Asteroids: NASA discovers small moon orbiting space rock the agency plans to visit
As far as asteroids are concerned, we only know of them when they decide to approach the planet, or at least be on their way towards Earth. However, one particular asteroid that NASA plans on visiting seems to have a small moon orbiting around it.
It is not every day that asteroids become destinations but rather celestial objects to avoid or study. But Express reports that NASA’s Lucy mission, set for takeoff in 2021, will launch a probe to visit the Trojan asteroids, which are located in Jupiter’s orbit. However, the researchers from the Southwest Research Institute or SwRI, who are also leading the mission, discovered that one of the asteroids has a small natural satellite or moon in its orbit.
The asteroid, known as Eurybates, has an orbital period of 12 years and is one of the bigger Trojan asteroids measuring 63 kilometers in diameter. It makes sense that this particular asteroid would have a satellite orbiting around it due to its size. According to Hal Levison, the principal investigator for SwRI, Eurybates would have been the likely choice in having a satellite compared to the rest of the asteroids under the Trojan cluster. Levison explained that Eurybates is believed to be the biggest remnant of a collision that happened billions of years ago.
Running through simulations, it found that asteroid collisions such as what happened to Eurybates were what made the clusters like Trojan asteroids have small satellites. The satellite orbiting Eurybates, on the other hand, proved difficult to find.
Meanwhile, it is widely believed that asteroid collisions on Earth were what caused the extinction of the dinosaurs millions of years ago. A new report reveals a breakthrough in what exactly caused the extinction of the species.
One of the other possible reasons as to why the dinosaurs went extinct was due to volcanic eruptions that occurred at the time. However, some researchers still believe that asteroid collisions were what caused the fall of the dinosaurs during the Cretaceous-Paleogene era. A new study found that volcanoes were not a big factor in their extinction, and researchers from Yale University claimed that the Deccan traps that resulted from those volcanic eruptions already happened before the Cretaceous-Paleogene period. Furthermore, they claimed that while the traps were responsible for climate change, it was an asteroid impact that was the main culprit.