The importance of spacecraft missions in the quest to understand asteroids is highlighted in a recent review paper by RIS4E Co-I Thomas Burbine (Mount Holyoke College, Massachusettes).

Reference: Burbine, T. H. (2016) Advances in Determining Asteroid Chemistries and Mineralogies, Chemie der Erde, v. 76, p. 181-195, doi: 10.1016/j.chemer.2015.09.003.

In the paper, Burbine discusses achievements in understanding the chemistries and mineralogies of asteroids since the launch of NASA’s NEAR-Shoemaker robotic spacecraft in 1996, the first mission dedicated to asteroid exploration. As two new robotic asteroid-sample-return missions are underway (NASA’s OSIRIS-REx and JAXA’s Hayabusa2), Burbine’s review paper and a review by FINESSE Co-I Derek Sears earlier this year (see the January 2016 PSRD CosmoSparks: Comprehending Asteroids) provide timely recaps of why asteroids are so important to our understanding of the building blocks of our Solar System.

Bennu-radar-topo
Simulated cratering and topography are overlaid on radar imagery of asteroid 1999 RQ36. Credit: NASA/GSFC/UA/Mike Nolan-Arecibo Observatory/Bob Gaskell-Planetary Science Institute.

Burbine reviews comprehensive mission highlights from NEAR-Shoemaker, Hayabusa, Dawn, Hayabusa2, and OSIRIS-REx. Interrogating asteroids from spacecraft flybys and orbits, returning samples from asteroid Itokawa, and the anticipated return of samples from two more asteroids all build on the achievements of Earth-based and Earth-orbiting telescopic spectroscopy and meteorite sample analyses. Through the stunning success of pairing remote sensing data with laboratory analyses of actual samples, meteorites and asteroid pieces collected in situ and returned to Earth, we are truly beginning to understand asteroids up close.

Read the full story at: http://www.psrd.hawaii.edu/CosmoSparks/Oct16/asteroids-upclose.html

For more information, visit University of Arizona News

Posted by: Soderman/SSERVI Staff
Source: SSERVI Team/Linda M. V. Martel/PSRD

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