NASA Spacecraft Will Visit Apophis, Once Earth’s Deadliest Asteroid Threat

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May 05, 2022

Dear Reader,

This week, we're highlighting a voyage to Apophis, a sizable asteroid that will make a too-close-for-comfort pass by Earth in 2029 and that could, in centuries hence, collide with our planet. Scientists want to learn more about Apophis, especially how its orbit and surface can change from close encounters with Earth, in hopes of better preparing for any eventual impact threat from it or other near-Earth asteroids. Now, a spacecraft has been confirmed for an up-close visit: NASA's OSIRIS-REx, which will reach the asteroid shortly after the 2029 Earth encounter as OSIRIS-APEX (OSIRIS-Apophis Explorer). Elsewhere this week, we have stories on mapping the "cosmic web," the discovery of a pulsar masquerading as a galaxy and the end of a unique airborne telescope. Enjoy!

Lee Billings, Senior Editor, Space & Physics
@LeeBillings

Planetary Science

NASA Spacecraft Will Visit Apophis, Once Earth's Deadliest Asteroid Threat

After delivering extraterrestrial samples to Earth in 2023, OSIRIS-REx will embark on an extended mission to a potentially planet-threatening space rock

By Jonathan O'Callaghan

Astronomy

Costly SOFIA Telescope Faces Termination after Years of Problems

NASA and the German space agency ground the telescope on a plane, citing the astronomy community's concerns over cost and productivity

By Alexandra Witze,Nature magazine

Astronomy

A Galaxy Is Unmasked as a Pulsar — the Brightest outside the Milky Way

Using a technique to block certain wavelengths of light, researchers hope to discover many more hidden pulsars

By Jacinta Bowler,Nature magazine

Cosmology

Canadian Telescope Delivers Deepest-Ever Radio View of Cosmic Web

Data from the CHIME radio observatory are a milestone in the quest to discover the hidden origins of universal structure

By Ben Brubaker

Quantum Computing

How to Fix Quantum Computing Bugs

The same physics that makes quantum computers powerful also makes them finicky. New techniques aim to correct errors faster than they can build up

By Zaira Nazario
FROM THE STORE

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"It was the most dangerous asteroid discovered so far. People were scared."

Fabrizio Bernardi, astronomer and co-discoverer of the near-Earth asteroid Apophis

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FROM THE ARCHIVE

Planetary Defense Is Good--but Is Planetary Offense Better?

A new approach could mitigate the most damaging effects of an imminent asteroid or comet strike—or ensure many threatening objects never get close to striking Earth in the first place

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