Planetary   Asteroid Visiting Earth’s Neighborhood Brings its Own Face Mask

The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico is following an asteroid approaching Earth this week and while it poses no threat, it appears to know our planet is facing a pandemic. “The small-scale topographic features such as hills and ridges on one end of asteroid 1998 OR2 are fascinating scientifically,” says Anne Virkki, head of Planetary Radar at the observatory. “But since we are all thinking about COVID-19 these features make it look like 1998 OR2 remembered to wear a mask.” The National Science Foundation facility, which is managed by the University of Central Florida, has a team of experts who monitors near-Earth asteroids. This asteroid is in a special class of near-Earth asteroids called Potentially Hazardous Objects (PHOs).

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Planetary Science AO Colloquium: Dr. Michael Denton

The first colloquium of 2020 was held on January 21st and featured a talk describing the Unsolved Problems in Plasmaspheric Physics from Dr. Michael Denton, Research Scientist with the Space Science Institute at Los Alamos in New Mexico. Read More

In a recent publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, AO planetary lead Dr. Anne Virkki and Dr. Sriram S. Bhiravarasu of the Lunar and Planetary Institute analyzed radar images of the moon obtained by the Mini-RF instrument on-board the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) to better understand anomalous radar scattering observed in some lunar craters. Read More