronomy in general since I was a kid, but the actual "trigger" that sparked my interest in NEOs was a wonderful summer course on asteroids organized by a local amateur astronomers association. I immediately decided that I would do my best to turn this passion into my job, and I'm so happy to have been able to make that dream come true.|
|this is another reply||DVK: I started observing meteors when I was 14, just by going outside and looking at the night sky. Since then, small bodies in the solar system were always my passion.|
|As a layperson, I still think using nuclear weapons against asteroids is the coolest method despite better methods generally being available. Do you still consider the nuclear option the cool option, or has your expertise in the field combined with the real-life impracticalities made it into a laughable/silly/cliche option?||DVK: We indeed still study the nuclear option. There are legal aspects though, the ‘outer space treaty’ forbids nuclear explosions in space. But for a large object or one we discover very late it could be useful. That’s why we have to focus on discovering all the objects out there as early as possible – then we have time enough to use more conventional deflection methods, like the kinetic impactor (the DART/Hera scenario).|
|It seems like doing this well would require international cooperation, particularly with Russia. Have you ever reached out to Russia in your work? Do you have a counterpart organization there that has a similar mission?||DVK: Indeed international cooperation is important - asteroids don't know about our borders! We work with a Russian team to perform follow-up observations of recently discovered NEOs. Russia is also involved in the UN-endorsed working groups that we have, IAWN and SMPAG (explained in another answer).|
|how much can experts tell from a video of a fireball or meteor? Can you work out what it's made of and where it came from? https://www.reddit.com/space/comments/hdf3xe/footage_of_a_meteor_at_barrow_island_australia/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x||If multiple videos or pictures, taken from different locations, are available, then it's possible to reconstruct the trajectory, and extrapolate where the object came from.|
|Regarding the composition, it's a bit more difficult if nothing survives to the ground, but some information can be obtained indirectly from the fireball's color, or its fragmentation behavior. If a spectral analysis of the light can be made, it's then possible to infer the chemical composition in much greater detail.|
|I've always wanted to know what the best meteorite buying site is and what their average price is??||DVK: Serious dealers will be registered with the 'International Meteorite Collectors Association (IMCA)' - https://www.imca.cc/. They should provide a 'certificate of authenticity' where it says that they are member there. If you are in doubt, you can contact the association and check. Normally there are rough prices for different meteorite types per gram. Rare meteorites will of course be much more expensive than more common ones. Check the IMCA web page to find a dealer close to you.|
|Just read through Aidans link to the basaltic rock being used as a printing material for lunar habitation. There is a company called Roxul that does stone woven insulation that may be able to shed some light on the research they have done to minimize their similarity to asbestos as potentially carcinogenic materials deemed safe for use in commercial and residential applications. As the interior surfaces will essentially be 3D printed lunar regolith what are the current plans to coat or dampen the affinity for the structure to essentially be death traps for respiratory illness?||At least initially, many of these 3d printed regolith structures would not be facing into pressurised sections, but would rather be elements placed outside and around our pressure vessels. Such structures would be things like radiation shields, landing pads or roadways, etc. In the future, if we move towards forming hermetically sealed structures, then your point is a good one. Looking into terrestrial solutions to this problem would be a great start! - AC|
|What kind of career path does it take to work in the asteroid hunting field?||It's probably different for each of us, but here's a short summary of my own path.|
|I became interested in asteroids, and near-Earth objects in particular, thanks to a wonderful summer course organized by a local amateur astronomers association. Amateur astronomers play a great role in introducing people, and young kids in particular, to these topics.|
|Then I took physics as my undergrad degree (in Italy), followed by a Ph.D. in astronomy in the US (Hawaii in particular, a great place for astronomers thanks to the exceptional telescopes hosted there).|
|After finishing the Ph.D. I started my current job at ESA's NEO Coordination Centre, which allowed me to realize my dream of working in this field.|
|this is another reply||DVK: Almost all of us have a Master's degree either in aerospace engineering, mathematics, physics/astronomy/planetary science, or computer science. Some of us - as MM - have a Ph.D. too. But that's not really a requirement. This is true for our team at ESA, but also for other teams in other countries.|
|What is the likelihood of an asteroid hitting the Earth In the next 200 years?||It depends on the size, large ones are rare, while small ones are much more common. You can check this infographics to get the numbers for each size class: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2018/06/Asteroid_danger_explained|
|Have you played the Earth Defence Force games and if you have, which one is your favourite?||No I have not played the Earth Defence Force games, but I just looked it up and I think I would liked it. Which one would you recommend?|
|How close is too close to earth? Space is a SUPER vast void so is 1,000,000 miles close, 10,000,000? And if an asteroid is big enough can it throw earth off its orbit?||DVK: Too close for my taste is when we compute an impact probability > 0 for the object. That means the flyby distance is zero :-) Those are the objects on our risk page http://neo.ssa.esa.int/risk-page.|
|If an object can alter the orbit of another one, we would call it planet. So unless we have a rogue planet coming from another solar system (verrry unlikely) we are safe from that.|
|How can I join you when I'm older?||DVK: Somebody was asking about our career paths... Study aerospace engineering or math or physics or computer science, get a Masters. Possibly a Ph.D. Then apply for my position when I retire. Check here for how to apply at ESA: https://www.esa.int/About_Us/Careers_at_ESA/Frequently_asked_questions2#HR1|
|How much is too much?||DVK: 42 again|
|Are you aware of any asteroids that are theoretically within our reach, or will be within our reach at some point, that are carrying a large quantity of shungite? If you're not aware, shungite is like a 2 billion year old like, rock stone that protects against frequencies and unwanted frequencies that may be traveling in the air. I bought a whole bunch of the stuff. Put them around the la casa. Little pyramids, stuff like that.||DVK: If I remember my geology properly, Shungite forms in water sedimental deposits. This requires liquid water, i.e. a larger planet. So I don't think there is a high chance to see that on asteroids.|
Former whitewater rafting guide. There's a calmer section of the river people can, if they choose to, hop out and swim through. They are wearing life jackets so you can just float through it.
This woman decides she wants to try it and hops out. After she pops up she slowly tilts forward until just the back of her jacket is out of the water and she's completely still. After 5 or so seconds of this I start to realize this might not be intentional and paddle over and physically pick her head up above the water followed by her gasping for air. I haul her in the boat and ask what happened.
She said she didn't know what to do as she'd "never been submerged in water before". 1) why are you on a whitewater rafting trip? 2) why didn't your strategy involve moving your body?
Exactly 300? You know that because you're sooo intelligent? Instead of posting ridiculous comments like this one just to gain karma please take a moment to look back and make some better life choices! Start working out and going to the church. It will improve your life a lot. After just 5 weeks of doing this I've got myself a girlfriend (she's a reporter but many tell her she could've been a model fyi) and got promoted at my job. It's the baby steps that improve your life. Cheers ;)
P.S. if anyone is interested in my dietary/gym schedule and wants to learn more about the secrets of having a good life, shoot me a DM so we can talk price. A good advice is priceless. Money is temporary.
And it's quite obvious. Abortions are not something anyone genuinely wants to do. It's not fun, it's not desirable. It is a rare, necessary but most decidedly unwanted outcome for all involved.
Republicans, eternally and cosmically myopic, intellectually stunted, utterly and irredeemably self-obsessed with their own primitive and imbecilic worldview they derive from the dry pages of an antique book written by cavemen that they have never even read but rather have dictated to them by conmen and opportunists, these people have never found an issue that they couldn't take up while ignoring the entire context and nuance surrounding it. They have never found a problem they couldn't reduce into a tiny, binary window commensurate with their capacity for logic and reason.
Women get abortions because they are unable to carry a child to term or unable to give a child the resources required for it to grow and lead a life. Usually because they were impregnated unintentionally. Either through consensual sex, or rape.
In the case of consensual unintended pregnancies, it is no coincidence that the areas that do not engage in comprehensive and instructive sex education for children (Red states) have much higher rates of teenage pregnancies. Wheezing old fools with draconian views on sex pass garbled and incoherent drivel down to their spawn, who, ill-equipped for the realities of life, go out into the world without the tools and knowledge to carry out their biological impulses safely.
In addition, these places demonize and chase out places like Planned Parenthood - which largely provide resources to women to help them AVOID becoming pregnant in the FIRST place. Only a tiny, tiny fraction of the work they do is for abortion procedures; the vast majority of their world and the entirety of their purpose is to help the living, and help them lead healthy and satisfactory lives. Name me a more pro-life organization than one that helps detect and prevent breast cancer and ovarian cancer, that helps young couples plan to be parents by having safe sex until they are financially and emotionally ready to have a family. That's where the name comes from, for any Republican readers furrowing their thick brows - Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood also views abortion as the least desirable outcome out of all the choices. They don't want a woman to need that procedure - which is why they provide education and contraceptive measures and a myriad of other supports to help avoid that outcome.
But, as always, Republicans smash their faces into things they do not and refuse to understand. They plow bravely forward, willing to ruin and destroy millions of lives for a conviction they've given all the same length of deep thought as their choice of meal for breakfast.
So they cripple education, they demolish healthcare, they create societies of restrictive and toxic attitudes towards sex. They create atmospheres of toxic masculinity that result in higher incidents of rape and less chances of reporting that rape and less chance of justice for that rapist and less chance of deterring or reducing the rise of the next rapist.
They attack single mothers, they attack and impoverish communities of color, they attack wages and make god damn certain that most people in their own states are poor and unable to afford a single child, let alone a family, and mock and deride them for requesting higher wages, as they legislate higher wages for themselves into law for sport.
And then, after all that, they demonize women who are scared and vulnerable and have been forced into making a difficult choice, blame them for their situation, make them feel less-than, and whip up fury and hate and look the other way when some lunatic monster bombs a clinic or stabs a doctor.
Now, if ever there was a Republican that didn't do all of that, and was anti-abortion, they would have far more of a leg to stand on. In other words, if they did what fucking Planned Parenthood does, which is to do EVERYTHING in their power to help women NOT need to get to that outcome, I would actually believe them when they bleat on about the sanctity of life. I would not agree with them, but they wouldn't be such massive fucking hypocrites. They would be walking the walk of someone who was "pro-life".
But let's not delude ourselves. That's not a Republican. That's not who they are or what they do. No, instead, these cretinous, despicable assholes do everything humanly possible to FORCE women into a state of pregnancy, including and up to culturing an atmosphere that fosters and protects rape and rapists and refuses to teach their young about the realities of sex and the options for contraception, and then attack and shriek and demonize women for having no alternatives. Frothing, zealous, tyrannical mobs of idiots, led by monsters.
These people revolt me. I mean truly revolt me. These are some of the worst, most despicable examples of humanity to walk among us. Do not feel pity for these Republicans that chase this imbecilic goal. Do not try and see their side; they have no side. They have no true guiding ideologies. Their reasons are false ones, outright lies or profound self-delusions. These are blind masses.
Do not tell me that you sympathize with them because abortion is a difficult choice and you can "see their side". They do not have a side, there is no evenly-split differences of opinion among reasoned men here.
Their side is one of oppression, brutality, ignorance, and fearmongering. They have literally no desire to actually protect life. They do the conscious opposite in all of their policies and actions. They poison the water and earth and air, they launch bloody and pointless wars, they attack people of every other skin color and shrug or cheer when we throw people in cages. They laugh at the prospect of murdering immigrants, they cheer when health care is ripped away from American citizens, they condone torture and all manner of unnecessary brutality, they shrug callously as thirty fucking children are slaughtered in an elementary school, cowering against the wall and trembling in fear as a deranged white man with an automatic weapon pumps lead into the soft bodies of their young and helpless classmates. "Nothing we can do about it," they say. "Probably just child actors anyway" they say, these gutless flunkies of the pale horse rider.
All of this death and destruction and the calamaity of a climate in total crisis, and they shrug, and they laugh along with the mango imbecile they put in charge of the most powerful army in the world, just days after hearing audio in which he brags, proudly, about his habit of forcibly assaulting women "because he's powerful". These ignorant assholes, who live in the luxury of an entire world given to them, freely, by centuries of scientific progress and technological innovation built brick by sweaty, bloody brick, now jeer and mock the scientists - experts who have dedicated their lives to very underpaid endeavor of the pursuit of knowledge - desperately warning them of the imminent reality of total planetary collapse. In all of that, they go and gather and strive to make abortion illegal, literally zero fucking effort ever given to do anything about aiding the circumstances that lead to that abortion in the first place, without any attempt to make anyone's lives easier or better or healthier. Then, their atrocious and inevitably ephemeral work done, they gather around one another and slap each others' backs at a job well done, "nice work, old boy," they tell one another, as they let the world wither and burn, and plot out how next they can further impoverish and demonize their poor brown and black countrymen.
If you dislike abortion, then your responsibility is to do everything in your power to reduce the number of cases where women NEED to seek it out. This is what anyone who was legitimately "pro-life" would be striving to do. If your love of life burns so bright in your chest you can't stand the thought of a woman scooping a clump of cells out of her own body, then I would certainly expect your days and nights to be consumed with raising the minimum wage to help people feed their families, with preventing oil companies from dumping thousands of gallons of poisons in our water, with preventing our government from making a parking lot out of another Middle Eastern country.
But I think you, as well as I, know that none of these people are doing that. Don't we.
Blanket bills illegalizing abortion help no one. They reduce nothing, except the level of humanity in society. They victimize and attack people who are at their most vulnerable and frightened and make the world a far darker and draconian place.
Fuck these people. The only lives that they are "pro" are their own greedy, selfish, insatiable souls.
If it seems to you that my tone seems combative and scornful - it is. Kindness, respect, and compromise have never, and will never, prevent tße like of Republicans in Alabama and Missouri from passing the egregious and monstrously fascist bills that they have. When we compromise, they take another inch. When we then compromise again, they take yet another inch.
If you have testicles, it is your choice whether or not to have your tubes tied or the entire damn system removed. If you have ovaries, it is your choice to do with those eggs, and anything gestating inside of them, what you will.
I would not negotiate, compromise, nor ever accept the worldview of someone who justified slavery; I would battle tooth and nail and to the last breath against that diseased and toxic ideology, and I will similarly never accept nor compromise with someone who rejects the bodily autonomy of a woman.
We are done with the age where we extend these people respect for their destructive and dehumanizing ideologies and agendas.
|Greetings Dr. Lauretta, i have a few questions, how is 5819 doing and are there plans to probe it too?||Asteroid 5819 Lauretta is continuing on its orbital trajectory through the Solar System. My astronomer friends snap a photo for me every once in awhile but there is no plan for a dedicated science campaign.|
|How did the idea of a sample return mission from an asteroid came about? What is the inspiration behind it?||The OSIRIS-REx concept originated with Lockheed-Martin, who is always looking for new Principal Investigators for their planetary science missions. They approached Mike Drake, the original PI, in 2004 about collaborating on a sample-return mission. Mike invited me to be his Deputy at that time - which I gladly accepted. Mike and I worked on the mission concept for seven years before being accepted by NASA. Mike passed away in September 2011 - four months after winning the contract. I was promoted to PI at that time.|
|Can we not go faster in going to Bennu? Like less than year. What technogy is need to speed up voyage to asteroid?||We can go faster to get to Bennu. However, we need to not only get to Bennu - but also go in the same direction at the same speed. Thus, if we get there more quickly, we need giant rocket engines and a lot of fuel to slow down for the rendezvous.|
|What is the story behind the name Osiris Rex and its Egyptian theme?||I came up with the name based on the mythology of Osiris as the bringer of life to the Nile Valley - Bennu represents the type of object that may have brought the seeds of life to Earth. It is also a crazy acronym - which fits in with the way NASA names their missions,|
|What will happen to Osiris Rex after it return, will it remain in orbit or crash or an extension mission will be planned?||OSIRIS-REx will eject the sample return capsule four hours before the spacecraft hits the top of the atmosphere at 27,000 mph. The spacecraft will then perform a deflection burn and be placed into a stable heliocentric orbit that will not intersect any object of astrobiological interest (planetary protection requirement). It may be available for an extended mission at the discretion of NASA.|
|Will you be able to study fragments of the Chelyabinsk meteorite? Why was it not detected earlier? Thanks in advance.||We have fragments of Chelyabinsk in our lab at the University of Arizona and are actively studying it. It snuck up on us because it came out of the Sun and it was a relatively small object - we are mandated by Congress to detect objects 140-m in diameter and larger - the Chelyabinsk bolide was ~20-m across.|
|Awesome work! I'm wondering, how and why was Bennu selected for this mission? Do we know if we will be able to even retrieve a sample from it? (ie: do we know the composition of the surface? Are there enough small rocks on it to collect?) Also, as a current U of A undergraduate (Aerospace Engineering), what's the best way for a student to become involved in this kind of work/field?||Target selection for OSIRIS-REx was originally driven by engineering constraints. First, we decided to use a Lockheed-Martin heritage spacecraft. That meant using solar power and trying to keep the thermal control system relatively simple. Using solar power limited how far out into the Solar System we could travel - setting a limit of 1.8 AU on the aphelion of the target's orbit. The thermal control limit constrained how close to the Sun we could go - limiting the perihelion of the orbit. Together these two constraints defined the semi-major axis and eccentricity of potential targets.|
|The next constraint was the total energy of the mission. We needed a target with relatively low delta-V (total change in velocity). We also needed a trajectory that limited the re-entry velocity of the Sample Return Capsule - since we are using a heritage design from the Stardust mission. These parameters limited the inclination of the asteroid orbit to less than 10 degrees.|
|These orbital constraints rapidly collapsed the number of potential targets to around 200 asteroids. The next constraint was on the size of the object. It turns out that asteroids smaller than ~200 meters tend to be rapid rotators - some spinning once every minute or so. We used absolute magnitude as a proxy for size - dropping the number of potential targets to about 20.|
|The final criterion was driven by science. We wanted a target that was likely to be rich in carbon and water - a carbonaceous asteroid. Of the twenty or so targets that met our dynamical constraints - only five were known to have low albedo and therefore likely to be carbonaceous. Bennu rose to the top of the list based on the extensive ground-based data set - particularly the fantastic shape model information that had been obtained from the Arecibo and Goldstone Planetary Radar telescopes.|
|There are three lines of evidence that constrain the average grain size on Bennu. First, in addition to the shape model, the radar astronomy also provided information on the radar polarization ratio. Basically, we transmit a beam with a specific circular polarization and measure how much of the returned energy comes back with the opposite polarization. These data show that the transition to radar roughness occurs at a scale smaller than lowest radar wavelength - 3 cm.|
|Next, we used the Spitzer space telescope to determine the average thermal inertia of the surface. Lower thermal inertia values mean smaller grain sizes. These data suggest that the average grain size on Bennu is on the order of a millimeter.|
|Finally, the asteroid shape reveals a prominent ridge at the equator - suggesting that there is loose material moving around on the surface and collecting at the geopotential lows (the valleys of Bennu) - which lie at the equator.|
|To get involved with OSIRIS-REx - come talk to me!|
|What's the biggest challenge in designing the reentry capsule? Also could I get an internet high five?||The good news is that we are reusing the capsule design from the NASA Stardust mission. The only modification that is required is on the main deck to accommodate our sample collection device, which is different from Stardust. This is a minor modification - the SRC is one of the easy parts!|
|How do you hope to tie in your investigations at Bennu to those of Dawn at Ceres? If so, what are your plans?||Ceres is a C-type asteroid - so slightly different spectroscopically from Bennu. However, we will have data that is comparable to the Dawn VIR instrument, so that will be an interesting study. We are more spectrally similar to Pallas - which is a B-type asteroid like Bennu. We have no plans to perform the comparative study - sounds like a great opportunity for a participating scientist!|
|Did your mission engineers take any cues from the Hayabusa probe? What steps are they planning to take to avoid computer glitches during the sample collection phase?||We have studied the Hayabusa mission intently. Our main take away messages are to 1) allow enough time for the team to thoroughly characterize Bennu before sampling; 2) simulate the descent to the asteroid surface thousands of times before committing to the sampling; 3) perform a series of rehearsals for each stage of the sampling sequence - plan on repeating each step if one does not go according to pan; and 4) fly capable reaction wheels - this failure doomed Hayabusa from the start.|
|Does the potential for an asteroid collision worry you on an emotional level?||I do not worry about getting hit by an asteroid on a daily basis. It is much more dangerous to cross the street - which I do worry about.|
|Also, what's your favorite Christmas song?||My favorite Christmas is Happy X-mas (War is Over) by John Lennon.|
|What is the 2013-2023 total budget? What part of the budget is already secure? And where does the money come from? Thanks for doing this!||The total mission budget (2011 - 2025 - including two years to analyze the sample after Earth Return) is $1.05 billion.|
|Because of the way that the Federal Government operates - the budget is secure through January 15, 2014 - when the current continuing resolution expires. However, we are a high priority for NASA planetary science and have strong support in Congress so we are confident that our funding will continue to be authorized.|
|The money ultimately comes from the American and Canadian tax payers - thank you!|
|But how much money is the actual operating budget? Doesn't the University of Arizona take out a huge chunk? Also, how do you allocate money to the different instrument teams because your group is working with other institutions. Do their budgets come out of your budget? Thanks, from a future P.I.||The UA charges an indirect cost (IDC) rate of 51.5%. That means that for every dollar of direct cost that I spend at UA - I have to pay an additional 51.5 cents in IDC. These funds cover the cost of the facility, support services like maintenance, and the overall cost of running the University.|
|Most of our money (something like 80%) goes into our labor expenses (which includes benefits and IDC). OSIRIS-REx is all about the people.|
|Every organization has an overhead expense, you can't get away from paying this cost. For-profit companies also include award fee as part of their price tag.|
|On a lot of agencies SBIRs we're limited to 40% IDC. The UA got a good deal. Also the first time I've seen the finer points of federal contracting discussed on here.||One of the most unexpected results of becoming PI for me - I have to know everything about the federal budget process and cost management. Ask away!|
|Hello Dr. Lauretta, I realize that there are many components to this project, but this question is in regards to the possible presence of the building blocks of life. I have read a few papers discussing the resistance of certain microbes to our most robust antimicrobial techniques (ex. UV light, saline solutions). How would microbiologists recognize pristine extraterrestrial proteins or nucleic acids? How will you keep your clean room clean? --Thank you!||OSIRIS-REx has a level-1 requirement to return a "pristine" sample of Bennu. We have a pragmatic definition of pristine - which means that no foreign material introduced into the sample will hamper the scientific investigation.|
|We split our contamination efforts into two categories - Contamination Control and Contamination Knowledge. Contamination Control seeks to minimize the contamination of the sample using prudent and established spacecraft fabrication processes. Contamination Knowledge seeks to document any contamination that may be introduced to the sample. Together we can both keep the sample clean and document any foreign material that is present in the returned sample.|
|The spacecraft fabrication clean room is a standard Class 10,000 room. The curation facility will be much cleaner - Class 100.|
|What is the plan for extracting the sample from the asteriod?||We are using a device called the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM). The basic concept is to contact the asteroid surface with a large air filter (something that would look right at home sitting on top of a carburetor from a '57 Chevy), then blast the surface with a pulse of high-purity nitrogen gas. The gas agitates and fluidizes the regolith, which expands into the TAGSAM device. If we fill the collection chamber - we have ~2 kilograms of material. TAGSAM can collect particles up to 3-cm across. We also have contact pads on the outer edge of TAGSAM. We will collect particles less than 1 millimeter as long as we touch the surface.|
|I read every comment and all of your replies. This is so interesting, thank you. I am not an expert, nor a student in this field, but a housewife married to a science fiction fanatic and we have 3 amateur astronomers. My questions focus on when you are at your described third moment terror (which is my biggest moment of terror for you)...the moment of TAG, when you send the spacecraft down to the surface of Bennu to collect the sample. What type of suction or attachment, if any, will you be using on the space craft to attach the landing? Is the landing similar to a plane landing on an air craft carrier? Do you have a plan B in case it sticks too much to the asteroid? A fun question if you prefer not to discuss my other questions: What is the most common household item you will be using on this mission?||We do not have any system to anchor the spacecraft to the asteroid during sample acquisition. Instead, we have very tight control on the spacecraft state during the descent. We have to contact with an approach velocity of 10 cm/s (+/-2) and a lateral velocity of 0 cm/s (+/-2). The spacecraft can not be rotating about any of its axes. If we hit the surface under these conditions then our momentum will be absorbed by a constant-force spring in the robotic arm. If we start to rotate, the attitude control thrusters will engage to damp out any angular momentum. After five seconds of contact we fire our back-away thrusters and get out of dodge.|
|These back-away thrusters should be sufficient to unstick us from the surface. In the case where we are totally jammed our only option is to sever the sample head from the arm - but that would mean loss of the sample.|
|As for the most common household item - the spacecraft has a surprisingly large amount of tape on it! Though, of course, the tape is space qualified.|
|Hey Dr. Lauretta! Super excited for this. Where is OSIRIS-REx launching from, where will it return, and what parts will be discarded in between?||OSIRIS-REx is launching from the Kennedy Space Center on an Atlas V 411 launch vehicle in 2016. The sample return capsule (SRC) returns to the Utah Test and Training Range in 2023. The SRC will remain intact through atmospheric entry with the exception of a small amount of the heat shield - which will ablate in the atmosphere. The main spacecraft will remain in space and likely be available for an extended mission. The SRC ultimately ends up in the NASA Space-Exposed Hardware facility - or maybe in the Smithsonian like the Stardust capsule!|
|How did you transition from working on chondrite meteorites to the bigger-picture project of being the principal investigator on OSIRIS-REx? -Arecibo radar minion.||When Mike Drake, the original PI for OSIRIS-REx, starting put his team together in 2004, he invited me to be his deputy because of my knowledge of carbonaceous chondrites and the connection to the origin of life. In the seven years of proposal writing between 2004 and selection in 2011 I learned all about spacecraft engineering, mission management, and cost, and schedule control.|
|I heard something about how this mission could help us understand how moons are formed. Can you expand on that?||OSIRIS-REx will help us understand how asteroid satellites are formed. A leading theory for binary asteroid formation involves the YORP effect. Basically, YORP acts to either increase or decrease the rotation rate of an asteroid. As an asteroid's spin rate increases - material will start to migrate from the poles down to the equator. This mechanism may be responsible for the observed equatorial ridge on Bennu. If the spin rate continues to increase - the material may be spun off the equator and accrete into a binary companion.|
|What is your plan after the O-Rex mission is finished?||This work was pioneered by Kevin Walsh, a member of my science team.|
|Do you think you'll participate in any other missions?||As for Mr. Fantastic - I am fortunate enough to be married to someone who looks like Sue Storm!|
|I am graduating in December with a degree in Mechanical/Nuclear Engineering from an ok-engineering school. Not Ivy League or top 25 in the country. I have an average resume: ok GPA, some work experience, and activities. What can I do after graduation that would impress NASA and get me an interview someday? I would love to work at NASA when I'm older, but how do I make myself stand out over MIT, Standard, and Cornell grads?||I suggest a couple of options. If you really have a great idea and are the adventurous type, start a new company to develop your product. Try to get in space as an experimental payload - say on a student CubeSat.|
|- Thanks for all the responses. However, I would like to emphasize that I am graduating this December. Opportunities for me to do research with professors and apply for internships has passed =(. Mainly looking for advice on how to add onto my resume after graduation to impress NASA folks. Work on my own projects? Invent something bad-ass? Gain experience working in a certain industry?||You could also go to work for one of the "New Space" companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, or Planetary Resources - or one of the "Old Space" companies like Lockheed-Martin, Ball Aerospace, or Boeing.|
|Thanks for doing an AMA. Do you think OSIRIS-REx is the most complex backronym currently operating at Nasa? :-)||OSIRIS-REx is both an acronym and backronym. I came up with OSIRIS when we first starting proposing this mission concept to the NASA Discovery program. I was the Deputy PI and my job was to write the science justification for the mission. I started doodling with the key science concepts and wrote down Origins, Spectroscopy, Resources, and Security. OSIRIS jumped right out at me! I then added some vowels to fill out the word.|
|We added the REx when we made the transition from Discovery to New Frontiers. Our previous proposal efforts had scored well - but we did not fit in the cost box. We wanted to keep the OSIRIS brand name but indicate that we were bigger and better than a Discovery mission. The name OSIRIS-REx was tossed out early on - sort of in jest - but the name had a nice ring to it. I came up with Regolith Explorer to back into the name.|
|I am a bit ashamed that this is the first time that I hear about this project... It sounds fantastically interesting and I look forward to learn much more about it!||I am glad that this AMA has done its job - help spread the word!|
|May I ask you, what do you dream of finding in that asteroid? Best case scenario with your wildest fantasies, or if you prefer your most optimistic yet realistic possibility. What would be in your personal opinion and experience the best outcome of this mission?||The greatest treasure that OSIRIS-REx can obtain, in my opinion, is something incredibly rich in carbon and organic molecules. Organic compounds in meteorites are present at the part-per-million level. I would love to find out that Bennu is one giant extraterrestrial tar ball.|
|As firing of the rockets that will deliver the payload depends on a lot of factors weather, malfunctioning... etc... what is the time frame(the number of days that the launch can be delayed) you can change the schedule launch if there is a problem and still reach the asteroid... is this event factored in your calculation??||We have a 39-day launch window that opens on September 3, 2016. Right now we are designing to a 30-minute opportunity each day. However, we have some extra capability on the launch vehicle so we may open up the daily window to two hours.|
|thanks for doing the AMA,,, science ftw.||If we don't make the window in 2016. We have to wait one year for another launch opportunity in September 2017. Our current budget is not sufficient to cover such an extended slip - we have to no choice but to make the 2016 window!|
|Hi Dante! Thanks for doing the AMA! What inspired you to get into astronomy and how did you get to where you are now? You still have yet to buy the O-REx themed Bratfest shirt...||For my back story - read my blog post here|
|What did you study in school, and what is your degree in? I've always wondered what you have to be educated in to get a job like this.||My college life is the subject of a recent blog post - here|
|In summary, I have a B.S. degree from the University of Arizona with a double major in Mathematics and Physics. I also have a B.A. in Japanese, but that was just for fun.|
|I have a Ph.D. in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Washington University in St. Louis with an emphasis in Geochemistry.|
|I did my postdoctoral research at Arizona State University, where I learned transmission electron microscopy and mass spectroscopy.|
|Do you, or anyone in your team play Kerbal Space Program? What are your thoughts on the game and how it affects interest in orbital mechanics and space-travel?||I am a huge fan of KSP. I play it on my own and with my two sons. I also use it as a teaching tool. Together with other staff members from OSIRIS-REx i lead an after school science club at a local Boys and Girls Club. I set up a screen and projector and have the kids help me build and fly different spacecraft designs. I find it to be a great way to convey basic orbital mechanics to middle and grade schoolers. I could really use a more education-centered version of the program so the younger kids could play it one their own more easily.|
|My project scientist has designed and flown an OSIRIS-REx like mission to Minimus. Many of the software engineers in our Science Operations and Processing Center are also Kerbal fanatics.|
|What is the plan if you get to the asteroid and it turns out to be an S-Type?||Get a sample and bring it home.|
|I work in aerospace doing stuff like rocket propulsion. I've never stayed at a job for more than three years. How do you stay on one project for a full decade without getting kind of bored?||End to end - OSIRIS-REx will consume twenty years of my life. The mission constantly presents new and interesting challenges - and I am always learning something new. The job changes all the time - especially now as we transition from paper engineering to seeing real hardware come in.|
|Do you work on other projects during the quieter times? I know Alan Stern has about fifty projects, in addition to being PI on New Horizons.||I still have a meteorite research group at UA and try to keep up with the latest cosmochemistry research. I am also a father - which presents its own set of challenges and rewards every day.|
|Hell of a commitment. Have you ever done one of the Antarctic meteor collection expeditions? It's something I'd really like to do.||I was fortunate enough to be a member of the 2002-2003 Antarctic Search for Meteorites. We wrote a blog while we were out there - you can check it out here.|
|How do you plan to avoid damage to the spacecraft from regolith that is kicked up by the nitrogen gas but is not captured by TAGSAM?||Tough question - we are studying this now. Ask me after CDR!|
|Once you get the sample from the asteroid, what are you planning to do with it?||Distribute it around the world to any qualified laboratory to analyze in support of our science objectives.|
|Are you collaborating with the possible asteroid retrieval/redirect mission?||OSIRIS-REx is a PI-led mission in the New Frontiers Program, part of the NASA Science Mission Directorate. ARRM is a proposed mission in the Human Exploration program. We are not directly involved but I have offered to help ARRM. They just need to ask!|
|Do you have a suggestion on which asteroid is the best candidate for retrieval?||EDIT I like 2006 RH120 - might have migrated in and out of the Earth-Trojan population.|
|Any advice for a soon-to-be aerospace engineering graduate? Working for NASA is a career life goal of mine and I'm curious about the general path that the engineers follow. Thanks for this great AMA!||Most of the engineers that I know work for one of the big aerospace firms. Lockheed Martin has built the majority of recent planetary exploration spacecraft for the United States - I recommend trying to get a job at their facility in Littleton, CO.|
|Other options include getting on to the staff at one of the major "space-faring" universities like the University of Arizona, the University of Colorado, CalTech, or MIT.|
|There are many smaller engineering firms that provide components and support to NASA missions like the Southwest Research Institute, the Space Dynamics Lab, or ASC-3D (all contributing to OSIRIS-REx).|
|Finally, there is the "New Space" companies that are providing services to NASA like SpaceX and Blue Origin.|
|The Russian meteorite that fell in February has been called a comet, meteor, super bolide and small asteroid. What is your opinion and what is the difference?||The Chelyabinsk meteorite is an ordinary chondrite meteorite - the most common type of meteorite that lands on Earth. It was definitely a small asteroid - most likely an S-type near-Earth object.|
|How personally taxing is it to be in charge of a NASA mission?||It is by far the hardest thing I have ever done. I stay motivated by the knowledge that I will be one of the first people to fly a spacecraft to an asteroid see a new world for the first time - and bring a piece of it back to Earth.|
|When and where can I sign up to go work on an asteroid mine/factory? Am I too early for that? OK I brought a tent and a sleeping bag. I'll wait.||Planetary Resources is accepting job applications.|
|Will researchers from other institutions write grant proposals to obtain some meteorite sample for analysis or is there already a designated group at the UA that will analyze the sample? --Thanks.||The samples will be available to any qualified researcher from around the world. Our plan is to spend the first six months producing a catalog of the returned sample. Once we publish this document, NASA will start accepting proposals for sample distribution.|
|Do you and your team work in Houston? Or somewhere else?||The OSIRIS-REx team is spread all over the world. I am a Professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson. We have ~100 people working on the project here. The main workforce is at the Lockheed-Martin facility in Littleton, Colorado - where they are building the spacecraft, including the sample acquisition mechanism and the sample return capsule. The third major partner is the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. GSFC is responsible for Project Management, Systems Engineering, Safety and Mission Assurance, as well as the visible and infrared spectrometer (OVIRS). Our other main partners are Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, KinetX Aerospace (the Simi Valley, California office), the Canadian Space Agency, the French Space Agency (CNES\), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the United Launch Alliance.|
|Ultimately, the samples will end up at the Astromaterials Curation Facility at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The science team is spread all over the United States and also includes members from Canada, France, Italy, and the UK.|
|What's your favorite asteroid movie?||Tie between The Little Prince and The Empire Strikes Back - just kidding!|
|The best one so far is Hayabusa|
|Does your mission have any correlation with NASA's plan to capture an asteroid and have it orbit the moon?||OSIRIS-REx is developing key technologies that are applicable to any asteroid mission including.|
|Astronomical characterization in support of mission design.|
|Measurement of asteroid global characteristics|
|Detailed characterization of an asteroid surface at sub-cm scales.|
|Mission-critical data processing and analysis on a tactical timeline.|
|Accurate navigation in microgravity.|
|Delivery to a specific location on the asteroid surface.|
|Successful contact and acquisition of material from an asteroid surface.|
|We have no direct connection to the Asteroid Redirect Mission.|
|Mining of asteroids has been an idea for a long time to increase resources. Does this project have any aims to pursue that avenue?||Part of the OSIRIS-REx acronym is Resource Identification. The most direct application of our mission to asteroid mining is in the technologies and proximity operations that allow you maneuver a spacecraft around a small asteroid.|
|As an Arizona alumnus, I'd like to start by saying Bear Down, but I do have a serious question: how do you feel the university setting benefits your work? Arizona's reputation as a center of planetary science speaks for itself but I'd really like to read your perspective.||A University setting is a great place for a NASA mission. I started my career in the NASA Space Grant program at UA. It is very gratifying to be able to recruit the next generation of space scientists and engineers from my Alma mater.|
|We also have access to a wide range of student talents - including graphic arts, videography, business management, etc.|
|How large does an asteroid have to be before its gravity will allow you to land a spacecraft on it, verses just floating next to it?||The rendezvous with Bennu is an exercise in formation flying. We could anchor ourselves to the surface - similar to the Philae lander on the ESA Rosetta mission - if we wanted extended surface operations.|
|The acceleration due to gravity on Ceres, the largest asteroid (and a dwarf planet) is ~28 milli-g (1/36 that of the Earth). Having flown on the NASA vomit comet at 5 milli-g I can tell you that this is still a very low acceleration and any spacecraft would likely need some sort of anchoring or propulsion system to remain stable on the surface.|
|So how long do you give before the program is cancelled?||All major contracts are in place - and flight hardware items have been procured. This means that there is little money to save by cancelling the program. Also, we have strong support at NASA HQ and in Congress so I feel good about the funding line. The wild card is always the Congressional appropriation process. . .|
|How long do you think it will take for asteroid mining to become a viable industry?||The answer really depends on how serious nations are about extending the human presence in space. If the US, China, India, or other agencies really move into space, then an industry centered around supplying life-support materials in situ will have a credible business model.|
|The idea of returning precious metals to the surface of the Earth is more problematic. We still produce sufficient quantities of platinum, gold, and other rare metals to cover our needs. The law of supply and demand suggests that the supply is adequate. I don't expect this situation to change in the next few decades.|
|Am i going to get to be an asteroid miner or should I start focusing on getting my son ready to be an asteroid miner?||You can make a good living hunting meteorites - a form of asteroid mining. Your son probably has a better chance of a career on the Asteroid Frontier.|
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