LPL Newsletter for August 2020

Saturday, August 1, 2020

This pandemic is keeping most of us at LPL working remotely, but spacecraft and orbits don’t care, so we’re still working hard. This month, we highlight two stories that have ticking clocks associated with them.

One item is about Comet NEOWISE, discovered by the team led by Professor Amy Mainzer; the comet has graced the twilight skies for the last few weeks but will disappear (for a few thousand years) soon.

In the other news item, Daniella DellaGiustina and Carina Bennett discuss how it’s possible to combine more than 2000 individual images into the most detailed map of an asteroid ever made. The asteroid is Bennu, from which the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will be grabbing a sample in the next few months, in preparation for returning it to Earth.

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Comet NEOWISE captured on July 6, 2020 above the northeast horizon just before sunrise in Tucson. Viewers in the region can find the comet in the northeastern sky near the horizon between 4 and 4:30 a.m. until July 11, after which it will be visible in th

New Comet NEOWISE Graces the Skies

Catch the comet in the morning sky until July 11, after which you can find it just after sunset until mid-August.

This global map of asteroid Bennu’s surface was created by stitching and correcting 2,155 PolyCam images. At 2 inches (5 cm) per pixel, this is the highest resolution at which a planetary body has been globally mapped.NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

Mapping the Solar System: From the Moon to Bennu

The University of Arizona has played a role in imaging and mapping most major objects in the solar system. Now, it adds the asteroid Bennu to the list. The Bennu Global Mosaic, as the complete map of the asteroid is called, is the highest resolution map of any celestial body.