May 18, 2024

Planetary Defense: Asteroid Findings From Specks of Space Dust Could Save Earth

Lead author Professor Fred Jourdan, Director of the Western Australian Argon Isotope Facility, part of the John de Laeter Centre and the School of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Curtin, stated the group likewise discovered Itokawa is nearly as old as the planetary system itself.
Itokawa grain with scale. Credit: Celia Mayers/ Curtin University
” Unlike monolithic asteroids, Itokawa is not a single lump of rock, however belongs to the rubble pile family which means its completely made of loose stones and rocks, with almost half of it being void,” Professor Jourdan stated.
” The survival time of monolithic asteroids the size of Itokawa is predicted to be only several hundreds of countless years in the asteroid belt.
” The huge effect that ruined Itokawas monolithic moms and dad asteroid and formed Itokawa occurred at least 4.2 billion years back. Such an amazingly long survival time for an asteroid the size of Itokawa is credited to the shock-absorbent nature of debris pile product.
” In short, we found that Itokawa is like a giant space cushion, and very difficult to destroy.”
The Curtin-led group used 2 complementary techniques to evaluate the three dust particles. If a rock has actually been stunned by any meteor effect, the first one is called Electron Backscattered Diffraction and can determine. The second approach– argon-argon dating– is utilized to date asteroid impacts.
Co-author Associate Professor Nick Timms, likewise from Curtins School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, stated the toughness of debris pile asteroids was formerly unknown, jeopardizing the ability to style defense strategies in case one was hurtling towards Earth.
” We set out to respond to whether rubble pile asteroids are resistant to being surprised or whether they piece at the smallest knock,” Associate Professor Timms stated.
” Now that we have found they can survive in the solar system for nearly its entire history, they must be more abundant in the asteroid belt than previously believed, so there is more chance that if a big asteroid is speeding towards Earth, it will be a debris stack.
” The excellent news is that we can also use this info to our advantage– if an asteroid is found too late for a kinetic push, we can then possibly use a more aggressive approach like utilizing the shockwave of a close-by nuclear blast to push a rubble-pile asteroid off course without destroying it.”
Recommendation: “Rubble stack asteroids are forever” by Fred Jourdan, Nicholas E. Timms, Tomoki Nakamura, William D. A. Rickard, Celia Mayers, Steven M. Reddy, David Saxey, Luke Daly, Phil A. Bland, Ela Eroglu and Denis Fougerouse, 23 January 2023, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.DOI: 10.1073/ pnas.2214353120.
Curtin University co-authors consist of Associate Professor William Rickard, Celia Mayers, Professor Steven Reddy, Dr. David Saxey, and John Curtin Distinguished Professor Phil Bland, all from the School of Earth and Planetary Sciences.

Asteroid Itokawa. Credit: Curtin University
Curtin University-led research into the resilience and age of an ancient asteroid made of rocky rubble and dust, revealed substantial findings that could contribute to potentially saving the world if one ever hurtled towards Earth.
The worldwide group studied 3 small dust particles collected from the surface of an ancient 500-meter-long (1600-foot-long) debris pile asteroid, Itokawa, went back to Earth by the Japanese Space Agencys Hayabusa 1 probe.
The research studys outcomes showed asteroid Itokawa, which is 2 million kilometers from Earth and around the size of Sydney Harbour Bridge, was difficult to destroy and resistant to crash.