Planetary Radar  

Asteroids could offer untold riches in rare and precious metals if mined, but they could also be catastrophic if a large one was to hit Earth. Adozen University of Central Florida space researchers were honored recently when planetary bodies were named after them. This brings the total number of current UCF researchers whose names are attached to asteroids to 18, along with another 12 former researchers.

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Image Credit: NASA / ISS


Excited stargazers with a pair of binoculars were not the only ones to spot the bright comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE last year!
A team of scientists at the Arecibo Observatory, led by postdoctoral researcher Dr. Allison Smith, aimed the massive 305-meter radio telescope at the celestial object with the goal of understanding how much water the comet was shedding as it approached the Sun.
The unique dataset collected at the Arecibo Observatory would be among the final observations made by the iconic radio telescope before it began experiencing cable failures that led to the telescope’s collapse on December 1, 2020.
Comet NEOWISE, named for the near-Earth object (NEO)-hunting NASA Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) space telescope that was used to discover it, originated in the distant parts of our Solar System. Because of its distance from the Sun, it has likely remained relatively unaltered since it formed. + Read More


While the recent successful landing of the Perseverance rover furthers robotic exploration of Mars, some scientists are preparing for the next kind of mission to the Red Planet: human exploration. A recent study published in the scientific journal Astrobiology chronicles laboratory analyses of geologic samples collected during the AMADEE-18 mission, a human–robotic Mars expedition simulation in the Dhofar region in the Sultanate of Oman. + Read More