Written by: William Atkins | Published in: SpaceNASA is launching a worldwide contest to name an asteroid for a future U.S. mission called OSIRIS-REx. Students have the opportunity to name the asteroid this spacecraft will travel to and then return samples back to Earth.
The Hayabusa spacecraft, which traveled to the asteroid Itokawa, is expected to land in Australia on Sunday, June 13, 2010. The Japanese space agency is hoping it will return a valuable collection of data and actual samples from the asteroid.
The European Space Agency spacecraft Rosetta took detailed images of the asteroid Lutetia as it flew past the "deeply pockmarked, irregular rock" that is probably a left-over piece from the formation of the Solar System over 4.6 billion years ago.
Scientists found that Asteroid 2008 TC3 is really composed of many different types of meteorites, containing a diverse amount of materials. NASA states they contain chemicals that form the building blocks of life here on Earth.
The Japanese Hayabusa spacecraft is returning to Earth with samples taken from asteroid Itokawa. You can catch the re-entry of Hayabusa by linking to a NASA video feed flying near the Australian landing site.
Astronomers from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Tennessee used a Hawaiian telescope to observe ice on asteroid 24 Themis. This is the first time that ice has been found on an asteroid, and indicates where we got some of our water here on Earth--and possibly even our life.